Company to upgrade 18 wastewater plants in MS to prevent illegal sewage discharges

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ATLANTA, GA, March 7, 2014 -- A proposed settlement has been announced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Justice and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality with Total Environmental Solutions, Inc. (TESI) and Utility Services, LLC to address violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA).

These companies have agreed to undertake a thorough assessment of, and implement extensive improvements to, 18 wastewater treatment facilities and wastewater collection and transmission systems located throughout Mississippi for effluent violations and unauthorized overflows of untreated raw sewage. 

The proposed consent decree resolves TESI's liability for CWA violations at these Mississippi facilities, including instances of failure to monitor and sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs). TESI's failure to properly operate and maintain these wastewater treatment facilities and wastewater collection and transmission systems resulted in violations of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits issued by the State of Mississippi.

Utility Services, LLC intends to purchase these facilities from TESI and then assume the responsibilities of TESI to perform the injunctive relief required under the consent decree at an estimated cost of $1.075 million. The proposed consent decree also requires TESI to pay a civil penalty of $225,000.

Keeping raw sewage out of the waters of the United States is one of EPA's national enforcement initiatives. The initiative focuses on reducing sewer overflows and permit limit exceedances, which can present a significant threat to human health and the environment. These reductions are accomplished by obtaining commitments from the operators of wastewater systems to implement timely, affordable solutions to these problems.

The proposed consent decree has been lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. A copy is available on the Department of Justice website (found here). Further, more information on EPA's national enforcement initiative is available here.

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