Lowell yarn processing company sentenced for polluting Mass. river

U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan and Michael E. Hubbard, special agent in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency Region I's Criminal Investigation Division, announced the sentencing of Dutton Yarn Co., LP, a yarn processing facility in Lowell, Mass., for having negligently discharged a pollutant into the Meadowbrook River without a permit in violation of the Clean Water Act...

BOSTON, Oct. 6, 2004 (PRNewswire) -- U.S. Attorney Michael J. Sullivan and Michael E. Hubbard, special agent in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency Region I's Criminal Investigation Division, announced the sentencing of Dutton Yarn Co., LP, a yarn processing facility in Lowell, Mass., for having negligently discharged a pollutant into the Meadowbrook River without a permit in violation of the Clean Water Act.

The sentence was imposed pursuant to a plea agreement in which Dutton Yarn agreed to plead guilty to both counts, pay a $300,000 fine and establish a compliance program designed to address environmental matters.

The information to which Dutton Yarn pleaded guilty, charged that the company as part of its yarn processing operation generated process wastewater, which it discharged into an underground pipe which led into the Meadowbrook River. The wastewater discharge contained pollutants in the form of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD) pollutants which sap oxygen from the water.

Dutton Yarn admitted that it was negligent in allowing this direct discharge to occur over a period of nearly three years because: (a) the company had access to architectural drawings depicting the subterranean pipe at the Dutton Yarn facility that led to the Meadowbrook River; (b) there were multiple manhole covers in plain sight on the floor of the facility which led to the subterranean pipe; (c) questions were raised by the city of Lowell concerning discrepancies between the volume of water used by the plant and the amount that was being discharged into the sewer system; (d) and a steady discharge of wastewater into the Meadowbrook River was discovered in 2002 by Dutton Yarn employees who were walking the perimeter of the facility, but the discharge was not investigated.

Throughout the Government's investigation of this matter, the management of Dutton Yarn Co. has cooperated fully and completely, providing government agents with full access to their Prince Street facility. Upon learning of the illegal discharge from Special Agents of the EPA, Dutton Yarn voluntarily ceased yarn processing operations at the Prince Street facility until the necessary repairs were made to bring the plant into compliance with the law.

The case was investigated by the EPA's Criminal Investigation Division. This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Mitchell in Sullivan's Economic Crimes Unit, along with the Environmental Protection Agency's Senior Criminal Enforcement Counsel, Andrew Lauterback.

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