EPA enforcement news

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released several enforcement news items regarding water pollution cases.

April 16, 2004 -- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released several enforcement news items regarding water pollution cases.

Pennsylvania company charged in multi-state water pollution case

The PQ Corporation of Valley Forge, Pa. was charged on March 25 and 29 with violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) at its plants in St. Louis, Mo., Chester, Pa. and Baltimore, Md.

The charges were filed in three courts: U.S. District Court in St. Louis, U.S. District Court in Philadelphia and the U.S. District Court in Baltimore. PQ's facilities use high heat to manufacture sodium silicate from soda ash and sand.

The defendant allegedly discharged waste water in violation of applicable CWA pretreatment requirements from its St. Louis facility between Jan. 1997 and Nov. 1999 into the metropolitan St. Louis sewer system, and from its Chester facility between Dec. 1998 and Apr. 2000 into a Delaware County sewer system.

The defendant also allegedly discharged waste water from its Baltimore, Md. facility between 1995 and 2000 into waters of the United States without a CWA permit.

Discharging improperly treated wastewater into sewers can damage sewage treatment equipment and prevent sewage being properly treated. Wastewater discharge into surface waters without a permit can harm fish and wildlife and can make the waters unsafe for recreational or drinking water purposes. If convicted on all charges in all courts, the company faces a maximum possible fine of up to $1.5 million.

The case was investigated by the St. Louis, Philadelphia and Washington Area Offices of the U.S. EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the Maryland Attorney General's Office, and the Metropolitan Sewer District of St. Louis with the assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center.

The U.S. Attorney's Offices in St. Louis, Philadelphia and Baltimore are prosecuting the case. The filing of federal charges is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in a court of law.

New York transportation company faces $10 million fine for Buzzards Bay oil spill

On March 29, Bouchard Transportation Company of Hicksville, N.Y. pled guilty to violating the Clean Water Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act as a result of an oil spill in Buzzards Bay, Mass.

The company admitted that improper operation of the tugboat, Evening Tide, led to a major spill in Buzzards Bay of Number 6 fuel oil, a heavy oil used by ocean liners and tankers as fuel. The spill killed 450 protected birds, necessitated the closure of thousands of acres of the bay's shellfish beds and polluted nearly 90 miles of Mass. shoreline.

On Apr. 27, 2003, the tug's Mate piloted the vessel as it entered the bay's channel. The mate left his post and the oil barge being towed by the tug drifted onto rocks outside the channel, damaging the barge and causing oil to spill into the bay. Removal of Number 6 oil from coastal areas is necessary because it degrades slowly, often lasting for years.

The oil also harms wildlife by coating birds, smothering intertidal organisms and contaminating sediment. Bouchard Transportation has agreed to pay a $10 million fine, with $7 million going to the North American Wetlands Conservation fund.

Of the remaining fine, $2 million will be paid to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and $1 million will be suspended if Bouchard Transportation successfully completes probation and establishes an environmental compliance program.

The case was investigated by the Boston Area Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Services and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Office of Law Enforcement with assistance from the U.S. Secret Service, the Massachusetts Environmental Police and the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston.

Ohio Man pleads guilty to dumping oily water into sewer

Dennis A. Henman of Ft. Wayne, Ind. pled guilty on March 26 to violating the Clean Water Act by discharging oily wastewater into the municipal sewers of Dayton, Ohio. Henman was a District Manager for Grease Monkey, Inc. an automobile oil change franchise.

The defendant did not have a permit from the City of Dayton to discharge the oily wastewater into the sewer system. Unpermitted discharge of oily water into city sewers can create a fire hazard and can prevent the proper treatment of sewage.

This creates a hazard to fish and wildlife that depend upon surface waters that are downstream of sewage treatment plant outfalls. The case was investigated by the Cleveland Area Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation, the Wastewater Division of the City of Dayton and the Montgomery County Sanitary Engineering Department.

It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Dayton.

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