March 1, 2024
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CWA CrimeBox
Environmental Crimes Historic Conviction:  Fiscal Year 1997; Case ID# CR_673(Ohio)
Copper and lead dumped into the public wastewater system

One of 56 Criminal Prosecutions in Ohio under the Clean Water Act (from 1989-2021)

The defendant in this case is a manufacturing company in Ohio producing electronic circuit boards in a process similar to electroplating. The manufacturer generates industrial process water with heavy metals copper and lead at the rate of 50,000 gallons per day.

As per the Clean Water Act, knowing or negligent discharge of pollutants to the environment is subject to criminal - felony charges. Those found in violation of the Clean Water Act are sentenced to a federal fine, often probation, special fees, restitution, community service and even jail time depending on the severity of the case and environmental impact.

The National Pollutants Discharge and Elimination System (NPDES) permits generators of hazardous waste materials to discharge prescribed limits of treated wastewater at particular facilities that can handle the material. When generators of hazardous waste follow the terms of their discharge permits, including monitoring and reporting the characteristics of their wastewater stream, applying the appropriate pre-treatment process (or sending material out to specialized facilities equipped for the wastewater characteristics), monitorng and testing the treated liquid(effluent) and limiting the discharge volume and characteristics, the expectation is that the waterways can be maintained in an acceptable condition, supporting their intended uses.

In this case, the defendant was found to have discharged beyond the permitted limit in terms of volume and concentration of heavy metals directly to Montgomery County municipal wastewater treatment facilities. The defendant pled guilty to violating the CWA and sentenced to a federal fine.

Federal fine: $10,000

CWA CrimeBox briefs are compiled from EPA Criminal Enforcement records.

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