Enforcement trends: Wastewater shortcuts don’t pay!

Competing in the marketplace is tough. Paying bills and finding capital to repair or replace equipment pushes plenty of companies to the economic brink! 

What you can’t afford to do is scrimp on environmental duties – that’s an invitation to mammoth fines and time behind bars.

These two recent enforcement actions are proof positive:

Can’t delay maintenance

Gary Hallinan served as plant operator for the City of Oswego’s wastewater treatment plant in upstate New York. When the facility’s centrifuge stopped working, Hallinan had two choices:

a. flag the piece of equipment and report it to the state, or

b. keep the plant running and pray for sunny skies.

Hallinan foolishly chose option b. All it would take is a heavy storm to trigger a raw sewage overflow, and that’s exactly what happened three months later. Testing showed the concentration of solid matter discharged to Lake Ontario was 60 times higher than permit limits.

Hallinan’s looking at a year in jail and $100,000 maximum fine after pleading guilty this spring.

Caught on video dumping

Forrest Sewer Pump Service, a family-owned wastewater hauler in Virginia Beach, paid fees to the local sewage plant so it could discharge.

When money got tight, the business started dumping wastewater into unauthorized manholes and pump stations to avoid paying fees.

A video camera caught workers unloading waste down municipal drains. A criminal investigation’s pending with $50,000 per-day Clean Water Act fines and prosecution for the owners a possibility.