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EPA Proposes to Fine Ponce Hospital for Illegal Discharge

Release Date: 11/19/2003
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(#03132) New York, N.Y. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a $137,500 penalty against Quality Health Services of Puerto Rico, Inc. (Hospital San Cristobal) for discharging wastewater to a small creek, a tributary to the Rio Inabon, in violation of the federal Clean Water Act. The EPA issued a complaint based on the hospital's continuing failure to comply with the requirements of its wastewater discharge permit.

"Wastewater discharge permits protect public health and the environment." said EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny. "The hospital has been out of compliance since February 2000. As a health care facility, Hospital San Cristobal should understand the importance of properly managing its waste."

The September 30, 2003 complaint charges that Quality Health Services violated the requirements of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, issued under the Clean Water Act. In March 2003, EPA inspected the hospital and ordered Quality Health Services to comply with the requirements of its NPDES permit. However, Quality Health Services allegedly continued to violate the Clean Water Act (for a total of 226 times from February 2000 through May 2003) with its discharge of sanitary wastewaters from the hospital's wastewater treatment plant. Specifically, the discharge exceeded permit limitations for ammonia, biochemical oxygen demand, color, fecal coliform, flow, fluoride, nitrate-nitrite, phenolics, phosphorus, silver, sulfide, surfactants and zinc. Under federal regulations, Quality Health Services has the right to request a hearing on the proposed penalty.