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Industrial Launderer Will Pay $525,000 for Clean Water Act Violations

Release Date: 08/25/2009
Contact Information: David Deegan (617) 918-1010

(Boston, Mass. – Aug. 25, 2009) – AmeriPride Service, Inc., an industrial launderer with a facility in Hartford, Connecticut, will pay a $525,000 penalty under the terms of a settlement for alleged violations of federal and state clean water laws and a government-issued permit. The settlement was announced jointly by Nora R. Dannehy, United States Attorney and Ira Leighton, Acting Regional Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s New England Office.

A civil Complaint and Consent Decree were simultaneously filed yesterday in U.S. District Court in New Haven. According to the EPA Complaint, AmeriPride violated a federal environmental law by discharging low pH wastewater to the sewer system that flows into the Metropolitan District Commission’s Hartford wastewater treatment facility. The complaint also alleges that AmeriPride violated a discharge permit issued by the State of Connecticut that set industrial discharge limits for a number of pollutants.

“EPA remains committed to protecting the environment and public treatment works from harmful industrial discharges. The case also serves to help level the playing field by showing that EPA will pursue industrial violators of federal and state environmental laws,” said Ira Leighton, acting regional administrator of EPA’s New England Office.

"The U.S. Attorney's Office is committed to vigorously enforcing federal environmental laws in Connecticut," stated U.S. Attorney Nora R. Dannehy. "We believe that this agreement represents a fair and just resolution of this matter and, hopefully, will serve as a warning to all businesses that generate wastewater that they must abide by all requirements of their discharge permits."

From July of 2001 through March of 2008, AmeriPride's wastewater discharge repeatedly violated the “National Pretreatment Standard” prohibiting the discharge of wastewaters with a pH lower than 5.0 Standard Units in violation of the Clean Water Act. AmeriPride's wastewater discharges also frequently violated industrial discharge limitations for pH, oil and grease, and total zinc, total lead and total copper imposed in a May 31, 2001 industrial discharge permit that the State of Connecticut issued to AmeriPride. Despite years of numerous violations, AmeriPride did not fully resolve its wastewater violations until March of 2008 when AmeriPride completed the installation of a new industrial wastewater treatment system.

The effects of introducing acidic and/or alkaline industrial wastewaters into sewer systems and wastewater treatment plants are well documented. The introduction of acidic and/or alkaline industrial wastewaters into a sanitary sewer system has the potential to corrode piping and equipment in both the wastewater collection system and the treatment plant itself and to create a dangerous working environment for sewage treatment plant workers. Sewer pipe corrosion from the introduction of acidic and or alkaline industrial wastewaters can cause disruptions in service, leakage of raw sewage to ground and surface waters, require the replacement of sewer lines and pumping stations, and result in casualties to sewer workers.

The effects of the discharge of excessive amounts of oil and grease into a sanitary sewer system can be detrimental and costly to a municipality. If excessive amounts of oil and grease enter the wastewater collection system, it readily adheres to the inner surface of piping materials. The accrued layers harden into a crust as tough as baked clay, becoming a primary cause for clogs, backups, overflows and equipment failure, ultimately requiring replacement of the pipes. EPA estimates that there are over 40,000 sanitary sewer overflows nationally each year, the majority of which are caused by grease buildup.

AmeriPride rents and sells work apparel and also provides industrial and commercial laundering services. AmeriPride, a privately held corporation, has its headquarters in Minnetonka, Minnesota. AmeriPride has over 190 production facilities and service centers throughout the United States and Canada. AmeriPride has approximately 6,000 employees nationwide and in Canada.

More information:
EPA enforcement of Clean Water standards in New England (epa.gov/region1/enforcement/water/index.html)

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