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U.S. Settles Clean Water Act Violations with Koehler-Bright Star Inc.

Release Date: 11/22/2011
Contact Information: David Sternberg, 215-814-5548 sternberg.david@epa.gov

(PHILADELPHIA – Nov. 22, 2011) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a settlement of a Clean Water Act case against Koehler-Bright Star Inc. (KBS), a battery manufacturer in Hanover Township, Luzerne County. EPA alleged that the company exceeded the limits of pollutants the facility is allowed to discharge to the Wyoming Valley Sanitary Sewer Authority (WVSSA), also in Hanover. According to EPA, KBS violated Clean Water Act requirements on the pretreatment of wastewater sent to WVSSA.

The settlement requires the company to pay a civil penalty of $60,000, with $30,000 going to the United States and $30,000 going to WVSSA.

EPA’s complaint alleged that from 2005 through 2010 KBS exceeded its pretreatment permit discharge limits for lead and copper for at least 52 months, including 84 monthly average violations, and six violations of daily maximum limits.

KBS took a series of steps to mitigate the effluent limit violations, as they occurred, but was unable to achieve compliance. Due to a process change, separate from this action, the facility no longer discharges an industrial wastestream to WVSSA.

Under the Clean Water Act companies discharging certain types of pollutants to publicly owned wastewater treatment plants (POTWs) maybe required to obtain a pretreatment permit from the POTW limiting the amount of pollution that may be discharged to the plant. This often requires some type of pretreatment by the discharging facility before the wastestream is released to the POTW.

Pretreatment permit limits for pollutants are established in order to prevent impairment of waterways, either as a result of pollutants passing through the POTW -- or by interfering with the functioning of the plant.