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EPA Takes Penalty Actions against 10 Wastewater Treatment Plants for Clean Water Act Violations

Release Date: 07/29/2010
Contact Information: David Sternberg 215-814-5548 sternberg.david@epa.gov

(PHILADELPHIA – July 29, 2010) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it has recently filed administrative penalty complaints against 10 publicly owned wastewater treatment plants (POTWs) operated by nine municipalities in Pennsylvania for failing to comply with the Clean Water Act.

The 10 plants’ Clean Water Act discharge permits require them to periodically reevaluate their industrial pretreatment programs and submit information from that reevaluation to state and federal regulators. The complaints allege in part that the plant operators failed to conduct the sampling needed to reevaluate the pollution limits they set for industrial users. The penalties range from $22,000 to $32,000.

“Wastewater treatment plants are the last line of defense against the disposal of harmful pollutants into our rivers and streams,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “Uncontrolled discharges of Pollution can result when municipalities don’t update their pretreatment programs to protect our waterways as the law requires.”

Federal and State regulations require sewage treatment plants and plant operators to develop local limits, establishing maximum acceptable levels of pollutants to ensure that they do not create a threat to human health and to waterways. The regulations also require industrial facilities discharging toxic pollutants to municipal sewer systems to provide pretreatment to avoid wastewater problems.

Because wastewater treatment plants are not designed to treat toxic pollutants in industrial wastes, pollutants may pass through local wastewater treatment plants into receiving streams, posing serious threats to aquatic life, recreation, and consuming fish and shellfish. These pollutants can also interfere with operating the treatment plant, causing sewage and other wastewaters to pass through without proper treatment. EPA and the states enforce pretreatment regulations to avoid these problems at municipal wastewater plants, ensuring that industrial wastewater is properly treated before being discharged into local waterways.

Nine of the 10 POTWs are located in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. These actions are part of the Agency’s strategy to improve water quality in local waterways and the Bay.

Municipalities or POTWs receiving the orders are:
Berwick Area Joint Sewer Authority, Columbia County: Derry Township Municipal Authority, Dauphin County; Greater Pottsville Area Sewer Authority, Schuylkill County; Borough of Huntingdon, Huntingdon County; Borough of Tyrone, Blair County; Shamokin-Coal Township Joint Sewer Authority, Northumberland County; University Area Joint Authority, Centre County; Wyoming Valley Sanitary Authority, Luzerne County; Altoona City Authority-Easterly WWTP, Blair County; and. Altoona City Authority-Westerly WWTP, Blair County.

These entities have the right to a hearing to contest the alleged violations and proposed penalties.

For more information about EPA’s pretreatment program visit
http://cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/home.cfm?program_id=3