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2001 News Releases


U.S. Sues Galax, Va. For Clean Water Act Violations

Release Date: 11/27/2001
Contact Information: Roy Seneca 215-814-5567

Contact: Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567

PHILADELPHIA – The United States Justice Department, on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has sued the City of Galax, Va. for violating Clean Water Act permits issued to the city’s sewage treatment plant and drinking water treatment plant.

According to the government’s complaint, since the 1980s Galax has allegedly allowed sewage from four locations to overflow into Chestnut Creek and Oglesby Branch, two tributaries of the New River.

The complaint also alleges that in October and November of 1997, a pipe failure at the drinking water treatment plant caused the unlawful discharge of 2,400 gallons of polyaluminum chloride into Chestnut Creek, which in turn killed more than 18,000 fish in a 9.5-mile stretch of the waterway. The drinking water plant, which treats water from Chestnut Creek, adds polyaluminum chloride to the water to help remove particles.

The complaint also cites Galax for failing to maintain required records of discharges from the drinking water treatment plant to Chestnut Creek from November 1993 to October 1997. The drinking water plant previously discharged its wastewater to Chestnut Creek, but now discharges its wastewater to the sewage treatment plant.

The complaint did not propose a specific penalty amount. In determining a penalty under the Clean Water Act, courts consider the seriousness of the violation, the violator’s economic benefit (if any) from non-compliance with the law, compliance history, the economic impact of the penalty, and other factors as justice may require.

The EPA worked in conjunction with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality to develop the complaint.