Industrial Launderer to Pay $525,000 for CWA Violations

AmeriPride Service Inc., an industrial launderer with a facility in Hartford, Conn., 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 U.S. Attorney Nora R. Dannehy and EPA's New England Office Acting Regional Administrator Ira Leighton.

A civil complaint and consent decree were simultaneously filed last week in U.S. District Court in New Haven, Conn.. 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.

According to the suit, from July 2001 through March 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, the company did not fully resolve its wastewater violations until March of 2008 when it completed the installation of a new industrial wastewater treatment system, EPA said.

The agency noted that the well-documented effects of introducing acidic and/or alkaline industrial wastewaters into sewer systems and wastewater treatment plants 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, EPA said.

The agency added that 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 enter the wastewater collection system, they readily adhere to the inner surface of piping materials, hardening 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 more than 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. The Minnetonka, Minn.-based company is a privately held corporation with about 6,000 employees and more than 190 production facilities and service centers throughout the United States and Canada.

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