Seymour Company to pay $2.4 million after releasing 10,000 gallons of water containing lead and zinc

A Seymour manufacturing company was ordered to pay $2.4 million in damages Thursday after failing to maintain a sewage treatment system, according to federal prosecutors.

In September 2016, the company, Marmon Utility LLC, dumped nearly 11,000 gallons of water with high concentrations of lead and zinc into the city’s sewage treatment plant. Water that goes to this plant, which is designed primarily to treat human waste and not pollutants or chemicals in industrial wastewater, is ultimately discharged into the Naugatuck River, according to court documents.

Marmon Utility, which is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, was convicted Thursday in federal court in Bridgeport of violating the Clean Water Act, according to Leonard Boyle, the U.S. District Attorney for Connecticut.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the company violated the law by “knowingly failing to properly operate and maintain the industrial wastewater treatment system and sludge treatment equipment at the Kerite Power Cable & Pump plant.” ” on Day Street in Seymour. Marmon Utility owns and operates the plant.

The company pleaded guilty to the offense in December 2021, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Of the $2.4 million, $800,000 goes to the government as a federal penalty and $1.6 million is a community service payment to clean up the Naugatuck River. Marmon Utility LLC will also be on federal probation for three years.

Marmon Utility’s facility in Seymour, Kerite Power Cable & Pump Cable, manufactures large electrical cables and generates industrial wastewater containing heavy metals such as lead and zinc. Under its permit from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Marmon Utility could discharge its industrial wastewater into the Seymour Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is designed primarily to treat human waste. not pollutants or chemicals in industrial wastewater. Water leaving the treatment plant is ultimately discharged into rivers, lakes and the sea, according to court documents.

This permit limits the amount of wastewater that the factory could discharge into the treatment plant. He also demanded that the company pre-treat its industrial wastewater to remove heavy metals, such as lead and zinc, before the water was discharged into the Seymour sewage treatment plant, the prosecutor’s office said. American.

An investigation found the company had “reduced its environmental compliance program for many years,” the U.S. attorney’s office said. The company had not had an employee with environmental training to manage the wastewater treatment system since February 2004.

The sewage treatment system operator fell ill in March 2016. Instead, Marmon Utility maintenance workers kept the system running for at least five months. These employees lacked training on the proper functioning of the treatment system, such as checking the pH, maintaining its sludge filter press or checking or changing certain filters. These employees also did not have access to the system’s user manuals, the US attorney’s office said.

“These are all key components of the treatment system used to remove heavy metals from the plant’s industrial wastewater,” the U.S. attorney’s office added.

In September 2016, the Seymour Sewage Plant Superintendent saw “rusty brown sewage” flowing through the plant, interfering with the plant’s ability to treat sewage, and alerted DEEP.

The superintendent took water samples and determined that the rusty brown influent had a lead concentration about 127 times higher than normal at the plant and a zinc concentration more than 10 times higher than normal, a said the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Over the next few days, the superintendent ordered several microorganism trucks to break down the untreated sewage. It took two weeks for the treatment plant to resume normal operations.

DEEP and the factory superintendent inspected the Marmon Utility facility in late September 2016 and agreed that the factory had rejected the rusty brown influent. DEEP then issued a notice of violation

DEEP determined that the company had not treated the sludge in the filter since the sewage treatment operator left in March 2016.

On Sept. 7 and 8, 2016, the plant discharged nearly 11,000 gallons of industrial wastewater, exceeding the daily discharge limit of 4,900 gallons on the company’s DEEP permit, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

DEEP also sampled the plant’s discharge tank, which drains to the Seymour sewage treatment plant, and found that lead and zinc concentrations were above what was allowed on the plant’s permit. business. In terms of lead, there was 69 times more than allowed and 8.5 times more zinc than allowed.

These employees, who ran the facility from April to September 2016, also told investigators that when certain tanks filled up and the system was out of balance, they emptied the tank by opening certain valves to discharge the waste water without treating it. . In October 2016, the 3,000 gallon holding tank of Marmon Utility’s wastewater treatment system contained 1,000 gallons of sludge, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

“At this point, Marmon had ceased regular use of the sludge filter press,” according to court documents.

Court documents indicate that Marmon Utility knowingly failed to operate and maintain the wastewater treatment system and sludge treatment equipment from April to September 2016. The company also failed to notify DEEP of the circumvention inappropriate part of the treatment system by stopping the treatment of sludge in the sludge. filter and exceeding its daily discharge limit in September 2016.

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