A big win from a Waterkeeper member in Georgia! CRK Press Release 17 August 2015:
Atlanta — US District Court Judge Orinda Evans levied a $10 million penalty on American Sealcoat Manufacturing LLC (Sealcoat) for unlawful discharge of toxic pollutants into the Chattahoochee River near Fulton Industrial Park. The Judge ruled in a Clean Water Act complaint brought by Chattahoochee Riverkeeper (CRK), which discovered and reported the dumping.
CRK filed its lawsuit against the asphalt sealant manufacturer in the summer of 2014 after discovering that it was operating without an industrial storm water permit in clear violation of the Clean Water Act, and was repeatedly and intentionally dumping toxins into a tributary that flows into the Chattahoochee River less than 1000 feet away. When CRK offered Sealcoat a settlement and assistance in remediation, the chemical manufacturer refused to cooperate, opting instead to abandon its operations and flee the state.
See also Jodie Fleischer, WSBTV, 11 February 2015, Local business shuts down, leaves costly contamination near Chattahoochee River. “Georgia taxpayers could be on the hook for an expensive environmental cleanup after a local business spilled a thick oily sludge and then skipped town.”….
The court’s decision, which was passed down on August 13, 2015, underlines the seriousness of Sealcoat’s toxic pollution and delivers a strong affirmation that contamination of Georgia’s waterways will not be tolerated. CRK’s efforts are now focused on stopping the continued flow of pollutants and getting the toxic dump site cleaned up in its related litigation against the site’s property owner, M&K Warehouses.
“Chattahoochee Riverkeeper is pleased that the federal court has recognized the severity of these violations,” says Riverkeeper Jason Ulseth. “This ruling sends a powerful message to the industrial community and sets a strong precedent as we continue to pursue site property owner M&K Warehouses, which is equally responsible for this degradation of the Chattahoochee River.”
This court ruling requires American Sealcoat to pay $10 million in civil penalties to the U.S. Treasury and it will be up to the U.S. Department of Justice to attempt to collect the civil penalties that have been levied.
The Clean Water Act, passed in the 1970s, remains a vital tool enabling citizen’s groups like Chattahoochee Riverkeeper to fulfill their mission of protecting our nation’s streams and waters. Judge Evans’ action in this enforcement will serve as a clear message to other potential violators that pollution will not be tolerated.
About Chattahoochee Riverkeeper
CRK’s mission is to protect and preserve the Chattahoochee River, its lakes and tributaries for the people, fish and wildlife that depend upon it. For more information, visit www.chattahoochee.org.