Attleboro Wastewater Treatment Facility to Pay Up to $200,000 for Failing to Treat Polluted Industrial Wastewater
Facility to Make Significant Changes to Treatment System, Follow Stricter Guidelines Under Permit
BOSTON — The owner of an Attleboro-based industrial wastewater treatment facility has agreed to pay up to $200,000 and make major modifications to its treatment system to resolve allegations that the company failed to properly process and treat non-hazardous industrial wastewater, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
According to the complaint, filed Thursday with the consent judgment in Suffolk Superior Court, NewStream, LLC violated state laws and regulations by unlawfully diluting the concentration of pollutants in the wastewater instead of removing them through proper treatment. The complaint alleges that, as a result, a higher mass of pollutants, especially metals, were likely discharged to the Ten Mile River, which already suffers from high levels of pollutants that exceed existing Massachusetts water quality standards.
“We allege that this facility failed to properly treat its wastewater, likely resulting in more pollution entering Massachusetts waters and therefore greater harm to the environment,” AG Coakley said. “This settlement will require NewStream to fully comply with state laws by properly and effectively treating its contaminated industrial wastewater, which is critical to the health of our ecological systems.”
“Protecting public health is our top priority and the use of improper and inadequate treatment methods on contaminated wastewater is unacceptable and clearly violates the state and federal Clean Water Act,” said MassDEP Commissioner David W. Cash. “To continue to function as a centralized wastewater treatment facility, the operator needs to take achievable steps to improve and upgrade its treatment capabilities.”
NewStream’s facility is designed to discharge wastewater to Attleboro’s wastewater treatment plant which, in turn, discharges to the Ten Mile River. The complaint alleges that NewStream discharged wastewater with high concentrations of pollutants, which interfered with the plant’s operation. The case was referred to the AG’s Office after MassDEP discovered that NewStream, in response to enforcement orders intended to prevent further interference, was unlawfully shipping tens of thousands of gallons of wastewater by truck to publicly owned wastewater treatment plants in New Bedford and Cranston, RI for disposal after accepting more than it could legally discharge to the Attleboro plant under its permit.
According to the complaint, these shipments violated the Clean Waters Act’s Holding Tank regulations, which prohibit the use of tanks to store industrial wastewater prior to shipment for off-site treatment or disposal. The purposes of the regulations are to prevent the shipment of wastewater to facilities with less protective discharge limits, to minimize the risks associated with transporting wastewater, and to limit the transfer of pollutants from one watershed to another.
The AG’s Office and MassDEP found violations of the Massachusetts Clean Waters Act, the Hazardous Waste Management Act, and NewStream’s Sewer Connection Permit, including the installation of a new treatment system and the modification of an existing treatment system without approval from MassDEP, the unapproved receipt of hazardous industrial wastewater, and a failure to install odor-controlling measures to prevent nuisance conditions.
The settlement requires NewStream to pay a civil penalty of up to $200,000. Of that amount, $75,000 will be suspended and waived if NewStream completes an extensive list of work required by the consent judgment. NewStream must also submit detailed information to MassDEP as part of the facility’s effort to obtain a new permit that includes additional guidelines to properly discharge wastewater to Attleboro’s treatment plant. NewStream is also required to complete a study that evaluates potential air pollutant emissions and steps to address any remaining odor issues, which have periodically plagued nearby residents and businesses.
In an effort to ensure better removal of harmful pollutants, NewStream must implement detailed wastewater classification and acceptance procedures and reconfigure its treatment system so that it treats metals, organics, and oils-contaminated industrial wastewater in distinct treatment systems before they are combined for discharge. Once required changes are made, it is likely that NewStream will serve as a model for other facilities for the effective treatment of contaminated industrial wastewater.
The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Seth Schofield of Attorney General Coakley’s Environmental Protection Division, with assistance from Environmental Engineer Robert Greene, P.E., now-retired Regional Engineer Christopher Tilden, P.E., and Counsel Daniel d’Hedouville of MassDEP’s Southeast Regional Office, Senior Financial Analyst Tim Cahill of MassDEP’s Boston Office, and Mingyuan Pan and John Reinhardt of MassDEP’s Industrial Wastewater Program.
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