WASHINGTON – Greg Street Plating Inc.—an electroplating, metal plating and finishing company based in Sparks, Nev.—pleaded guilty to a one-count indictment charging the company with discharging highly acidic waste into the sewer system that leads to the Truckee Meadows Sewage treatment facility, in violation of the Clean Water Act. The company, which is no longer operating, was also sentenced to pay a $30,000 penalty for its criminal violation.
According to the plea, late Saturday night April 12, 2003, or early Sunday morning April 13, 2003, an unknown employee of Greg Street Plating dumped highly acidic waste into the sewer system. The acid discharge reached the sewage treatment plant, setting off warning alarms. The operators of the treatment plant acted quickly and efficiently to isolate and neutralize the acid waste, thereby avoiding the possibility of substantial damage to the facility. The source of the discharge was initially identified as Greg Street Plating by investigators from the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility and the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection (NDEP).
As part of the metal plating process, Greg Street generated hundreds of gallons of rinse wastewater each week, contaminated with heavy metals and having a pH of less than 5.0. The wastewater from Greg Street was supposed to be treated in a closed loop evaporation system, and none of the wastewater from the plating process was permitted to be discharged into the sewer system. Greg Street only had a permit to discharge domestic sewage into the sewer system.
In addition to the rinse water, Greg Street generated spent acid solutions and spent plating solutions, both hazardous wastes with a pH less than 5.0. Greg Street was unable to process all of these spent solutions in its closed loop wastewater treatment system and stored the waste in 55-gallon drums at the facility. Investigators from the Truckee Meadows Reclamation Facility and NDEP determined that the low pH waste stored in the drums was illegally discharged into the sewer. The Environmental Protection Agency’s National Pretreatment Standards include a prohibition against sending any wastewater with a pH lower than 5.0 to any state-or municipality-owned treatment works unless specific accommodations are made.
This case was investigated by the Criminal Investigation Division of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency out of the San Francisco office. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada, Reno Division and the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.