FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEENRD
TUESDAY, MAY 23, 2000(202) 514-2008
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-1888
BROWNING-FERRIS INC. EMPLOYEE SENTENCED FOR ILLEGALLY DUMPING
POLLUTION INTO D.C. SEWER SYSTEM
WASHINGTON -- The Department of Justice today announced that a former manager of waste hauler Browning-Ferris Inc. was sentenced for his role in illegally dumping contaminated wastewater into the District of Columbia's sewer system. Gregory R. Smith will serve one year probation following the sentencing in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.
Smith was the former manager of the Capitol Processing Plant, a Browning-Ferris Inc. medical waste facility in Northeast Washington. In May 1998, Smith pleaded guilty to two felony counts of violating the Clean Water Act by failing to notify D.C. authorities about significant changes in the waste his company was sending through the city's sewers.
Browning-Ferris Inc.'s Capitol plant received medical waste from area hospitals and medical facilities, which was then sterilized and shipped to landfills for disposal. On numerous occasions between March 1995 and April1996, employees including Smith pumped untreated liquid waste into an area known as the "pit," which flowed into a parking lot and eventually to the sewer. The contaminated wastewater was ultimately treated at the District of Columbia's Blue Plains wastewater treatment plant and from there discharged into the Potomac River.
Browning-Ferris Inc. pleaded guilty to three felony Clean Water Act violations and in September 1998 was sentenced to pay a $1.5 million penalty and enact a national environmental compliance program at its medical waste facilities.
The Clean Water Act requires industrial facilities that discharge into the District of Columbia's sewer system to notify the city of any substantial changes in the character or volume of their discharges. The notification requirement is critical because waste discharged into the sewer system flows to the Blue Plains sewage treatment plant, which in turn discharges treated wastewater into the Potomac River. For Blue Plains and other facilities like it throughout the country to operate effectively, they must know what pollutants are being discharged into the sewer system.
Two other Browning-Ferris managers, Kevin Scolis and Robert E. Brown Jr., have pleaded guilty to Clean Water Act violations and were sentenced in April to probation and fines.