States Attorney's Office District of Connecticut
|June 24, 2010||
EMPLOYEE OF TERRYVILLE COMPANY ADMITS SUPERVISING DISCHARGE OF POLLUTANTS INTO PLYMOUTH SEWER SYSTEM
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that FABIO DIOSES, 52, of Cheshire, pleaded guilty today before Chief United States District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford to one count of knowing discharge of a pollutant in violation of the Clean Water Act.
According to court documents and statements made in court, DIOSES was employed by Phoenix Products Company as the superintendent of the company’s facility located at 97 Napco Drive in Terryville. Phoenix Products provides formulation, blending and packaging services for a variety of personal care and swimming pool products. DIOSES’ responsibilities included overseeing the manufacturing and packaging of certain products at the location, some of which contained solvents and caustic formulations, inert materials, flammables, corrosives, oxidizers and powders.
Pursuant to a statewide pretreatment program approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the Clean Water Act, Phoenix Products and its employees were prohibited from discharging any pollutants into the Plymouth sewer system except in compliance with specific conditions and numeric limitations set forth in the regulations and statutes administered by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (CT DEP). Phoenix Products never applied for, nor received, a discharge permit from the State to discharge pollutants into the Plymouth sewer system.
Phoenix Products used sulfuric acid as part of the manufacturing process for a drain opener product, which generated highly acidic liquids, including wastewaters that contained various pollutants, including zinc and copper. During the course of fulfilling the terms of a contract with a customer for the drain opener product, Phoenix Products accumulated at its 97 Napco Drive manufacturing facility six 250 gallon totes (some partially full) containing off-specification product. While the company had an extensive recycling program, this off-specification product had no feasible commercial use, except for reintroduction of approximately five gallons into each new batch of product. The contents of the totes have been described as a black colored liquid, and subsequent sampling and analyses revealed that the liquid had a pH of less than 1, which means that it was highly acidic. A label on the totes read, “Old [drain opener product]. Out of spec.”
Beginning in September 2008 and continuing to October 1, 2008, DIOSES directed other employees of Phoenix Products to periodically dump several gallons of the off-specification drain opener product from the totes down certain drains at the 97 Napco Drive facility.
On September 11, 2008, the Plymouth Water Pollution Control Authority identified a pH of approximately 2.0 in its influent. Over subsequent days, it monitored its influent, which measured a consistently low pH every day until October 1, 2008, when the acidic wastewater was traced along the sewer line to a manhole located adjacent to 97 Napco Drive. On that date, inspectors from the Plymouth Water Pollution Control Authority and the CT DEP observed a black-colored wastewater entering the manhole that had a pH of approximately .26, which is extremely acidic. The inspectors went to the Phoenix Products manufacturing facility and observed the 250 gallon totes filled to varying degrees with a similar black liquid. They also saw black staining in the maintenance sink in the men’s restroom.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office is steadfast in our commitment to work with the EPA and our state partners to prosecute companies and their employees who recklessly violate environmental permits,” U.S. Attorney Fein stated.
Judge Thompson has scheduled sentencing for September 10, 2010, at which time DIOSES faces a maximum term of imprisonment of three years and a fine of up to $250,000.
On January 4, 2010, Phoenix Products pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Clean Water Act. On February 1, the company was sentenced to three years of probation. In addition, the Court followed the sentencing recommendation agreed to by the parties in a plea agreement that was reached in the context of global discussions with Phoenix Products and the State of Connecticut regarding the company’s criminal and civil liability. The company was ordered to pay a $50,000 federal criminal fine, a $25,000 civil penalty to the State of Connecticut, and a payment of $75,000 into the DEP Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) Account. Phoenix Products also must make an additional SEP payment of up to $100,000 if the business is sold.
Phoenix Products also has reimbursed the Town of Plymouth for the costs incurred to neutralize the acidic conditions.
This case was investigated by the Criminal Investigation Division of the Environmental Protection Agency. The case is being prosecuted by Senior Litigation Counsel Christopher W. Schmeisser and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lauterback.
U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE
Department of Justice
Project Safe Neighborhoods