LOS ANGELES (CN) – A company that makes retail store fixtures released excess pollutants into the city of Corona’s treatment system, a federal judge ruled.
U.S. District Judge Dean Pregerson found that Uniweb Inc. washed high levels of sulfate, nickel, sodium and total dissolved solids (TDS) down the drains as part of its manufacturing operations, which include cleaning and rinsing steel, exceeding limits set by its city-issued permit.
The ruling is in response to a 2007 lawsuit brought by Inland Empire Waterkeeper, a chapter of Orange County Coastkeeper, which cited Uniweb for more than 1,000 violations of the Clean Water Act.
Pregerson found violations of the act, but refused to enumerate them until civil penalties were in question.
The court rejected Uniweb’s defense that a city TDS-offset program increased allowable pollutant levels, finding the program invalid. Corona failed to provide public notice when adopting the program, the ruling states, violating procedures for modifications of the Clean Water Act. The invalidity of the program, which aimed to “relax local limits,” made Uniweb subject to permit discharge limits, Pregerson wrote.
Uniweb replaced filtration equipment after 2005 and 2006 nickel violations, but Pregerson stated that this does not clear Uniweb from the possibility of recurring violations.