Activist Group Sues Aviation Company for Polluting the L.A. River

On Wednesday, activist group Los Angeles Waterkeeper filed a complaint in the Central District of California against Hughes Brothers Aircrafters, Inc. for allegedly discharging polluted water from their aviation manufacturing facility in central California.

Storm and sewage drains all meet in Los Angeles which flows out into Santa Monica Bay and across the West Coast, where companies like the defendant’s “discharge storm water […] contaminated with sedimental, heavy metals, trash, and other pollutants,” the complaint began.

The defendant’s facility, according to the complaint, shapes, heats and treats various metals into aircraft parts and expels their waste into sewage channels with storm drain inlets that drain into the Los Angeles River. The river eventually flows into San Pedro Bay and then into the Pacific Ocean, in heavily populated areas where average citizens go to enjoy swimming, surfing and more. Several times from 2018 to 2022, Waterkeeper measured Hughes’ drainage inlets and found that they had succeeded the EPA regulated amounts of metals in their stormwater for zinc, copper, lead, aluminum and others.

Waterkeeper alleged that Hughes failed to implement EPA-approved plans that would have achieved acceptable levels of pollution. According to the complaint, Hughes failed to demonstrate that “a mobile wet scrubber or vacuum sweeper is maintained to conduct sweeping activities” and also failed to prove that they “store all materials capable of generating… fugitive lead dust in sealed leak-proof containers.” The defendant allegedly also has not created a plan to monitor their emissions and has submitted flawed tests to the EPA. As a result, Waterkeeper is suing for violations of the EPA’s General Permit Conditions.

The plaintiff is seeking declaratory relief, injunctive relief enjoining the defendant to “immediately” implement storm water pollution control, prepare a Pollution Prevention Plan, civil penalties of up to $59,973 per day, attorney’s fees and costs, and other relief.

Los Angeles Waterkeeper is represented by Sycamore Law, Inc.