Airgas Sued for CWA Violations at Southern California Gas Manufacturing Plant

The Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice (CCAEJ) filed a civil complaint on behalf of its members against Airgas USA, LLC on Wednesday in the Central District of California, accusing the company of discharging polluted stormwater from its industrial facility in Rancho Cucamonga, California. The citizen suit claims that Airgas violated the discharge, treatment technology, monitoring requirements, and other procedural and substantive requirements of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit and the Clean Water Act (CWA).

The filing explains that CCAEJ is a non-profit organization headquartered in Jurupa Valley, California. It allegedly works with communities to advocate for environmental justice and pollution prevention, in particular in the Santa Ana River Watershed. CCAEJ members reportedly live near the watershed and enjoy using the river for recreation, wildlife viewing, and other activities. According to the filing, Airgas’s illegal discharges have and continue to harm the interests of CCAEJ’s members.

The CCAEJ further claims that Airgas discharges stormwater from its industrial gas manufacturing facility into a channel that eventually joins the Santa Ana River. Airgas’s NPDES permit reportedly sets maximum discharge levels for total suspended solids, nitrate plus nitrite nitrogen, iron, and aluminum. According to the complaint, Airgas has exceeded the maximum limits for each of the aforementioned pollutants in the last four years.

In addition, the four-count complaint charges Airgas with failure to make use of the best available treatment technologies, to certify and submit complete annual reports, to implement an adequate storm water pollution prevention plan, and to develop and institute an adequate monitoring plan. The plaintiff seeks declaratory and injunctive relief as well as its attorneys’ fees and costs in the action.

The plaintiff is represented by Lozeau | Drury LLP.