California Fishing Association Sues McLane Foodservice Over Pollution

The California Sportfishing and Protection Alliance (CSPA) filed a complaint in the Eastern District of California against McLane Foodservice, Inc., alleging McLane violated several environmental regulations, including the Clean Water Act (CWA), by discharging polluted stormwater and non-stormwater from the its facility in Tracy, Calif. CSPA “has approximately 2,000 members who live, recreate and work in and around waters of the State of California” including those at issue in this suit.

The McLane-operated industrial facility’s general purpose is the intake of refrigerated food, along with storage, and transportation.  This involves loading and unloading of trucks with food and industrial equipment at its loading docks.  The facility is approximately 91 acres with 22 acres exposed to stormwater.  The CSPA argued five causes of action against McLane under the CWA.  First, they alleged discharges from the facility contained stormwater in violation of the Storm Water Permit’s Effluent Limitations and the Clean Water Act, specifically stating, “[e]ach day since at least February 10, 2015 that the Owners/Operators discharge storm water containing pollutants in violation of the Storm Water Permit is a separate and distinct violation of Section 301(a) of the CWA, 33 U.S.C. § 1311(a).”  The second charge focuses on sections 33 U.S.C. §§ 1311(a), 1342, 1365(a) and 1365(f) of the CWA.  The third and fourth claim related to the McLane’s alleged failure to “adequately develop, implement, and/or revise a storm water pollutant prevention plan,” and “failure to adequately develop, implement, and/or revise a monitoring and reporting plan” in volition of 33 U.S.C. §§ 1311(a), 1342, 1365(a) and 1365(f) of the CWA.  The final claim argued is that McLane has failed to sample, analyze and report stormwater in violation of the same sections of the CWA as stated above.

The waterways affected are the San Joaquin River and the Sacramento-San-Joaquin Delta.  The greater delta has a vast ecosystem that is home to over 500 plant and animal species, including the Delta Smelt.  The Delta Smelt were listed as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act since 2010; there are also 55 other species of fish active in the delta. The facility has two discharge points, but only the point the discharges stormwater from the industrial areas of the facility was tested.  Both discharge points flow into a drainage ditch, which connects to Sugar Cut and then the Old River.  Old River then flows Clifton Court Forebay, which is a part of the greater delta. 

The CSPA requested relief a court order declaring McLane violated the CWA, an injunction to prevent McLane from further violating the CWA, civil monetary penalties for violations of the CWA occurring prior to November 2, 2015, and attorney’s fees.

McLane is not the only operator of a facility in California that causes pollution to be sued by the CSPA.  The CSPA filed suits in January and April of 2020 regarding similar alleged environmental allegations under the Clean Water Act against Foundations Constructors, Inc., Canyon Rock Company, Inc., and Tri C Manufacturing, Inc.

The case has been assigned to Chief District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller. The plaintiffs are represented by Aqua Terra Aeris Law Group.