Last Friday, a suit was filed in the Middle District of Pennsylvania against defendant Hanover Foods Corporation by the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association. The plaintiff has accused Hanover Foods of committing “significant and ongoing” violations of both the Clean Water Act and Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law at their facility in southern Pennsylvania.
At their facility, the complaint says, the defendant has an on-site industrial wastewater treatment plane. They allegedly discharge the water to the Penn Township wastewater treatment plant, and from there it goes to Oil Creek and then to the Lower Susquehanna River.
Under the Clean Water Act, facilities are not allowed to discharge polluted water absent a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System, or NPDES, permit. The Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law also prohibits any person in the state to discharge polluted water.
In Pennsylvania, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is in charge of issuing NPDES permits in accordance with both the Clean Water Act and Clean Streams Law, the complaint said. The DEP allegedly issued the defendant a permit in 2015; although the permit expired in 2020, it was continued by the DEP and therefore is still in effect. The permit “authorizes Defendant to discharge specific pollutants from the Facility from several permitted outfalls, with specific limits on several parameters.”
The complaint asserts that the defendants continually discharge water that has pollutant levels exceeding those allowed by the aforementioned permit, causing “an observed change in the color and turbidity of Oil Creek.” The pollutants Hanover Foods is discharging coupled with their failure to comply with other regulations constitute what the plaintiff believes are express violations of the Clean Water Act and the Clean Streams Law. Further, since they discharge their water to a township wastewater treatment plant, they must adhere to the regulations imposed by the pretreatment permit. The complaint explains that the defendant has failed in that respect also.
Ultimately, the Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper Association is charging the defendant with six separate counts of violations, failures to properly operate, and unauthorized discharges. They are seeking a declaration of the misconduct, an injunction preventing the defendant from engaging in further misconduct, as well as penalties and other relief. The plaintiff is represented by the Environmental Integrity Project.