Hog Processing Plant Sued for Polluting Los Angeles River

Plaintiff Jorge Lopez has filed a Clean Water Act (CWA) complaint in the Central District of California last week against Clougherty Packing, LLC (Clougherty) for allegedly failing to observe pollution discharge rules. The citizen suit contends that since at least December 2014, the defendant has discharged tainted stormwater from its Vernon, California, pig processing facility in violation of both the CWA and its California-issued general industrial stormwater permit.

The complaint contends that the defendant’s hog processing and prepared meat products plant carries out various activities, including hog preparation and conversion, wastewater treatment, and the manufacture and packaging of various pork and beef products. The filing states that the facility releases contaminants, including suspended solids, waste oils, lubricants, fuels, trash, grease, heavy metals, and other pollutants.

The plaintiff, a California resident, purportedly enjoys recreating in the Los Angeles River, the watershed that the Clougherty is accused of polluting. The discharge of fouled stormwater, the filing contends, harms the plaintiff and other locals’ interests in the river and watershed.

In particular, the plaintiff points to several supposed missteps and omissions Clougherty made in the past five years, including a lack of testing and a failure to maintain an adequate pollution discharge prevention system. The complaint also cites test results submitted by Clougherty indicating excessive levels of pollutants like oil and grease.

The plaintiff contends that Clougherty has violated provisions of its industrial stormwater permit, including its effluent limitations, has failed to develop and implement an adequate storm water  pollution prevention plan, and an adequate monitoring and reporting program. For Clougherty’s alleged errors, the plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, the imposition of civil penalties, and the award of his litigation costs.

The plaintiff is represented by Brodsky & Smith, LLC.