Industrial Company Sued by Environmental Organization for Unlawful Pollution

A complaint was filed last Friday in the Central District of California by plaintiff Orange County Coastkeeper against defendant Alloy Die Casting Co. The complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief and civil penalties alleges that as a result of the defendant’s industrial operation, unlawful pollutants have been discharged into the City of Buena Park’s municipal storm sewer system in violation of the Clean Water Act and California’s Storm Water Permit.

The pollution allegedly began on March 28, 2017 and remains ongoing. The City of Buena Park’s municipal storm sewer system ultimately flows into the Pacific Ocean, but other receiving waters include Fullerton Creek, Coyote Creek, and San Gabriel River. Orange County Coastkeeper asserts that the pollution on the part of the defendant violates both the substantive and procedural requirements of the Storm Water Permit and the Clean Water Act.

The pollutants that enter waterways account for over half of the annual total pollution entering U.S. surface waters. The plaintiff contends that the receiving waters that the defendant is discharging pollutants into are ecologically sensitive areas, meaning that they are “essential habitat for dozens of fish and bird species as well as macro-invertebrate and invertebrate species.” By discharging pollutants into these areas, the plaintiff explains that the defendant is putting the species that inhabit the area as well as the residents who use it at risk.

The Clean Water Act prohibits the discharge of pollutants into U.S. waters without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The act authorizes states to regulate industrial storm water discharges through these permits, which they can issue. California has a statewide general NPDES permit which details that “industrial dischargers must secure coverage under the Storm Water Permit and comply with its terms or obtain and comply with an individual NPDES permit.” Since the defendant’s discharges are not authorized by an NPDES permit, they are in violation of California’s Storm Water Permit.

The complaint cites three separate violations of the Clean Water Act and seven individual violations of California’s Storm Water Permit. The plaintiff is seeking favorable judgment on each count, an order preventing further misconduct and requiring the defendant to comply with regulations, an order requiring the defendant to take action to restore the polluted receiving waters and pay civil penalties, and more.

The plaintiff is represented by Lozeau Drury LLP.