Conservation group sues Republic Services, alleging water pollution

By Elizabeth Alt | May 20, 2018

The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California claiming that Republic Services of Sonoma County Inc. is violating the Clean Water Act by dumping polluted storm water into area rivers.

SAN FRANCISCO – The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California claiming that Republic Services of Sonoma County Inc. is violating the Clean Water Act by dumping polluted storm water into area rivers.

“The failure on the part of industrial facility operators, such as defendant, to apply for and comply with the General Permit is recognized as a significant cause of the continuing decline in water quality of receiving waters.”

The alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the environment, wildlife, and natural waters. The alliance claims that Sonoma owns and operates the waste transfer station Guerneville where they accept and sort waste. It is alleged in court documents that violations of the state’s General Industrial Permit for storm water discharges, State Water Resources Control Board, Water Quality Orders, and permits for discharging storm water.

The lawsuit claims the transfer station is illegally discharging polluted storm water into “an unnamed tributary, which drains to Pocket Canyon Creek, which drains to the Russian River," all bodies of water protected by the Clean Water Act.

The alliance claims the Russian River, just downstream from the station, is polluted with “aluminum, indicator bacteria, sedimentation and siltation, specific conductivity, and temperature 40.” It's claimed in court documents that because of storm water discharge, the Russian River is heavily polluted and now on the EPA’s list for bodies of water that do not meet acceptable standards.

CSPA claims the facility has “failed to test with adequate frequency, has not sampled all discharge points, has not analyzed the storm water samples collected at the Facility for all of the required pollutant parameters, and has not used the correct test methods to analyze their storm water samples”, noting that the few samples the facility has recorded exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards for Iron, Aluminum, Zinc, and Chemical Oxygen Demand.

The complaint alleges the facility has not developed a required Storm Water Prevention Plan, and “failed to develop and implement an adequate monitoring and reporting program for the facility."

“The discharges of contaminated storm water are contributing to the violation of the applicable water quality standards in the Statewide Water Quality Control Plan and the applicable Regional Board’s Basin Plan, …  because defendant’s storm water discharges contain high levels of total suspended solids and aluminum, which contribute to the Russian River’s sediment and aluminum impairment.”

The alliance seeks civil penalties of $37,500 for daily violations, orders to stop the facility from unlawfully discharging storm water, an order enjoining the defendants to remedy the situation, and attorney fees and costs.

The alliance is represented by the Law Offices of Andrew L. Packard.

United States District Court for the Northern District of California, case number 3:18-cv-02731-MEJ

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