Law Street Media

Baykeeper Brings Suit Against Stormwater Discharges

A river runnning through a boreal forest.

Aerial View of Boreal Nature Forest in Summer, Quebec, Canada

Raritan Baykeeper, a New York nonprofit seeking to protect the cleanliness of the state’s waterways, brought a legal action against an alleged perpetrator of polluted stormwater discharges, Pratt Paper. Raritan averred that such release violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) thus mandating an injunction to enjoin any further release of pollutants via the stormwater sledge and the levying of civil penalties.

In the associated complaint, Raritan accused Paper, a facility that recycles and manufactures paper products near the Hudson Bay, of creating a number of pollutants in the company’s stormwater discharges that outmatched that of releases from city sewage treatment plants. The plaintiff asserted that as a result, all aquatic life, ecosystems, and residential enjoyment of the Hudson Bay (and surrounding estuaries) would soon cease to exist.

The CWA prohibits the release of water-based pollutants absent the granting of a permit from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Raritan claimed that while Paper possessed such a permit, it violated the approved activities daily. According to the plaintiff, the permit required the defendant to clearly notate on the permit application the exact locations where stormwater stood to be discharged. Additionally, the permit required the defendant to install certain measurement equipment to ensure that pollutant discharge from approved outfalls did not exceed an amount which would potentially result in a violation of water quality standards set by the EPA.

Raritan avowed that Paper met neither of the pollutant permit’s requirements. According to the plaintiff, Paper let pollutants into the discharged stormwater via uncovered dumpsters, waste falling off barges, piles of on-site debris, and failing structures. The pollutants entering the waterways from this alleged activity included oil, grease, sediment, sizeable debris, metals, and manufacturing chemicals. Despite all this, concluded the plaintiff, the defendant failed to inspect the pollutant leaks, implement any control measures, identify outfalls, or notify the EPA of any deficiencies in agency-mandated pollution control activities.

Raritan sought an injunction mandating any actions necessary to stop future pollution and to clean-up previous waterway damage. The plaintiff further sought civil penalties of up to $55,800 for each day Paper violated the CWA. Raritan is represented by Edan Rotenberg and Julia Muench of the Super Law Group, LLC.

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