Law Street Media

Orange County Coastkeeper Sues Owner of Metal Finishing Facility Under Clean Water Act

Scientist sampling creek's polluted water

On Thursday, the Orange County Coastkeeper filed a complaint in the Central District of California against Hixson Metal Finishing, FPC Management, LLC and Reid Washbon alleging violations of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and Clean Water Act. 

According to the complaint, the Orange County Coastkeeper is a California nonprofit public benefit corporation dedicated to the preservation, protection and defense of the environment, wildlife and natural resources of Orange County. 

Additionally, the complaint states that Hixson is a California corporation and FPC is a California limited liability company that both own and operate a facility located in Newport Beach, California. Further, the complaint states that Reid Washbon owns the underlying real property of the Newport Beach facility through the Reid Washbon Trust. The complaint purports that the primary industrial purpose of the facility is performing metal finishing services through anodizing, electroplating, painting, dyeing, vacuum metallizing, coating, sandblasting and non-destructive testing.

Coastkeeper alleges that the defendants have unlawfully discharged pollutants from their industrial operations at the Newport Beach facility into water of the United States. Specifically, the complaint alleges that pollutants have been and continue to be tracked throughout the facility by vehicles and machinery which then contaminate areas outside the facility including municipal stormwater drains, and eventually, receiving waters of the United States. The complaint purports that the pollutants that are discharged from the facility include heavy metals and chemicals used for the facility’s metal finishing operation. 

The plaintiff states that this discharge is in violation of the facilities Storm Water Permit, Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan and the Clean Water Act. Coastkeeper further argues that the defendants have failed to properly develop and implement best management practices and report pollution under the Clean Water Act to prevent pollution from their facility. 

Coastkeeper states that the defendants illegal discharge of pollutants causes environmental harm to the receiving waters of the United States including Newport Bay and has caused severe aesthetic and recreational harm to Coastkeeper’s members living in the Newport Beach area. 

Accordingly, the plaintiff filed the present suit to recover injunctive and declaratory relief, civil penalties of $59,973 per day per violation of the Clean Water Act, attorney’s fees and costs for the defendants’ alleged violation of the Clean Water Act and the provisions of their Storm Water Permit.

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