U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of Louisiana
(318) 676-3641
May 23, 2014

Colfax Treating Company Pleads Guilty to Charge of Negligent Discharge of Waste into Pineville Sewer System

ALEXANDRIA, LA—United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that Colfax Treating Company LLC pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Dee D. Drell to one count of negligent discharge of waste materials in violation of its daily limit permit. Company representative Johnathan Martin pleaded guilty on the company’s behalf at the hearing.

According to evidence presented at the guilty plea, Colfax Treating Company, a wood treating facility in Pineville, Louisiana, negligently discharged pentachlorophenol on June 13, 2008, into Pineville’s sewer system, which leads to the publicly owned water treatment works. The company discharged 7.1 milligrams per liter of the chemical in violation of the Clean Water Act. The permitted discharge amount is 5.64 milligrams per liter, which is a difference of 1.46 milligrams per liter. Pentachlorophenol is used in the company’s wood treating process.

The minimum fine for the illegal discharge from the company’s property is $2,500 per day of violation, with a maximum fine of $25,000 per day of violation. Sentencing is set for August 1, 2014.

“Our environment matters, Finley stated. “My office will continue to hold accountable those who pollute our air, land and water. Companies and their employees cannot participate in dangerous activities that place the general public in harm’s way. Hopefully, this case serves as a deterrent to those who would ignore the environmental laws of this nation and state.”

“The people of Pineville, like other communities, expect a sewage treatment system that is reliable and safe,” said Ivan Vikin, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Louisiana. “When companies violate pre-treatment rules, improperly discharged waste can sicken people, injure wildlife, and damage expensive equipment. Today’s plea demonstrates that companies will be held responsible for environmental crimes that endanger communities.”

“Pre-treatment programs are in place throughout many of the cities in Louisiana,” said Louisiana DEQ Secretary Peggy Hatch. “These programs place limits on the types and amounts of pollutants that businesses can safely discharge to the city sewers. Negligently violating pre-treatment limits is a serious issue, and we will continue to work with our federal partners at EPA CID to address and prosecute these types of crimes.”

The criminal investigation divisions of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, along with the FBI, conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph G. Jarzabek prosecuted the case.

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