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Company fined for stream pollution

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EG Systems must pay $160,000 after an employee disposed a herbicide-pesticide-fertilizer mixture into a waterway.

| February 23, 2012

PITTSBURGH – The Department of Environmental Protection fined EG Systems of Marysville, Ohio, $160,000 in connection with an employee’s deliberate disposal of an herbicide-pesticide-fertilizer mixture into a small Allegheny County stream. EG Systems does business in the Pittsburgh area as Scotts Lawn Service.

“The results in this case serve notice that DEP will work diligently and tirelessly to protect our streams and waterways,” DEP Southwest Regional Director Susan Malone said.

In June 2010, DEP investigators discovered an EG Systems employee at the Scotts Lawn Service location in Monroeville had built a siphon system connecting an 8,000-gallon holding tank to a gutter downspout drain. The drain empties directly into a storm sewer, which discharges into an unnamed tributary that flows into Thompson Run.

On June 30, 2010, the employee used the siphon to drain five gallons of a mixture of herbicide, pesticide, fertilizer and water into the drain, in order to test how long it would take to drain a known volume of the material. Neighbors noticed a strong odor coming from the storm sewer, but officials could not pinpoint the source because the discharge was relatively small.

The next day, the employee used the siphon to discharge between 800 and 1,000 gallons of the mixture into the drain. Neighbors again complained about the odor and contacted local police and fire officials. This time, officials found the source and contacted DEP, which notified EG Systems. The company promptly hired an environmental remediation contractor to handle the cleanup.

DEP’s investigation uncovered the employee’s arrangement and resulted in eight violations of the state’s Solid Waste Management Act and the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law. The agency and the company entered into a Consent Assessment of Civil Penalty. The $160,000 penalty DEP collected goes into the Clean Water Fund, which is used to address pollution issues.

In a separate action, the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General reached a settlement on criminal charges against the employee. He must serve two years probation, pay a $2,500 fine and perform 40 hours of community service.
 

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