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P>INDIANAPOLIS A maker of automobile lights will pay $14.2 million and plead guilty to criminal charges for a chemical release that killed millions of fish and fouled much of Indianapolis' drinking water.
If accepted by a federal judge, the plea agreement by the Guide Corp. would result in a $1.96 million federal fine, U.S. Attorney Timothy Morrison said June 11.
Guide would also forfeit nearly the same amount, representing the economic benefit it obtained from the release, in one of the nation's first uses of asset forfeiture to fight environmental crime, Morrison said.
The company would also pay $10 million to settle state and federal lawsuits. That includes $6 million to be used to restock the river with fish and other wildlife.
Guide was accused of discharging 1.6 million gallons of water contaminated with industrial chemicals into the sewer system of the city of Anderson in December 1999. The chemicals killed an estimated 5 million fish in a 50-mile stretch of the White River downstream to Indianapolis.
The river supplies about 60 percent of the drinking water for some 800,000 people in and around Indianapolis. The Indianapolis Water Co. had to increase water treatment and draw additional water from other sources.