The PQ Corporation of Valley Forge, Pa., recently pled guilty to violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) at its plants in St. Louis, Mo., Chester, Pa., and Baltimore, Md. by improperly discharging wastewater into public sewers and surface waters.
The previous charges filed in three federal districts against PQ were combined into one case in Maryland court.
According to the plea agreement, PQ will pay a $450,000 fine, provide $60,000 in restitution to the City of Baltimore, pay $47,000 to the Delaware County Regional Water Quality Control Authority, serve three years probation, and pay $50,000 to fund community service projects.
PQ’s facilities manufacture a variety of inorganic chemicals including water-soluble sodium silicates that are used in detergents, silica gel, adhesives and catalysts.
The March 2004 charges claimed that PQ discharged wastewater in violation of applicable CWA pretreatment requirements from its St. Louis and Chester facilities into sewer systems operated by Metropolitan St. Louis and Delaware County.
PQ was also charged with discharging wastewater without a CWA permit from its Baltimore facility into U.S. waters. Discharging improperly treated wastewater into sewers can damage sewage treatment equipment and prevent proper sewage treatment.
Unpermitted discharge of wastewater can also harm fish and wildlife and make the waters unsafe for recreational or drinking water purposes.
The case was investigated by the Washington, Philadelphia and St. Louis Area Offices of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, and the Metropolitan Sewer District of St. Louis with the assistance of EPA’s National Enforcement Investigations Center.
It has been prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in St. Louis, Philadelphia and Baltimore.