Resulting from a federal investigation by the U.S. EPA, eyeglass lens manufacturer Carl Zeiss Vision has been ordered to pay $750,000 for its violation of the federal Clean Water Act. The company openly admitted to operating for three years without the necessary industrial wastewater discharge permit, consistently discharging hazardous waste into the sewer system of Clackamas County in Oregon.
The company also allowed untreated corrosive liquid waste to infiltrate a public sanitary sewer connection which was linked to the county’s water service sewer system, while an investigator discovered that the substance discharged into the sewer also contained the metals cadmium and lead.
Lawyers representing Carl Zeiss Vision argued in hopes of a $150,000 penalty rather than the $750,000 price tag they must now pay, claiming roughly $600,000 had been spent by the company to remedy its violations. The company hauls in an annual profit of approximately $35 million. U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon doled out the final decision, believing the fine to be sufficient and not excessive.
EPA initially opened an investigation into the matter as far back as 2014 when a maintenance worker for the company filed a complaint, eventually leading to the agency serving a search warrant at their manufacturing plant in 2015.