Kirsch Inc., a firm that operates a metal plating plant in Beacon Falls, Conn., recently pled guilty to ten counts of negligently violating the Clean Water Act (CWA).
As a result of its plea agreement, Kirsch will pay a federal criminal fine of $1.5 million and will also pay an additional $1 million to the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection to restore and improve the Naugatuck River.
Kirsch's Beacon Falls plant produced electroplated metal products including drapery hooks, safety pins and electrical parts. The defendant was required to pretreat its wastewater to reduce levels of toxic pollutants before the water was discharged into the Naugatuck River. Kirsch hired wastewater treatment workers who were not properly trained to run its treatment equipment. On several occasions between December 1996 and April 1997, wastewater discharges violated the plant's permit limits for chemicals such as cyanide, chlorine, nickel and zinc. All of these chemicals are toxic to humans and are harmful to fish, aquatic life and wildlife that live in the river or drink from it.
The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division with assistance from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut.