The PQ Corporation of Valley Forge, Pa., recently was charged with violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) at its plants in St. Louis, Mo., Chester, Pa. and Baltimore, Md.
PQ's facilities use high heat to manufacture sodium silicate from soda ash and sand. The defendant allegedly discharged wastewater in violation of applicable CWA pretreatment requirements from its St. Louis facility between Jan. 1997 and Nov. 1999 into the metropolitan St. Louis sewer system, and from its Chester facility between Dec. 1998 and Apr. 2000 into a Delaware County sewer system. The defendant also allegedly discharged wastewater from its Baltimore, Md., facility between 1995 and 2000 into waters of the United States without a CWA permit.
Discharging improperly treated wastewater into sewers can damage sewage treatment equipment and prevent sewage being properly treated. Wastewater discharge into surface waters without a permit can harm fish and wildlife and can make the waters unsafe for recreational or drinking water purposes.
If convicted on all charges in all courts, the company faces a maximum possible fine of up to $1.5 million. The case was investigated by the St. Louis, Philadelphia and Washington Area Offices of the U.S. EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the Maryland Attorney General's Office, and the Metropolitan Sewer District of St. Louis with the assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center.
The U.S. Attorney's Offices in St. Louis, Philadelphia and Baltimore are prosecuting the case. The filing of federal charges is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in a court of law.
The charges were filed in three courts: U.S. District Court in St. Louis, U.S. District Court in Philadelphia and the U.S. District Court in Baltimore.