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The Department of Justice, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the state of Indiana today announced a settlement which requires the city of Anderson, Ind., to spend millions to improve the city's sewer system and wastewater treatment plant and to pay a $250,000 fine.
These improvements will significantly reduce pollution discharged to the nearby White River and will improve overall water quality in the river. The settlement resolves a lawsuit alleging multiple violations of the Clean Water Act by Anderson.
The settlement with the city complements an earlier settlement relating to a massive fish kill in the White River. Guide Corporation caused that fish kill by discharging toxic pollutants from its automotive parts production facility in Anderson through the city's sewer system.
As part of a June 2001 settlement with the United States and the state of Indiana, Guide agreed to pay $6 million for fish restocking and other restoration projects in and along the White River. The river restoration work being funded by that settlement is ongoing.
Today's settlement with Anderson will help promote that restoration effort, both by reducing pollutant discharges to the White River and by improving oversight of industrial dischargers like Guide.
"Like settlements the Justice Department has reached with other communities, this agreement requires Anderson to comply with the law by improving its outdated sewer system and treatment plant," said Tom Sansonetti, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "The sewer system improvements required by the settlement will significantly reduce pollution discharged to the White River and will accelerate its recovery."
The White River flows past Anderson before passing through the city of Indianapolis. Regulations and permits issued by EPA and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) require Anderson to collect and treat the city's municipal sewage and industrial wastewater before it is discharged to the White River.
According to the complaint filed with today's settlement, Anderson illegally discharged untreated and partially treated sewage to the river. The complaint also asserts that Anderson failed to oversee industrial users of its sewer system, as required by law.
Under today's settlement, Anderson will take immediate action to optimize the operation of its existing sewer system and wastewater treatment plant. Anderson also commits to prepare a plan for sewer system and treatment plant improvements to control sewage discharge on a long-term basis, and to construct whatever improvements are needed.
EPA believes that improvements such as increased wastewater storage or treatment capacity will probably be required, and may ultimately cost more than $20 million. The city will also adopt a tighter program to manage industrial wastewater discharges to its sewer system, as part of the settlement.
"Anderson's commitment to control discharges of raw sewage and upgrade its entire sewer system will have immediate benefits for the White River and long term benefits for the community," said EPA Regional Administrator Thomas Skinner.
The settlement with Anderson was reached through negotiations conducted by EPA, IDEM, the Indiana Attorney General's Office and the Department of Justice. EPA and IDEM will oversee Anderson's compliance with the settlement agreement.
The settlement agreement was filed today with the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis and is subject to a 30-day public comment period.