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Kanubhai Patel, Manubhai Patel and Mukesh Patel recently pled guilty to conspiracy to violate the Clean Water Act (CWA) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago.
The three were owners of New Tech Electronics, Inc., a now defunct electronics parts manufacturing firm in Bensenville, Ill. From approximately April 3, 1997 to approximately December 19, 2001, the New Tech facility violated its CWA discharge permit by discharging higher than permitted concentrations of acidic and caustic wastewater from its manufacturing process into the Bensenville sewer system through a bypass hose. The discharges occurred every one to three weeks.
The illegal discharges were diluted in the sewer system by water from a garden hose which was placed into a manhole and hidden from view by a parked car. Discharging acids and caustics into sewers in excess of permits can disrupt the normal processes of sewage treatment plants resulting in outflows that are harmful to fish and other aquatic life.
The Bensenville sewage treatment plant discharges into Addison Creek, which is a protected waterway. The case was investigated by the Chicago Area Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division with assistance from Bensenville wastewater treatment officials and EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center.