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Pennsylvania Man Pleads to Conspiracy to Violate the Clean Water Act

Release Date: 09/22/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Dave Ryan, 202-564-4355 /

(9/22/05) James J. Bell of Glenshaw, Pa., pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiracy to violate the Clean Water Act (CWA) on Sept. 6 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania. The defendant was formerly the plant manager at the Iron City Uniform Rental Company in Pittsburgh. From about October 1995 to July 2000, Bell conspired with others to violate the CWA when he directed that required samples of wastewater from Iron City's laundry either be altered to yield false results or be taken from sampling locations not authorized in Iron City's CWA discharge permit. In addition, employees were ordered to delay inspectors while clean water was added to wastewater prior to sampling. In the process of cleaning used uniforms and other soiled items, the laundry discharged approximately one million gallons of wastewater each month into sewers operated by the Allegheny County Sanitary District. The wastewater contained benzene, toluene and oil. Discharging wastewater with higher than permitted levels of benzene, toluene and oil into sewers can create a hazard for sanitary facility workers and can prevent the proper treatment of sewage at treatment plants. When sentenced, Bell faces a maximum possible sentence of up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000. The case was investigated by the Philadelphia Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Pittsburgh.