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United States reaches $1 million settlement with Seven-up/RC Bottling Company of So Cal

Release Date: 11/10/2005
Contact Information: Francisco Arcaute, (213) 244-1815, cell: (213) 798-1404 United States Attorney's Office: Thom Mrozek, (213) 894 -6947

Vernon, Buena Park bottling plants discharged pollutants into L.A. and San Gabriel Rivers

LOS ANGELES -- In the largest Clean Water Act case ever taken against a soft drink bottler, the Seven-Up/RC Bottling Company of Southern California has agreed to pay more than $1 million in criminal and civil fines for industrial stormwater and wastewater violations at its soft drink bottling plants in Vernon and Buena Park, Calif.

Under the terms of this global settlement, which concludes three years of investigation into both Seven-Up facilities by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles and the EPA, the Seven-Up/RC Bottling Company of Southern California will pay a $600,000 criminal penalty and a $428,250 civil penalty.

This morning, attorneys for Seven-Up are scheduled to appear in United States District Court in Los Angeles to enter guilty pleas to 12 counts of violating the Clean Water Act.

"Today's settlement reinforces EPA's commitment to protect public health by holding Seven-Up accountable for their illegal discharges into the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers," said Wayne Nastri, Regional Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency's Pacific Southwest Region. "We will continue to protect our waters and human health and prosecute those who violate our environmental laws."

United States Attorney Debra Wong Yang stated: "The health of our citizens and our environment are of paramount importance. We strive to keep our waters clean and ensure that business does its part to protect the environment. I am pleased that the Seven-Up/RC Bottling Company has taken responsibility for its actions. The criminal fine paid by the company will benefit several environment programs that will benefit all citizens of Southern California."

Polluted runoff is the leading cause of water pollution in the Los Angeles area. Stormwater runoff can carry pollutants from industrial sources metals, oil and grease, acidic wastewater, bacteria, trash and other toxic pollutants into nearby water sources. The EPA requires industrial facilities to prevent water pollution by complying with federal and state water pollution requirements.

The Regional Water Quality Control Boards in Los Angeles and Santa Ana, the Orange County Sanitation District, the city of Vernon, and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works assisted the EPA and the United States Attorney's Office in its investigation.

A copy of the consent decree lodged today is available on the Department of Justice website at Copies of the information and plea agreement filed in the criminal case are available by emailing to

For more information on the EPA's regional stormwater program, please visit:

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Seven-Up/RC Bottling Company of Southern California settlement fact sheet:
In 2002 and 2003, the EPA investigated Seven-Up/RC Bottling Company of Southern California's bottling plant located at 3220 E. 26th Street in Vernon and discovered that the facility had been discharging pollutants directly into the Los Angeles River. The pollutants - grease, petroleum by-products and acid drink product "rejects" - created a stain on the bank of the Los Angeles River.

In 2003, the EPA discovered that Seven-Up/RC Bottling Company of Southern California's plant located at 7225 Orangethorpe in Buena Park discharged acidic industrial wastewater into the Orange County Sanitation District sewer system. Acidic wastewater can corrode sewer pipes and damage the integrity of wastewater treatment plants.

Further investigations revealed that both plants failed to follow key Clean Water Act storm water discharge permit requirements, resulting in prolonged discharges of polluted runoff to the San Gabriel River and the Los Angeles River. Both waterways are already contaminated with oil, nutrients, metals, and other pollutants commonly used by industrial facilities.

And in 2004, the EPA discovered that Seven-Up/RC Bottling Company of Southern California's Buena Park plant discharged industrial wastewater through a makeshift rooftop pipe into a tributary of the San Gabriel River.

Criminal Settlement
The Seven-Up/RC Bottling Company of Southern California will plead guilty to 12 misdemeanor violations of the Clean Water Act. The company has agreed to pay a $600,000 criminal fine, half of which will be dedicated to supporting environmental projects administered by Channel Islands National Park, the National Marine Fisheries Service, Los Angeles County and the California Hazardous Materials Association.

Civil Settlement
For the civil settlement, in addition to paying $428,250 in penalties, the Seven-Up/RC Bottling Company of Southern California must:
- designate an environmental director;
- install a new treatment system at the Buena Park facility;
- develop a stormwater control plan and conduct inspections of both facilities; and
- submit quarterly compliance reports to the EPA.

On October 18, Environmental Enforcement Section of the United States Department of Justice filed the consent decree and civil complaint on behalf of EPA in United States District Court in Los Angeles.

The Clean Water Act precludes any company that commits criminal violations from obtaining federal contracts. To avoid being precluded from obtaining federal contracts, the Seven-Up/RC Bottling Company of Southern California and its parent company, Dr Pepper/Seven-Up Bottling Group, have also entered into a suspension and debarment agreement with EPA to develop a corporate-wide environmental program, which will include an environmental inspection program and a "hotline" so employees can anonymously report environmental or safety violations.
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