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U.S. EPA orders Clean Harbors to correct violations of federal Clean Water Act in San Jose

Release Date: 5/27/2005
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, (415) 947-4297

SAN FRANCISCO –The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered a large industrial waste management facility in San Jose to comply with federal Clean Water Act requirements for wastewater the company discharges to the city’s sewer system and municipal wastewater treatment plant.

Clean Harbors Environmental Services operates a facility on Berryessa Road in San Jose that accepts and treats wastewater from industrial facilities and site clean-ups. After treatment at Clean Harbors’ San Jose facility, the wastewater flows through the city’s sewer system to the municipal wastewater treatment plant. Clean Harbors operates more than 100 waste management facilities across the nation.

The EPA inspected the Clean Harbors facility on Jan. 12, 2004 and determined the company violated federal water pollution standards by discharging wastewater with oils and solvents without a permit, discharging wastewater to the city’s sewer system that exceeded limits for titanium, not adequately sampling its wastewater, and not following sample reporting requirements.

The also agency determined that Clean Harbors submitted incomplete and inconsistent information required in a formal EPA request made in August 2004.

Finally, the EPA determined that Clean Harbors did not sample its wastewater for all required pollutants before discharging it to the San Jose sewer system; did not submit all results of sampling conducted to the city as required by federal law; diluted the waste streams as an alternative wastewater treatment; collected wastewater samples that were not reflective of the company’s actual wastewater discharge; and did not consistently use correct analytical sampling methods.

“Industries such as Clean Harbors, whose business is the management and disposal of a wide variety of wastes containing toxic chemicals, must comply with federal water pollution control standards to protect the city’s sewers, municipal wastewater treatment plant and the sensitive South San Francisco Bay environment,” said Alexis Strauss, director of the Water Division in the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region.

The EPA’s order to Clean Harbors requires the facility to immediately comply with federal regulations by demonstrating that its wastewater is being correctly treated and monitored. The order also requires Clean Harbors to provide engineering reports with proposed changes to its wastewater treatment system; to provide updated operating procedures; to monitor correctly for cyanide; and to sample its wastewater for a year and send the results to EPA to verify the facility is complying with the order.

For more information, and to view the full text of the order, please visit: