Lowell Yarn Processing Company Sentenced for Environmental Crimes

Oct. 7, 2004
The Dutton Yarn Co. of Lowell, Mass., has agree to plead guilty for having negligently discharged a pollutant into the Meadowbrook River without a permit, in violation of the Clean Water Act, and will pay a $300,000 fine.

United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan and Michael E. Hubbard, special agent in charge of the EPA Region I's Criminal Investigation Division, announced the sentencing on Oct. 5, and said the company also agreed to establish a compliance program designed to address environmental matters.

The company admitted that as part of its yarn processing operation, it generated process wastewater, which it discharged into an underground pipe leading into the Meadowbrook River. The wastewater discharge contained Bio-chemical Oxygen Demand and Chemical Oxygen Demand, pollutants which sap oxygen from the water.

Dutton Yarn admitted it was negligent in allowing this direct discharge to occur over a period of nearly 3 years because: (a) the company had access to architectural drawings depicting the subterranean pipe at the facility that led to the Meadowbrook River; (b) there were multiple manhole covers in plain sight on the floor of the facility which led to the subterranean pipe; (c) questions were raised by the city of Lowell concerning discrepancies between the volume of water used by the plant and the amount that was being discharged into the sewer system; (d) and a steady discharge of wastewater into the Meadowbrook River was discovered in 2002 by Dutton Yarn employees who were walking the perimeter of the facility, but the discharge was not investigated.

The company cooperated fully and completely, providing government agents with full access to its Prince Street facility. Upon learning of the illegal discharge from EPA, Dutton Yarn voluntarily ceased yarn processing operations at the Prince Street facility until the necessary repairs were made to bring the plant into compliance with the law.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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