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Environmental Crimes

Photo of the Farmington River in Windsor Locks, Conn.  Courtesy of Kim SchweisbergCase Study - Hamilton Sundstrand, Windors Locks, Connecticut
Many environmental regulations depend upon accurate and truthful reporting by regulated entities. An environmental crime occurs when there is a negligent, knowing or willful violation of the law. As an example, Hamilton Sundstrand Corporation of Windsor Locks, CT, pleaded guilty in federal court to knowingly violating the federal Clean Water Act and agreed to pay $12 million in fines and environmental projects.

Hamilton Sundstrand Corporation’s facility in Windsor Locks manufactures air, spacecraft and marine control systems and components. As part of its manufacturing processes, the facility generates wastewater that contains toxic pollutants, including chromium and copper. Some of this wastewater is treated on-site before being discharged into the Farmington River.

In February 2007, Hamilton Sundstrand admitted in U.S. District Court in Hartford to falsifying data reported under the Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The permit, issued by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (CT DEP) under delegation from the US Environmental Protection Agency, establishes numerical limits for various pollutants.

To ensure compliance, the permit requires Hamilton Sundstrand to report sampling results to CT DEP. The corporation admitted to the Court that for a two-year period (2001 to 2003) it knowingly submitted monthly monitoring reports that falsely presented altered and selected data as “representative” of the chrome reactor discharge, thereby concealing repeated violations of its NPDES permit.

In addition, Hamilton Sundstrand admitted to knowingly discharging tens of thousands of gallons of contaminated wastewater to the Farmington River in September, 2003. The wastewater contained levels of copper that were well in excess of its established NPDES permit limits. The corporation was also cited for failing to notify CT DEP of this discharge.

As a result of Hamilton Sundstrand’s illegal conduct, the corporation is on probation for a period of 5 years and has agreed to pay a fine of $1 million. In addition, Hamilton Sundstrand agreed to spend $11 million to fund numerous environmental projects that will benefit Connecticut’s environment by improving water quality and ecosystem management, reducing pollution, and increasing public access to state and federal environmental monitoring data over the internet. In one such project, the company will eliminate all process wastewater discharges to the Farmington River. In addition, funds will be used to develop and implement an electronic management system that will make monitoring data required under the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act available to the public over the internet.

For further information on environmental crimes, visit EPA's Criminal Enforcement Program.

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