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Release Date: 04/04/1997
Contact Information: Alice Kaufman, EPA Press Office, (617) 918-1064

BOSTON - The New England office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed penalties totaling $125,000 against two Connecticut towns -- $55,000 against the city of Meriden, and $70,000 against the borough of Naugatuck for discharges of pollutants to public waterways. These enforcement actions are being taken in cooperation with the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (CTDEP).

"Our cities and towns have an equal -- if not greater -- obligation than private firms to comply with the nation's environmental laws," said John P. DeVillars, administrator for EPA's New England office. "This action makes it clear that EPA intends to hold them to that standard.":

According to EPA, both Meriden and Naugatuck were in violation of the total residual chlorine pollutant limits detailed in their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The enforcement actions were based on violations discovered from discharge monitoring reports and other information submitted to EPA.

Meriden violated seasonal chlorine levels in October 1995, and between April 30, 1996 and September 30, 1996, after the city failed to construct dechlorination or alternative disinfection facilities. The city's wastewater treatment plant discharges to the Quinnipiac River, an urban watershed that has been the focus of the CTDEP for improvement. Meriden expects to complete construction of its new facility by September, 1997, two years behind schedule.

Naugatuck violated its NPDES permit limits for chlorine from May, 1992 through September, 1996. The treatment plant, operated by the Naugatuck Treatment Company for the borough, discharges treated wastewater to the Naugatuck River. In September, 1995, Naugatuck built a dechlorination facility to remove chlorine from the treatment plant discharge but violations persisted through September, 1996, because the new facility was not in operation.

CTDEP issues NPDES permits to dischargers of wastewater to waters of the United States for Connecticut. These permits set stringent limits on the amount of pollutants contained in the wastewater. Chlorine is typically added to the wastewater to reduce bacteria levels, but chlorine itself can be toxic in the aquatic environment. Therefore, limitations are also often placed on chlorine levels as a safeguard to aquatic organisms.

These cases are part of a concerted effort being taken by EPA against New England municipalities for violations of chlorine limits at wastewater treatment plants. EPA issued similar orders to the towns of Ayer and Marion in Massachusetts, to the Wells Sanitary District in Wells, Maine, and to the town of Baileyville, Maine.