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Release Date: 2/27/2002
Contact Information: Leo Kay, Press Office, 415/947-4306, Tom Mays, State Water Board, 916/341-5263

     SAN FRANCISCO   Federal and state agencies settled with a Central Valley mirror manufacturer for $365,000 yesterday for illegally sending copper and silver-tainted effluent to the wastewater treatment plant in Reedley, Calif. more than 1,500 times in the past five years.              

     In March, June and July of 1997, levels of copper from the Guardian Industries Corp. facility on Curtis Avenue were high enough to render the sludge from the Reedley treatment plant unsafe for reuse on local agriculture.  Several of Guardian's violations also could have caused structural damage to the plant since the facility's effluent had such high acidic levels.  The agencies involved in the case were the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Central Valley Water Quality Control Board and the State Attorney General's Office.

     In 1986, the EPA instituted requirements for facilities involved in metal finishing   such as Guardian's mirror manufacturing operations that required them to chemically "pretreat" their metal-tainted effluent before sending it to the local wastewater treatment plant.  Guardian never complied with the requirement.  Since the Clean Water Act has a five-year statute of limitations, the EPA can only cite Guardian for violations beginning in 1997.            

     "Guardian's repeated violations endangered the structural integrity of the sewage treatment plant while also spoiling the city's sewage sludge for reuse," said Wayne Nastri, EPA regional administrator of the EPA's Pacific Southwest office in San Francisco.  "Companies must follow pretreatment requirements to the letter of the law in order to avoid overburdening and potentially damaging wastewater treatment plants."

     Added Gary M. Carlton, executive officer of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, "We must be vigilant in monitoring wastewater discharges and exercise enforcement authority where necessary to ensure that pollutants are kept out of the environment."
     EPA and regional water board investigators discovered the violations during a routine inspection of the facility in 1999.  Upon further search, inspectors found hundreds of other violations.

     Guardian Industries has manufactured glass and mirrors at its facility on 1485 Curtis Ave. in Reedley since 1985.  The facility discharges its sewage though a pipeline that drains to a sewer that flows to the Reedley treatment plant.  Guardian installed the proper control equipment after the EPA issued an order to the facility in December of 2000, and is currently in compliance with the pretreatment requirements.