LOS ANGELES (Legal Newsline) – A Santa Monica, Calif.-based water quality nonprofit has settled its lawsuit against a waste management corporation after the company agreed to upgrade its water treatment systems for storm runoff.
Los Angeles Waterkeeper, an advocacy group tasked with protecting inland and ocean waterways from environmental pollution, filed suit in March 2017 against USA Waste of California Inc., a Los Angeles private waste management company with a debris processing facility in Sun Valley, over alleged violations of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.
The suit stated that USA Waste had allegedly discharged polluted storm water contributing to the endangering of aquatic wildlife.
The suit demanded the defendant immediately upgrade storm water pollution control and treatment technologies and pay fines of up to $51,570 for violations occurring after Nov. 2, 2015.
Sharon Soormaghen, communications director for Los Angeles Waterkeeper, said a settlement has been reached in the case.
“USA Waste agreed to implement storm water quality improvements at its Sun Valley and Downtown Los Angeles construction and demolition debris processing facilities,” she told Legal Newsline in a statement. “USA Waste has also made a mitigation payment to The River Project that will fund environmentally beneficial projects in the Los Angeles River Watershed.”
Based in Studio City, The River Project is a nonprofit whose mission is to promote responsible land planning and healthy watersheds in the Los Angeles area.
According to the consent decree filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in December, although USA Waste disagreed with allegations contained in the complaint, the parties believed it was in their mutual interests to resolve in full Waterkeeper’s allegations in the complaint through settlement and avoid the uncertainties of further litigation.
Under the settlement, USA Waste agreed to maintain in good order stormwater collection facilities and make structural improvements to its East Valley Diversion Facility. The improvements include the installation of curbing, a trench drain and sumps with automatic pumps to capture storm water discharges. In addition, improvements to truck access at the site will be enacted to cut pollution and use collected storm water for dust suppression.
Similar improvements will be made at a USA Waste facility located at a Los Angeles downtown diversion facility.
USA Waste agreed to email to officials of Waterkeeper photographic proof of the improvements.
The firm also agreed to pay $50,000 to The River Project to benefit the Los Angeles River Watershed and $70,000 to defray Waterkeeper’s legal costs, plus $21,500 to oversee a consent decree.
“Industrial storm water pollution is one of the most challenging sources of pollution to our waterways in Los Angeles County,” Soormaghen said in the statement.
She added that the improvements agreed to by USA Waste would greatly increase storm runoff capacity at the company’s facilities.
“USA Waste committed to increase storage at its downtown LA facility to over 300,000 gallons of water and to use a portion of that on-site before treating it,” she said.