Waterkeeper Protects Los Angeles From More Than 3000 Clean Water Violations

Clean water advocate wins in court against two polluting businesses

LOS ANGELES, April 7, 2016 — On March 17, 2016, the US District Court ruled in favor of clean water in Los Angeles, holding Liberty Metal Recycling accountable for egregious pollution in violation of the federal Clean Water Act. This ruling comes on the heels of a November 18, 2015 ruling against A&A Metal Recycling, a related company. The court-ordered penalties for the Los Angeles facilities help address the 3,151 violations identified in the complaints filed by Los Angeles Waterkeeper in March 2015. These violations included releasing toxic levels of pollutants from the facilities into Los Angeles’ stormwater system, which empties into the Los Angeles River and ultimately flows to the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor, San Pedro Bay, Long Beach City Beach and the Pacific Ocean.

The court granted Waterkeeper’s motions for default judgment in both cases, and assessed $4.7 million in civil penalties against Liberty Metal and $4.8 million in civil penalties against A&A Metal.

“The end goal is clean water, which is vital to our regional economy and the health of our community members,” says Los Angeles Waterkeeper Executive Director Bruce Reznik. “We hope these cases send a message to other facilities that are breaking the law that the people of Los Angeles expect more from them.”

Industrial stormwater pollution is one of the most pervasive and challenging sources of contamination to Los Angeles’ waterways, largely due to stormwater runoff from facilities that are not in compliance with the federal Clean Water Act and Industrial General Stormwater Permit. Under the Clean Water Act, Waterkeeper sent notices of violation and intent to file suit in March of 2015, at which time the organization hoped to work with the facilities to address their pollution problems. After both facilities failed to comply, Waterkeeper filed the suits in June of 2015, leading to the courts’ decisions acknowledging that the facilities have been neglectful stewards of Los Angeles’ waters.

“Letting companies off the hook disadvantages those facilities that are in compliance with the law,” says Reznik. “We want to work with companies to bring them into compliance, but being nonresponsive puts courts in a position to come down with a big hammer.”

Keeping an eye on scrapyards, auto dismantlers and other industrial facilities, Waterkeeper identifies the most egregious polluters and takes enforcement actions necessary to bring facilities into compliance in an effort to ultimately eliminate polluted stormwater discharges from entering Los Angeles County’s waterways.

For more information on Los Angeles Waterkeeper and its efforts to protect the region’s waters, log onto lawaterkeeper.org/litigation.

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Founded in 1993, Los Angeles Waterkeeper’s mission is to protect and restore Santa Monica Bay, San Pedro Bay and adjacent waters through enforcement, fieldwork, and community action.

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