By Eric Freedman
A federal judge has slapped a Western Pennsylvania copper-processing company with a $550,000 fine for its years-long criminal violations of the Clean Water Act, including illegal discharging of oil into the Ohio River.
U.S. District Judge William Stickman IV also put Hussey Copper on probation for three years.
The company pleaded guilty to charges stemming from violations at its Leetsdale facility that manufactures copper products for electrical distribution and residential and industrial construction markets, according to a press statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Pittsburgh.
The Hussey Copper website proclaims “The Element of Trust” as a company philosophy and describes the company as “stable, responsive and reliable since 1848.”
The prosecution charged the company with discharging an amount of oil “that may be harmful to the environment,” submitting a false discharge report and failing to immediately notify the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the illegal discharge.
The EPA conducted the criminal investigation.
Hussey Copper repeatedly violated the terms of its EPA and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection permits between 2012 and 2018, the government said. During that period, it intentionally submitted false test results on at least 21 monthly reports and failed to report “hundreds of observed oil sheens” at two discharge points on the Ohio River.
In 2015, the state agency sent Hussey Copper a violation notice after receiving a citizen complaint, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. At the time, a corporate official promised to report all future oil sheens.
But that didn’t happen, according to the charges.
As part of probation, Stickman ordered Hussey Copper to sign a consent agreement to settle a related civil investigation. The consent order requires it to “implement a comprehensive environmental compliance program” at the plant.