James Paprocki and another supervisor at the plant directed PWSA employees to discharge clarifier sludge into the Allegheny River.
A former supervisor for the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has been charged in federal court with conspiring to violate the Clean Water Act (CWA).
According to Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman in an announcement, the one-count criminal Information was filed on June 11, 2021 and named James Paprocki, age 51, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as the sole defendant.
Paprocki was a supervisor at the PWSA drinking water plant located in Aspinwall, Pennsylvania, reported The United States Department of Justice (DOJ). A criminal Information is an accusation, notes the DOJ.
Between 2010 and 2017, Paprocki and another supervisor at the plant directed PWSA employees to discharge clarifier sludge into the Allegheny, which is in violation of PWSA’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination (NPDES) permit. Under the terms of the NPDES permit, the sludge had to be sent to ALCOSAN’s treatment facility and in 2015 PWSA obtained an Industrial User permit.
Under the terms of the Industrial User permit, PWSA was authorized to send up to one million gallons of clarifier sludge per day to ALCOSAN’s waste treatment facility and required to report the daily volume of sludge and install flow meters at various locations in the Aspinwall Plant, reported the DOJ.
According to DOJ, a number of the flow meters became inoperable and Paprocki and others employed at the plant began to estimate the amount of sludge sent to ALCOSAN.
“Directing the discharge of pollutants into western Pennsylvania’s rivers is unacceptable and violates federal environmental law,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kaufman in the DOJ news release. “Our office will continue to work with EPA and other state and local environmental regulators to hold offenders accountable and protect the environment.”
According to DOJ, the law provides for a maximum total sentence of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both.
Assistant United States Attorney Michael Leo Ivory and Martin Harrell, Associate Regional Counsel for Criminal Enforcement, EPA Region 3, are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government. The EPA conducted the investigation leading to the filing of charges in this case.
The DOJ adds that a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty and the filing of an Information typically indicates that the defendant intends to enter a guilty plea.