San Diego company pleads guilty to violating Clean Water Act

United States Attorney Carol C. Lam announced on Feb. 18 that a local circuit board manufacturer and one of its officers pled guilty in federal district court in San Diego before United States District Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz to violating the federal Clean Water Act. Moore Printed Circuits, Inc., located at 6740 Nancy Ridge Drive in San Diego, pled guilty to the Unlawful Discharge of Pollutants, in violation of Title 33, United States Code, Sections 1317(d) and 1319(c)(2)(A) and the officer, Ghanshyambhai J. Patel of Chicago, Illinois, pled guilty to Conspiracy to Unlawfully Discharge Pollutants, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.

In pleading guilty, Patel admitted that he and Paramand Sheth, the managing partner of Moore Printed Circuits Inc., continued to discharge wastewater to the public sewer system, knowing that the ion exchange unit (a key component in their company's wastewater treatment system for the removal of metals) was not operating properly. Because that wastewater treatment system was not functioning properly, the defendants admitted that Moore Printed Circuits exceeded its maximum daily discharge limit for copper on multiple occasions between October 2001 and September 2003. As part of their plea agreements, the defendants agreed to reimburse the City of San Diego for approximately $18,000 in costs incurred for sampling and analysis in the investigation of the case, and the corporate defendant agreed to replace the resin for the ion exchange columns in its wastewater treatment system and purchase new chemicals to operate the etch recycling batch treatment process. .

The defendants who plead guilty are scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Moskowitz on May 25, 2005 at 9:00 a.m.

A trial remains pending for a third partner, Gandaji Chavda, is scheduled for May 31, 2005, at 9:00 a.m., before Judge Moskowtiz.

"With readily available technology solutions, it is easy and cost-effective for businesses to install and maintain a pre-treatment system," said Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA's Water Division in the Pacific Southwest. "This is a vital step for removing harmful pollutants at their source, to protect the public wastewater plant and coastal waters downstream. The U.S. Attorneys Office's prosecution of this matter -- with support from EPA's Criminal Investigation and Water Divisions -- reinforces our ongoing commitment to ensure that all comply with the nation's environmental and public health requirements."

This article originally appeared in the 03/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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