City Settles with AMCAN over Alleged Discharge Violations

AMCAN Beverages, Inc. (AMCAN), a subsidiary of The Coca Cola Company, will pay a total of $7.59 million to the city of American Canyon in Napa County, Calif., to address violations under AMCAN’s wastewater treatment permit, according to a Feb. 9 press release.

The settlement, which addresses a number of alleged offenses that were identified by the city, involves payment of a civil penalty of $3.5 million, with the remainder being restitution paid to the city for certain alleged avoided fees and costs incurred.

The city operates a wastewater plant and a publicly owned treatment works into which AMCAN and other businesses discharge wastewater through a system governed by permits.

AMCAN’s permit required its non-alcoholic beverage production plant to initially treat wastewater at its site through its own treatment system before discharging it into the city’s treatment works. From May 2007 through September 2007, the city monitored wastewater discharged by AMCAN and discovered high concentrations of contaminants that interfered with the city’s wastewater treatment process and posed an environmental hazard. These levels were different and much higher than in sample results submitted by AMCAN during the same time period.

During the same time, AMCAN management and their legal representatives became aware of certain issues associated with AMCAN’s wastewater operations, launched their own investigation, and in September 2007 disclosed their findings to the city. AMCAN thereafter cooperated with the city. The city later alleged, based on its own investigation and disclosures by AMCAN, that violations took place as early as January 2005, with additional violations for the period of November 2007 through May 31, 2008. Those discoveries led to extensive settlement discussions.

In commenting on the settlement, attorney William Ross, who representedf American Canyon, along with Special Counsel William Carter and Greg Patterson, acknowledged AMCAN’s cooperation.

“AMCAN, a subsidiary of The Coca Cola Company, acted proactively to report and correct conditions that led to the alleged permit violations and has responsibly reimbursed the city for its costs. At the same time, this case vividly demonstrates the city’s dedication to fulfilling its role as a good steward over the environment,” Ross said.