FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Company Manager Pleads Guilty To Polluting Newton Creek by Dumping Environmental Waste Using Secret System to Bypass Proper Controls
Defendant Will Pay $110,000 Fine and Comply With Monitoring Agreement
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, together with New York City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Emily Lloyd and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Acting Commissioner Marc Gerstman today announced that a Bedford-Stuyvesant company and its manager pleaded guilty in connection with rigging a bypass line located underground at its facilities and dumping industrial waste into the sewer system that leads into Newtown Creek in Greenpoint.
District Attorney Thompson said, “This case should make clear that we take environmental crimes in Brooklyn seriously and will vigorously prosecute any company that dumps environmental toxins into our waterways.”
Commissioner Lloyd said, “New York Harbor is cleaner today than it has been in more than a century and prosecuting those that illegally discharge pollution into our waterways sends a strong message that we will protect our environment and public health. I’d like to thank District Attorney Thompson and his staff for their work on this, and other important environmental cases.”
Acting Commissioner Gerstman said, “DEC is committed to its diligent work in investigating illegal dumping cases around the state. DEC’s Law Enforcement Officers and Legal team continue to enforce against any violators that do not respect the quality of our environment and abuse it for personal gain. I commend the joint efforts of our DEC staff, New York City DEP and the Brooklyn DA’s Office in their work on this case to protect our state’s valuable natural resources.”
The District Attorney identified the defendant as Manuel Acosta, 58, of 84-24 109th Street, in Kew Gardens, Queens. He pleaded guilty today to one count of the making or use of an outlet or point source discharging into the waters of the state, of the Environmental Conservation Law, an E felony, before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Matthew Sciarrino. Acosta is the manager of Control Electropolishing Corp., located at 109-111 Walworth Street, in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. The corporation pleaded guilty to one count of endangering public health, safety or the environment in the fourth-degree, an A misdemeanor and one count of disposal of hazardous waste without authorization, an unclassified misdemeanor, both of the Environmental Conservation Law.
The judge set sentencing for December 16, 2015. As part of the plea agreement, Acosta and the corporation will pay a fine of $110,000 to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office.
Control Electropolishing Corp., provides metal cleaning services to a wide array of industries including cleaning medical, surgical and dental instruments; boating, fishing and swimming pool accessories; pharmaceutical equipment; aircraft components; meat and fish hooks; and wire goods, among other items.
The District Attorney said that, according to the complaint and the plea, between November 22, 2013 and January 9, 2014, at the direction of Acosta, the manager of Control Electropolishing Corp., employees at Control’s facility introduced hazardous waste into the sewer by disposing of unprocessed and un-neutralized hazardous waste and sludge into the sewer in violation of DEP permits. Control disposed of the hazardous waste in an illicit manner through a bypass line or pipe that operated unless NYCDEP inspectors conducted an inspection of the facility. When NYCDEP conducted inspections at the company, defendant Acosta instructed employees to insert a plug into the bypass line to disable the bypass line thereby concealing their illegal bypass line from the DEP. The waste and sludge that Control dumped into the sewer contained high levels of chromium, copper, lead and nickel. The bypass line bypassed the tank and system that was supposed to properly treat the wastewater before it was released into the sewer.
When the defendants dumped untreated wastewater and sludge directly into the NYC sewers, this waste was carried to the Newtown Creek Water Pollution Control Plant. The plant does not treat industrial process wastewater containing chromium, copper, lead and nickel, so some of the wastewater was introduced, untreated, into Newtown Creek.
Newtown Creek was declared a Superfund site in 2010 by the United States Environmental Protection Agency following decades of oil spills, toxic dumping and other pollution.
To report an environmental crime call the District Attorney’s Action Center at 718-250-2340. You may also contact New York State Encon Police at their 24 hour Stop Polluters Hotline at 1-844-332-3267.
The case was investigated by DEP’s Industrial Inspection and Permitting staff, led by Chetan Patel, and the Compliance Monitoring Staff, led by Jorge Villacis. It was additionally investigated by Lieutenant John Fitzpatrick, Lieutenant Jesse Paluch, Investigator Jeff Conway and program staffer Rasani Juzer and Captain Cisco Lopez of the DEC’s Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation (BECI).
The case was also investigated by Supervising Detective Investigator Michael Seminara, of the District Attorney’s Investigations Bureau, under the supervision of Chief Investigator Richard Bellucci.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Felice Sontupe, Chief of the District Attorney’s Frauds Bureau, under the supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of the District Attorney’s Investigations Division.