Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett has charged PVC pipe extruder Veka Inc. and four employees with improper disposal of waste water. Corbett alleged Veka's Fombell, Pa., plant drained waste water from an underground storage tank into a storm drain that empties into Connoquenessing Creek. Water involved in the Dec. 19, 1994, incident had been used for cooling plastic products and equipment at the facility, according to a May 1 news release from Corbett's office in Harrisburg, Pa.
The company and each of the four employees are charged with nine pollution-related violations. The employees also face a charge of criminal conspiracy. Jack Lewis, a spokesman for the attorney general's office, said each count in the charge carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $25,000 fine.
In a May 2 interview, Lewis said he expected preliminary hearings to be scheduled within two weeks.
Veka President Larry Irwin said the charges are ``ridiculous.'' Veka said that when it applied Dec. 9, 1992, for a Department of Envi-ronmental Resources permit to discharge water, tests showed it to be within water quality guidelines, according to Veka.
After the permit application, Veka had difficulty maintaining water quality for efficient manufacturing because it could not discharge water. Veka called DER to alert the agency, but DER would not say when a permit would be issued.
Veka discharged the water in December 1994 and found it met regulatory guidelines, the company claimed. The alternative to the discharge was to shut the plant down. Veka got its permit on April 19, 1995.
The attorney general's news release noted that state investigators got a tip in advance that allowed them to observe Veka's water disposal in December 1994.
Veka's 160,000-square-foot Fom-bell plant has 47 extrusion lines and more than 300 employees. Veka also operates a nine-line extrusion plant in Stead, Nev. It had pipe sales of about $50 million in 1994.