Two California plastics companies have been fined $67,900 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for improper pollution controls that likely resulted in discharges of plastic pellets into storm drains and local waterways.
Direct Pack Inc., of Sun Valley, Calif., agreed to pay a $42,900 fine and Western States Packaging, of Pacoima, Calif., agreed to pay $25,000, under settlement agreements with the government, EPA said in a July 13 news release. The agency said both companies are now in compliance.
EPA said that December 2015 inspections at each facility found violations of the federal Clean Water Act that likely resulted in pellets, which it calls nurdles, getting into storm drains that ultimately feed into the Los Angeles River.
"It is essential that manufacturers take proper steps to prevent nurdles from polluting surrounding waterways and harming local wildlife," said Alexis Strauss, EPA's acting regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest.
EPA inspected the facilities at the request of the California Environmental Protection Agency and the Regional Water Quality Control Board, in support of the state government's environmental justice enforcement initiative in Los Angeles.
EPA said in its agreement with Direct Pack that the company was operating without a proper permit to discharge industrial wastewater and did not use proper capturing devices and containment systems to trap plastic, along with improper storage of chemicals and not maintaining equipment.
Western States did not have the proper stormwater permit, and EPA said in that settlement agreement that staff observed spilled plastic pellets on paved surfaces throughout the facility, without proper control measures in place.