US sues companies for massive fish kill in Indiana

The Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against two companies for a discharge of pollutants into the White River which caused one of the largest fish kills in Indiana history.

The Guide Corporation – one of the world’s largest manufacturers of automotive lighting – is alleged to have discharged toxic pollutants during December 1999 from its facility in Anderson, Indiana into the local wastewater treatment plant. This, the DoJ alleges, disrupted the operation of the wastewater treatment plant and caused pollutants to enter the White River.

Pollutants discharged into the river included ammonia, thiram and other thiurams, amines and carbamates.

The other company in the case, Crown Environmental, based in Dayton, Ohio, was hired to operate Guide’s wastewater treatment plant.

Shortly after the discharges, hundreds of thousands of fish died along a 50 mile stretch of the river and the ecosystem of the river was severely damaged. The US also alleges that the defendants violated federal and local wastewater pre-treatment standards by failing to notify the sewage plant about the changes in their operations and the pollutants they discharged into the plant.

The complaint seeks to restore the river environment, to undo the damage done to the fish populations and other aquatic life and it also asks the court to impose civil penalties under the Clean Water Act. The State of Indiana has filed a similar complaint and will move to have its suit consolidated with the federal suit.

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