Norfolk Paper Company Pleads Guilty To Federal Pollution ChargesPosted: Updated: Nov 30, 2018 05:18 AM
A St. Lawrence County paper mill has has pleaded guilty to federal charges after dumping polluted water into the Raquette River.
APC Paper Group of New York, Inc., which operates a paper mill in Norfolk, was sentenced to pay a $125,000 fine.
The company admitted that between January 2013 and September 2015 its paper mill repeatedly violated the daily maximum and monthly average limits of bio-chemical oxygen demand (“BOD”) in its wastewater discharges into the Raquette River.
BOD is the amount of dissolved oxygen necessary for microorganisms in the water to break down organic material. BOD levels also provide an index for measuring the effect discharged wastewater will have on a body of fresh water receiving it.
In this case, the paper mill’s Clean Water Act permit restricted the amount of BOD the paper mill could discharge through its wastewater on a daily and monthly basis.
As part of the guilty plea, APC Paper Group admitted that a former employee, Michael Ward, who previously pled guilty to similar criminal charges in federal court, was aware of the BOD exceedances, failed to report them to his superiors at APC Paper Group, and prepared false and fraudulent monthly reports that were submitted to DEC.
APC Paper Group further admitted that it failed to meaningfully supervise Ward and failed to verify the accuracy of the discharge reports the company sent to DEC and that its negligence led to the illegal discharges of wastewater containing excessive amounts of BOD.
As part of the plea deal, APC will have to take part in an environmental compliance plan.
An attorney for APC issued the following statement:
"APC immediately notified authorities when it learned of improper actions by a single former employee in early 2016, and has assisted and cooperated fully with the EPA and DEC investigations at all times. In addition, the company is fully committed to environmental compliance and is making a substantial investment in equipment to bring state-of-the art water treatment technologies to its plant. The former employee’s malfeasance had no adverse effect on water quality or the local ecosystem."