Truck washers penalized for dumping soapy water

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A New Jersey company that washed trucks for the U.S. Postal Service from 2007 through 2010 will pay penalties totalling $500,000 for polluting Tinkers Run in Irwin, Westmoreland County, with soapy runoff.

Officials of Professional Mobile Cleaning Inc. of Fairfield, N.J., Thursday pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh to illegally dumping the dirty water into the creek, which flows through Irwin and into Brush Creek and then Turtle Creek, a tributary of the Monongahela River.

The Postal Service contract with the firm required it to collect and properly dispose of the wash water.

The plea agreement, accepted by U.S. District Judge Terrence McVerry, requires the truck washing firm to pay $300,000 restitution to the Postal Service and a $9,000 criminal fine. According to a U.S. Department of Justice release, it also requires the company to pay $191,000 to the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.

"When vehicle wash water is improperly managed, soaps and solvents can degrade water quality and creek habitats," said David G. McLeod Jr., special agent in charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's criminal enforcement program in Pennsylvania. "The defendant pled guilty to violating the very laws aimed at protecting the environment and ultimately, human health. [Friday's] guilty plea and sentencing demonstrates that we will hold accountable those who despoil our environment."

Rick Levis, a Fish Commission spokesman, said the penalty money will be placed in a restricted account within the commission's Fish Fund and used to fund water quality improvement projects in the Monongahela River watershed.

environment - neigh_westmoreland

Don Hopey: dhopey@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1983.


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