GLASTONBURY, CT—On Oct. 21, 2015, NELC attorneys served Connecticut Galvanizing Corporation, Highway Safety Corporation, and Highway Safety Design and Fabrication Corporation with a notice of intent to sue under the federal Clean Water Act. The notice, sent on behalf of Environment Connecticut and Toxics Action Center, alleges that these companies have discharged high levels of toxic metals and other pollutants into two tributaries of the Connecticut River.
These three companies own and operate a metal fabrication and galvanizing facility that discharges storm water into both Salmon Brook and Hubbard Brook in Glastonbury. NELC’s notice alleges more than 1,500 violations of the Clean Water Act committed by the facility over the past five years.
“Each time it rains, these companies discharge storm water containing high levels of zinc, lead, copper, suspended solids, oil, and grease into both Salmon Brook and Hubbard Book,” said Environment Connecticut Director Chris Phelps. “These streams flow past family homes and provide habitat for fish and other wildlife. This is unacceptable.”
The facility’s discharge routinely contains zinc and copper in concentrations many times higher than levels shown to be toxic to several species of amphibians and fish, including trout. In fact, the companies’ own testing has demonstrated that the discharge is acutely toxic to aquatic life even when significantly diluted.
Salmon Brook is a wild trout management area, and is stocked with juvenile and adult trout. Regular exposure to this toxic discharge poses a significant risk to the fish and wildlife of both Salmon Brook and Hubbard Brook.
The facility performs what is known as “hot dip” galvanizing, which involves treating metal with alkali solution, hydrochloric acid, and zinc ammonium, and then immersing it in molten zinc.
“These streams flow past family homes and provide habitat for fish and other wildlife. This [pollution] is unacceptable.”
—Chris Phelps, director of Environment Connecticut
The companies store many of the raw materials and finished products associated with this process outdoors, yet have failed to implement basic control measures to prevent the toxic byproducts of their galvanizing work from washing into these waterways during rainstorms.
The facility’s discharges regularly violate the pollution limits specified in the storm water permit issued by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. NELC’s notice alleges that the companies have violated the limits for zinc, lead, copper, suspended solids, and oil and grease during every rainfall event since the permit was issued. Some pollutant discharges have exceeded the permit- ted limit by more than 130,000 percent.
NELC’s notice also alleges that the companies have violated their permit by failing to implement required pollution control measures and technologies.