|TRENTON –Attorney General Christopher S. Porrino announced that Cardolite Corporation, an international chemical company that formerly operated a plant in Newark, pleaded guilty today to violating the Water Pollution Control Act by failing to accurately monitor and report the pH levels of its discharges into the public sewer system. The company will pay a fine and restitution of over $150,000.
Cardolite Corporation, which is headquartered in Monmouth Junction, N.J., pleaded guilty today to six fourth-degree charges of violating the Water Pollution Control Act before Superior Court Judge John I. Gizzo in Essex County. Under the plea agreement, the corporation must pay a fine of $100,000. It also must pay $53,338 in restitution to the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission (PVSC). The charges stem from an investigation by the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau, which began with a referral from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. The Division of Criminal Justice was assisted in the investigation by the PVSC. Cardolite was licensed under a Sewer Use Permit by the PVSC to discharge effluent from the Newark plant into the public sewer system, subject to certain conditions and requirements. The $53,338 that Cardolite is paying to the PVSC represents restitution for the cost of the agency’s assistance during the investigation. Sentencing is set for Sept. 8.
Deputy Attorney General Michael King prosecuted the case and took the guilty plea for the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau. The investigation was conducted for the Environmental Crimes Unit of the Specialized Crimes Bureau by Sgt. Steven J. Ogulin.
The Water Pollution Control Act requires regulated entities to self-monitor compliance and report violations. Under its permit, Cardolite was required to monitor the pH level of its discharges using a probe and maintain a pH level between 5.0 and 10.5. Readings below 5.0 of any duration, and readings above 10.5 that lasted an hour or more, were to be reported as permit violations. In pleading guilty, Cardolite admitted that on six occasions between April 22 and July 14, 2015, it violated its permit in one or more of the following ways: (1) discharging effluent with a pH outside permitted limits, (2) failing to self-report the discharging of an effluent with a pH outside permitted limits, (3) inaccurately self-reporting discharges outside permitted limits, (4) tampering with the pH probe required to be maintained by statute, regulation or permit, and (5) rendering inaccurate any monitoring device or method required to be maintained. The investigation revealed that the company routinely had employees remove the probe for “calibration” when an alarm sounded indicating a violation, thereby preventing the capture of full and accurate data. Investigators secretly installed a second pH monitor that detected the specific violations. No direct harm to the environment or infrastructure was attributed to the violations.
“When so many of our environmental laws require self-regulation, this case should serve as an important reminder to our regulated communities that we will not tolerate misreporting and failures to comply. Cardolite was required to accurately monitor and report pH levels of the waste it discharged into the sewer system, and instead it manipulated and falsified results,” said Attorney General Porrino.
“Put on the honor system, this company acted with dishonor,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “We will continue to work with the DEP and agencies like the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission to enforce our laws and protect the environment.”
Sgt. Ogulin and Deputy Attorney General King investigated and prosecuted the case under the supervision of Supervising Deputy Attorney General Andrew Johns, Deputy Chief of the Division of Criminal Justice Specialized Crimes Bureau. Attorney General Porrino thanked the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission for its valuable assistance. He also thanked the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for its referral.
Edward Hogan, Esq., and John Jakub, Esq., Norris McLaughlin & Marcus, P.A., Bridgewater, N.J.
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