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News Jul 11, 2012 - 6:56 PM

AG, DEEP take action against suspected illegal discharge of wastewater

By Attorney General George Jepsen's office

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HARTFORD, CT - Attorney General George Jepsen and Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Daniel C. Esty have taken action to block a commercial car wash in Old Saybrook from discharging wastewater in violation of its permit and state environmental laws.

A complaint filed Wednesday in Hartford Superior Court alleges Carisma Car Wash, LLC, of 227 Boston Post Road in Old Saybrook and Steve Tsialas of Guilford, its owner and operator, have been illegally discharging wastewater containing water, soaps and cleaning solvents to a wooded area behind the business since at least October, 2011.

The court agreed to the state’s request and Wednesday issued a temporary injunction aimed at stopping any unauthorized discharges immediately. An initial hearing on the matter is scheduled July 23. The state is also seeking court orders to stop the practice permanently, as well as civil penalties and other costs associated with detecting, investigating, controlling and abating the violations, and to remediate the site as necessary.

“State environmental laws exist to help protect our critical public resources, such as groundwater and aquifers,” Attorney General Jepsen said. “Individuals or businesses who bypass those laws to gain an unfair competitive advantage may jeopardize public health and safety, and must be stopped.”

Commissioner Esty said, "Carisma Car Wash has simply failed to meet important environmental requirements for the handling of its wastewater discharges -- and ignored DEEP's efforts to force compliance with the law. These repeated violations of environmental regulations can't be tolerated. We appreciate the efforts of the Office of the Attorney General to stop this illegal activity by working with our staff to bring this matter to court."

DEEP said there are no drinking water wells in the immediate area of the business, which is served by a public water supply.

According to the complaint, between 2006 and 2009, DEEP inspectors determined the business was not properly managing wastewater generated from the car wash operation. In November, 2010, the company received a certificate of registration for a Discharge of Vehicle Maintenance Wastewater permit. The permit required Carisma to discharge its wastewater to either a sanitary sewer, or to a holding tank, where it would be held before being taken to a sewage treatment plant. The business had two wastewater holding tanks.

The complaint also alleges that following an October, 2011 inspection, DEEP learned Carisma was pumping wastewater out of a holding tank at least three times a week to the ground surface behind the car wash. DEEP issued a notice of violation against the company. During another inspection on Jan. 24, 2012, the DEEP learned Carisma was discharging water directly from the holding tank to the subsurface.

Further, the complaint alleges that on June 26, 2012, a DEEP inspection determined that one of the holding tanks had an attached pipe that allowed untreated wastewater to flow into the ground more than 30 feet away, in violation of the permit.

In addition to temporary and permanent injunctions, the state has asked the court to order the subsurface pipe sealed and to require the company to provide weekly receipts to DEEP showing the wastewater is being taken to a treatment facility; to install a groundwater monitoring well in the wooded area behind the business to determine whether pollutants have impacted the groundwater; and to provide the DEEP with a detailed as-built drawing of the facilities wastewater system.

Assistant Attorneys General Matthew Levine and Denise Lillo Vecchio are handling this matter for the Attorney General with Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Massicotte, head of the OAG’s Environment Department and Associate Attorney General Joseph Rubin.

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