Former PWSA Supervisor Charged with Violating the Clean Water Act

PITTSBURGH – A former supervisor for the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority has been charged in federal court with conspiring to violate the Clean Water Act, Acting United States Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman announced today.

The one-count criminal Information, filed on Friday, June 11, 2021, named James Paprocki, age 51, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as the sole defendant.

According to the Information, Paprocki was a supervisor at the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority’s (PWSA) drinking water plant located in Aspinwall, Pennsylvania. At various points between 2010 and 2017, Paprocki and another supervisor at the plant directed PWSA employees to discharge clarifier sludge into the Allegheny in violation of PWSA’s National Pollution Discharge Elimination (NPDES) permit. Clarifier sludge is generated when raw water is converted into potable drinking water. Under the terms of the NPDES permit, the sludge had to be sent to ALCOSAN’s treatment facility. In 2015, PWSA obtained an Industrial User permit. Under the terms of the Industrial User permit, PWSA was authorized to send up to one million gallons of clarifier sludge per day to ALCOSAN’s waste treatment facility. PWSA was also required to report the daily volume of sludge and install flow meters at various locations in the Aspinwall Plant to monitor the amount of sludge. These amounts had to be included in reports that PWSA was required to file with ALCOSAN. A number of the flow meters became inoperable and Paprocki and others employed at the plant began to estimate the amount sludge sent to ALCOSAN.

“Directing the discharge of pollutants into western Pennsylvania’s rivers is unacceptable and violates federal environmental law,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kaufman. “Our office will continue to work with EPA and other state and local environmental regulators to hold offenders accountable and protect the environment.”

“The filing of these new charges in this investigation shows that EPA will hold responsible those who violate environmental regulations designed to ensure that our communities have safe drinking water,” said Jennifer Lynn, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s Criminal Enforcement Program in Pennsylvania.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of five years in prison, a fine of $250,000 or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Michael Leo Ivory and Martin Harrell, Associate Regional Counsel for Criminal Enforcement, EPA Region 3, are prosecuting this case on behalf of the government. 

The Environmental Protection Agency conducted the investigation leading to the filing of charges in this case.

A criminal Information is an accusation.

A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. The filing of an Information generally indicates that the defendant intends to enter a guilty plea.

 

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