Fluid Discharge Draws Penalty


A federal judge in Louisiana sentenced the city of Pineville to a $15,000 fine and one year unsupervised probation Jan. 4 for the illegal discharge of hydraulic fluid from a pumping station.

According to a Jan. 4 Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality statement, following heavy rainfall from Hurricane Gustav in 2008, Pinevilles Huffman Creek pumping station illegally discharged hydraulic fluid over the levee and into Bayou Maria, which ultimately empties in the Red River. An investigation was conducted by the Louisiana Environmental Task Force, which consists of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencys Criminal Investigation Division, DEQs Criminal Investigation Division, Louisiana State Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The task force traced the discharge to Pinevilles Huffman Creek pumping station, alleging city personnel knew the stations pumps were in disrepair and leaking hydraulic fluid and diesel fuel.

The probation has several conditions, said Mike Daniels, criminal enforcement counsel for the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

One was to publish an apology in The Alexandria Town Talk newspaper. They also had to implement an environmental management system, which would help them detect future violations, Daniels told Lube Report. They also had to do some training with their employees about environmental laws and regulations. And they had to institute an employee hotline as well.

He noted the case grew out of a citizens complaint to a state Department of Environmental Quality hotline in 2008, shortly after Hurricane Gustav hit the region in early September. We have a very good working relationship with our federal partners, so we investigated this jointly, Daniels said.

The city entered a guilty plea in October 2011. The case was prosecuted by attorneys from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana, based in Shreveport, La. Sentencing took place at a federal court in Alexandria, La.

In a news release, Pineville Mayor Clarence Fields said that the city has taken corrective action to make sure it doesnt happen again, has cooperated fully with all agencies and has worked diligently with the U.S. Attorneys office on a fair resolution.