Clean Water Violations Alleged at Laboratory

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Two environmental organizations submitted a notice of violations and intent to file suit against Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and members of the UC Board of Regents among others, alleging violations of the Clean Water Act occurring at the lab.

The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance and the Strawberry Canyon Stewardship Group issued the notice of violations and intent to sue earlier this month for the "unlawful discharge of pollutants from the lab to waters of the United States."

"The (lab) discharges storm water associated with its industrial activity directly to Strawberry Creek, which in turn flows through the city of Berkeley's storm drain system and then into the San Francisco Bay," according to the notice, dated Jan. 7.

The lab allegedly released the water with unacceptable levels of iron, aluminum, magnesium, zinc and other pollutants. The alleged violations occurred sporadically between November 7, 2002 to February 7, 2007, according to the notice.

Along with the allegations of polluted storm water, the notice claimed that the lab failed to develop and implement an adequate pollution prevention program and failed to file accurate compliance reports on the storm water.

The original notice of violations and intent to file suit was issued on Jan. 7, with an amended letter dated Jan. 15 to include U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman in the notice.

The two organizations plan on filing a citizen suit against the lab and its agents after a 60-day period, adding that the groups would be willing to

discuss possible solutions without a suit, according to the amended notice. The groups do not plan on postponing the suit if discussions are still continuing after the 60-day deadline.

Michael R. Lozeau, an attorney for the two groups, said he anticipates communication between the two groups, the lab and others named in the notice.

"We would expect to be contacted (and) see if they can explain to us if we got something incorrect in our notice," he said.

Lab spokesperson Dan Krotz said in an e-mail the lab is currently reviewing the notice of violation and intent to sue.


Tamara Bartlett is the university news editor. Contact her at [email protected]

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