News Feature | March 5, 2014

EPA Raids Texas Company On Clean Water Act Violations

By Sara Jerome
@sarmje

texasreg

Government agents raided a Texas company last month to investigate potential Clean Water Act (CWA) violations. 

Recently released court documents show EPA investigators "searched the Billmark Company in the 2200 block of Solana Street in Haltom City for violations of the Clean Water Act," NBC reported.  

Investigators were concerned about cadmium threatening local water resources. Workers at the City of Fort Worth’s Village Creek water treatment plant "began noticing higher than expected" levels of cadmium in 2009 and began an investigation to see where it was coming from," the report said. 

"The water supply of Fort Worth was never compromised but the discovery of cadmium was troubling because high levels of the chemical are hard to treat and can eventually end up in public water supplies," NBC reported, citing Fort Worth Water Department spokeswoman Mary Gugliuzza.

“It’s not what anyone wants to think about, but in reality, yes, there is no new water on Earth,” she said. “Water is continually recycled.”

"The MCLG for cadmium is 0.005 mg/L or 5 ppb. EPA has set this level of protection based on the best available science to prevent potential health problems," according to the agency. 

“We know the consistency of our sludge at the wastewater plant and we know the normal levels of various contaminants in it,” Gugliuzza said in the report.

The company's response: "Owner Mark Shafer told NBC 5 he and his company have done nothing wrong and treat the wastewater before it is discharged into the sewer system. But he declined further comment on the advice of his attorney." 

Cadmium is linked to cancer risks. For instance, research suggests that "women whose diets contain higher levels of cadmium are at greater risk of developing breast cancer than those who ingest less of the industrial chemical in their food," according to the Los Angeles Times.  

EPA documents explain that "cadmium is used primarily for metal plating and coating operations, including transportation equipment, machinery and baking enamels, photography, and television phosphors. It is also used in nickel-cadmium solar batteries and pigments." 

Image credit: "Falls County Texas," © 2005 StuSeeger, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en

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