Barge operator accused of dumping sewage into Ohio River at Cairo, Illinois

The United States filed a Clean Water Act complaint this week in the Southern District of Illinois accusing American Commercial Lines, Inc. and a subsidiary company of discharging sewage and polluted wastewater into the Ohio River.

The complaint, made on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, says ACL and the subsidiary — ACBL Transportation Services, LLC — dumped the pollutants into the river from two office septic systems, a marine sanitation device, and a barge cleaning operation. It alleges that from June 2007 to February 2014, the companies "repeatedly and consistently" violated their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits at their facility in Cairo.

In the announcement about the complaint from the office of acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois James L. Porter says reports submitted by ACL and ACBLTS to the EPA "show many of the alleged violations were egregious." The complaint seeks civil penalties of up to $37,500 per violation day against both ACL and ACBLTS, as provided by statute.

The attorney’s office says: 

"The complaint notes over 50 occasions from 2007 to 2013 when ACL exceeded its daily maximum limit for fecal coliform (water contaminated by fecal matter) by a factor of nine or more, including at least 16 occasions when the concentration of fecal coliform measured 100 times higher than the permit limit. During one reporting period in September 2009, total residual chlorine – a pollutant that can be toxic to fish and other aquatic life even at low concentrations – allegedly registered more than 700 times the permit limit."

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