Thursday, January 30, 2020

Parent Company of Crystal Geyser Bottled Water Pleads Guilty to Dumping ARSENIC in California's Water System

Source: Daily Mail

Published: January 16, 2020

By: Chris Dyer and Associated Press

  • Parent firm of Crystal Geyser admitted illegally storing and transporting waste
  • Firm accused of discharging 23,000 gallons of wastewater containing arsenic
  • Hazardous waste dumped by CG Roxane into man-made pond for about 15 years
  • Company behind the bottled water producer has agreed to pay a $5 million fine

A California company that produces Crystal Geyser bottled water has pleaded guilty to illegally dumping wastewater containing arsenic.

Crystal Geyser's parent company, CG Roxane, along with two contracted firms, were charged in 2018 with failing to disclose details of arsenic in wastewater transported from the bottling plant in Olancha, California.

Following a court case last week, the firm agreed to a $5million fine for storing and transporting the hazardous waste, federal prosecutors said.

The waste was produced by filtering arsenic out of Sierra Nevada spring water at CG Roxane LLC's facility in Owens Valley, authorities said.

CG Roxane was accused of discharging the wastewater into a man-made pond for about 15 years.

According to court records, the company created an 'arsenic pond' in a remote part of eastern California between Death Valley and the Sequoia National Forest and did not disclose that water pumped out of the pond and delivered to water treatment plants contained the poisonous heavy metal. 

The Crystal Geyser water bottling plant in Olancha, California. The parent company, CG Roxane, was charged with failing to disclose details of arsenic in wastewater transported from the bottling plant

Pond sampling by local water quality officials in 2013 found arsenic concentrations above the hazardous waste limit, as did subsequent sampling by state authorities and the company, prosecutors said.

State officials instructed the CG Roxane to remove the pond but that was done by two hired companies without identifying the wastewater as hazardous material, resulting in 23,000 gallons (87,064 liters) being discharged into a sewer without proper treatment, prosecutors said.

The company entered the pleas last week to one count of unlawful storage of hazardous waste and one count of unlawful transportation of hazardous material, the US Attorney's Office said.

The office said the $5 million fine was included in a recently filed plea agreement.

The US Attorney's Office statement noted that the investigation focused on handling, storage and transportation of CG Roxane's wastewater, 'not the safety or quality of CG Roxane's bottled water'.

A call to a telephone listing for the company facility was not answered when called last week.

Prosecutors say the company used sand filters to reduce the concentration of naturally occurring arsenic in the spring water to meet federal drinking water standards.

'To maintain the effectiveness of the sand filters, CG Roxane back-flushed the filters with a sodium hydroxide solution, which generated thousands of gallons of arsenic-contaminated wastewater,' the office said.

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