Complaint Filed Against Unalaska for Violating Clean Water Act

The U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint Thursday against Unalaska and the State of Alaska on the Environmental Protection Agency’s behalf, charging that the city repeatedly violated the Clean Water Act between 2004 and 2010.

The complaint lists over 4,800 violations. The Department of Justice alleges that the city frequently exceeded its discharge permit and released pollutants, including partially treated sewage, into Unalaska Bay. According to the complaint, the city could be held liable for over a $100 million — more than $30,000 per violation per day.

The city is right now in the process of securing funding for a new wastewater treatment plant in order to comply with federal regulations. While the current plant is only 11 years old, it doesn’t conduct secondary treatment of wastewater. Unalaska Mayor Shirley Marquardt says that at the time of construction, that plant was covered by an amendment to the Clean Water Act that set more relaxed requirements for some Alaskan villages.

But Marquardt says that when the city applied for a new discharge permit in 2004, they did not receive another waiver.

The EPA would not discuss the pending litigation. The Department of Justice could not be immediately reached for comment.

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