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D.G. Yuengling and Son, Inc. Clean Water Act Settlement

(Washington, DC - June 23, 2016)  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice today announced that D. G. Yuengling and Son Inc., has settled Clean Water Act (CWA) violations involving its two large-scale breweries near Pottsville, Pennsylvania.

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D.G. Yuengling and Son, Inc. (Yuengling) is a Pennsylvania company founded in 1829 as Eagle Brewery.  It changed its name to D.G. Yuengling and Son, Inc. in 1873.   It is a privately held company in the business of manufacturing and distributing beer and related products.  Yuengling primarily sells through distributors in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Alabama. It has manufacturing plants/breweries in Pottsville, Pennsylvania and Tampa, Florida.  

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Yuengling owns and operates two beer breweries (the New Brewery and the Old Brewery) in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, which have been in significant non-compliance with the Clean Water Act because of persistent violations of application industrial wastewater discharge permits over the past 10 years.  Despite enforcement by the publicly owned treatment works (POTW), which is operated by the Greater Pottsville Area Sanitary Authority (GPASA), and administrative enforcement by EPA, Yuengling had failed to take the steps necessary to comply with its Industrial User (IU) Permits that provide pretreatment requirements for discharges to the POTW. 

The noncompliance addressed in the proposed consent decree includes numerous discharge limit violations of its IU Permits between 2008 and 2015.  It also includes violations involving failures to submit required monitoring reports and comply with monitoring and reporting requirements at both breweries and to take all required samples at both breweries.  In total, EPA identified 141 IU permit violations, which are referenced in the complaint and will be resolved by the consent decree.

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Injunctive Relief

EPA is requiring significant injunctive relief in the consent decree, including environmental audits and multi-facility environmental management system requirements for both of the breweries, construction of a comprehensive biological treatment system at the Old Brewery, and implementation of enhancements to the existing pretreatment system at the New Brewery.  The injunctive relief is expected to improve the company’s compliance with the Clean Water Act, resulting in fewer discharges of effluent with permit limit exceedances to rivers and streams. The cost of the required injunctive relief is estimated to be $7 million.  

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Pollutant Impacts

The pollutants at issue in this case include biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), phosphorous, zinc and pH (both high and low). High BOD loadings interfere with the microorganisms in the POTW that neutralize the pollutants, which can significantly impair the POTW’s effectiveness. When wastewater containing BOD and high pH passes through the POTW, it can overload the treatment plant, impacting the ability of the plant to adequately process the waste.   Also, high pH can cause damage to the sewer infrastructure, as acidic waste can corrode pipes and other sewer structures, such as pumps.  

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Health Effects and Environmental Benefits

When the required injunctive relief is implemented, the proposed decree will help reduce the risk to the POTW treatment facilities, and thereby reduce the risk of exposure of surrounding communities to pollutants that can significantly impair streams and watersheds.     

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Civil Penalty

The negotiated civil penalty to be paid by defendants is $2.8 million.

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Comment Period

The proposed settlement, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. Information on submitting comments is available at the Department of Justice website.

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For More Information, Contact:

Douglas Frankenthaler
Assistant Regional Counsel
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region III
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103-2029
(215) 814-2472

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