Grand Haven Electroplating Company, President, And Vice President Plead Guilty To Clean Water Act Offenses
(S.T.L.News) U.S. Attorney Mark Totten announced today that A.S.P. Plating Company of Grand Haven, Gary Stephen Rowe, 70, of Grand Haven, and Stephen Frederick Rowe, 38, formerly of Grand Haven and currently of Oklahoma, pled guilty to criminal violations of the Clean Water Act before the Honorable Sally J. Berens, United States Magistrate Judge. The company and Gary Rowe, its president, pled guilty to a felony violation of the Clean Water Act, and Stephen Rowe, it’s vice president, pled guilty to a misdemeanor. The Court will set one or more dates for sentencing hearings.
According to public records, the individual defendants operated the corporate defendant, an electroplating company that held an industrial pretreatment permit issued by the Grand Haven-Spring Lake Sewer Authority. At least between 2015 and 2021, the company routinely violated the permit by dumping zinc in excess of the daily and monthly limitations, releasing zinc in batches without notice, and by bypassing the mandatory pretreatment system entirely. The Sewer Authority periodically monitored the company’s discharges, but Gary and Stephen Rowe instructed employees to make sure the monitor was absent before discharging wastewater containing excessive amounts of zinc.
“No resource is more precious in Michigan than our waters, which define the very boundaries of our state,” said U.S. Attorney Totten. “These defendants blatantly and repeatedly thwarted their obligation to properly treat and dispose of wastewater. As U.S. Attorney, I will do everything I can to protect our water. Individuals and businesses that commit environmental crimes will be held accountable.”
The Clean Water Act is the primary law governing pollution of the Nation’s surface waters. Congress first passed the law in 1948, totally revised it in 1972, and subsequently amended the law several times thereafter. In passing the law, Congress declared that its purpose was “to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological integrity of the Nation’s waters.” 33 U.S.C. § 1251(a).
Among other provisions, the Act regulates industrial and municipal discharges. To achieve its goal of preserving clean water, parts of the Act are based on the concept that all discharges into the Nation’s waters by industrial and municipal users are illegal unless specifically authorized by a permit. The law has civil, criminal, and administrative enforcement provisions.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Justin M. Presant is prosecuting the matter.
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