March 29, 2005
CITY COMPANY AND COMPANY OWNER PLEAD GUILTY TO WATER POLLUTION
General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that Restoration
East, LLC, a Maryland
corporation, located in the 4200 block of East Chase Street
in Baltimore City, and Louis John Helmacy, 44, of Cedar Avenue
Towson, Maryland, pled guilty to water pollution violations
in the Circuit Court for Montgomery County. Helmacy is the Vice
President of Restoration East.
Restoration East entered guilty pleas to three counts of illegally
discharging a pollutant to the storm drain at 8484 Georgia Avenue
in Montgomery County. Helmacy, in addition to being a corporate
officer was the ranking company employee responsible for the
water pollution. Storm drains are considered waters of the
State of Maryland.
The company also pled guilty to three counts of operating a disposal
system without a discharge permit. Helmacy entered guilty pleas
to two counts of operating a disposal system without a discharge
According to the statement of facts in support of the guilty
pleas, from June 1, 2003 through June 10, 2003, Restoration East
engaged in the hydrodemolition of a concrete floor in a parking
garage located in the 8400 block Georgia Avenue in Silver Spring,
Maryland. The hydrodemolition project involved demolishing the
concrete floor with high-pressured water, which produced a slurry-like
wastewater containing pulverized concrete. Restoration East had
a contract to do the work for $408,000.00
The Defendants discharged the wastewater into the garage’s
storm drain line, which was ultimately released into Portal Branch,
a tributary to Rock Creek in Washington, DC. The discharged wastewater
had elevated pH levels, as high as 14, because the Defendants failed
to pre-treat the discharged wastewater with neutralizing acid.
A pH level of 14 is extremely corrosive and is commonly found in
products like oven cleaner. The investigators who inspected Portal
Branch after the illegal discharges, found dead crayfish and the
absence of any other aquatic life.
The wastewater should have been discharged to the sanitary sewer
system, but both Defendants admitted that they failed to apply
for permits to discharge the wastewater as required by law. If
the Defendants had obtained a permit to discharge the wastewater,
Washington Suburban Sanitation Commission (WSSC) would have required
the Defendants to pre-treat wastewater prior to discharging into
the sanitary system. WSSC would have required Defendants to regularly
monitor and test the discharge. Discharging wastewater to the
storm drain line would never have been permitted.
The Honorable DeLawrence Beard of the Circuit Court for Montgomery
County imposed a total fine of $3,500 against Restoration East
and placed the company on probation for one year. Helmacy was
given a probation before judgment and ordered to pay a $1,000
of the fines must be paid to the Maryland Clean Water Fund. The
maximum penalty for each count of discharging pollution into
the waters of the State is 1 year imprisonment and/or a $25,000
The maximum penalty for each count of operating a disposal system
without a permit is 1 year imprisonment and/or a $25,000 fine.
These charges follow a joint investigation conducted by the Environmental
Crimes Unit of the Office of the Attorney General, the Criminal
Investigation Division of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
the United States Park Police and the Maryland State Police.