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For Immediate Release
March 29, 2005
Media Contact:
Kevin Enright 410-576-6357

BALTIMORE CITY COMPANY AND COMPANY OWNER PLEAD GUILTY TO WATER POLLUTION

Attorney 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 in 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 permit.

According to the statement of facts in support of the guilty pleas, from June 1, 2003 through June 10, 2003, Restoration East and Helmacy 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 fine. All 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 fine. 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.
 

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