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S.L. TRUCKING FIRM FINED FOR STORM-DRAIN VIOLATION

A Salt Lake trucking firm has been fined $10,000 for allowing pollution to flow into a storm drain.

Clearwater Trucking Inc. pleaded guilty last week to two counts of discharging pollutants, a class B misdemeanor.Third Circuit Judge Robin Reese imposed the fine, which was part of a plea bargain that dismissed two employees of the trucking company from criminal liability.

The Salt Lake County attorney's office prosecuted the case following an investigation by Rhonda Thiele of the city-county health department.

Thiele observed Clearwater employees steam-cleaning vehicles on the Clearwater property, 1800 S. 300 West, in December and January. The employees were allowing the oily discharge to run into the storm-drain system, which empties untreated runoff into the Jordan River.

Utah's Water Quality Act prohibits the discharge of any pollutant into the stormwater system.

Storm-drain pollution is "a serious problem nationally as well as our state," said prosecutor Tom Christensen. "All of the drains lead to canals or rivers. You have possible fish problems and impairments of human use to the water."

Though no single business is apt to cause serious environmental damage, the cumulative impact of runoff from all the businesses can cause significant problems, Christensen said.

If companies want to clean equipment on their property, they need to make arrangements with the sewer districts to see if the water can be treated in the sewer systems.

Otherwise, the companies should have their equipment cleaned at locations that treat the effluent.

"You just can't discharge directly into the storm drains. They're designed for stormwater, not for industrial discharge," Christensen said.