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United States v. Phelps Dodge Corp.

Citation: 5 ELR 20308
No. No. CR 74-776-TUC-WCF, 391 F. Supp. 1181/7 ERC 1823/(D. Ariz., 04/08/1975)

The court refuses to dismiss an indictment against a corporation for causing water pollution in violation of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972. Under § 309 of the statute, the EPA Administrator is not required to proceed first to effect a correction of a statutory violation by civil means before instituting criminal proceedings.The court also rules that the statutory prohibition of pollutant discharges into "waters of the United States" without permits is not void for vagueness, and extends to the pollution of any waterway including normally dry arroyos, where any water flow could reasonably empty into any body of water in which there is some public interest, including underground waters. The judge notes that whether the evidence will support a conviction is a separate question, however. [Later in a directed verdict, the court acquitted the defendant on the ground that the government had failed to prove the alleged statutory violation. Ed. note.]

Counsel for Plaintiff
William C. Smitherman U.S. Attorney
Daniel G. Knauss Asst. U.S. Attorney
P.O. Box 1951
Tucson, Ariz. 85702

Katherine Armstrong
Environmental Protection Agency, Region IX
100 California Street
San Francisco, Cal. 94111

Counsel for Defendant
John E. Boland, Jr.
Evans, Kitchel & Jenckes
363 North First Avenue
Phoenix, Ariz. 85003