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Friends of the Earth, Inc. v. Gaston Copper Recycling Corp.

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20055
Nos. No. 06-1714,, (4th Cir., 01/05/2011) reversed and remanded

The Fourth Circuit reversed and remanded a district court's imposition of penalties against the former owner of a metals smelting facility for CWA violations. The environmental groups that filed suit against the company had standing, as they demonstrated that one of their members used an area of the water affected by the company's discharge. This aspect of the district court's ruling was therefore affirmed. But the district court erred in finding violations and imposing penalties for all but three violations for pH and copper, and it erred in assessing penalties for 54 days of violations that were "wholly past" when the plaintiffs filed their complaint. Accordingly, the court affirmed the part of the district court’s judgment relating to the Phase II violation for pH occurring on October 15, 1993, and to the Phase II violations for copper occurring on October 5, 1993, and March 22, 1994, and the accompanying penalties imposed for those three violations. But the court reversed the balance of the district court’s findings of violations and the court’s imposition of penalties for those violations.