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June 23, 2016

Yuengling to pay penalty for alleged Clean Water Act violations

Pennsylvania brewing company reaches settlement with federal government

D. G. Yuengling and Son Inc. has settled Clean Water Act violations involving its two large-scale breweries near Pottsville, Schuylkill County.

The brewing company agreed to spend about $7 million to improve environmental measures at its brewery operations after it allegedly discharged pollutants into the Greater Pottsville Area Sewer Authority municipal wastewater treatment plant, according to a consent decree filed Thursday in federal court.

Yuengling also will pay a $2.8 million penalty.

Yuengling, the oldest brewing company in the United States, allegedly violated pretreatment permit requirements at least 141 times from 2008 to 2015, according to a complaint the federal government filed concurrently with the settlement. Those alleged violations include exceeding discharge limits for biological oxygen demand, phosphorus, zinc and pH to the treatment facility.

Pretreatment helps remove or change the composition of pollutants in wastewater. Unpermitted or excessive industrial discharges may interfere with the operation of public wastewater treatment plants, leading to the discharge of untreated or inadequately treated wastewater in local waters.

“Yuengling is responsible for serious violations of its Clean Water Act pretreatment discharge limits, posing a potential risk to the Schuylkill River which provides drinking water to 1.5 million people,” Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin said in a statement. “This history of violations and failure to fully respond to orders from the Greater Pottsville Area Sewer Authority and EPA to correct the problems resulted in this enforcement action.”

The consent decree requires Yuengling to implement an environmental management system focused on achieving Clean Water Act compliance at the two facilities. Yuengling must hire a third party consultant to develop the system and a third party auditor to ensure proper implementation.

Yuengling said it installed an $8 million wastewater pretreatment system at its historic brewery, which became operational in March.

The brewing company has a permit from the sewer authority to send wastewater directly to the authority for treatment. The wastewater is not toxic or hazardous, the company said. The wastewater mostly contains sugar and yeast, which in high concentrations can upset the sewer authority's treatment process.

“Yuengling takes its environmental responsibilities seriously, and we are pleased to have reached an agreement with the EPA that strengthens our environmental protocols,” Chief Administrative Officer Wendy Yuengling said in a statement. “As a sixth-generation family business, we’re making these improvements as part of our commitment to the continued operation of America’s Oldest Brewery so future generations can enjoy our quality lagers, porters and ales.”

Yuengling also agreed to construct a comprehensive pretreatment system at its Old Brewery, improve operation and maintenance of the pretreatment system at its New Brewery and hire two certified wastewater treatment operators.