Car Wash Owner Admits Illegal Dumping

Attorney General Spitzer and State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin Crotty today announced the guilty plea of a Dutchess County man for illegally discharging wastewater from his Poughkeepsie car wash to a storm drain that emptied into Wappinger Creek, a tributary of the Hudson River.

The defendant, Douglas H. Casement, of 58 Ridge Road, Poughkeepsie, owns the Purple Parlor Car Wash located at 264 Dutchess Turnpike and DeGarmo Road. He pleaded guilty today to three counts of discharging pollutants without a permit, and one count of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the first degree.

"A car wash besmirches its image of cleanliness and fouls the environment when it illegally dumps its dirty water into a stream," said Spitzer. "Today's guilty plea sends a clear message that environmental crimes will result in criminal prosecution and stiff fines."

DEC Commissioner Crotty said: "The discharge of wastewater is strictly regulated to protect public health and our environmental resources. In this case, the defendant clearly violated state regulations. The cooperative effort by DEC and the Attorney General halted this illegal activity and will ensure that any wastewater generated by this facility will be handled properly."

Dutchess County Judge Gerald Hayes accepted Casement's pleas, all Class A misdemeanors. As part of a plea agreement, Casement is expected to be fined $80,000 and will have 90 days to submit an application for a proper discharge permit from the DEC or close his business. Sentencing is scheduled for October 24, 2002.

DEC investigators conducted a six-month investigation into an allegation that Purple Parlor Car Wash had illegally connected a pipeline from the car wash into the top of the concrete storm drain that runs under DeGarmo Road and empties into Wappinger Creek. DEC investigators and engineers and investigators from the Attorney General's Office executed a search warrant on May 3, 2001 which confirmed that underground holding tanks at the car wash were connected by pump and pipeline to the storm drain. Casement had indicated in documents submitted to the DEC that he was not discharging the car wash's wastewater illegally into the storm drain but was having it pumped from the tanks on a regular basis and hauled away for proper disposal and therefore did not require a State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit.

Water from the car wash illegally pumped to the storm sewer contained dirt, soap, oil, as well as brake and transmission fluid, among other waste materials.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Lynn Tabbott and Rocky Piaggione of the Criminal Prosecutions Bureau. The DEC investigation was led by Investigator Beverly Whalen and Hazardous Substance Specialist Sgt. Jeffrey Lindell under the supervision of Lt. Steve Wagner.