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Post date: July 14 2004

Pepsi Bottling Pleads Guilty To Improperly Disposing Of Industrial Wastes

Attorney General Spitzer, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Erin Crotty and Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick today announced a guilty plea by the Pepsi Bottling Group for unlawfully discharging wastes into New York waterways and sewer systems in three upstate counties.

The company pled guilty in Onondaga and Oneida counties, and will plead in an Essex County Court later today, to charges associated with discharging industrial wastes without valid permits. The charges are class "A" misdemeanors.

Pursuant to the guilty pleas, Pepsi was fined a total of $200,000 and has agreed to pay $2.78 million to Onondaga County to fund clean-up projects in Onondaga Lake. In addition, the company voluntarily conducted an environmental audit of its New York distribution facilities and has revised its waste disposal practices nationwide.

"This settlement will help protect state waters in the North Country and Mohawk Valley, while enhancing clean-up efforts at Onondaga Lake and its tributaries," said Spitzer.

State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Erin Crotty said: "It is vital that companies like Pepsi Bottling Group understand and alleviate any pressure that their actions put on water systems, wildlife, and natural habitats. This settlement will help to restore Onondaga Lake and its tributaries and bring back the plant and animal life that suffered as a result of the company's unlawful actions."

Onondaga County District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick said: "In an era of corporate malfeasance, it is refreshing to know that at least one company, Pepsi Bottling Corporation has owned up to its mistake and the citizens of Onondaga County will benefit from this financial settlement."

In the first case, Pepsi admitted that over a period of several years it disposed of soft-drink syrup mix and other waste soda products into Ley Creek, a tributary of Onondaga Lake, without a permit. The syrup has a high sugar content and the discarded products have the potential to remove and dissolve oxygen from the water, affecting fish and plant life. The plea, to charges filed by the Onondaga County District Attorney, was accepted by Justice David Gideon in Dewitt Town Court.

In the second case, brought by Attorney General Spitzer's office, Pepsi admitted that at an Oneida County facility, located in Utica, it negligently disposed of wastes into the facility's floor drains, some of which were connected to the county's sanitary sewer system. Pepsi failed to obtain the requisite written permission for these discharges. The plea was accepted by Acting City Court Judge Ann Manion.

In the third case, the company will admit that at its Keesville facility, located in Essex County, it disposed of its syrup and waste fluids via a floor drain that was connected to the sanitary sewer system and publicly-owned treatment works without first obtaining a permit. These charges were also brought by the Attorney General's office and an appearance is scheduled for this evening before Justice Kim Rennie in the Chesterfield town court.

The investigation of Pepsi was initiated by the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) in September 2001. The DEC referred the case involving Ley Creek to the Onondaga County District Attorney in September 2001. The associated cases in Oneida and Essex counties were referred by the DEC to the Attorney General in December 2002.

The prosecution team included Environmental Crimes Unit Chief Julieta Lozano and Assistant Attorney General Rocky Piaggione of the Attorney General's Office; and Assistant District Attorney Paul Berry of the Onondaga County District Attorney's Office. The investigation was conducted by DEC Investigator James Boylan under the supervision of DEC Lieutenant James Massuica.