Acting Attorney General Michelle Henry Takes Action Against Environmental Crimes in Shavertown

February 1, 2023 | Topic: Criminal

HARRISBURG– Acting Attorney General Michelle Henry today announced charges against the Dallas Area Municipal Authority (DAMA) in Shavertown, Pennsylvania for allegedly discharging untreated sewage into Toby’s Creek. DAMA is the operator for a municipal sewage collection and storage facility.

“Pennsylvanians have a constitutional right to clean air and pure water – I’m here to protect that right,” Acting Attorney General Henry said. “I’m grateful for the hard work my Office’s Environmental Crimes Section is doing to hold this public utility operator accountable.”

DAMA collects sewage from Harvey’s Lake Borough, Lehman Township, Dallas Township, Dallas Borough, Kingston Township, and Jackson Township. The sewage should then be pumped to the Wyoming Valley Municipal Authority’s treatment plant. However, it was determined that DAMA was receiving more sewage than their facility could handle and therefore not all of the sewage it received made it to the treatment plant.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted an inspection of DAMA’s facility in 2017 and discovered that there was an unpermitted and uncontrolled Sanitary Sewer Overflow occurring. Untreated sewage was being discharged directly into Toby’s Creek for a period of more than two weeks in the amount of 500,000 to 1,500,000 gallons per day.

In 2018, DEP conducted another inspection of the DAMA facility and discovered the existence of a bypass pipe, along with related inlets, piping, and wastewater flow diversions, which again resulted in the discharge of untreated sewage into Toby’s Creek. None of these structures were reported to, approved by, or permitted by DEP.

The Office of Attorney General assumed jurisdiction over this case as a referral from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The investigation conducted by the Office of Attorney General determined that the bypass pipe was likely installed in 2008 during construction at the DAMA facility.

The charges against Dallas Area Municipal Authority include four violations of the Solid Waste Management Act and three violations of the Clean Streams Law. The Prosecutor for this case is Deputy Attorney General Shayna Gannone and all charges are allegations. These charges were filed with Luzerne County Magisterial District Judge Brian Tupper on January 31, 2023.

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