Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum today announced a $819,059 civil settlement with Alsco, a commercial linen laundry facility in Portland, Oregon, over allegations that the company manipulated water testing samples by diluting its waste water discharge before releasing it into the City of Portland’s sewer system. To avoid extra costs, Alsco would submit reports to the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services that showed Alsco’s discharges were cleaner than they actually were. The General Manager of the Alsco plant and the Chief Engineer previously pled guilty to misdemeanor criminal charges relating to the same conduct.
“The environment, and especially our public water system, is something we all have to protect,” said Attorney General Rosenblum. “Fortunately, DOJ’s Environmental Crimes Unit was able to move on this case—and we will make sure that this bad behavior does not continue.”
Between April 1, 2004 and September 25, 2014, Alsco manipulated water quality procedures and data on days when regulators tested their waste water discharge. On non-testing days, Alsco would discharge dirtier water and use less water than what was reflected in their tests. By manipulating procedures and data on testing days, Alsco was able to significantly reduce their water usage and cost.
As part of a stipulated plea deal, Alsco will pay $819,059 in restitution and fines. Specifically, Alsco will pay $319,056.98 in extra-strength sewer charges to the City of Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) and $140,000.00 in additional fines imposed by Portland’s BES. Alsco will also pay $200,000 to the Oregon Department of Justice’s consumer education account, $100,000 to the Western States Project Training Fund and $60,000 to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Alsco also will implement stronger internal environmental compliance measures, including changes to processes at the plant, and better employee training and monitoring.
The case was led by DOJ’s Environmental Crimes and Cultural Resources Unit, a unit that focuses on the enforcement of Oregon environmental laws. Assistant Attorney General Patrick Flanagan led the case.
Kristina Edmunson, Department of Justice, Kristina.Edmunson@doj.state.or.us, 503-378-6002