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MADISON – Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen today announced that his office has settled a civil environmental prosecution against Northern Wire, LLC (Northern Wire) for its alleged discharge of excessive amounts of the pollutants chromium and zinc into the City of Merrill sewer system. Northern Wire operates a wire forming facility where it engages in manufacturing processes including zinc electroplating with chromium passivation. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) had asked the Wisconsin Department of Justice to prosecute Northern Wire for violating a state law which limits the amounts of these and other pollutants an industry may discharge into municipal sewage treatment systems like the City of Merrill's. The complaint filed in the case alleges that on numerous days, primarily in the spring and summer months of 2009 but continuing sporadically into 2010 and on one occasion in February 2011, Northern Wire's wastewater contained excessive amounts of zinc and/or chromium, pollutants which can exhibit toxic characteristics.
Under the terms of a settlement agreement which has now been approved by Lincoln County Circuit Judge Tlusty, Northern Wire will pay a total of $65,000 in penalties, attorney fees and surcharges to the State of Wisconsin.
"The Wisconsin Department of Justice will continue to work with DNR to ensure that the law is followed," said Van Hollen. To the company's credit, Van Hollen said, it has brought the facility back into compliance with the state's water pollution control laws.
Recently retired Assistant Attorney General Thomas Dosch handled the prosecution.