North River Wastewater Pollution Treatment Plant Lawsuit
Sewage Lawsuit : Citizen groups -the Coalition for a Livable West Side, and a group of citizen environmental groups - the Five Borough Alliance, the Bronx Council for Environmental Quality, Citizens United Against Riverwalk, the New York City/Queens Environmental Campaign, Soundwatch and the Union Square Community Coalition - filed a notice to sue the City under the Federal Clean Water Act to halt the City’s violation of the permit issued for the North River Sewage Treatment Plant and the Ward’s Island plant. Charged the city with violating the Clean Water Act by operating two sewage treatment plants, the North River and the Ward’s Island Plants , above their permit capacity. Millions of gallons of untreated sewage, goes into the Hudson River.
July 1, 1992 - Clean Water lawsuit filed in United States Federal Court.
July 30, 1993 - City asked that the case (Sewage Lawsuit) be dismissed. Judge Pierre P. Laval, United States District Court, Southern District, ruled that the groups had standing under the provisions of the Clean Water Act, to sue the City.
1994 - Judge Leval elevated to the United States District Court, 2nd Circuit (Sewage Lawsuit).
1994 - Case (Sewage Lawsuit) re-assigned to Judge Patterson. He held hearing. City again asked that the case be dismissed. Case not dismissed and a full ruling in the case was expected in the Summer of 1994.
April 1, 1994 - Twenty-four million gallons of sewage flow vanish from the the North River Sewage Plant in two hours. Mystery never solved. Numbers have been low ever since then.
July, 1994 - New judges appointed to the Southern District Court. Case (Sewage Lawsuit) re-assigned again.
August 1994 – New judge, Judge Deborah Batts, received the case (Sewage Lawsuit).
July 1995 - Almost a year later, the City asked the judge’s permission to submit additional material in the Sewage Lawsuit.
August 16, 1996 – Sewage Lawsuit - Important environmental case law was established when an Amicus Curiae brief was filed by the the United States Attorney, the United States District Court, Southern District of New York, on behalf of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The brief stated that “The United States believes that contrary to the position taken by the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, flow limits included in permits issued by New York State.... under the Clean Water Act are enforceable through citizen suits.”
January 20, 1998 – Plaintiffs filed a Writ of Mandamus (a petition) in the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit asking the court to direct the Federal Judge - who has had the case for over three years - to proceed immediately to adjudicate the case. This Writ was filed very reluctantly. However, there was no choice because the Plaintiffs’ underlying complaint - that the North River and Wards Island Sewage Treatment Plants have exceeded their operating permits - is a matter of significant public policy.
March 1998 - Six years after the sewage lawsuit was filed, Judge Batts ruled for the City. Plaintiffs did not appeal as the City had already granted sewer hook-ups to the North River Sewage Treatment Plant for four of the Riverside South buildings.
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