McDonnell Douglas Corp. agreed Tuesday to pay a $505,000 fine without admitting guilt in the discharge of toxic chemicals into the city’s sewer lines, federal officials said.
Jacqueline Rios, an engineer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said the aerospace firm agreed to the fine and signed a consent decree without admitting guilt.
McDonnell Douglas officials said they believed they were meeting Orange County Sanitation District standards and that the EPA rules did not apply.
Rios said the EPA had accused McDonnell Douglas of discharging waste water with excessive amounts of lead, copper and nickel in violation of the federal Clean Water Act between September, 1987, and April, 1991.
The waste water, from washing circuit boards, found its way to the city’s waste water treatment plant through the regular sewer connections to the sprawling Huntington Beach aerospace complex.
“They weren’t treating the waste water to a sufficient level to meet federal clean water standards,” Rios said. “Later, they got rid of that process.”
Anne McCauley, a McDonnell Douglas spokeswoman, said the circuit board manufacturing work that resulted in the discharges was moved to another state.
Rios said the fine was based on “the nature of the violation, the economic benefit derived by the company, and the company’s ability to pay.”
There was no damage to the plant or the environment, Rios said.