Attorney General: Blumenthal and Rocque Announce Lawsuit Against Northeast Utilities for Wastewater Violations at the Millstone Plants

Connecticut Attorney General's Office

News Release

Blumenthal and Rocque Announce Lawsuit Against Northeast Utilities for Wastewater Violations at the Millstone Plants

November 18, 1997

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Environmental Protection Commissioner Arthur J. Rocque Jr. today announced a lawsuit against Northeast Utilities for alleged wastewater discharge violations at its three Millstone nuclear generating plants in Waterford over the past five years. 

The lawsuit alleges that on numerous occasions Northeast Utilities improperly handled, tested, stored, and discharged wastewater with various chemicals in violation of the company's permits. None of the violations was related to nuclear waste.

"Mismanagement seems to have been Northeast Utilities' middle name at nuclear power facilities. In dealing with wastewater, NU apparently regarded the great outdoors as its own discharge site, seeing itself as so superior to other businesses that it need not obey the environmental laws followed by them, and instead could act as a law unto itself," Blumenthal said. "For the years that NU thumbed its corporate nose at Connecticut's environmental laws, engaging in a pattern of pollution that is inexcusable, we will seek more than $1 million in penalties." 

"Northeast Utilities was careless with their environmental affairs by failing to obtain the necessary permits for discharges into the waters of Connecticut," said Commissioner Rocque. "These careless activities may have posed a threat to the environment and require Northeast Utilities to take steps to eliminate these violations, protect natural resources and avoid future environmental problems." 

The lawsuit includes the following allegations:

- From September 29, 1994, through July 12, 1996, NU took wastewater samples from an area where the tide diluted the concentration of pollutants in their wastewater and condenser cooling water discharge, instead of taking samples from the required location where the concentration of pollutants was not diluted by the tide. 

- Without authorization from DEP, NU mixed chemicals and discharged the mixed chemicals containing unknown concentrations of hydrogen peroxide and chlorine.

- From at least December 12, 1992 through May 20, 1996, the company discharged hydrazine from a discharge point that was not authorized by the DEP for the discharge of hydrazine.

- On September 16, 1993 and September 17, 1993, NU discharged excessive levels of ethanolamine -- at much as three times the acceptable level -- and failed to take timely action to correct this discharge.

- From at least December 12, 1992 to the present, NU discharged without a permit chlorinated backwash from service pump strainers near the three intake structures that provide cooling water to the three Millstone units.

- From at least December 12, 1992 through October 30, 1996, NU discharged chlorinated pump seal water without a permit.

- Several internal wastestreams associated with the routine operation of the Millstone unit 3 auxiliary boiler were discharged into a sump in the boiler room, which is in turn discharged into an oil/water separator tributary to a discharge site that flows into Niantic Bay.  These wastestreams contained significant concentrations of hydrazine, which is not permitted for discharge at that particular discharge site. 

The lawsuit seeks up to $25,000 per day per each day of violation and a permanent injunction restraining Northeast Utilities from violating the environmental laws that are cited in the complaint. The lawsuit also seeks reimbursement for the state for expenses in detecting, investigating, controlling and abating the violations.