Call him the toxic offender.
The manager of a Bedford-Stuyvesant metal-cleaning company on Wednesday admitted to dumping industrial waste into the sewer and will now cough up $110,000 in fines for the dirty deeds — a penalty the borough’s top lawyer says should have other eco-villains shaking in their boots.
“This case should make clear that we take environmental crimes in Brooklyn seriously and will vigorously prosecute any company that dumps environmental toxins into our waterways,” said District Attorney Ken Thompson.
Between Nov. 22, 2013 and Jan. 9, 2014, Control Electropolishing Corp. manager Manuel Acosta rigged the underground pipes at its Walworth Street building so employees could dump toxic sludge — heavy on dangerous metals like copper and lead — straight into the sewer system that flows into the already-noxious Newtown Creek, instead of a tank that was supposed to clean the waste, Thompson said.
The company managed to keep the scheme under wraps by instructing employees to plug up the illicit drain whenever the city came by for an inspection, the district attorney said.
Acosta pleaded guilty to dumping in state waters on Wednesday, while his company pleaded guilty to endangering public health and illegally disposing toxic waste, and agreed to pay the fine as part of a plea deal. A judge will issue a final sentence on Dec. 16.
Other local companies caught green-handed have faced steeper penalties in the past. The owners of East New York metal-plating company Sepco Industries in 2013 shelled out at least $1.3 million for pouring toxic waste down the drain. Williamsburg cement company Empire Transit Mix had to pay $300,000 in 2005 when it was caught dumping its product into Newtown Creek.
But the Bedford-Stuyvesant company is a small operation, and prosecutors determine punishments for environmental crimes on a case-by-case basis, issuing offenders with fines that will teach them a lesson without bankrupting them, according to a law enforcement official.
For comparison, the Greenpoint property owner who was arrested in 2010 for infamously flushing raw sewage into the fetid creek faced nearly $2 million for his foul play, but ultimately cut a deal for $175,000.
Thompson promised during his 2013 election campaign that he would be a “champion” for the environment during his term, pledging — amongst other things — to create an “environmental protection unit” that would focus on polluters and to keep a “dirty dozen” list of the borough’s worst waste-shovelers on his website — neither of which he has followed through on so far.
But environmental activists are cheering his latest victory. Waterway watchdog group Riverkeeper — which has slapped several Gowanus Canal polluters with lawsuits and was also responsible for catching Empire Transit Mix in the act — praised the district attorney for sending a strong message to environmental vandals.
“Even if polluters don’t care about their neighbor’s health, they need to know that illegal discharge isn’t worth the consequences, whether it’s criminal prosecution by the Brooklyn DA or civil prosecution by a group like Riverkeeper,” said Hudson River program director Christopher Len.