TIPTON, Ind. (AP) — Cardboard manufacturer Midwest Sheets Co. must pay a $600,000 fine following its guilty plea Thursday to federal charges over a chemical spill that killed more than 2,000 fish.
Midwest Sheets pleaded guilty to three counts of violating the federal Clean Water Act for two July 22, 2002, discharges of more than 1,800 gallons of caustic soda, or sodium hydroxide, federal prosecutors said.
Company officials failed to notify the Tipton wastewater treatment plant of the discharges, which occurred when a storage tank overflowed, sending the chemical directly into the sewer system in the city about 30 miles north of Indianapolis, prosecutors said.
The highly concentrated chemical — which the company uses to make glue for corrugated cardboard — spilled into nearby Cicero Creek, killing 2,000 fish and disrupting Tipton's wastewater treatment plant for a week.
U.S. District Judge David Hamilton in Indianapolis ordered the company to pay the fine, to publicly apologize for the chemical release and to implement corporate and employee environmental training programs. He also ordered the company to comply with all federal, state and local environmental laws.
The company's general manager, Duane Matschullat, said in a statement that Midwest Sheets ''deeply regrets'' causing the spills.
''Midwest Sheets takes corporate citizenship very seriously and deeply regrets the damage caused by the spill,'' he said.