The owner of a used-car and repair company in Rogers has been fined for dumping wastewater daily into wetlands that drain into a six-acre lake.
John Cartalucca, 53, of Maple Grove, pleaded guilty in April to failing to report potential discharge of industrial waste. He was fined $1,000 and must pay more than $3,400 in restitution for water testing.
The Hennepin County attorney's office highlighted his sentence this week to show its efforts to build cases against businesses that ignore pollution laws.
"These water pollution laws are some of the most effective environmental laws ever passed, restoring our once-dirty waters to a condition where they can support fish and wildlife and provide recreation for people," County Attorney Mike Freeman said. "When people and businesses violate those laws, especially when they do it to save themselves some money, we are going to charge them with criminal offenses and show them we are serious about our environmental laws."
Cartalucca's business, Freeway Motors, is located at 14080 Main St. A former employee said Cartalucca ordered employees to dump wastewater on the parking lot. He estimated 165 gallons a day were dumped in April 2001.
Cartalucca's attorney, Christa Groshek, disputed the estimation of water dumped and that any of it actually went into the wetland. She said the water was from the business' carwash.
Cartalucca also rented space in the same building to two other companies that also did car work. At the time of the violations, wastewater from the businesses in the building drained to an oil/water separator and then into a septic system, according to the criminal complaint.
However, in April 2011, a former Freeway Motors employee told officials of the Hennepin County Environmental Services Department that the separator frequently backed up, triggering an alarm. That's when employees were told to dump wastewater into the parking lot.
County environmental services inspectors went to Freeway Motors and observed the waste being pumped out of the building. They took samples and talked to employees, who told them that Cartalucca had told them to dump the water outside when the system backed up, according to the complaint. The test results found that the liquid draining into the wetland exceeded pollution limits for oil and grease, aluminum, zinc, copper, toluene and chloride.
In a meeting with county officials, Cartalucca admitted he had ordered employees to dump the wastewater outside. The city of Rogers had offered him the opportunity to hook up to the city's sewer system, but he had delayed hooking up because of the expense, according to the complaint.
The hookup fees were approximately $13,000. Groshek said Cartalucca was in the process of getting the hookup before charges were filed.