The company Precision Castparts has been under scrutiny for air pollution around its South Portland foundry and for legacy pollution that has, at times, migrated from the foundry into Johnson Creek.
Last month, Precision said it is spending $17 million on new environmental controls, changes it characterizes as part of its commitment to “continuous improvement.”
But one of the upgrades, a state-of-the-art stormwater filtration system, is actually the result of a settlement the state reached years ago.
The company describes its new system as “best in class technology” that is “engineered to remove virtually all detectable contaminants from our storm water.”
What’s stormwater? It’s just rain. When it falls on industrial sites, it can pick up pollution from pavement, roofs, and other hard surfaces and wash it into rivers and creeks. It may not sound like much, but it’s a major source of water pollution and it can harm fish.
Five years ago, the state settled a lawsuit with Columbia Riverkeeper and the National Environmental Defense Center and agreed to put tighter regulations on industrial stormwater pollution.
The Department of Environmental Quality reduced the amount of pollutants like copper, lead and zinc allowed in industrial stormwater. Companies that failed to meet the new benchmarks have until June 30, 2016 to install new treatment systems.
Precision Castparts is just one among hundreds of companies that is required by the state to reduce its stormwater pollution.