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South Salt Lake company accused of illegally dumping pollutants into sewer

A South Salt Lake company that manufactures fertilizers and other agricultural supplements faces charges accusing it of illegally dumping pollutants into the city's sewage system.

A South Salt Lake company that manufactures fertilizers and other agricultural supplements faces charges accusing it of illegally dumping pollutants into the city's sewage system. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)



Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

SOUTH SALT LAKE — A company that manufactures fertilizers and other agricultural supplements is being accused of illegally dumping pollutants into South Salt Lake's sewage system.

Cytozyme Laboratories, Inc., the company's director of operations Anna Kolliopoulos, and David John Bitter, the company's chief operating officer and chief financial officer, were each charged Wednesday in 3rd District Court with unlawful discharge of pollutants violating the state's water quality act, a third-degree felony. The company is charged with two counts while the two Individual defendants are each charged with one.

Cytozyme, located at 2700 S. 600 West, was issued a business license by South Salt Lake in 2013. According to the the Central Valley Water Reclamation Facility in South Salt Lake, Cytozyme claimed in 2013 that it had no wastewater discharge and reused its processed water, charging documents state.

But on June 16, 2018, video from a Cytozyme sewer line inspection showed what appeared to be a pollutant, according to the charges.

"In addition, statements from current and former employees of Cytozyme revealed that Cytozyme was supposed to be a 'zero discharge' facility, but employees have regularly disposed of wastewater by discharging it to the sewer on a near-day basis," the charges allege.

Then in March of 2020, illegal levels of zinc were found in the the city's main sewer line upstream and downstream from Cytozyme, according to the charges. The day after that discovery, "wastewater that was discharged to the sewer by Cytozyme obstructed their grease traps, which caused wastewater to overflow from the manhole covers in Cytozyme's parking lot and flow into the gutter and South Salt Lake's storm drain system."

Samples taken from the water found illegal levels of copper, zinc, molybdenum and pH, the charging documents state.

A call placed by KSL.com to Cytozyme on Wednesday for comment was not immediately returned.

When the Salt Lake County Health Department, South Salt Lake, the water reclamation facility and the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office went to Cytozyme to investigate, Kolliopoulos initially blamed construction in the area and stated she thought the company had a sewer discharge permit, according to the charges.

Two months later, an overflow at the facility resulted in a spill onto a workroom floor at Cytozyme, according to investigators. The Salt Lake County Health Department took samples from the spill and found the levels of copper in the liquid was eight times over the legal limit and the level of zinc was 28 times over the state limit, the charges state.

An internal investigation found that Cytozyme never had a permit to discharge wastewater but that employees "regularly disposed between two to 10 300-gallon totes of wastewater using the sewer drain since Cytozyme has occupied the South Salt Lake facility," according to the charges.

Prosecutors note in court documents that pollutants dumped into the sewage system must meet certain pretreatment standards "to protect municipal wastewater treatment plants from damage that may occur when hazardous, toxic or other wastes are discharged into a sewer system and to protect the quality of sludge generated by these plants. Properly managed municipal facilities, such as public owned treatment works and wastewater systems, play an important role in protecting community health and local water quality."

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