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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has started an investigation into a company that allegedly discharged a toxic chemical into the wastewater system of Fort Worth, Texas.
The Billmark Company was searched by investigators in relation to suspected violations of the federal Clean Water Act in January but the documents on the investigation were only recently published, NBC 5 News reported. The EPA search warrant stated that the discharge was noticed by staff at the city of Fort Worth's Village Creek water treatment plant, who first detected elevated concentrations of cadmium in 2009. City officials tried to find the source of the chemical and traced it to one of three Billmark buildings, the warrant said.
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Fort Worth Water Department spokeswoman Mary Gugliuzza confirmed that the chemical found in the water system was cadmium, which could potentially cause serious adverse health effects. The discharge was not big enough to compromise water supply to residents but high levels of the chemical are very hard to treat and could have entered public water supplies, she said.
Plating and metal finishing company Billmark has been in business for more than three decades. Its owner, Mark Shafer, told NBC 5 that his company had not breached any regulations because its wastewater is treated before being discharged into the city's sewer system. However, this is not the first time the company has been cited for wastewater management violations. According to the warrant, in the 1980s Billmark was found to have bypassed wastewater treatment by spilling wastewater directly into a toilet drain, the news source reported.