A federal judge ordered a Germany-based eyeglass manufacturer on Monday to pay $750,000 in criminal fines for repeatedly discharging hazardous waste from its facility in Clackamas, Oregon.
Court documents show Carl Zeiss Vision, Inc. routinely discharged industrial wastewater with very high and low pH levels into the Kellogg Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.
"By failing to disclose its discharges to Clackamas County, the company operated completely outside pretreatment regulations for years," the U.S. Attorney for Oregon's office said in a release.
In January, the company pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Clean Water Act.
The company was supposed to neutralize its chemicals, court documents show.
"Due to Zeiss's lack or failed pretreatment, these discharges at times included highly corrosive hazardous substances with pH values less than 2.0 or greater than 12.5," the government's sentencing memorandum states.
Oregon's U.S. Attorney Billy Williams said the U.S. Department of Justice won't tolerate businesses that bypass federal environmental laws to maximize profits.
"We will continue to aggressively prosecute individuals and corporations whose illegal conduct threatens our region's natural resources and public health," Williams said in a statement.
In May 2012, Zeiss falsely responded to a questionnaire from Clackamas Water Environmental Services, court documents state. Zeiss described its wastewater as "green lens cleaner" that didn't need to be pretreated.
"This was patently false," federal prosecutors wrote in court documents. "The truth then and for years thereafter was that Zeiss regularly discharged a cadmium-and-led alloy as well as a lens polish."
Zeiss didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.