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'Smart Window' Maker to Pay Nearly $5 Million Fine for Illegal Wastewater Dumping in Mississippi

The company discharges about 248,000 gallons of wastewater per day from glass-cutting, grinding, washing and polishing.

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JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A California-based company will pay just under $5 million in fines for discharging wastewater into a publicly owned sewage treatment plant in Mississippi without obtaining a valid state permit, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

View Inc., a glass-making firm headquartered in Silicon Valley, previously pleaded guilty to negligently discharging wastewater into a city sewer system from the company's sole manufacturing facility in Olive Branch, Mississippi. That discharge endangered residents in the north Mississippi community and Memphis suburb of almost 40,000, federal prosecutors said.

"When companies place profit and convenience above public safety, we will do all we can to punish that behavior and protect the public," U.S. Attorney Clay Joyner said in a news release. "This illegal discharge of wastewater into the public treatment facility demonstrated a blatant disregard for the safety and wellbeing of citizens in our District."

In addition to the fines, U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock sentenced the company to a three-year term of probation.

The company discharges about 248,000 gallons of wastewater per day from glass-cutting, grinding, washing and polishing directly into the city's sewer system. But the company did so without a proper permit for years, prosecutors said.

"Unpermitted discharges of industrial wastewater can pose a serious threat to our nation's wastewater treatment systems," said Charles Carfagno, a special agent with the Environmental Protection Agency.

The company did not answer a call to its general line and did not immediately respond to a written request for comment.

The Mississippi glass plant opened by View Inc. was initially touted as a successful economic development project by former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. In 2010, Barbour lured the company, previously known as Soladigm, to the state with a $40 million loan, according to The Commercial Appeal.

According to its website, the company makes "smart windows" that can lower energy costs and improve mental health. In July, the company reached a settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for failing to disclose $28 million in liabilities to address a defect in its windows. In a news release, the agency said it decided not to impose civil penalties because the company self-reported its misconduct.

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