August 17, 2017 at 1:38AM

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violating the Clean Water Act in a federal

Metro pleaded guilty to criminal charges of fiber pigtail violating the Clean Water Act in a federal court Wednesday for discharging acidic wastewater used to clean Metrorail cars six years ago.The transit agency agreed to pay $200,000 and serve 18 months probation under the plea deal in Greenbelt's U.S. District Court for flushing the acidic wastewater from the Branch Avenue rail yard in Prince George's County. 

Attorney Rod Rosenstein declined to comment on why it pursued criminal charges in the case, which are rare against a government agency. But spokeswoman Marcia Murphy said it can take time for local cases to be investigated and wind their way to federal agencies.In this case, wastewater that left the Branch Avenue site had a pH level as low as 2.8 during the six-day period in 2003, court records show.

Metro said the pollution occurred because collection tanks overflowed.The unusual case stems from six days of violations in October 2003 stemming from a rail car washing process that involved hydrofluoric acid the agency failed to neutralize, court records show. But the criminal charges were not filed until Oct. 28 of this year, then were sealed until earlier this month. The office of U.S.

How it works  The transit agency uses several chemicals, including hydrofluoric acid, to remove oxides and grime from the outsides of aluminum rail cars at six of its nine rail yards. But it is supposed to pretreat the leftover wastewater to neutralize it before flushing it into the public system.Most of the systems are automatic but the agency hand-washed the cars at the New Carrolton rail yard until 2003 when the underground sewer there broke from severe corrosion, court records show.Metro moved the washing stations to theBranch Avenuesite, but court records say the recycling system there failed, too, thereby releasing acidic wastewater.

That's about the acidity of lemon juice and much more acidic than acid rain that typically has a 4.3 pH. A pH of 7 is considered neutral.Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission issued the transit agency a violation on Oct. 2, 2003, after finding the acidic wastewater and ordered the agency to stop flushing it into the sewer system, court records show. It issued a second violation on Oct. 9 of that year, when it found the agency continued to have acidic runoff though Oct.

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