Orange County District Attorney
Press Release

Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701

For Immediate Release
November 6th, 2003
Contact:Joel Stone
Deputy District Attorney
(714) 347-8719

Santa Ana – Ultra Wheel Company, a manufacturer of custom wheels based in Buena Park plead guilty to three counts of felony hazardous waste crimes in Orange County Superior Court on Thursday, November 6, 2003. As a negotiated plea Ultra Wheel was sentenced to pay a total of $425,000.00 in fines and costs and placed on three years probation in connection with illegally discharging hazardous waste, consisting of residual wastes from their wheel plating operation, into the public sewer system and the public storm water system between September 2000 and September 2001. 

Ultra Wheel admitted to discharging acidic waste containing heavy metals (copper and nickel) into the public sewer system and dumping similar wastes into the storm drain system which discharges directly into the environment through Coyote Creek in Buena Park. The fines and costs paid by the company will reimburse the agencies that participated in the investigation as well as provide over $300,000.00 for Orange County environmental enforcement and statewide hazardous substance clean up. In addition, Ultra Wheel has spent in excess of $500,000.00 to upgrade its facility to prevent future contamination of the environment and to clean the public storm water system servicing the facility in late 2002. The company will also spend an undetermined sum to similarly clean the public sewer system that is currently servicing their facility.

“We need to hold polluters accountable and protect honest businesses and the environment from their antics,” said Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas.“ We cannot let one business avoid the cost of proper disposal because it gives the polluter an unfair advantage over their honest competitors. We must protect our environment from being damaged by these types of pollutants because repairing the damage to the environment is, at best, a costly endeavor and at worst not even a possibility.”

A cooperative, 2-year, multi-agency investigation led to the filing of criminal charges in 2002. The investigation was coordinated by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office Investigation Bureau and was completed in cooperation with the Orange County Sanitation District, the Orange County Health Care Agency, the Orange County Public Facilities and Resources Department, the Orange County Fire Authority, the California Department of Fish and Game, the California Department of Toxic Substance Control, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the California Air Resources Board and the United States Environmental Protection Agency-CID.