Mount Vernon sued over alleged Clean Water Act violations

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MOUNT VERNON -

Federal authorities in a lawsuit accuse Mount Vernon of violating the Clean Water Act, claiming the city has not done anything to prevent raw sewage from polluting the waterways since 2012.

The lawsuit also comes with millions of dollars in fines.

"For every million in fines, property taxes could go up 2 percent," Mayor Richard Thomas said at a news conference Thursday. "Those are bankruptcy numbers."

City Councilman Andre Wallace and other city officials say they were shut out of the briefing and escorted away.

"We're not going to do this back and forth confusion, which is what's been happening," Thomas said of the situation.

Thomas said nearly 600,000 feet of storm drain lines must be inspected over the next 24 months. But Wallace says it's already happened, and that there's legislation proving it.

Both sides say they want to talk, but nothing has been set.

If the Environmental Protection Agency does not see an action plan, it could levy more than $100 million in fines, which could potentially bankrupt the city.

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