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That "biological materials" means the waste product of a human or industrial process is in accord with the views of other courts that have examined what constitutes "biological materials" under the Clean Water Act (Act). The "biological materials" that are "pollutants" under the Act are materials that are transformed by human activity. The conclusion that the statutory term "biological materials" means the waste product of a human process is further reinforced by the Act's use of the term "pollution," which is defined as the "man-made or man-induced alteration of the chemical, physical, biological, and radiological integrity of water."
In its facilities in the body of water, the mussel-harvester attached infant mussels to suspension ropes which were then anchored to the sea floor. The mussels were allowed to mature with only the nutrients found naturally in the water and then harvested. Plaintiff non-profit organization filed suit alleging that the mussels' byproducts, which included shells, ***, and other biological materials constituted pollutants in violation of the Clean Water Act (Act), 33 U.S.C.S. §§ 1251-1376. The district court granted the mussel-harvester summary judgment. Plaintiff appealed.
Were the mussel shells and byproducts “pollutants” under the Clean Water Act?
On appeal, the court affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of the mussel-harvester, determining that the mussel shells and byproducts were not pollutants under the Act, as the byproducts were the natural biological processes of the mussels, not the waste product of a transforming human process. The mussel-harvester's facility was not a "point source" under the Act because the mussel-harvester did not add any feed to its rafts or to the surrounding water and therefore its facilities fell under an exception to the Environmental Protection Agency's concentrated aquatic animal production facility.