The NY Waterway ferry company is accused of illegally dumping tons of raw sewage from passenger toilets, along with oil, fuel, coolant, batteries, aluminum shavings, and other pollutants into the East and Hudson rivers, according to a 2016 federal complaint filed by two whistleblowers and unsealed Friday.

The New York Times first reported Friday that two former employees have accused the company of violating the federal Clean Water Act for years through practices like pumping “unfiltered waste from the boats’ toilets directly into the Hudson River.” The publication cited a complaint filed in 2016, with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s criminal investigation division investigating the claims. Two years later, the EPA closed the case in 2018 without taking further action, the Times reported.

“It looks like oatmeal,” former fueler Rafi Khatchikian told the Times. He’s one of the two plaintiffs in the complaint, which alleged he “personally observed the improper discharge of pollutants alleged in this action…(and) was ordered and instructed by his superiors to engage in illegal pollution discharges” while he worked for the company from 2013 to 2015. The other complainant, Ivan Torres, was a mechanic who worked for the company from 2011 to 2015.

Most of the activity was alleged to have happened at two maintenance docks near Weehawken, New Jersey, where Khatchikian said he and other employees were frequently ill because they were "in close contact with raw sewage and its attendant risk of being infected with hepatitis, E. coli, staph, and dozens of other pathogens," according to the complaint.

The country’s largest private ferry company, NY Waterway operates 30 boats that cross various rivers and bays, carrying up to 30,000 passengers daily at its peak.

“We think it’s totally without merit,” said chairman Armand Pohan, according to the Times, and the company called the complainants “disgruntled ex-employees.” Khatchikian was fired after a diesel spill in 2015, and Torres moved to Florida in 2015. A third unidentified employee also complained about the alleged dumping but he’s not part of the whistleblower complaint. The Times reported the whistleblowers could have received as much as 30% of the fines recouped from polluters, according to federal law.

Mary Mears of the EPA told the newspaper that the agency “did not find the evidence that it would have needed to request that the U.S. attorney bring formal charges.”

Part of its investigation involved putting green dye in ferry toilets to track its disposal, though the Times reported three ferry bathrooms were inaccessible -- “the toilet on one ferry had been removed altogether. The bathrooms on two other ferries were locked from the outside.”