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U.S. EPA settles with Taft, Calif. company for Clean Water Act violations

Release Date: 10/05/2006
Contact Information: Dean Higuchi, 808-541-2711,

(10/05/06) SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced resolution of Clean Water Act violations with GPS River Rock Products at its sand and gravel mining facility in Ventucopa, Santa Barbara County, CA.

In addition to paying a $35,870 fine, the mining company will transfer 22 acres of land in the Cuyama River watershed to the Bureau of Land Management for protection of habitat and the endangered California jewelflower.

GPS River Rock Products has agreed to spend up to $130,000 to enhance and restore portions of the Cuyama River on BLM-owned land that have historically been used as illegal dump sites. Once these dumps sites have been restored, GPS will discourage further illegal dumping by removing access to the sites by fencing or removing access roads.

“We hope this action will deter others from unauthorized filling of creeks, streams and wetland habitat,” said Alexis Strauss, director of EPA’s water programs for the Pacific Southwest Region. “We are pleased the company agreed to undertake environmental restoration projects to enhance the Cuyama River.”

During an inspection in January, 2005, EPA inspectors found storage areas for materials and waste were not covered, facility entry and exits lacked controls to minimize the tracking of mud and dirt into public roads by vehicles. In addition, EPA inspectors found that stockpiles of earthen material, berms and roads had been discharged into 22 acres of the Cuyama River without a permit.

The Clean Water Act requires operators to plan and implement appropriate pollution prevention and control practices for storm water runoff during the construction period. In addition, the Clean Water Act requires that developers must first get a permit from the U.S. Army Corps before discharging dredged or fill material into regulated waterways.

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