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U.S. EPA fines San Diego businessman $100,000 for gravel mining violations

Release Date: 2/10/2005
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano (415) 947-4307

     SAN FRANCISCO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently settled a case for $100,000 against San Diego businessman, Brian Chuchua, for allegedly discharging dredged and fill materials into the San Luis Rey River, a violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

    The discharges of dredged and fill materials resulted from an instream mining operation requiring permits through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

     "The San Luis Rey River is a valued environmental resource in arid Southern California" said Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA's Water Division for the Pacific Southwest. "The EPA is committed to ensuring that the river and its aquatic resources are protected from illegal activities."

   According to the settlement, Mr. Chuchua must pay a $78,400 fine and purchase $21,600 worth of  mitigation credits at the Pilgrim Creek Mitigation Bank, located within the San Luis Rey River watershed. The mitigation bank is owned and managed by the California Department of Fish and Game for the purpose of mitigating impacts to waters within the San Luis Rey River watershed.

  This recent action is the third and final settlement of a case that began in 1998.  EPA staff from the Wetlands Regulatory Office learned that Mr. Chuchua and his associates, Joseph Weber and Albert Julian, began conducting mining operations in the San Luis Rey River without authorization from the Corps.  The Corps and the EPA share regulatory responsibility for the federal wetlands program.  

     The EPA issued four separate orders against these individuals but they continued mining operations without permits until mid-2000.  The EPA referred the matter to the Department of Justice, which filed a civil complaint in 2001.  All three defendants agreed to a settlement before the scheduled trial in November 2004.

   For more information, on EPA's Water Programs, please visit:
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