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EPA Issues Wetland Complaint, Proposes $25,000 Penalty, to Bridgeview Vineyards, Inc., Near Cave Junction, Oregon

Release Date: 4/25/2005
Contact Information: Yvonne Vallette
(503) 326-2716

April 25, 2005

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has named Robert E. Kerivan and Bridgeview Vineyards Inc. in a Complaint alleging that Kerivan and his company discharged fill into a section of Sucker Creek adjacent to Bridgeview Vineyards & Winery. The Complaint carries a proposed $25,000 penalty.

According to EPA's Complaint, Kerivan, Bridgeview and its employees used heavy equipment to discharge fill material into a section of Sucker Creek adjacent to the vineyards. Since Sucker Creek (a tributary of the east fork of the Illinois River designated as critical habitat for coho salmon) is considered "waters of the United States," the action is a violation of section 404 of the federal Clean Water Act. Under that section, persons discharging dredged or fill material, or altering the course of waters of the U.S. must first obtain a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. Mr. Kerivan did not have, nor had he applied for, the appropriate permit. He removed much of the fill material in 2004 in response to an EPA compliance order.

EPA's Oregon State Director, Soccorro Rodriguez, said this enforcement action and proposed penalty is consistent with the high priority EPA gives wetlands protection in Oregon.

"We hope this penalty sends a message that we’re serious about protecting Oregon’s wetlands," said Rodriguez. "Property owners need to obtain necessary permits when undertaking these kinds of projects and be especially careful around salmon-bearing streams. EPA is committed to working closely with the Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that unpermitted projects are stopped and habitat restoration is performed."

Mr. Kerivan has the right to file an Answer requesting a hearing on any material fact contained in this Complaint or on the appropriateness of the proposed penalty, but must do so within 30 thirty days of receiving the Complaint. He may also request an informal settlement conference to discuss the facts of this case, the proposed penalty, and the possibility of settling this matter.

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