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EPA Settles Storm Water Enforcement Cases With Two Massachusetts Developers
Release Date: 06/12/2003
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008
BOSTON – As part of a major initiative to improve developer compliance with storm water regulations, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced settlements with two developers to settle complaints alleging their failure to properly control storm runoff pollution at two construction sites in Massachusetts.
Under the settlements, the V&G Development Corp. of Dracut agreed to pay a penalty of $50,000 for alleged noncompliance at a 164-acre residential subdivision in Methuen and PREIT-Rubin Inc. of Philadelphia, together with Bestech, Inc. of Connecticut, a demolition contractor based in Ellington, CT, will pay a total penalty of $42,000 for alleged noncompliance at the 35-acre Fairfield Mall redevelopment site in Chicopee.
In both cases, the complaints allege that the developers failed to obtain federal storm water permits or to comply with federal requirements for development of plans for reducing storm water runoff pollution. EPA inspections at the sites last year also showed that the companies failed to maintain or implement all necessary erosion controls, resulting in silt discharges to nearby wetlands and waters.
Since EPA's inspections, both sites have obtained permits and come into compliance with federal stormwater rules.
"Storm water controls are hugely important in protecting New England's waters, especially among builders and developers whose construction activities can have significant environmental impacts if done improperly," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "I'm gratified both developers worked with EPA to resolve these issues and ensure the best possible protection of nearby waterways."
Rainwater running off construction sites can carry sediments, oil, nutrients and various other pollutants into nearby streams, ponds and rivers. Erosion from a one-acre construction site can discharge tons of sediment in one year if not properly managed.
Sediments reduce the storage capacity of drains and waterways, causing flooding, and adversely affect water quality and fish habitat. Sediments and chemicals can also contribute to fish die-offs, toxic algae blooms, contaminated shellfish beds and closed swimming beaches. In 1998, more than 1,500 beach closings and advisories in coastal and Great Lakes communities were attributed to storm water runoff from construction sites and streets, parking lots, agricultural lands and yards.
Existing federal storm water rules require all parties conducting public and private construction activity disturbing at least five acres to develop and implement a storm water pollution prevention plan that meets federal guidelines, and obtain a federal permit. EPA is soon to issue rules which will make the same requirements applicable to sites disturbing one acre or more. Properly implemented storm water plans will minimize erosion, minimize sediment loss and prevent byproducts of operations and maintenance (oils, gas, grease, chemicals, equipment washout and trash) from polluting storm water that runs off construction sites.
EPA is developing written materials, web sites, workshops, and other products to help those involved in construction projects understand how to comply with storm water laws. EPA New England's stormwater web site contains many of these resources at https://www.epa.gov/region01/topics/water/stormwater.html. Developers seeking further assistance can contact Abby Swaine, of EPA NE's Assistance Unit, at 617-918-1841 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
EPA has also boosted its enforcement presence, completing nearly 50 inspections of construction sites in New England since July 2001. These cases are part of a national enforcement initiative regarding federal storm water construction requirements. Among the biggest cases was an enforcement settlement with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. in June 2001, in which the company agreed to pay a $1 million penalty and implement a $4.5 million environmental management plan stemming from widespread storm water violations at 17 locations in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Massachusetts.