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U.S. EPA fines San Diego-area mining operators $11,000

Release Date: 8/12/2004
Contact Information: Francisco Arcaute, U.S. EPA, (213) 244-1815

LOS ANGELES - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently fined mining operators Joseph Weber and Albert Julian $11,000 for illegal grading and dumping fill materials into the San Luis Rey River, north of San Diego County, Calif.

U.S. EPA inspectors discovered that between 1999 and 2001, Julian and Weber, at the direction of Brian Chuchua, violated the Clean Water Act when they discharged dredged and fill material into the San Luis Rey River without a proper permit.

"The San Luis Rey River is a valued environmental resource in arid Southern California," said Alexis Strauss the EPA's water division director for the Pacific Southwest region. "The EPA is committed to ensuring the river is protected from illegal activities, so it may flourish for generations to come."

The violations could have resulted in a penalty of approximately $150,000, but, in view of Webers and Julians' inability to pay the full amount, the penalty was reduced to $6,000 and $5,000, respectively.

Chuchua still faces a judicial action set for trial in November, 2004. The mining involved extraction of aggregate from the San Luis Rey River to be later sold for construction purposes.

The San Luis Rey River is located east of the city of Oceanside in the northwestern portion of San Diego County. Together with county environmental officials, the EPA is sponsoring a management plan for the control and reduction of water quality problems, nutrient enrichment problems, and sedimentation along the reach of the San Luis Rey River below the Henshaw Dam to Oceanside.