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EPA Proposes Penalty for Repeat Wetlands Offender

Release Date: 3/13/2003
Contact Information: Steve Roy
(206) 553-1465

March 13, 2003

$137,500 penalty possible for violator who has failed to comply with wetland restoration order

The Northwest regional office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has filed a complaint against Alexander Kozned of Ninilchik and his company, Aurora Communications International, Inc., and is seeking a penalty of up to $137,500 for repeated violations of the federal Clean Water Act.

Both the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers have notified Kozned that his property contains wetlands and that it is a violation of the federal Clean Water Act to alter them without a permit issued by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Despite the warnings – and two orders each from the Corps and the EPA – Kozned has continued to engage in mechanized land-clearing and road-building activities that have resulted in the discharge of gravel and other materials to approximately three and one-half acres of wetlands, a stream (which discharges to Cook Inlet), and an intertidal area of Cook Inlet adjacent to the stream.

Kozned is currently in violation of an October 2002 EPA order that requires him to remove fill material and restore more than an acre of wetlands, creek/ravine, and intertidal area that he illegally dredged and filled while building roads and antenna pads on his property.

In addition, a portion of wetland that was restored as a result of a July 1999 EPA order was found to be filled again on July 5, 2002.
    The October 2002 EPA order requires Kozned to:
    • “terminate all discharges of dredged or fill materials to waters of the United States without a valid Army Corps of Engineers permit”;
    • hire a professional wetlands contractor or consultant;
    • produce a draft Removal and Restoration Work Plan by November 1, 2002;
    • begin restoration activities by June 1, 2003 or within 30 days of EPA approval of the final Removal and Restoration Work Plan, whichever is later; and
    • complete all restoration activities within 45 days of the initiation of the work.

Marcia Combes, Director of the EPA’s Alaska Operations Office said, “Ignorance of the laws governing wetlands causes some to make mistakes, but in Mr. Kozned’s case, he knows what the rules are and has chosen to violate them anyway.

“By protecting wetlands and the waters they’re associated with, we are protecting the natural resources that so many Alaskans depend on for food and livelihoods.”