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EPA Inspections Find Clean Water Act Violations at 7 Pocatello-Area Construction Sites
Release Date: 8/13/2004
Contact Information: Bill Dunbar
August 12, 2004
Proposed Penalties Range from $1,500 to $10,125
During a recent round of inspections at seven Pocatello-area construction sites, an inspector for the Region 10 office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency discovered that operators (owners and contractors) at all seven sites violated federal Clean Water Act rules meant to protect lakes and streams from construction site runoff.
EPA inspected both commercial and residential sites, all of which were required to apply for coverage under EPA’s nationwide storm water Construction General Permit. The inspector observed violations of the storm water requirements at all of the sites, including failure to adequately plan for and implement erosion and sediment controls, failure to inspect and maintain such controls, and failure to prevent construction site debris and materials from polluting nearby waters. In addition, some operators had failed to even apply for coverage under the permit.
EPA has authority to quickly settle the storm water cases under the new Expedited Settlement Offer Policy, which allows reduced penalties at construction sites smaller than 50 acres where the operators are first-time violators and where sediment has not been discharged to nearby waterways. As a result of the inspections, EPA sent expedited settlement offers to both owners and contractors at the seven sites, with penalties ranging from $1,500 to $10,125.
These inspections represent the first wave of intensive enforcement following three years of compliance assistance for the construction industry regarding the requirements of EPA's national storm water Construction General Permit. In 2002 EPA staff gave presentations at workshops throughout the state to educate the construction community about the storm water rules and what to expect during an inspection.
Kim Ogle, EPA's water quality enforcement manager, said managing storm water responsibly at construction sites should be a key part of every developer's site plan.
“It’s no secret that storm water runoff from construction sites can harm water quality.” Ogle said. “Since 1992, the law has required regulated operators to obtain permits and implement a pollution prevention plan to prevent soil, debris, and contaminated water from polluting our streams, lakes and rivers.”
“This widespread array of violations — especially after three years of education and compliance assistance – is troubling.”
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General Construction Permit (cfpub.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater/cgp.cfm)
Construction Industry Compliance Assistance (www.cicacenter.org/)
Printer’s National Environmental Assistance Center (www.pneac.org/)