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Environmental Enforcement Roundup: Univ. of Maine; Ellenville Scrap; Vermont Ski Resort

EPA Orders University of Main to Restore Wetlands

EPA has ordered the University of Maine to restore wetlands on its campus in Orono, Maine, the agency announced yesterday.

According to EPA,the wetlands were filled between 1984 and 2009 during the construction of buildings, roads, and parking areas; installation of culverts; expansion of a landfill; and disposal of snow and associated debris.

EPA also alleged the university violated the federal Clean Water Act by failing to obtain the required federal permit from the Army Corps of Engineers before filling the wetlands.

EPA’s order requires the university to remove approximately two acres of a landfill and snow dump, and to restore the underlying wetland. It also requires restoration of approximately one acre of forested wetland that the University converted to a livestock paddock. To compensate for some fill that cannot be removed, the University will restore and enhance 3.66 acres of a currently farmed area that includes wetlands and an upland buffer. 

EPA said the university has cooperated since the violations were brought to its attention and has agreed to the terms of the order. The university has indicated that it will involve students and faculty in the restoration effort to maximize its benefit as a learning experience.

Wetlands provide valuable habitat for many species of wildlife and also help to protect the health and safety of people and their communities. They filter and clean water by trapping sediments and removing pollutants, and they provide buffers against floods by storing flood water. Wetlands also store and slowly release water over time, helping to maintain water flow in streams, especially during dry periods.

 

EPA Finalizes Ellenville Scrap Cleanup Plan

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency yesterday announced that it has finalized the steps it will take to clean up the Ellenville Scrap Iron and Metal Superfund site in The Village of Ellenville, N.Y.

EPA will excavate contaminated soil from six different areas at the site, consolidate the soil on the landfill portion of the site and then securely cap the landfill, which will prevent further contamination of the groundwater. Any of the excavated soil or materials that are characterized as hazardous waste will be shipped off-site for proper disposal. EPA will also install a series of additional wells to monitor groundwater around the site to make sure it remains free of contaminants.

“After an extensive analysis of the contamination at the Ellenville Scrap Iron and Metal Superfund site, EPA has selected a plan that will result in a thorough and efficient cleanup,” EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck said in a prepared release.

EPA added the Ellenville Scrap Iron Metal site to the Superfund National Priorities List in October 2002 after hazardous chemicals were found in the soil there. The 24-acre site, which was used for scrap metal operations from the 1950s until the 1990s, is divided into upper and lower portions by a landfill, approximately 40 feet high. Soil samples at the site revealed the presence of semi-volatile organic compounds and several toxic metals.

From 1987 to 1998, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation inspected the site numerous times, conducted sampling and directed the owner to clean up on-site debris. The Village of Ellenville also removed a large number of tires from the site. During 2004 and 2005, EPA demolished all of the buildings at the site, and disposed of waste oil tanks and approximately 20 drums containing hazardous materials. Soil contaminated with lead was also removed and disposed of off-site.

Beginning in 2007, EPA conducted an investigation at the site to determine the full nature and extent of contamination. The results of the EPA investigation lead to the development of its cleanup plan.

 

Vermont Ski Area Ordered to Restore Wetlands

A ski resort in Vermont has been ordered to restore wetlands and streams that were harmed when the resort discharged dredged and fill material into the waters during construction of its golf course.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last month ordered Jay Peak Resort, Inc. in Jay, Vt. to repair the damage done between 2004 and 2006 when it was building its golf course and discharged material without a required permit.

According to EPA, the construction company working for Jay Peak Resort placed dirt, sand and rocks into numerous wetlands and streams, affecting a total of 2.15 acres.

This case was brought to the attention of EPA by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the spring of 2008.

The affected streams on the site flow into Jay Branch Brook, which flows into the Missisiquoi River, and then into Lake Champlain.

The resort was ordered to restore the wetlands and streams in order to restore their wildlife habitat. In addition to providing a habitat for wildlife, wetland help to protect the health and safety of people and their communities. They filter and clean water by trapping sediments and removing pollutants, and they provide buffers against floods by storing flood water.

Jay Peak has agreed to the terms of EPA’s order and recently completed all restoration work prior to the order’s October 2010 deadline

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