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Environmental Enforcement Roundup: Bulk Oil Violations; Home Builder Penalties; Storm Water Settlement; Contractor Fined for Asbestos Violations

Environmental Leader’s daily roundup of key environmental enforcement news

 

New York DEC Orders Corrective Actions, Penalties at French Creek Marina

 

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has ordered a series of corrective actions to address violations regarding petroleum bulk storage and waste oil management at French Creek Marina in Clayton, NY. The order also calls for nearly $180,000 in penalties, of which approximately $60,000 could be suspended if the violations are corrected in a timely manner.

The order stems from a DEC inspection and subsequent investigation that found that petroleum bulk storage tanks at the facility had not been registered, as required by law, and that a number of petroleum spills had gone unreported.

DEC inspectors also found that above-ground tanks did not have secondary containment features that are required to prevent petroleum from reaching the water in the event of a spill.

DEC inspectors also noted that the owners failed to perform tightness tests for underground storage tanks, and discovered that the had owners collected and burned thousands of gallons of waste oil from other commercial establishments without complying with state regulations to ensure that the oil had not been tainted by solvents or hazardous wastes.

The order holds French Creek Marina, LLC, and Wilburt Wahl Jr. jointly liable for a penalty of $65,400. It holds Wahl to a separate penalty of $114,450 — $60,250 of which could be forgiven if the problems are properly addressed. The marina is located on French Creek upstream of its confluence with the St. Lawrence River.

“It’s vitally important that all facilities abide by the state’s petroleum bulk storage laws – especially when the facility is located on a waterway,” DEC Regional Director Judy Drabicki said in a press release. “Ensuring compliance is the best way to protect residents, aquatic life, groundwater and waterways from potentially harmful spills.”

Century Homebuilders to Restore Wetlands, Pay Civil Penalties

The U.S. Department of Justice, on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has lodged a proposed consent decree (pdf) with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

The proposed consent decree concerns resolves a complaint filed by EPA against Century Homebuilders, LLC, formerly known as Century Builders Group, LLC; Century Partners Group, Ltd.; Century Homebuilders of South Florida, LLC; and Cesar E. Llano.

EPA’s complaint sought to obtain injunctive relief and civil penalties against the defendants for violating an Army Corps of Engineers Permit and the Clean Water Act.

The proposed Consent Decree requires the defendants to enhance wetlands, to purchase mitigation credits, and to pay a civil penalty of $400,000. It also requires the settling defendants to “preserve the mitigation parcel in perpetuity as a purely natural area.”

The Department of Justice is accepting written comments relating to this proposed Consent Decree for a period of 30 days, after which the consent decree can be entered by the Court.  

Cook County, Grand Marais Economic Development and KGM Contractors Cited for Storm Water Permit Violations

 

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), Cook County/Grand Marais Joint Economic Development Authority  and KGM Contractors Inc., have reached an agreement that resolves the parties’ alleged failure to follow state storm water permit requirements at their 70-acre Grand Marais development project. As a result, the parties paid a $40,000 penalty, completed all required actions and spent at least $80,000 to mitigate environmental degradation under the Gunflint Trail.

 The Grand Marais Joint Economic Development Authority  received a required state storm water permit prior to beginning construction-related activities at its Cedar Grove Business Park project in Grand Marais. In Dec. 2006, Cook County Office of Planning and Zoning staff, working under a joint powers agreement with the MPCA, conducted a site inspection and identified nine permit violations involving inadequate erosion controls and failing to have the project’s Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan available on site. Between January and October 2007, inspectors visited the site on 15 occasions and found new and continuing permit violations including sediment-laden storm water discharges into wetlands, waters of the state, the Grand Marais municipal sewer system and ultimately, Lake Superior. Excessive sediment deposits can degrade aquatic habitats and contribute to other harmful water quality conditions.

The parties also agreed to conduct an $80,000 supplemental environmental improvement project at the Gunflint Trail. Workers removed accumulated sediment from a culvert and re-stabilized approximately 330 lineal feet of an adjacent ditch.

Minnesota law requires governmental units and contractors to apply for a storm water permit when construction projects disturb more than one acre of soil.

Contractor Fined $27,620 for Asbestos Violations

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has levied a fine of $27,620 against Stephen R. Quimby of East Longmeadow, Mass. for violating state asbestos regulations. Quimby is a Massachusetts-registered home improvement contractor and also the owner of the residential building on Parker Street in East Longmeadow where the violations occurred.

In December 2009, MassDEP received a complaint regarding demolition of a residential building with asbestos siding. Upon inspection of the site, MassDEP determined that prior to demolishing the structure, Quimby had removed asbestos siding from the residential home and was storing the asbestos siding in the garage. Broken asbestos siding was also found on the ground at the site. Quimby did not file the required asbestos notification, nor did he employ the proper asbestos-handling, and disposal procedures.

In the consent order issued by MassDEP, Quimby agreed to a penalty of $27,620. Quimby will pay $4,000 of the penalty, and MassDEP agreed to suspend the balance of the penalty for one year, provided Quimby remains in compliance with the state asbestos regulations.

“MassDEP’s asbestos regulations include notification requirements and establish safe removal and handling practices for demolishing or renovating buildings to prevent the release of asbestos to the environment,” Michael Gorski, director of MassDEP’s Western Regional Office in Springfield said in a press release. “Failure to properly remove asbestos-containing material can result in significant penalty exposure, and higher cleanup, decontamination, disposal and monitoring costs.”

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