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Environmental Enforcement Roundup: EPA Sues Mining Company; Pesticide Importers Fined; Developer Fined by EPA

Environmental Leader’s daily roundup of key environmental enforcement news

EPA Files Complaint Against Mining Company

The United States Attorney’s Office has filed a complaint on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection against Torromeo Industries, Inc. for Clean Water Act (CWA) violations at its sand, gravel, and stone mining operation and ready-mix concrete plant in Kingston, New Hampshire.

The complaint was field yesterday in federal district court in New Hampshire.

According to EPA’s New England office, Torromeo Industries, Inc., whose headquarters is in Methuen, Massachusetts, violated the CWA by discharging storm water and process water into wetlands and waterways, including the Little River, without the required authorization under a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. The complaint proposes that Torromeo pay a penalty of up to $37,500 per day, per violation.

The complaint was the result of a joint inspection with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services in April 2009. Federal and State inspectors found that the company discharged process waste waters, and storm water without proper permits. The inspectors observed that the company failed to implement best management practices to minimize the impacts of storm water that ran off the site during rain events. The violations at the facility have been ongoing for decades and include discharging process water, without authorization, from the mid 1970s through the present, and discharging storm water associated with industrial activity, without authorization, from the mid 1990’s through December 2009.

“Storm water runoff and process water discharges from the sand and gravel and ready-mix concrete industry are a significant source of water pollution,” Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office said in a press release. “This industry plays a very important role in protecting water quality by taking the appropriate steps to prevent pollution, and we will continue our work to ensure compliance with these practices.”

Without onsite controls, runoff from ready-mix concrete and sand and gravel facilities can flow directly to the nearest waterway and can cause water quality impairments such as the increase of silt in rivers, beach closings, fishing restrictions, and habitat degradation. As storm water flows over these sites, it can pick up pollutants, including sediment, used oil, pesticides, solvents and other debris. Polluted runoff can harm or kill fish and wildlife and can affect drinking water quality.

In August 2009, EPA’s New England Office and the Department of Justice entered into a $2.75 million settlement with Aggregate-Industries Northeast Region, Inc. to resolve similar violations of the Clean Water Act at many of that company’s concrete manufacturing facilities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. That penalty was the largest ever assessed to a nationwide ready-mix concrete company for storm water violations under the Clean Water Act.

Pesticide Distributors Fined for Illegal Imports

Three pesticide distributors operating Washington State will be fined over $35,000 for mislabeling products and importing illegal pesticides, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced yesterday.

Skyline Chemical, LLC, Axss USA and Pace International will pay penalties for violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

According to EPA, Skyline failed to follow proper pesticide registration and labeling rules, which could increase risks associated with the handling and use of these pesticides.

In the cases of Axss USA and Pace International, EPA inspectors in Seattle identified the unlabeled pesticides during inspections of containers that arrived from China. All pesticides must be appropriately labeled to legally enter the U.S. Unlabeled pesticides can pose a great risk to those involved in their transport and storage, especially during spills.

“EPA continually monitors pesticide imports for correct labeling because unlabeled products can be dangerous and really harm people,” Scott Downey, Pesticide Manager in EPA’s Seattle office said in a prepared release. “Companies that sell and distribute mislabeled pesticides risk steep fines.”

Skyline Chemical, LLC
The company sold and distributed unregistered and misbranded pesticides, produced pesticides in an unregistered facility, and failed to report the amounts of pesticides produced each year. These violations greatly increase the risk posed to distributors and users because the pesticides were not traceable to their source.

EPA identified the violations based on an inspection conducted by the Washington State Department of Agriculture in 2008 at the Skyline Chemical facility in Farmington, Washington. EPA is fining the company $24,960.

Axss USA
On June 3, 2010 and June 25, 2010, EPA inspected a shipment of the company’s Axss USA 2,4-D Acid Technical, a commonly used broadleaf herbicide. The shipment was targeted because of prior import compliance violations. The inspectors found that the product was missing all the required pesticide labeling. EPA is fining the company $5,760. Axss USA is based in Greeley, Colorado and was importing pesticides through the Port of Seattle.

Pace International
On July 13, 2010, EPA inspected a shipment of Pace International’s Chlorpropham 98% Technical, a product used to control the sprouting of potatoes in storage. EPA found that the product was also missing the entire pesticide label and is fining the company $4,800. Pace International is based in Seattle.

Oregon Holdings Fined for Wetlands Violation

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has issued a consent agreement and final order to Oregon Holdings IV LLC for filling in approximately 6.3 acres of wetlands at its development site, in Oregon, Ohio, without a permit. The company has agreed to pay a $75,000 penalty.

EPA alleged that in May and June of 2004 Oregon Holdings filled in wetlands adjacent to Johlin Ditch while developing a parcel of land. The waters of Johlin Ditch flow into Lake Erie.

Under the Clean Water Act, a permit is needed before discharging pollutants, including fill material, to waters of the United States, including wetlands. Wetlands play a valuable role in the environment by filtering pollutants, reducing soil erosion, controlling flooding and providing habitat for animals and aquatic life.

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