US site operators fined for polluting

Three operators on an American construction site have paid almost $15,000 to settle charges that they failed to protect downstream waters from pollution.

Lakes Highway District, SI Construction, and Hayden Lake Recreational Water and Sewer District paid $14,950 to settle allegations they violated the Clean Water Act at a construction site in Hayden, Idaho.

The case filed by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) followed a storm water compliance inspection in March at the Lancaster Road site in the town of some 9,000 residents.

Kim Ogle, an EPA compliance manager, said: “Operators need to be especially vigilant in northern Idaho, where steep slopes, a limited growing season and highly erodible soils make erosion and sediment control more challenging.

“Permit compliance is even more important under these conditions and EPA will take action to ensure water quality is protected.”

The watchdog said inspectors “observed numerous violations at the site”, including failure to adequately protect downstream surface waters by properly selecting, installing and maintaining storm water controls.

They also failed to carry out self-inspections required by the nationwide Construction General Permit – part of the Clean Water Act‘s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.

A “particular concern” for inspectors was their failure to make sure “highly erodible soils” on site were properly stabilised before the wet season.

One of the site’s operators had also failed to apply for permit coverage.

The three contractors agreed to settle the case under a fast track scheme available to first-time offenders with few or minor violations.

It is the fifth year of a regional crackdown to boost compliance with the general permit, which requires site operators to provide storm water controls to prevent polluted runoff harming water quality.

Common construction site pollutants include sediment, oil and grease, and runoff with high pH values from concrete washout.

David Gibbs

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