Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | November 9, 2009

Kentucky environmental attorney Sanders says US EPA whacks another large residential building company $350,000 for Clean Water Act violations.

John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods Inc., and John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods of the Carolinas Inc., based in Atlanta, Ga., have agreed to pay a $350,000 civil penalty to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act, the Justice Department and U.S. EPA announced.

The companies have also agreed to implement company-wide storm water compliance programs at their construction sites that go beyond current regulatory requirements. EPA estimates that the agreement will keep a whopping 37 million pounds of sediment from polluting the nation’s waterways each year.  That is a lot of dirt clogging up the waterways.

The government complaint alleges a common pattern of violations that was discovered by reviewing documentation submitted by the companies and through federal site inspections. The alleged violations include not obtaining permits until after construction had begun or failing to obtain the required permits at all. At the sites that did have permits, violations included failure to prevent or minimize the discharge of pollutants, such as silt and debris, in storm water runoff.

The settlement requires the companies to develop improved pollution prevention plans for each site, increase site inspections and promptly correct any problems that are detected. The companies must properly train construction managers and contractors, and are required to have trained staff present at each construction site. They also must implement a management and internal reporting system to improve oversight of on-the-ground operations and submit annual reports to EPA.

This settlement is the latest in a series of enforcement actions to address storm water violations from construction sites around the country.  The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.

 The companies are required to pay the penalty within 30 days of the court’s approval of the settlement. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Justice Department Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.

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