Posted by: Lawyer Sanders | March 1, 2010

Kentucky environmental attorney Sanders says signs of environmental violations are generally subject to common sense: if it don’t look or smell right, something may be wrong.

It was above 90 degrees in July when this picture was taken. No frost on this car, but instead air pollution.

As I travel around the country, I am often asked about what is a warning sign of potential environmental mismanagement.  Most folks ask, “what do you look for to determine whether you are looking at a violation of an environmental law.”  I usually reply that you must apply common sense; if it does not look or smell right, it probably isn’t legal.  Simply put, it may be a violation of an environmental law or regulation.  Generally speaking, environmental violations normally have visible signs of misconduct.

For example, the most common signs of environmental violations are foul smelling or oddly colored discharges on the ground or into a stream or waterway. Dead fish in streams or rivers are another clue, as are dead animals along the banks of the river or in the area adjacent to the water source. 

Discolored and/or stressed, dying plant life is another sign of illegal dumping or spills of chemical wastes or liquid wastes.  Water seeps along river banks that have sheens or that smell like organic chemicals are also signs of environmental misconduct.

Oily or glossy sheens on waterways, such as creeks, rivers and streams or standing water are probably due to chemical waste discharges.  The same is true of oddly or brightly colored stains on soil or stained concrete around sumps, drains and valves are also signs that something was dumped there that probably should not have been.

Pipes or valves that allow a company or community to bypass wastewater treatment systems are illegal.  That is a huge no under the Clean Water Act!

Report trucks dumping materials into a manhole or sewer drain; trucks unloading drums at odd hours or in odd places; and workers burying drums on business or residential property. 

Often times, you must report to the Kentucky Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet and U.S. EPA.  If no one replies, or simply looks away from the regulatory agency, give us a call and we will do our best to help you find a solution to your problem.

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