After five years of investigation, three years of negotiations with federal officials, and $6.8 million already spent on remediation at 23 facilities Massachusetts and New Hampshire operations, Aggregate Industries–Northeast (NE) Region Inc., will pay a $2.75 million civil penalty and implement a regional evaluation and compliance program to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act
Source: U.S. Department of Justice; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; CP Staff
After five years of investigation, three years of negotiations with federal officials, and $6.8 million already spent on remediation at 23 Massachusetts and New Hampshire operations, Aggregate IndustriesÒNortheast (NE) Region Inc. will pay a $2.75 million civil penalty and implement a regional evaluation and compliance program to resolve Clean Water Act violations.
The result of an August 6 consent decree stemming from a Department of Justice complaint in the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts, the penalty is the largest ever assessed to a national ready mixed company for storm water violations. It follows a series of federal enforcement actions to address storm water violations from industrial and construction sites around the country. In March, EPA Region 1 (Boston) announced a smaller-scale settlement with Consolidated Concrete Corp. of Rhode Island, in which the ready mixed producer paid a $55,000 fine and invested about $178,000 on three Supplemental Environmental Projects, which the company did almost immediately.
Under terms of the Agg Industries-Justice consent decree, subject to a 30-day public comment period (through September 11) plus court approval, the company will implement pollution control measures, such as closed-loop water recycling systems, which should eliminate release of about 159,000 lb. of sediment; 2,100 lb. of oil and grease; and 1,150 lb. of iron to the environment by the end of 2009. The settlement also requires that the company perform comprehensive compliance evaluations at each of its 43 New England facilities, as well as any facilities acquired in the next three years. Agg Industries-NE must also conduct additional monitoring and reporting of storm water discharge, hire personnel certified in storm water management to oversee compliance at all operations where water permits are required, and provide training in storm water management for all operational employees.
Filed in federal court, the complaint alleges a pattern of violations since 2001 that were discovered after several federal inspections. Among the alleged violations was the company’s discharging of process waste waters (which includes waters from concrete and sand & gravel production), sanitary waste waters and storm water without proper permits from several facilities. Of the original 23 sites mentioned in the initial complaint, 10 were ready mixed plants (some based at quarries), nine were asphalt plants, three were quarrying operations, and one was a sand & gravel processing facility. Since investigations by EPA were started in December 2004, some of these plants have either been sold or Aggregate-NE has terminated discharge of storm water, so the list of facilities covered by the consent degree has been pared to 16.
As part of the settlement, Aggregate-NE, a subsidiary of Delaware-based Aggregate Industries Inc., did not admit to any wrongdoing. In a brief statement released the same day as the consent decree, the company emphasized that it was fully committed to environmental compliance and exemplary environmental performance at all its facilities. This commitment is further demonstrated, according to the release, by the company’s environmental management system, which received the ISO 14001 certification. Still, the EPA has made it clear that Aggregate-NE is responsible for analytical monitoring, evaluating itself for Clean Water Act compliance at various intervals, and must report results for review, while remaining open to unannounced site inspections any time in the next 12 months.