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St. Louis Developers to Pay $590,000 Penalty for Polluting Waterways with Runoff from Three Construction Sites

WASHINGTON – Several St. Louis-area developers responsible for polluting streams and lakes with runoff from three construction sites will adhere to a strict compliance program at future construction projects, clean up past pollution, and pay one of the largest environmental penalties of its kind in state history under a consent decree reached with the United States, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon, and the city of Wildwood, Mo.

The consent decree, filed today in federal district court in St. Louis, requires J.H. Berra Construction Co. Inc. and several other defendants to pay a civil penalty of $590,000, the largest penalty for a land disturbance case in Missouri. The other defendants in the case include JHB Properties Inc., J.H. Berra Holding Co. Inc., JMB No. 2 LLC, and CMB Rhodes LLC. All are connected to J.H. Berra Construction, one of the largest developers in the St. Louis area.

“This consent decree contains both strong requirements for future construction sites that will reduce pollution as well as a hefty penalty, and also demonstrates the important role that the federal, state and local government each play in reducing the pollution of our lakes and waters,” said Ronald J. Tenpas, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division.

“Stringent steps must be taken in the construction of these developments to ensure they don’t pollute our streams and lakes,” Nixon said. “In this case, Berra’s clearing and grading at all three of these sites caused substantial problems with sediment. A record penalty and tough requirements for cleaning up the pollution and for future projects were appropriate.”

“Developers must realize the importance of keeping harmful sediment from reaching the waters of the state,” said John B. Askew, EPA Regional Administrator. “The strict erosion controls required of Berra by this settlement and the size of this penalty reflect the seriousness of the violations.”

Half of the penalty will go to the United States and the other half will go to the state of Missouri. In addition, the defendants will implement remedial plans for the pollution caused by the runoff and reimburse more than $52,000 to the state of Missouri and the City of Wildwood for their costs of investigation and enforcement.

The consent decree resolves the concerns of EPA, the state of Missouri, and the city of Wildwood about sediment pollution from: the Enclaves at Cherry Hills, a 130-acre residential development located in Wildwood; the Countryshire Development, a 150-acre residential development in O’Fallon; and Seckman Lake Estates, a 120-acre construction site in Jefferson County.

Inspections by the EPA and Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) were prompted by complaints from neighbors about heavy discharges into the surrounding waterways. The EPA and MDNR found multiple violations during these inspections at the Berra Construction development sites.

The consent decree containing the settlement was lodged today in U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Missouri. The public will be given 30 days to comment on the settlement.