WASHINGTON—Aggregate Industries - Northeast Region Inc., will pay a $2.75 million civil penalty and implement a regional evaluation and compliance program to resolve numerous violations of the Clean Water Act at 23 facilities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today.
The penalty is the largest ever assessed to a nationwide ready-mix concrete company for storm water violations under the Clean Water Act. The settlement is the latest in a series of federal enforcement actions to address storm water violations from industrial facilities and construction sites around the country.
Under the terms of the consent decree, the company will implement pollution control measures, such as closed-loop water recycling systems, to eliminate discharges into surface waters. These measures will result in the elimination of approximately 158,854 pounds of sediment, 2,106 pounds of oil and grease and 1,143 pounds of iron from the environment, as well as significant reductions in nitrate and nitrogen, by the end of 2009.
"We are committed to seeing that owners and operators of industrial facilities undertake the actions necessary to comply with storm water regulations," said John C. Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. "This settlement will result in better management practices and a robust compliance program at multiple facilities in the northeast to prevent harmful storm water run-off."
"Storm water run-off from industrial facilities such as these can carry sediment, debris, and other pollutants into surrounding waterways," said Ira W. Leighton, Acting Regional Administrator of EPA’s New England office. "This settlement is an important step in protecting our waters -- and we expect others in the industry to assess the adequacy of their own storm water controls."
The settlement also requires that the company perform comprehensive compliance evaluations at each of its 43 facilities in New England, as well as any facilities acquired in the next three years, to ensure that the facilities are in compliance with the Clean Water Act. The settlement also requires that the company conduct additional monitoring and reporting of storm water discharges, to hire personnel certified in storm water management to oversee compliance at all facilities where storm water permits are required, and to provide training in storm water management for all operational employees.
The complaint, filed in federal court with the settlement, alleges a pattern of violations since 2001 that were discovered after several federal inspections at the company’s facilities. The alleged violations included failure to document routine facility inspections and failure to perform quarterly monitoring and annual evaluations. In addition, the company allegedly discharged process waste waters, sanitary waste waters and storm water without proper permits from several facilities. Process waters include waters from sand-and-gravel and concrete production manufacturing operations such as vehicle and equipment cleaning, aggregate processing and washing, and concrete truck washout.
At the facilities where permits were in place, the complaint alleges the company failed to implement best management practices such as having proper drainage, failed to perform pavement sweeping and failed to clean and maintain catch basins. The runoff, which contained total suspended solids, oil and grease, metals, and caustics detrimental to aquatic life and water quality, flowed into wetlands, streams and brooks that flowed into tributaries of the Atlantic Ocean.
The Clean Water Act requires that industrial facilities, such as ready-mix concrete plants, sand and gravel facilities and asphalt batching plants, have controls in place to prevent pollution from being discharged with storm water into nearby waterways. Each site must have a storm water pollution prevention plan that sets guidelines and best management practices that the company will follow to prevent runoff from being contaminated by pollutants.
Since being notified of the violations by EPA, the company has made significant improvements to its storm water management systems.
Without onsite controls, runoff from ready-mix concrete and sand and gravel facilities can flow directly to the nearest waterway and can cause water quality impairments such as siltation of rivers, beach closings, and fishing restrictions, and habitat degradation. As storm water flows over these sites, it can pick up pollutants, including sediment, used oil, pesticides, solvents and other debris. Polluted runoff can harm or kill fish and wildlife and can affect drinking water quality.
Aggregate-NE, a fully owned subsidiary of Aggregate Industries, Inc., a Delaware corporation with facilities in several regions throughout the United States, operates approximately 43 facilities in New England. The company is one of the largest producers of aggregates (crushed stone, sand and gravel), asphalt batching, and ready-mixed concrete in New England.
The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Department of Justice Web site at http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.
Aggregate-NE is required to pay the penalty within 30 days of the court’s approval of the settlement.