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In early August, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 10 conducted nine storm water inspections at construction sites in Fairbanks, Alaska. The inspections were a continuation of this year's first wave of enforcement, following three years of compliance assistance efforts to raise awareness in the construction industry about the requirements in EPA's national Construction General Permit (CGP). The permit requirements have been in place since 1993 for sites over five acres, and since 2003 for sites between one and five acres.
According to Kim Ogle, EPA Water Permit Compliance Manager, the inspectors targeted both permitted and unpermitted commercial and residential sites over one acre and with the potential to discharge sediment and other pollutants to U.S. waters.
"Numerous erosion and sediment control problems were encountered at all sites visited," said Ogle. "Operators at these sites should have applied for coverage under the General Permit."
The inspections were conducted using the agency's newly-approved Construction Storm Water Expedited Settlement Offer (ESO) Policy, which allows EPA to employ a prescribed expedited enforcement process when construction sites are less than 50 acres, the operators are first-time violators and several other criteria are also met.
The inspections have resulted in five ESOs, with penalties ranging from $500 to $3,000. Some cases could not be dealt with through the ESO process, because site operators had previous violations or the construction site was too large. Those cases are still under review.