Gravel Mining Operator to Pay $250K Fine for Storm Water and Wetlands Violations
A New Hampshire sand and gravel operator will pay a fine of $250,000 to settle allegations that it violated storm water and wetlands requirements contained in the federal Clean Water Act. The sand and gravel mining operation in Londonderry, N.H. is located on a 300-acre site.
Four companies that own and/or operate the N.H. site have agreed to the terms of the settlement: Hudson Sand and Gravel, Inc.; Ballinger Properties, LLC; Five N Associates; and Tana Properties Limited Partnership.
EPA performed several inspections at the site between 2002 through 2005, revealing numerous alleged violations of federal storm water regulations. The government’s complaint also alleges that the companies had filled a portion of a stream and wetlands on the Londonderry site, without obtaining the appropriate permit as required under the Clean Water Act (CWA).
"Protecting wetlands is one way we can help ensure a healthy New England environment," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. "It’s very important that individuals and companies understand and comply with laws that protect both wetlands and water discharges, so that we can enjoy a healthy environment."
The settlement, lodged yesterday, also resolves allegations that the companies violated the EPA’s storm water requirements by failing to apply for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for mining operations which were discharging storm water without appropriate controls over a period of many years and for which no Storm water Pollution Prevention Plan was prepared.
EPA’s inspections revealed that significant deposition of solids into a tributary to the Little Cohas Brook had occurred. Solids can destroy the spawning grounds of fish, increase turbidity, and smother sediment-dwelling organisms, all resulting in changes to aquatic flora and fauna. Further, the filling of the brook tributary and the abutting wetlands have severely degraded the habitat quality of that area.
According to the complaint, the wetlands violations resulted from a large quantity of rock and a concrete manhole being placed in a 200-foot portion of a tributary to Little Cohas Brook, and discharging dredged and/or fill material into both the tributary and into wetlands forming the headwaters of the brook tributary. The complaint also alleges that the companies failed to obtain a permit for this work, as required under Section 404 of the CWA.
Under the terms of the settlement, in addition to paying the cash penalty, the companies have already taken action to comply with the EPA’s storm water regulations by filing a notice of intent under the industrial Multi-Sector General NPDES permit and by implementing some best management practices to the storm water system. The companies have also submitted Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans for the Site.
The companies will also restore the tributary to the condition that existed prior to the filling by removing the rock and drainage structures placed there illegally. Further, the companies will delineate all other federal wetlands and watercourses on the Londonderry site, and if the companies filled any such wetlands or watercourses, they will be required to restore the areas or follow established federal review and permitting requirements to retain any unauthorized fill.