Alexander Kozned, CEO of Aurora Communications, Illegally Filled Wetlands for Radio Towers
The Northwest regional office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has settled its complaint against Alexander Kozned, president and CEO of Aurora Communications International, Inc., for a number of significant violations of the federal Clean Water Act committed by Kozned on Aurora's property on Cook Inlet.
To resolve EPA's claims, Kozned has agreed to pay a penalty of $17,000 for the violations and to restore the wetlands, streams, and intertidal areas that were damaged by a number of road-building and mechanized land-clearing projects Kozned directed between July 1998 and September 2002. These projects resulted in the discharge of fill material to 2.71 acres of the property's aquatic areas and disrupted hydrologic flow over a larger area of the property.
Specifically, the settlement requires Kozned and his company to:
(1) remove certain specified roads and fill pads placed in wetlands;
(2) regrade or fill certain specified ditches that are impairing the site's hydrologic functions; and
(3) establish an approximately 50 acre conservation easement at the site.
The work required by the Administrative Order on Consent is to be completed this summer with five years of monitoring to ensure that hydrology is restored and that the revegetation efforts are successful.
Wetlands are among the most productive ecosystems in the world, comparable to rain forests and coral reefs. An immense variety of species of microbes, plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish, and mammals rely on wetlands for food, water, and shelter, especially while migrating and breeding. Wetlands also provide many societal benefits such as water quality improvement, flood storage, shoreline erosion control, economically beneficial natural products for human use, and opportunities for recreation, education, and research.
"This has been a long and, at times, troubling case," said Marcia Combes, director of the EPA's Alaska Operations Office. "We're pleased to finally reach an agreement so that this critical wetlands restoration work can get started."