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EPA Proposes Steep Fines for Companies that Failed to Curb Polluted Storm Water

Release Date: 05/09/2006
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(San Juan, PR) -- The EPA announced today that it is cracking down on construction companies that ignore rules designed to protect water quality in Puerto Rico. Swiss Chalet, Inc., Metropolitan Builders, Inc. and Levitt Homes Corporation all face fines for not taking steps to prevent rain water from washing sediments and pollution into waterways. Swiss Chalet, Inc. and Metropolitan Builders, Inc. now face up to a total of $155,600 and Levitt Homes Corporation faces $122,700 in fines for violations at construction sites for Gallery Plaza in Condado and Hacienda San Josť in Caguas. Vistas de Gurabo/Cue and Lopez Contractors face a $97,000 fine for ignoring storm water rules when constructing a housing development and for ignoring a previous order from EPA to comply.

“These companies are hurting Puerto Rico’s environment by not taking some simple, straightforward steps to control the rainwater run-off from their construction sites,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. “The negative impacts are notable– sediment clogs rivers, shore lines and wetlands. Sediment diminishes the ability of Puerto Rico’s reservoirs to function properly and impacts coral reefs. Run-off and sediment also carry with them pollutants from constructions site, such as vehicle oils or fluids.”

Today’s actions are part of a broad effort by the EPA to get construction companies to clean up their acts. EPA recently ordered 9 contractors to obtain the proper permits and take the proper steps to control storm water pollution. EPA has ordered that Advanced Contractors, Inc., HBA Contractors, Inc., Menendez & Associates, N.L.L. Contractors, Quality Construction, Quality Construction Services, Synergy Group, S.E. Target Engineering, Venegas Construction to halt construction activity at their unpermitted sites until the construction general storm water permit is obtained and the contractors implement the required storm water erosion controls.

Storm water runoff from construction activities can have a significant impact on water quality. The Clean Water Act requires operators of construction sites of one acre or larger (including smaller sites that are part of a larger common plan of development) to obtain a permit to discharge storm water. Pollutants, sediments, oil and grease can accumulate in storm water as it travels across land.

Information on storm water permits and how to obtain one:

Examples of good (left) and bad (right) silt fencing at a construction site:

Example of good silt fencing at a construction site. Example of bad silt fencing at a construction site.