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Release Date: 06/11/1998
Contact Information: Leo Kay, Press Office, (617)918-4154

BOSTON -- The New England Office of the Environmental Protection Agency has reached a settlement with Hoyts Cinema Corp. and Whiting Turner Inc. in which a $51,000 penalty will be paid for failing to fully implement a storm water runoff pollution prevention plan for a building site in Stoughton, Mass.

Whiting-Turner, on behalf of Hoyts, had begun building a cinema complex on a 23-acre site on Technology Center Drive without obtaining a permit or fully implementing a storm water pollution prevention plan. The site sits next to a wetland that drains into Great Bear Swamp. The federal Clean Water Act requires that developers and contractors maintain develop and implement storm water pollution prevention plans that include - among other things - erosion and sediment control measures, and inspection and site stabilization requirements.

In the coming year, the EPA will investigate other construction sites in New England, and take action against developers and contractors who have failed to comply with federal storm water permitting requirements. On a parallel track, the agency will expand its education and outreach campaign in informing the regulated community about storm water issues at construction sites.

"In their haste to build, many developers and contractors often overlook their environmental obligations in terms of storm water runoff plans. This penalty and the initiative we are launching behind it should send a message to others in the construction business that we are quite serious about doing everything we can to stem the potential environmental threats posed by storm water runoff," said John P. DeVillars, administrator of the EPA's New England Office.

Sediment from construction sites can end up in streams and rivers, choking plant and animal life. Many pollutants such as oil and grease also bind to sediments, and are then transported into waterways along with the sediment.

"There really is no excuse for our creeks, streams and ponds being clogged with runoff silt and mud when the problem can be prevented so simply," DeVillars said.

If more than 5 acres is disturbed, federal law requires that developers and contractors obtain either coverage under the general storm water permit for construction, or an individual permit. Both require the preparation and implementation of a storm water pollution prevention plan designed to reduce erosion and -- to the extent practicable -- retain sediments on site during and after construction activities.

EPA officials first became aware of the Stoughton construction site problems in February 1997. A subsequent site visit confirmed that the companies did not have the required storm water plan.

Construction of the cinema complex has since ceased, and Hoyts & Whiting-Turner abandoned the site without taking necessary steps to stabilize the site. The owner of the property is in the process of bringing the site into compliance.

This is the second commercial sector that the EPA's New England office is investigating to ensure compliance with storm water requirements. The agency has assessed several penalties against auto salvage yards in New England over the past two years.