Environmental Protection

Wal-Mart Fined for Stormwater Violations

Wal-Mart will pay a civil penalty of $24,000 for failing to take steps to prevent rain water from washing sediments and pollution from a construction site in Caguas, Puerto Rico, EPA announced on April 26.

The Fortune 500 company also will provide at least $98,000 for the preservation of land in the area of Las Cucharillas Marsh, part of the San Juan Bay Estuary Watershed. The parcel will be perpetually maintained as an environmentally protected area through deed restrictions and legal agreements, agency officials said.

"Wal-Mart should have taken some simple, straightforward steps to control the rainwater runoff from its construction site and to protect the environment," said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Region 2 administrator. "As development and construction continues to increase on the island, all companies need to be aware that following environmental regulations is a business necessity."

Agency officials stated that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Wal-Mart de Puerto Rico Inc. failed to:

  • obtain the appropriate stormwater construction permit on time.
  • promptly develop a plan to control stormwater pollution.
  • prepare and maintain inspection reports.
  • carry out best-management practices during construction.

All of these actions are requirements of EPA's stormwater general construction permit.

The transferred land is located around Laguna La Mano in the sensitive watershed of Las Cucharillas Marsh in Cataño. Las Cucharillas Marsh covers approximately 1,236 acres, consisting mostly of wetlands, mangrove forests and open waters. The marsh serves as a flood plain and acts as a sediment and nutrient filter for runoff waters before they reach the San Juan Bay.

Construction projects are a potentially significant source of stormwater-related sediment runoff when soil at these sites is disturbed or left in loose piles. The Clean Water Act requires operators of construction sites of one acre or larger to obtain a permit to discharge stormwater and to develop and carry out a stormwater-pollution-prevention plan.

For more information on stormwater permits, visit http://www.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater.

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