Colo. Construction Firm Settles $300,000 Stormwater Violation

Colorado Structures Inc., (CSI) a construction management firm that specializes in building big-box commercial stores in the western United States, has agreed to pay a $300,000 penalty and implement a company-wide stormwater compliance program to resolve alleged Clean Water Act (CWA) violations.

CSI, as part of the settlement joined by the state of Colorado, will implement a company-wide program to significantly reduce stormwater pollution at its construction sites. The company has agreed to comply with stormwater permitting requirements; develop a management system to improve its oversight of operations; inspect sites daily; train site personnel on federal stormwater requirements; take quick corrective actions when problems related to stormwater runoff arise; and provide quarterly progress reports to EPA.

“Stormwater runoff from construction sites poses a threat to the environment by washing sediment, debris and other pollutants into surrounding waterways and degrading water quality,” said Ronald J. Tenpas, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We will continue to work with EPA to enforce the Clean Water Act and to prevent this type of pollution from entering our nation’s waterways.”

Construction projects like those involved in this case have a high potential for environmental harm because they cover large areas of land. The CSI agreement is part of a national enforcement initiative aimed at reducing pollution from stormwater discharges from construction sites.

According to the complaint filed along with the settlement, beginning in 1999 EPA and state inspectors found a pattern of failures to comply with stormwater requirements. EPA documented violations at 16 construction sites in Colorado, California, Nevada, and South Dakota, including violations of applicable permits and the failure to obtain a permit.

The CWA requires that construction sites have controls in place to prevent pollution from being discharged with stormwater into nearby waterways. Each site must have a stormwater pollution-prevention plan that sets guidelines and best-management practices that the company will follow to prevent runoff from being contaminated by pollutants. EPA also requires that all construction projects larger than one acre obtain a federal permit.

CSI operates in the western United States and is headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., with offices in Oregon and California. It is a general contractor for and developer of big-box stores such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Fred Meyer and Safeway. The CSI violations cited in the complaint were documented during construction of Wal-Mart and Home Depot stores.

The Justice Department and EPA have previously concluded an enforcement action against Wal-Mart, which involved many of the same sites as in the CSI complaint. CSI was a contractor for Wal-Mart at the time the violations occurred and under the CWA, CSI also may be held liable for these violations as an operator at these sites.

The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court in Denver, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. CSI is required to pay the penalty within 30 days of the court’s approval of the settlement, of which $50,000 will go to the state of Colorado.

A copy of the consent decree is available on the Justice Department Web site at www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html

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