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Clean Water Act Violations Carry Hefty Price Tag for Lafarge North America

Unauthorized stormwater discharges and other alleged violations will cost Lafarge North America Inc., a construction materials supplier, $740,000 in Clean Water Act penalties along with upwards of millions of dollars to develop and maintain a nationwide compliance program.

The company agreed to pay the $740,000 penalty after EPA found the company and four of its U.S. subsidiaries in violation of releasing unpermitted discharges of stormwater at 21 stone, gravel, sand, asphalt and ready-mix concrete facilities in Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland and New York. According to EPA, stormwater flowing over concrete manufacturing facilities can carry debris, sediment and pollutants, including pesticides, petroleum products, chemicals and solvents, which can have a significant impact on water quality.

The complaint alleges a pattern of violations since 2006 that were discovered after several federal inspections at the company’s facilities. These violations included unpermitted discharges, violations of effluent limitations, inadequate management practices, inadequate or missing records and practices regarding stormwater compliance and monitoring, inadequate discharge monitoring and reporting, inadequate stormwater pollution prevention plans and inadequate stormwater training.

Lafarge Cleans Up Its Act

As part of the settlement, Lafarge will implement a nationwide evaluation and compliance program at 189 of its similar facilities in the United States to ensure they meet Clean Water Act requirements. Additionally, the company will implement supplemental environmental projects, including completing conservation easements to protect approximately 166 acres in Maryland and Colorado, land valued at approximately $2.95 million. Lafarge also will implement one state environmentally beneficial project valued at $10,000 to support environmental training for state inspectors.

In addition, Lafarge must identify an environmental vice president, who will be responsible for coordinating oversight of compliance with stormwater requirements; at least two environmental directors to oversee stormwater compliance at each operation; and an onsite operations manager at each facility. EPA estimates that Lafarge will spend approximately $8 million over 5 years to develop and maintain this compliance program.

Finally, the company will develop and implement an extensive management, training, inspections, and reporting system to increase oversight of its operations and compliance with stormwater requirements at all facilities that it owns or operates.

“Owners and operators of industrial facilities must take the necessary measures to comply with stormwater regulations under the Clean Water Act, which protects America’s rivers, lakes, and sources of drinking water from harmful contamination,” explained Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The system-wide management controls and training that this settlement requires from Lafarge and its subsidiaries will result in better management practices and a robust compliance program at hundreds of facilities throughout the nation that will prevent harmful stormwater runoff.”

According to EPA, since being notified of the violations, Lafarge has made significant improvements to its stormwater management systems.

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