J.F. White Contracting Co. Assessed $167,500 Penalty by MassDEP for Violating Wetlands Regulations during Worcester Airport Construction
BOSTON – The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has assessed a penalty of $167,500 to J.F. White Contracting Company of Framingham for wetlands protection and water quality violations that occurred during work it conducted at the Worcester Regional Airport. Portions of the site work were located in Leicester, within the watershed of drinking water supplies utilized by the City of Worcester.
The Worcester Regional Airport is owned and operated by the Massachusetts Port Authority and is undergoing improvements to its runway, adding a new taxiway, and installing a Category III Instrument Landing System. J.F. White Contracting Co. was awarded the contract to conduct the improvements at the airport and is required to comply with all environmental permits for the project.
Shortly after beginning the work in September of 2016, J.F. White changed the approved plans. These plan changes resulted in the discharge of sediment-laden stormwater to Bordering Vegetated Wetlands (BVWs). The wetland resource areas surrounding the construction site are designated as Outstanding Resource Waters because they are tributaries to a public water supply. From September 2016 until May 2017, numerous failures by J.F. White to follow the approved plans and to implement effective erosion and sedimentation controls resulted in approximately eight acres of unauthorized alterations to BVWs and the shutting down of one of Worcester's water supply reservoirs on several occasions because of elevated turbidity in the water.
"J.F. White's actions over a prolonged period of time caused significant damage to wetland resource areas and affected the City of Worcester's water supply reservoir," said Mary Jude Pigsley, director of MassDEP's Central Regional Office in Worcester. "It is critical that construction work complies with permits and includes the utmost protective measures for the benefit of public welfare and the environment."
As part of the settlement, J.F. White must pay the penalty and work to remove as much of the fill material from the wetlands areas, to the extent feasible, re-establish vegetation in altered areas, and continue to monitor the wetland restoration process for two growing seasons. The company must also monitor discharges during rain events of greater than a half-inch to ensure that turbid discharges do not continue to affect downstream wetland resources and the reservoir.
MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills, and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources