Press Release

Press Release AG’s Office Reaches Settlements with Companies That Illegally Discharged Polluted Stormwater into Local Rivers

Consent Decrees Reflect Continued Success of AG Healey’s Federal Clean Water and Clean Air Enforcement Initiative to Combat Industrial Pollution
For immediate release:
9/01/2020
  • Office of Attorney General Maura Healey

Media Contact for AG’s Office Reaches Settlements with Companies That Illegally Discharged Polluted Stormwater into Local Rivers

Alex Bradley

BostonCompanies in Westfield and Norwood have agreed to pay a total of $185,000 – most of which will fund projects improving local water quality – as part of separate settlements reached with Attorney General Maura Healey’s Office over allegations that the companies illegally discharged polluted industrial stormwater into local rivers.

The consent decrees, which have been filed with the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts and are pending court approval, settle allegations that the UAVE LLC in Norwood and Cargill, Inc. and Salt City, Inc. in Westfield violated the federal Clean Water Act when they illegally discharged industrial stormwater into storm drain systems flowing to cold-water fisheries. The settlements include a total of $130,000 that will be paid to local watershed associations to improve water quality in the vicinity of the facilities and a total of $55,000 to offset the costs of the AG’s enforcement efforts and for future monitoring of the companies’ compliance with the consent decrees.

“Stormwater pollution is causing serious harm to our state’s waterways and wetlands, which are critical natural resources that provide flood control and habitats for wildlife,” AG Healey said. “These settlements will help improve water quality, prevent future pollution in the Westfield and Neponset River watersheds, and ensure compliance with basic federal environmental protections at a time when the Trump Administration has stepped back from enforcement.”

Stormwater pollution is regulated under a variety of federal Clean Water Act permits and is recognized as the largest threat to water quality in the Commonwealth. In particular, certain industrial facilities in Massachusetts must obtain specific authorization for stormwater discharges, properly monitor and control their stormwater discharges, report their stormwater sampling results to EPA, and comply with state water protection laws. The AG’s Office alleges that the companies failed to take these required actions at their facilities.

Cargill and Salt City

Cargill and Salt City together own and operate a road salt warehousing, storage and transportation facility in Westfield that contains a salt pile that at certain times has spanned nearly two acres. AG Healey’s complaint alleges that poor salt and stormwater management at the facility resulted in unlawful discharges of large amounts and concentrations of road salt to the Westfield municipal storm sewer system, which is connected to Powdermill Brook – a tributary of the Westfield River. The facility is near a potential source of drinking water for Westfield.

Sodium in drinking water can increase blood pressure and is a concern for those with hypertension. The chloride ions in road salt runoff remain dissolved in water and cannot be treated or filtered out. Once runoff contaminated with road salt reaches wetlands or streams, the chloride remains in the watershed until it is flushed downstream. Elevated concentrations of salt in fresh water can be detrimental to plants, fish, and other wildlife.

As part of the settlement, Cargill and Salt City will take steps to reduce runoff, including building an asphalt berm, plugging catch basins, and limiting stormwater contact with salt piles. The companies will also pay $80,000 to the Westfield River Watershed Association and reimburse the AG’s Office for costs incurred in bringing the case.

UAVE

In a separate matter, the AG’s Office alleges that UAVE, a construction material mining facility, was unlawfully discharging industrial stormwater containing sediment into a storm drain leading to Purgatory Brook, a tributary of the Neponset River. Sedimentary material such as sand or silt that is discharged into waterways destroys habitat, harms aquatic organisms, and can contribute to flooding.

Under the terms of the settlement, UAVE has agreed to eliminate stormwater discharges from the facility during rain events and to otherwise control and monitor stormwater discharges as is required by the stormwater permit. UAVE will pay $50,000 to the Neponset River Watershed Association for projects to improve water quality around Purgatory Brook and will reimburse the AG’s Office for costs incurred in bringing the case.

Today’s announcement is part of a civil enforcement initiative out of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division that focuses on combatting pollution by enforcing the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act and the federal Clean Air Act in Massachusetts, along with applicable state environmental laws. With these two settlements, the AG’s Office will have successfully resolved six cases under this initiative and directed $272,500 in funding to local environmental improvement projects and recovered state law civil penalties of $112,500 and enforcement costs since the program’s inception in 2019.

These cases were handled by Special Assistant Attorney General Nora Chorover and Attorney Emily Mitchell, both of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division.

 

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Media Contact for AG’s Office Reaches Settlements with Companies That Illegally Discharged Polluted Stormwater into Local Rivers

Office of Attorney General Maura Healey 

Attorney General Maura Healey is the chief lawyer and law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
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