- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for Highway Contractor Resolves Allegations of Illegally Discharging Polluted Stormwater Into Housatonic River
Boston — A Connecticut-based highway construction company has agreed to pay $100,000 and restore riverbanks along the Housatonic River to settle allegations that its actions at its mining and manufacturing facility in Lee led to the unlawful alteration of those areas and the discharge of industrial material and stormwater pollution into the river, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
Today’s announcement is part of a new 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 and Clean Air Acts at industrial facilities in Massachusetts.
The consent decree with Lane Construction Corporation (Lane), entered May 14 by the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, resolves allegations that the company violated state and federal clean water laws in its operation of its construction sand and gravel mine and asphalt manufacturing facility on Willow Hill Road in Lee, which borders the Housatonic River. The AG’s complaint, filed in March, alleges that Lane illegally placed industrial material, including gravel, on the banks of the Housatonic River, which spilled over the riverbanks and into the river.
“Stormwater pollution is the leading threat to our state’s waterways and wetlands, which are vital natural resources that provide flood control and habitats for our wildlife,” AG Healey said. “This settlement requires important measures to prevent future pollution and help improve the quality of the Housatonic River.”
The AG’s Office alleges Lane discharged the gravel into the river and its banks by moving it around its facility with heavy equipment and by stockpiling it in piles immediately above the river’s banks. According to the AG’s complaint, pollutants from the gravel piles traveled to the river after being mobilized by rain or snowmelt.
Under a federal Clean Water Act permit, Lane and other industrial facilities in Massachusetts must obtain specific authorization for any pollutant discharges, properly monitor and control their stormwater pollutant discharges, report their stormwater sampling results to EPA, and comply with state water protection laws, including the state Clean Waters Act and the Wetlands Protection Act. The AG’s complaint alleges that Lane failed to take these required actions at its Lee facility. Sedimentary material such as gravel that is discharged into waterways or improperly placed on riverbanks destroys habitat, harms aquatic organisms, and can contribute to flooding. The Housatonic River is a state-listed impaired waterbody and is habitat for several species that are endangered or of special concern.
Under the terms of the consent decree, Lane will restore the impacted riverbanks, eliminate any unpermitted stormwater discharges into the Housatonic River, and improve its stormwater monitoring and control measures.
Lane will also pay a total of $50,000 for its violations, including a $25,000 civil penalty payable to the state for its violations of state law and a payment of $25,000 to GreenAgers, a nonprofit organization that provides employment and volunteer opportunities for teens and young adults in the fields of environmental conservation, sustainable farming, and natural resource management. Lane will also pay $50,000 to offset the costs of the AG’s enforcement efforts and for future monitoring of the company’s compliance with the consent decree.
Following today’s announcement, the AG’s new enforcement initiative will continue to protect Massachusetts communities from dangerous pollution, including stormwater pollution. 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 state.
This case was handled by Special Assistant Attorney General Nora Chorover, of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division.