WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Toll Brothers Inc., one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, will pay a civil penalty of $741,000 to resolve alleged Clean Water Act violations at its construction sites, including sites located in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Toll Brothers will also invest in a company-wide stormwater compliance program to improve employee training and increase management oversight at all current and future residential construction sites across the nation. The company is required to inspect its current and future construction sites routinely to minimize stormwater runoff from sites. Polluted stormwater runoff and sediment from construction sites can flow directly into the nearest waterway, affecting drinking water quality and damaging valuable aquatic habitats.
“Keeping contaminated stormwater runoff out of the nation’s waterways, like the Chesapeake Bay, is one of EPA’s top priorities,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance and Assurance. “Today’s settlement will improve oversight of stormwater runoff at construction sites across the country and protect America’s waters.”
“This settlement will help protect the nation’s waters from the harmful pollutants contained in stormwater runoff from construction sites,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “The settlement requires Toll Brothers to implement system-wide management controls and training that will help prevent polluted stormwater runoff from contaminating rivers, lakes and sources of drinking water.”
EPA estimates the settlement will prevent millions of pounds of sediment from entering U.S. waterways every year, including sediment that would otherwise enter the Chesapeake Bay, North America’s largest and most biologically diverse estuary. The bay and its tidal tributaries are threatened by pollution from a variety of sources and are overburdened with nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment that can be carried by stormwater.
The complaint, filed simultaneously with the settlement agreement, alleges over 600 stormwater violations that were discovered through site inspections and by reviewing documentation submitted by Toll Brothers. The majority of the alleged violations involve Toll Brothers’ repeated failures to comply with permit requirements at its construction sites, including requirements to install and maintain adequate stormwater pollution controls.
The Clean Water Act requires permits for the discharge of stormwater runoff. In general, Toll Brothers’ permits require that construction sites have controls in place to prevent pollution from being discharged with stormwater into nearby waterways. These controls include common-sense safeguards such as silt fences, phased site grading and sediment basins to prevent construction contaminants from entering the nation’s waterways.
The settlement requires Toll Brothers to obtain all required permits, develop site-specific pollution prevention plans for each construction site, conduct additional site inspections beyond those required by stormwater regulations, and document and promptly correct any problems. The company must properly train construction managers and contractors on stormwater requirements and designate trained staff for each site. Toll Brothers must also submit national compliance summary reports to EPA based on management oversight inspections and reviews.
This settlement is the latest in a series of enforcement actions to address stormwater violations from residential construction sites around the country. Construction projects have a high potential for environmental harm because they disturb large areas of land and significantly increase the potential for erosion, and stormwater runoff from sites can pick up other pollutants, including concrete washout, paint, used oil, solvents and trash.
The state of Maryland and the commonwealth of Virginia have joined the settlement and will receive a portion of the $741,000 penalty. The settlement includes Toll Brothers sites in
Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.
The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.
More information about this settlement: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/cwa/tollbrothers.html
More information about EPA’s stormwater enforcement: http://www.epa.gov/oecaerth/data/planning/priorities/cwastorm.html
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