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Lafarge Runoff Settlement Tab: $11+M

Thursday, December 1, 2011

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North America’s largest construction materials supplier has agreed to pay a $740,000 fine, protect nearly $3 million in land, and invest $8 million in a program to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act in five states.

The massive settlement agreement by the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Justice and Lafarge North America Inc. resolves a variety of violations involving the company, one of North America’s largest concrete producers.

 Park Bridge

 Photos: Lafarge North America

Lafarge Type GU cement and fly ash were used to build the Park Bridge in the  Kicking Horse Canyon segment  of the Trans-Canada Highway.

The violations include unpermitted stormwater discharges at 21 stone, gravel, sand, asphalt and ready-mix concrete facilities in Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland, and New York.

Stormwater flowing over concrete manufacturing facilities can carry debris, sediment and pollutants, including pesticides, petroleum products, chemicals and solvents, which can seriously harm water quality.

5 Years of Violations

The complaint, filed in federal court with the settlement, alleges a pattern of violations dating to 2006 that were discovered during several federal inspections at the company’s facilities.

The violations include 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.

“EPA is committed to protecting America’s waters from polluted stormwater runoff,” said Cynthia Giles, EPA Assistant Administrator. “Today’s settlement will improve stormwater management at facilities across the nation, preventing harmful pollutants from being swept into local waterways.”

Company Response

In a prepared statement, Lafarge noted that the settlement was the second such agreement reached in the aggregate, ready-mix and asphalt sector “and is consistent with recent stormwater settlements that EPA has obtained with other sectors….”

“Lafarge North America remains firm in our belief that we have operated our plants in an environmentally responsible manner,” said Bob Cartmel, president of the company’s Aggregate & Concrete Division in the Western United States.

 Liberty Memorial Bridge, North Dakota
Lafarge began operations in North America in 1956 and calls itself the continent’s largest diversified supplier of construction materials today. Its public works projects include North Dakota’s Liberty Memorial Bridge, which opened in 2008.

“That said, we also firmly believe that industry leaders like Lafarge have to work with local, state and federal authorities to find solutions to the most challenging problems. Agreements like this one, and the actions we will undertake pursuant to this agreement, demonstrate that we want our plants to continue to optimize our environmental performance.”

Added Harve Stoeck, Vice President of Environment and Public Affairs: “Every day, we are looking for and identifying opportunities to improve our environmental performance in ways that exceed regulatory requirements and guidelines. We look forward to working closely with local, state and federal governments to implement the enhancements described in the agreement.”

EPA said the company “has made significant improvements to its stormwater management systems” since being notified of the violations.

Compliance Evaluation Ordered

Under the settlement terms, Lafarge will create and implement a company-wide environmental management system and conduct a stormwater audit at 189 active plants, to ensure that they meet federal clean water mandates.

The program will include a compliance review of each facility’s permit, an inventory of all discharges to U.S. waters, and identification of all best management practices in place.

 In addition, Lafarge must identify an environmental vice president, to coordinate oversight of stormwater compliance; at least two environmental directors, to oversee stormwater compliance at each operation; and an onsite operations manager at each facility.

Lafarge will spend about $8 million over five years to develop and maintain the program, which will also include training, inspection and reporting components.

Fine, Environmental Projects

Lafarge will also pay a civil penalty of $750,000 and perform two environmentally beneficial projects.

The projects involve preserving about 140 undeveloped acres outside the Monocacy National Battlefield in Maryland and about 26 undeveloped acres north of the Denver area that will protect a local municipal water source. The conservation easements are valued at about $2.95 million.

Lafarge will also implement one state environmentally beneficial project valued at $10,000 to support environmental training for state inspectors.

Permit Laws

The Clean Water Act requires that ready-mix concrete plants, sand and gravel facilities and similar industrial facilities have controls to prevent pollution from being discharged with stormwater into nearby waterways.

Each site must have a stormwater pollution prevention plan that sets guidelines and best management practices to prevent runoff from being contaminated by pollutants.

“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,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General.

   

Tagged categories: Concrete; Construction; EPA; Lafarge North America; Laws and litigation; Regulations; Violations

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