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EPA, Shipyard Settle Paint Waste Fine

Thursday, July 5, 2012

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Fairhaven Shipyard Companies, Inc. has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $175,000 to resolve violations of the federal Clean Water Act at two of its facilities in Fairhaven during paint removal operations and other shipyard activities, according to a July 3, 2012 announcement by United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Curt Spalding of the Environmental Protection Agency’s New England Region 3.

Fairhaven also agreed to undertake measures to achieve compliance with the Act and applicable regulations.

The paint discharge violations occurred from December 2005 through July 2010, and the others occurred between December 2005 and January 2009.

 The Clean Water Act sets the basic structure that allows EPA to regulate discharges of pollutants into U.S waters and to regulate quality standards for surface waters.

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The Clean Water Act sets the basic structure that allows EPA to regulate discharges of pollutants into U.S waters and to regulate quality standards for surface waters.

The settlement is contained in a consent decree that was filed in federal district court this week, along with a civil complaint, filed on behalf of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. According to the complaint, Fairhaven Shipyard discharged untreated wastewater generated from pressure washing vessel hulls to New Bedford Harbor, without the required National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, between December 2005 and July 2010. As a result, the Coast Guard in 2008 was called to investigate reports of large areas of red-stained water in New Bedford Harbor, which was caused by the discharge of wash washer containing high levels of paint residues.

Pressure wash water from vessel cleaning contains paint residues, including copper, lead, and zinc from anti-fouling paint, oil and grease, and detergents, EPA noted. Without adequate on-site controls, stormwater runoff from shipyards can flow directly to waterways and can contribute to water quality impairments such as wildlife habitat degradation, fishing restrictions, and beach closings, EPA noted.

EPA issued an order requiring the company to come into compliance with NPDES requirements in March 2009. After receiving the order from EPA, Fairhaven Shipyard constructed systems to collect its pressure wash water at both facilities. The shipyard began sending the pressure wash water from its Fort Street facility to the Town of Fairhaven’s wastewater treatment facility for treatment starting in September 2009, and from the Water Street facility in September 2010. 

In addition, from December 2005 to January 2009, during periods of rain, Fairhaven Shipyard allowed storm water that had come into contact with pollutants from industrial activities to flow to New Bedford Harbor, without obtaining or complying with the terms of a federal storm water permit, according to the government’s announcement. After it obtained permit coverage for the storm water discharges in January 2009, Fairhaven Shipyard failed to perform certain required sampling and failed to control its storm water discharges as needed to minimize discharge of pollutants and to ensure that applicable water quality standards were met in New Bedford Harbor.

Finally, said EPA, Fairhaven Shipyard did not prepare and implement Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Plans at its two Fairhaven facilities located at 50 Fort Street and 32 Water Street until 2009.

PSN could not reach Fairhaven for comment as of July 5.

   

Tagged categories: Environmental Protection; EPA; Health and safety; Marine; Paint disposal; Regulations; Shipyards; Surface preparation; Violations

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