Two companies settle Clean Water Act violations at construction sites
Hovnanian Enterprises and PulteGroup agree to pay civil penalties in separate EPA settlements resolving alleged Clean Water Act violations.
PHILADELPHIA, PA, March 12, 2013 -- Hovnanian Enterprises, Inc. and PulteGroup, Inc. have agreed to pay civil penalties of $130,000 and $56,000 respectively in separate settlements with EPA resolving alleged Clean Water Act violations at construction sites in Maryland and Virginia.
EPA alleged that the companies failed to take actions to prevent discharging sediment to nearby surface waters as required by law. Installing proper control measures is important since sediment-laden runoff from construction sites can pollute local waterways.
Specifically, EPA, along with state and county representatives, inspected Hovnanian’s Shipley Farm and Palisades at Oak Creek construction sites in Prince George’s County, Md., in August 2011. These inspections revealed that Hovnanian failed to install and/or maintain required best management practices to prevent the discharge of sediment to surface waters at both sites.
The settlement requires Hovnanian to take actions to bring these two sites into compliance with permit requirements and develop a plan for preventing the recurrence of violations at its construction sites in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia within 45 days of the effective date of the settlement.
In a separate complaint, EPA alleged that PulteGroup, Inc. failed to implement and maintain control measures to minimize pollutants such as sediments flowing into the Accotink and Piscataway Creeks in Virginia, and Maryland respectively. The creeks are tributaries of the Potomac River, as well as the Chesapeake Bay. Virginia and Maryland have identified the Accotink and the Piscataway waterways as impaired for aquatic life.
EPA, along with state and county representatives inspected the Pulte construction sites in August 2011 as a follow-up to a 2008 Clean Water Act settlement between EPA and Pulte resolving the company’s alleged delays or failures to obtain stormwater permits for numerous construction sites across the country. EPA issued a Clean Water Act Administrative Order to Pulte on Sept. 27, 2012, which required the company to correct the violations discovered by EPA during its inspection of the sites.
Construction projects have a high potential for environmental harm because they disturb large areas of land and significantly increase the potential for erosion. Without onsite pollution controls, sediment-laden runoff from construction sites can flow directly to waterways and degrade water quality. In addition, stormwater can pick up other pollutants, including concrete, paint, used oil, pesticides, solvents and other debris. Polluted runoff can harm or kill fish and wildlife and affect drinking water quality.
Hovnanian and Pulte neither admitted nor denied liability for the alleged violations.