Former gravel plant operator to pay $43K penalty for water violations

KANSAS CITY, KS, Aug. 21, 2009 -- Knife River Midwest, LLC, has agreed to pay a $43,082 civil penalty to settle alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act at its former sand, gravel, concrete and asphalt plant...

KANSAS CITY, KS, Aug. 21, 2009 -- Knife River Midwest, LLC, has agreed to pay a $43,082 civil penalty to settle alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act at its former sand, gravel, concrete and asphalt plant located at 900 Montgomery Street in Decorah, Iowa.

According to a consent agreement filed in Kansas City, Kan., an inspection of the plant by EPA Region 7 on August 7, 2008, found several violations of the facility's National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for industrial stormwater management.

The penalty was imposed for Knife River's failure to implement best management practices, failure to conduct required sampling, failure to retain records, failure to conduct and record visual inspections, and failure to maintain and update an adequate stormwater pollution prevention plan.

The federal Clean Water Act and NPDES permits issued under the Clean Water Act are designed to protect aquatic life and water quality. Runoff from ready-mix concrete, sand and gravel facilities, and asphalt batching plants, such as Knife River's, flows into waterways. When proper controls are not in place, runoff from such facilities can lead to water quality impairments such as siltation of rivers, fishing restrictions, and habitat degradation. As stormwater flows through those sites, it can pick up pollutants, including sediment, used oil, solvents and other debris. Polluted runoff can harm or kill fish and wildlife, and impact drinking water quality.

Knife River's Decorah, Iowa, facility discharged runoff into the Upper Iowa River.

Knife River Midwest, LLC, headquartered in Bismarck, North Dakota, sold the Decorah plant in December 2008. Knife River Midwest, LLC, owns several other facilities throughout Iowa and the upper Midwest.

"EPA expects industries to properly maintain their pollution control permits, and to honor the terms of those permits," said Art Spratlin, director of EPA Region 7's Water, Wetlands and Pesticides Division. "We are committed to enforcing the Clean Water Act to ensure that our nation's waterways are protected."

The consent agreement and final order is subject to a 30-day public comment period.

Learn more about EPA's civil enforcement of the Clean Water Act:
http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/reports/endofyear/eoy2008/2008enfwaterhighlights.html

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