Oregon Company Pays Wetlands Fine
The Windsor Rock Products Co., Inc., near Keizer, Ore., has restored a damaged wetland on its property and has agreed to pay a $5,850 penalty to the U.S. EPA to settle alleged wetlands violations. EPA's action stems from dredge and fill work that Windsor Rock Products conducted in July, 2003, at the company's facility near tributaries to the Willamette River and Windsor Slough.
According to legal documents associated with the case, Windsor Rock Products directed or conducted dredge and fill activities on company property within flow-through channels and wetland areas adjacent to the flood plain of the Willamette River. A representative of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers conducted an inspection of the property soon after the work had been done and determined that heavy equipment had been used to construct an 850-feet long by 50-feet wide by five-feet deep gravel mining haul road across wetlands and intermittent drainages. Material from nearby property nearby was used for fill.
The inspection also revealed that Windsor Rock Products' haul road blocked the natural high water flows through the site from the Willamette River and Windsor Slough. The company also failed to place any culverts in the haul road to maintain flow or circulation patterns on the Willamette River or its tributaries and also failed to employ any erosion control measures in constructing the haul road. A review of the case showed that while the company had applied for a necessary wetlands construction and fill permit, the permit had not yet been issued. As a result of the inspection, Windsor Rock Products was issued an order, outlining what work needed to be done to correct and repair the damage done by the project. The company performed the necessary repair work and paid the penalty.
According to Dan Opalski, EPA Oregon State Director in Portland, destructive, unpermitted projects like this one can cause serious harm to the environment.
"Salmon and steelhead regularly use the Willamette River and its adjacent wetlands and flood plains," said EPA's Opalski. "It's important habitat for spawning, migrating or overwintering, and it was seriously harmed. Wetlands protection laws are important to preserve habitat, help control flooding and help ensure that polluted storm water runoff is purified. While penalties serve as an important deterrent, our highest priority was that the damage was repaired and wetlands restored."