Ready-mix concrete producer will invest an estimated $8 million to improve environmental compliance in the U.S.
Lafarge North America Inc., a supplier of construction materials in the U.S. and Canada, and four of its U.S. subsidiaries have agreed to resolve alleged Clean Water Act violations. The violations include unpermitted discharges of storm water at 21 stone, gravel, sand, asphalt and ready-mix concrete facilities in Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Maryland and New York.
Storm water flowing over concrete manufacturing facilities can carry debris, sediment and pollutants, including pesticides, petroleum products, chemicals and solvents, which can have a significant impact on water quality.
Lafarge will implement a nationwide evaluation and compliance program at 189 of its similar facilities in the U.S. to ensure they meet requirements. Lafarge will also pay a penalty of $740,000 and implement two supplemental environmental projects, in which the company will complete conservation easements to protect approximately 166 acres in Maryland and Colorado. The value of the land has been appraised at approximately $2,95 million.
Lafarge will also implement one state environmentally beneficial project valued at $10,000 to support environmental training for state inspectors.
The comprehensive evaluation 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 responsible for coordinating oversight of compliance with storm water requirements, at least two environmental directors to oversee storm water compliance at each operation, and an onsite operations manager at each facility.
The U.S. estimates that Lafarge will spend approximately $8 million over five years to develop and maintain this compliance program.
The company will also develop and implement an extensive management, training, inspections, and reporting system to increase oversight of its operations and compliance with storm water requirements at all facilities that it owns or operates.
The complaint, filed in federal court with the settlement, alleges a pattern of violations since 2006 that were discovered after several federal inspections at the company’s facilities. The alleged violations included unpermitted discharges, violations of effluent limitations, inadequate management practices, inadequate or missing records and practices regarding storm water compliance and monitoring, inadequate discharge monitoring and reporting, inadequate storm water pollution prevention plans, and inadequate storm water training.
The Clean Water Act requires that industrial facilities, such as ready-mix concrete plants, sand and gravel facilities, and asphalt batching plants, have controls in place to prevent pollution from being discharged with storm water into nearby waterways. Each site must have a storm water pollution prevention plan that sets guidelines and best management practices that the company will follow to prevent runoff from being contaminated by pollutants.
Since being notified of the violations by EPA, the company has made significant improvements to its storm water management systems.
The settlement is the latest in a series of federal enforcement actions to address storm water violations from industrial facilities and construction sites around the country. The states of Maryland and Colorado are co-plaintiffs and have joined the proposed settlement.