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Balfour Beatty Construction, Inc. (BBC), a subsidiary of the United Kingdom company, Balfour Beatty, PLC, recently pled guilty to violating both the Rivers and Harbors Act and the Clean Water Act.
In its plea, BBC admitted to illegally acting without an Army Corps of Engineers permit in Oct. 2002, when it dredged a portion of the Croatan Sound in North Carolina, and discharged the dredged spoil into the Sound.
The violations occurred when BBC's employees removed a temporary load-out trestle that had been constructed in shallow waters near Manns Harbor.
The construction was part of the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge project, which built a five-mile bridge spaning the Croatan Sound from Manns Harbor to Manteo, N.C. In order to get a crane to the trestle site, BBC employees used backwash from a tugboat propeller to cut a channel next to the bridge trestle.
As a result, 5,500 cubic yards of dredged spoil was expelled from the channel and deposited on 8.2 acres of habitat on the sound bottom. Croatan Sound has been designated as high quality waters by the federal government because it is an essential area for spawning fish and/or wildlife.
Covering such a habitat with spoil can damage fish and wildlife.
When sentenced, BBC faces a maximum penalty of up to $200,000 and/or up to five years probation on each count.
The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation.
It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.