California Construction Firm to Pay $2 Million in Penalties for Clean Water Act Violations

May 10, 2021

Kernen Construction Co. violated Clean Water Act by discharging contaminated storm water into a nearby tributary creek of the Mad River

A U.S. District Court judge ordered McKinleyville, California-based construction firm Kernen Construction Co. to pay over $2 million in civil penalties for Clean Water Act (CWA) violations. 

The violations were due to the discharge of contaminated storm water into a nearby tributary creek of the Mad River, reported Times-Standards.

The order was issued by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers on May 2 after the company was found to have discharged storm water without engaging in pollution control measures, which are mandated by the CWA.

The civil lawsuit was filed against Kernen Construction by Californians for Alternatives to Toxics. The lawsuit alleges that the company continued to discharge untreated water with pollutant levels higher than those set by regulating agencies.

According to court documents, the discharges yielded large levels of lead, copper, and pentachlorophenol, a legacy chemical found at former mill sites, is also present in water samples.

A release from Californians for Alternatives to Toxics states samples show concentrations of pollutants such as aluminum above 3,742% benchmarks set by the U.S. EPA. Iron came in excess of 5,449% percent of the standards set by the EPA, reported Times-Standards. The company submits water samples to the Northcoast Regional Water Quality Control Board in Santa Rosa.

The Californians for Alternatives to Toxics group previously settled with Kernen Construction in 2016 in a similar lawsuit.

The firm admitted to CWA violations in court from Nov. 14, 2017 through the present. According to the court briefs related to the case, the judge found 9,461 CWA violations had been recorded during this period. 11 of these are discharge violations. 

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Cristina Tuser