Reducing Stormwater Impact

Polluted runoff can come from variety of sources-oil and toxic fluids from
industrial sites, auto wrecking yards, highways, and airports; sediment from
construction sites; livestock manure; and trash and pet waste from urban
streets. In California, Nevada, Hawaii and Arizona, the rainy season brings
the most polluted runoff, as these contaminants wash off the land and into
nearby waterways. State and federal law require the people responsible for
industrial pollution sources to prevent such pollution by preparing and implementing
a stormwater management plan.

Hawaii Transportation Department to Reduce Polluted Runoff

In October 2005, EPA, the Hawaii Department of Health, and the Hawaii
Department of Transportation (HDOT) reached a settlement regarding HDOT’s
violations of Clean Water Act requirements to prevent polluted runoff. Under
the agreement, HDOT will perform an estimated $50 million worth of actions
over the next five years to reduce pollution in stormwater runoff from highways,
airports, and road construction sites. The settlement requires HDOT to:

  • Update and improve its existing plan for storm sewer management on Oahu
    highways. This includes improving removal of sediment and debris from roadsides
    and storm drain catch basins, reducing roadside erosion, and controlling other
    sources of pollution in its storm drainage system.
  • Set new procedures for controlling stormwater at highway construction projects.
    This will include improved planning of proposed projects, and inspecting the work
    of HDOT contractors.
  • Improve management of stormwater at airports. This includes managing
    operations conducted by HDOT as well as an enhanced program of inspections
    and enforcement against airport tenants who violate stormwater rules.

These improved stormwater management activities will lead to cleaner streams
and coastal waters, as well as healthier reefs. On Oahu, HDOT’s activities will be
focused on watersheds upstream from waters known to be stressed from pollutants
such as sediment, turbidity, or litter.

In addition, under this settlement HDOT will pay $1 million in penalties. HDOT
will also spend about $1 million to establish a management system for the
agency’s many environmental obligations at its highways, airports, and harbors,
as well as $60,000 to provide training on stormwater controls to construction
contractors throughout the state.

Soft Drink Bottler Cleans Up Stormwater

In settling EPA’s largest-ever water pollution case against a soft drink bottler,
the Seven-Up/RC Bottling Company of Southern California last November agreed
to install a new wastewater treatment system at its Buena Park facility and carry
out stormwater control plans and inspections there and at another facility in
Vernon, Calif.

A three-year investigation by EPA and the U.S. Attorney’s office found that
runoff from the bottling plants was polluting the Los Angeles and San Gabriel
Rivers with grease, petroleum by-products, and acid drink product “rejects”-batches
of drinks that had gone bad and could not be used. In addition, the Buena Park
facility was discharging acidic wastewater into the Orange County Sanitation
District sewer system and a tributary of the San Gabriel River. Acidic wastewater
can corrode sewer pipes and damage sewage treatment facilities.

Under terms of a settlement in federal court, Seven-Up entered guilty pleas
to 12 counts of violating the Clean Water Act and agreed to pay a $600,000
criminal penalty and a $428,250 civil penalty. Half of the company’s criminal
fine will go to environmental projects administered by Channel Islands National
Park, the National Marine Fisheries Service, Los Angeles County, and the
California Hazardous Materials Association.
A Hard Look at Auto Wrecking Yards

Poorly-managed auto wrecking yards can release toxic fluids like fuel, oil,
anti-freeze, power steering and brake fluids, and mercury onto the ground.
When it rains, the toxics either seep downward into the ground water, or
wash off into storm drains, polluting rivers, creeks, and coastal waters. Last
year, EPA’s Pacific Southwest Office stepped up an ongoing effort to identify junkyard violators and bring their operations into compliance.

EPA has conducted outreach to the auto dismantler community for several years.
In particular, EPA has worked with the industry trade association in California to
improve environmental practices. Compliance assistance videos, brochures, and
workshops have been developed in multiple languages to assist owners in
understanding the requirements. EPA also brings enforcement cases against
violators: In 2005, the agency fined C&T Auto Wrecking of Pomona, Calif.,
$15,000 for discharging contaminated stormwater into storm drains which flow
to a nearby creek.

Initiating enforcement only for violating permits, however, would miss an
equally important segment-those facilities that have evaded permitting altogether.
In 2005, EPA identified 63 Northern California auto wrecking facilities that were
suspected of operating without a stormwater discharge permit and sent them
letters identifying their responsibilities for preventing pollution. After further
investigation, EPA initiated enforcement actions against 11 facilities. Thirteen
of the 63 facilities have since applied for stormwater permits (which require
a plan to prevent polluted runoff), 11 have shut down or were sold to new owners,
12 were exempt from permit requirements, and seven were found to have
obtained permits.
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