With a recently announced settlement, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made it clear that liability cannot be avoided simply by remaining unaware of the specifics activities at a construction site. Fort Lincoln Retail LLC – developer of the Shops at Dakota Crossing – agreed to pay a $99,000 penalty in connection with allegations of storm water runoff which flowed into the local storm sewer system and ultimately polluted the Anacostia River in Northeast Washington, D.C. As part of the settlement, Fort Lincoln Retail LLC admits no wrongdoing under the Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S.C. 1251 et seq.

Builders broke ground on the Shops at Dakota Crossing – a sprawling, 420,000 square foot retail shopping outlet – in 2012. While some stores at the site have already opened, many others are nearing completion. The Shops at Dakota Crossing will also feature 2,500 parking spaces spread out over a 44-acre site, some of which were built on wetlands.

Fort Lincoln Retail LLC was accused by the EPA of committing several CWA violations. Specifically, the agency maintains that the erosion and sedimentation controls employed by construction crews at the site were inadequate. Erosion and sedimentation controls are crucial when land is cleared and graded because, without vegetation, storm water will carry pollutants swiftly and without obstruction into nearby storm drains. To that end, Fort Lincoln Retail allegedly failed to protect storm drain inlets according to the EPA. Lastly, the EPA indicated that Fort Lincoln Retail LLC did not conduct and document various inspections mandated by the CWA.

Prior to the start of any construction project, developers must obtain a permit from the EPA for regulated sites by showing that they will implement best management practices (“BMPs”) for complying with the CWA in order to reduce water pollution. Failure to persuade the EPA that best management practices – including plans for storing and covering construction materials and reducing runoff – will be employed can result in the denial of permits necessary to break ground or to continue construction.

Philadelphia Environmental Compliance Lawyers at Michelman & Bricker, P.C. Advise Business Clients on Best Management Practices

Philadelphia environmental lawyers at Michelman & Bricker, P.C. are well-versed in the proper procedure for obtaining EPA permits for construction sites. Our experienced team can assist developers, contractors and subcontractors in developing a storm water runoff strategy that meets all state and federal standards. For example, we previously represented a manufacturer in federal civil penalty action under the Clean Water Act for failure to comply with stormwater discharge notification, monitoring and reporting requirements.

Contact us online or call 215-557-9440 to schedule a consultation at our offices in Philadelphia, New Jersey or Massachusetts where we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.