The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday it has reached an agreement with F&R Contractors Corp. and F&R Contractors LLC (F&R) to settle the companies’ alleged violations of requirements to control pollution from stormwater discharges.
The agreement requires F&R, which operates seven construction sites throughout Puerto Rico, to pay a $500,000 penalty, establish new staffing positions to oversee a stormwater compliance program, adopt companywide practices that require site meetings and inspections prior to construction, and provide comprehensive stormwater compliance training for employees and contractors.
“Stormwater often carries pollution and sediment into local waterways that can damage water quality,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “Large quantities of stormwater can run off of construction sites and it is important that stormwater be controlled.”
“The EPA takes these violations seriously, and today’s settlement illustrates that EPA will take all actions necessary to make sure that construction sites are not polluting water bodies in Puerto Rico,” she said.
Under the federal Clean Water Act, developers and contractors responsible for operations at construction sites one acre or larger are required to implement stormwater pollution prevention plans to keep soil and contaminants from running off into nearby waterways.
These plans can include measures such as the establishment of sediment barriers, the implementation of controls such as berms or catch basins to reduce stormwater flowing onto the construction site, and the protection of slopes. Water carries soil and contaminants off of construction sites at a rate typically 10 to 20 times greater than that from agricultural lands and 1,000 to 2,000 times greater than that from forested lands.
The complaint alleged that F&R violated numerous stormwater requirements at two sites by failing to adequately prepare or revise site-specific stormwater pollution prevention plans; failing to implement best management practices; and failing to post adequate signage at the sites. The complaint also alleged that at a third site F&R discharged stormwater into the Río Canóvanas, the Río Grande de Loíza and ultimately the Atlantic Ocean without a permit.
Under the settlement, F&R will staff a company stormwater compliance manager to oversee the compliance program at the seven sites and any future sites the company may operate, the EPA said.
Among other responsibilities, the new staffer will implement F&R’s stormwater training program; submit quarterly compliance summary reports to the EPA; manage all activities necessary to meet stormwater requirements at each of the company’s construction sites; and ensure a stormwater pollution prevention plan has been completed prior to commencement of construction activities at all company sites.
F&R will also staff a site stormwater compliance manager at each site to oversee stormwater compliance, to stop work, or order work, if necessary to ensure compliance, and to update the site’s stormwater pollution prevention plan.
F&R will also provide stormwater compliance training for employees and contractors with operational responsibilities at a construction site, including comprehensive training for all managers, site-specific training in Spanish for field employees, and annual refresher training for all managers.
The proposed consent decree has been lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.