DOT&PF Settles Clean Water Act Dispute with U.S.(JUNEAU, Alaska) - The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) has settled a lengthy dispute with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding alleged violations of the Clean Water Act related to work on three completed construction projects and 2002 flood repair efforts on the Kenai Peninsula.
The settlement, reached after three years of negotiation, requires DOT&PF to pay a $140,000 fine for alleged storm water violations at the three construction sites and implement an enhanced program to address storm water management and training at active construction projects. The two contractors in charge of the projects will enter into settlements with the U.S., which will include paying fines of $250,000 and $50,000. They are also required to participate in storm water training. As part of the overall settlement, neither DOT&PF nor the contractors admit liability for any of the alleged violations.
Long before any settlement was reached with the U.S., DOT&PF undertook significant efforts to improve the level of storm water training throughout Alaska's construction industry. In 2007, DOT&PF, in cooperation with other state agencies and private industry groups, established a two-day erosion and sediment control training course for the Alaska construction industry entitled "the Alaska Certified Erosion and Sediment Control Lead," otherwise known as AK-CESCL.
"Many people consider the AK-CESCL course to be the gold standard in storm water training, said DOT&PF Commissioner Leo von Scheben. "Through the cooperative efforts of DOT&PF and the other members of the consortium over the past three years, more than 2,000 Alaskans have received this important storm water training, which has contributed to better storm water management at construction sites across Alaska."
DOT&PF's settlement also resolves claims relating to its emergency flood repairs along rivers and streams on the Kenai Peninsula from the two, 100-year floods that occurred in October and November of 2002.
Under that portion of the settlement, DOT&PF was not fined, but did agree to provide the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust, a non-profit conversation organization located in Homer, with $850,000 to purchase and conserve property on the Kenai Peninsula. Additionally, DOT&PF will enhance stream banks by planting vegetation at three sites along the Kenai River which were damaged by the 2002 floods.
"DOT&PF prides itself on our stewardship of Alaska's environment and protecting waters of the state, "said von Scheben. "The flood disasters in 2002 required DOT&PF to make immediate, on-site decisions to protect the public infrastructure. The floods wiped out several bridges and bridge approaches, isolated communities and closed the highway to Homer for a week. DOT&PF firmly believes its emergency work complied with the Clean Water Act."
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The Sterling Highway near Homer was split in two during the 2002 storms and floods. (Official DOT&PF file photo)
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Storm erosion destroyed roads and damaged bridges including this one near the Homer area. (Official DOT&PF file photo)
Posted: May 21, 2010
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