This case is the first storm water pollution criminal case brought in the United States.
On October 10, 2012, Bryan Stowe, a Sumner, Washington developer, was sentenced to six (6) months in prison, one year of supervised release and a $300,000.00 fine by US District Court Judge Ronald B. Leighton in Tacoma, Washington, for a felony violation of the CWA (knowingly violating a national pollution discharge elimination permit). In addition, Stowe was ordered to make a $100,000.00 payment to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for environmental projects targeting resources impacted by the illegal discharges. Last month, Stowe Construction, Inc. was sentenced to a $350,000.00 criminal fine. Both Stowe and Stowe Construction will be subject to a court imposed storm water compliance plan for all current and future development sites.
Stowe, the president and co-owner of Stowe Construction, Inc., admitted to knowingly violating the Construction General Storm Water Permit for the Rainier Park of Industry project. The permit violation discharges contributed to two major landslides at the development site in 2010 and 2011, both of which forced closure of the West Valley Highway.
In its press release, Tyler Amon, SAIC for the USEPA's CID in the Northwest stated: “The EPA and Washington Department of Ecology want this criminal case to send a message to developers: Serious environmental crimes will be vigorously pursued.” Makes me think more of these will be forthcoming.
According to the developed facts of the case, Stowe obtained coverage under the Construction Storm Water General Permit for Stowe Construction for the West Valley Highway site in October 2006. The permit required Stowe Construction to prepare and implement a plan to prevent the discharge of pollutants through site improvements and practices designed to minimize and eliminate the migration of pollutants from the site to nearby waters. Stowe Construction failed to install adequate improvements and undertake the practices between 2007 and 2011, which led to significant discharges of pollutants from the site to adjacent wetlands and streams. Weekly site inspection reports and discharge sampling reports were also falsified. State and federal regulators monitoring the West Valley Highway site issued several administrative compliance orders in an unsuccessful effort to bring Stowe Construction into compliance.
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