The Iowa Fertilizer Company and Orascom E&C USA have agreed to pay a $80,689 civil penalty to settle alleged violations of the Clean Water Act associated with the construction of a new fertilizer plant in Wever, Iowa, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 7 announced recently.
Orascom is Iowa Fertilizer's construction contractor for the site and is jointly responsible for compliance under a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. EPA Region 7 inspected the facility in June 2014 to evaluate the site’s compliance with its stormwater permit. Of the 369-acre site, construction-related activity had occurred on nearly 323 acres.
The EPA inspector identified violations at the site, including the failure to install or implement adequate stormwater control measures, failure to update or amend the Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), and failure to perform adequate stormwater self-inspections. EPA observed that the violations resulted in sediment-laden stormwater leaving the site and entering a tributary of the Mississippi River.
Construction projects have a high potential for environmental harm as they disturb large areas of land and significantly increase the potential for erosion. The Clean Water Act requires construction sites to have controls in place to limit pollution from being discharged via stormwater into nearby waterways. Without proper on-site pollution controls, stormwater runoff can carry pollutants into waterways and degrade water quality, threatening aquatic life and its habitat, and impair the use and enjoyment of waterways.
The Clean Water Act seeks to protect streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources. Protecting streams and wetlands is also part of adapting to climate change impacts like drought, sea level rise, stronger storms, and warmer temperatures.
Following EPA's inspection, the companies took actions to address the violations observed during the inspection and to return the site to compliance with the Clean Water Act. The proposed settlement is subject to a 40-day public comment period before it becomes final. Information on how to submit comments is available online(http://www.epa.gov/region7/public_notices/CWA/civil_penalty_order_public_notices.htm).