December 2008 Enforcement Action Summary
Formal Enforcement Actions Issued
Formal Enforcement Actions Settled or Resolved
Superior Court Actions Issued
Superior Court Actions Settled or Resolved
This report includes formal enforcement actions issued or resolved by the Office of Compliance & Inspection for the month of December 2008. This report is intended to inform the public of certain compliance/enforcement activities performed in the preceding month to protect the public's health, safety, welfare and the environment.
Formal Enforcement actions are taken to achieve compliance with law/regulations; remediate environmental damage; restore natural resources to appropriate conditions; impose penalties that capture the gravity of the situation and any economic benefit gained by the alleged violator; and deter similar actions in the future. Formal enforcement is generally in the form of a Notice of Violation ("NOV") that alleges certain facts and violations, contains orders to resolve the alleged violations, contains an assessed penalty with supporting documentation regarding what factors RIDEM used to determine the penalty, and, by law, allows a respondent the ability to appeal or contest the NOV to the Department's Administrative Adjudication Division ("AAD"). Since most NOVs are contested cases, RIDEM does not generally discuss the case with the public while the matter is awaiting hearing or pending negotiated settlement. NOVs are subject to release under the Access to Public Records law in Rhode Island. A copy of an individual NOV may be obtained through RIDEM's Office of Customer and Technical Assistance. The OC&I often resolves formal enforcement actions through negotiated settlement agreements prior to hearing before the AAD.
Media inquiries should be addressed to Gail Mastrati at 401-222-4700 ext. 2402. Requests for file reviews should be addressed to Leanne DeCosta at 401-222-4700 ext. 7218, fax 401-222-3810.
Formal Enforcement Actions Issued:
None issued this month.
Formal Enforcement Cases Settled or Resolved:
December 24, 2008 - OC&I/Solid Waste File No. 07 - 009 re: Michael A. and Michelle L. Beach for property located at 292 Austin Farm Road, Assessor's Plat 6, block 2, Lot 1 in the Town of Exeter. On September 11, 2007 OC&I issued an NOV to the Respondents alleging that the Respondents violated Rhode Island's Refuse Disposal Act. The violation pertained to Respondents' disposal of approximately 1,257 cubic yards of solid waste on the property consisting of tree waste, scrap metal, construction and demolition debris, tires and an abandoned damaged house trailer. In the NOV, the OC&I ordered compliance by the Respondents and assessed a penalty in the amount of $3,500.00 for Respondents' noncompliance. The Respondents did not appeal the NOV to AAD. A bank foreclosed on the property, completed the cleanup of the solid waste by having it trucked to a licensed solid waste disposal facility, and paid the full penalty assessed in the NOV.
Superior Court Actions Issued:
None issued this month.
Superior Court Actions Settled or Resolved:
December 18, 2008 - OC&I/Water Pollution Superior Court File C.A. No. PC99-1380 re: City of Woonsocket Wastewater Treatment Facility. RIDEM filed a complaint in Superior Court against the City on March 16, 1999 for the City's failure to comply with two Consent Agreements and for continuing violations of the Water Pollution Control Act, the RIDEM Water Quality Regulations and the RIDEM Regulations for the Rhode Island Pollutant Discharge Elimination System relating to the wastewater treatment plant's discharge. The Consent Agreements related to studies of the wastewater treatment plant that the City was required to complete. The violations involved exceedances of the City's wastewater treatment plant's discharge permit limits for total suspended solids and BOD, metals, and visible foaming in the Blackstone River. The complaint filed in Superior Court requested that the Court impose $4.6 million dollars in penalties and order the City to comply with the Consent Agreements. The RIDEM and the City reached an agreement on May 19, 2000, and it was entered as a Court Order to resolve the complaint. The Court Order required the City, among other things, to shut down the Thundermist Hydroelectric Facility on the Blackstone River as a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) to offset a portion of the $4.6 million in penalties. RIDEM and the City reached a second agreement on December 18, 2008 that was entered as an amended Court Order to allow the City to reactivate the hydroelectric facility. Reactivation of the hydroelectric facility will include reactivating the previously installed trash rack system, turbine controls and necessary software, in accordance with plans approved by RIDEM, to minimize river flow fluctuations caused by the operation of the hydroelectric facility. The City also agreed to pay to RIDEM $45,000 on or before the first anniversary of the date the hydroelectric facility resumes commercial operations by the City (or another party) for the production of electricity for use or sale and will forward an annual payment of $16,576 during each of the next 19 years of the hydroelectric facility's operation. The monetary credits associated with the closure of the hydroelectric facility since July 1, 2004, the equipment and methods described above to reduce river impacts due to the reactivation of the hydroelectric facility, the payments by the City described above, and the recent commitment by the City to reduce nitrogen and phosphorous in its wastewater treatment plant's discharge were accepted by RIDEM as substitute SEPs. They offset any and all economic loss from previous SEPs that could be attributed to the continued closure of the hydroelectric facility.