California construction firm agrees to fine, cleanup of damaged wetlands

California construction firm agrees to fine, cleanup of damaged wetlands

Source: Business Insurance, June 1, 2012
By: Mike Tsikoudakis

A California construction company has agreed to a civil penalty of $170,000 for illegally dumping fill material into wetlands.

Fortuna, Calif.-based Wendt Construction Co. Inc. on Thursday entered into a consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that included the fine for unpermitted dumping of fill materials into federally protected wetlands associated with Strongs Creek and the Eel River in Fortuna, according to court documents filed in San Francisco federal court.

The fill activities between 2005 and 2008 affected 4.18 acres of wetlands, which the EPA said are critical to California’s fish population.

“Salmon and steelhead populations have been hit hard on the North Coast due to the unfortunate destruction of their aquatic habitat,” Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s regional administrator for the Pacific southwest, said in a statement. “This action ensures the restoration of wetland habitat along Strongs Creek, and will advance the recovery of these valuable fish species.”

As part of the settlement, Wendt Construction will restore the damaged wetlands with a vegetative pond that will support wildlife while filtering water.

Attorneys for Wendt Construction did not immediately return calls for comment.

The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day comment period and final court approval.

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