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Landowner Faces Penalties for Damaging Alaskan Wetlands and Streams

Release Date: 08/05/2008
Contact Information: Heather Dean, EPA/Anchorage (907) 271-3490, Dean.Heather@epa.gov; Suzanne Skadowski, Public Affairs (206) 553-6689, Skadowski.Suzanne@epa.gov

(Anchorage, Alaska – August 5, 2008) Mr. David R. Sweezey is facing penalties from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for illegally filling wetlands and streams on his Anchorage, Alaska property. By filing its Clean Water Act complaint against Mr. Sweezey, EPA can now seek penalties of up to $32,500 per day of violation and administrative penalties of up to $11,000 per day for each violation.

In July 2003, Mr. Sweezey used heavy equipment to clear, grade, and fill wetlands and streams to create a pond on his property without first obtaining a required Clean Water Act Section 404 permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Mr. Sweezey’s actions seriously damaged 300 linear feet of nearby stream channels and 0.5 acres of wetlands on his property. This Site is adjacent to Craig Creek which drains into Cook Inlet.

In May 2005, EPA issued a Compliance Order to Mr. Sweezey requiring him to restore the streams and wetlands on site. Since 2005, Mr. Sweezey has refused to restore the streams and wetlands, even after multiple attempts by EPA to comply and repair the damage.

According to Greg Kellogg, EPA Alaska Operations Office Deputy Director, because Mr. Sweezey has failed to cooperate and restore the damaged wetlands and streams, EPA has decided to pursue penalties in this case.

"Alaska’s wetlands aren't just valuable habitat for fish and wildlife, they contribute substantially to Alaska’s economy," said Kellogg. "Wetland construction should only be undertaken with great care after securing the necessary permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” said Kellogg. “If you work in wetlands, you must obey the law or you will face fines.”

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For more information about the Clean Water Act Section 404 wetland regulatory authority, visit: http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands/pdf/reg_authority_pr.pdf (PDF, 2pp, 687K)

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