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EPA FINES ORANGE COUNTY, CONTRACTOR $735,000 FOR OCEAN DUMPING VIOLATIONS

Release Date: 12/13/2000
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, U.S. EPA, 415/744-1588

     Fine Will Help Fund Coastal Restoration

     SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a settlement with Orange County and its dredging contractor, Soli-Flo Partners LP, that calls for them to pay $735,000 for ocean dumping violations during the Upper Newport Bay dredging project.  
     
     Under the agreement, Orange County will pay $270,000 of the settlement to the California Coastal Conservancy to help purchase key coastal wetlands currently owned by Southern California Edison.  The 17-acre Edison property is part of the Huntington Beach Wetlands and is a high priority for the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project.      

     "These were significant violations of the Ocean Dumping Act," said Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA's regional water division.  "EPA is serious about enforcing environmental laws to protect our waters.  We are especially pleased to use a substantial portion of these penalties to restore and enhance coastal areas within Orange County."
   
     The county contracted with Soli-Flo to dredge nearly one million cubic yards of sand and mud from Upper Newport Bay in 1998 and 1999.  The EPA approved disposal of the sand and mud at an established site four miles offshore.

     However, several hundred barge loads of sediment were dumped as much as a half-mile off target, leaving a layer of mud over several square kilometers of the sea floor outside of the approved disposal area. The county self-reported that they had been dumping in the wrong area.  The EPA investigated and found additional violations.

     Under the Ocean Dumping Act, the EPA manages dredge material disposal to protect critical resources and minimize potential adverse impacts to aquatic habitats.    
   
 

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