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EPA Proposes to Fine Wal-Mart for Clean Water Act Violations

Release Date: 7/5/2005
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For Release: Tuesday, July 5, 2005

(#05078) NEW YORK -- The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed a $157,500 penalty against Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and Wal-Mart De Puerto Rico, Inc. for inadequately addressing storm water pollution at its 27.8 acre construction site in Caguas, Puerto Rico. EPA issued a complaint based on Wal-Mart's failure to obtain a permit for discharges from construction activities in a timely manner and, subsequent failure to comply with the requirements of its general permit, issued by the Agency under the Clean Water Act. Under federal regulations, Wal-Mart has the right to request a hearing on the proposed penalty.

"Bringing construction sites into compliance with EPA's storm water requirements will result in less pollution entering the nation's water bodies through uncontrolled runoff," said Acting EPA Regional Administrator Kathleen C. Callahan. "Companies such as Wal-Mart need to understand the importance of properly managing their storm water and complying with the requirements of their permits."

The June 16, 2005 complaint charges that Wal-Mart violated the requirements of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit for Discharges from Large and Small Construction Activities, also known as a Construction General Permit. In September 2004, EPA inspected the construction site and subsequently ordered Wal-Mart and its general contractor, Constructora Santiago, to comply with the requirements of the NPDES permit. The Agency found that Wal-Mart failed to: develop a plan for preventing storm water pollution, stabilize the site once construction had stopped for a period of 14 days, perform inspections, properly maintain records, and properly maintain storm water controls. Storm water runoff from the site can discharge to Jimenez Garcia Creek, a tributary of the Rio Grande de Loiza.

Nationwide, EPA negotiated a prior agreement in 2001 with Wal-Mart to address storm water violations at 17 sites in several states. The settlement included a penalty of $1 million and required Wal-Mart to develop a storm water training program for its contractors and to inspect and oversee storm water controls at construction sites. EPA subsequently determined through inspections that Wal-Mart had not achieved consistent compliance at construction sites, and filed another, as yet unresolved, nationwide action against Wal-Mart in 2004.

For more information on the Clean Water Act and the NPDES program, please visit the EPA website at: http://www.epa.gov/region5/water/cwa.htm.