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EPA Takes Action Against Walmart and Its Contractor for Clean Water Act Violations at Construction Site

Release Date: 01/24/2005
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For Immediate Release: Monday, January 24, 2005

(#05005) CAGUAS, Puerto Rico -- Continuing its efforts to safeguard water quality in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it has taken action against Wal Mart and its contractor, Constructora Santiago, for violations of its storm water permit. An administrative order was issued to both Wal Mart and Constructora Santiago for failure to maintain best management practices to control runoff from storm water at Wal Mart's 28-acre Caguas construction site. The companies did not have a storm water pollution prevention plan, nor did they conduct site inspections at the proper frequency as required by the Clean Water Act Construction General Permit. Construction at the site had ceased for several months, leaving much of it bare of vegetation and susceptible to erosion.

"Companies like Wal Mart and Constructora Santiago that fail to comply with the terms and conditions of their permits cause soil to erode into nearby waterways," said EPA
Acting Regional Administrator Kathleen Callahan. "This runoff has the potential to kill fish, destroy aquatic habitat and impact drinking water supplies."

In accordance with its permit, Wal Mart and its contractor should have stabilized soil on slopes or other areas to prevent erosion where clearing, grading and/or excavation activities took place. These stabilization measures were not done. EPA has taken action against Wal Mart for similar violations at sites across the U.S.; they resulted in a consent decree between EPA and Wal Mart in 2000. A second national consent decree between EPA and Wal Mart, also pertaining to storm water pollution from construction sites, was lodged in Federal Court in May 2004. This violation at Wal Mart's Caguas site was not included in these prior EPA actions, so the Agency is handling it through this action.

This administrative order requires Wal Mart and Constructora Santiago to bring this site into compliance with Clean Water Act storm water requirements, which will reduce pollutants that run into the Jiminez Garcia Creek and the Rio Grande De Loiza watershed.