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Mass. College to Pay $75,000 Penalty and Complete Environmental Projects Worth $155,500 to Settle EPA Claims of Clean Water Act Violations

Release Date: 11/23/2004
Contact Information:

Contact: Dave Deegan, Public Affairs: 617-918-1017

For Immediate Release: Nov. 23, 2004; Release # am04-11-05

BOSTON - A college in Norton, Mass. has agreed to pay a $75,000 penalty and make environmental improvements worth $155,500 to settle claims by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that it violated the Clean Water Act and caused harm to a nearby river.

According to the agreement filed last week, Wheaton College discharged wastewater from its wastewater treatment plant over many years into the Rumford River in violation of its permit limits. In particular, the discharges regularly exceeded the standards for levels of biochemical oxygen demand, total settleable solids, and fecal coliform bacteria. These violations indicated the college’s treatment plant, built in the late 1950s, was not providing adequate treatment before discharging to the Rumford River.

The treatment plant at Wheaton College, which enrolls about 1,500 students, discharges an average of 85,000 gallons of treated wastewater a day into the Rumford River.

Wheaton College agreed to pay a cash penalty of $75,000 for its Clean Water Act violations. The college also agreed to install a new stormwater treatment system to prevent sediment from draining into Peacock Pond, which is located on Wheaton’s campus. This system, which is expected to cost $155,500, will improve the quality of water in Peacock Pond, which has been degraded by runoff entering the pond from urban roadways. In negotiating the settlement, EPA agreed to a smaller cash penalty in exchange for the college investing in this environmentally beneficial project.

“These violations were serious and caused documented harm to the environment,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England Office. “As a result of this case, the students and faculty at Wheaton will benefit from water quality improvements in the Rumford River and in Peacock Pond, which sits in the middle of campus.”

Wheaton College initially was issued a National Pollutant Discharge Eliminate System permit in 1978 and recently reissued a new permit on Aug. 18. The permit allows the school to discharge pollutants from the treatment plant subject to certain conditions, including pollution limits and monitoring requirements. The college spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade its treatment plant during the summer of 2004 to ensure that discharges from the plant would be in compliance with its new permit. The college has worked cooperatively with EPA and Mass. Department of Environmental Protection officials throughout the case.

The Clean Water Act prohibits discharges of pollutants into public waterways without a permit. For more information about stormwater and NPDES permit requirements, visit the agency’s web site at www.epa.gov/ne/topics/water/stormwater.html.

Related Information:
Water Enforcement
Clean Water Act
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