EPA orders construction companies to remove dumped waste

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ordered a construction company and its subcontractor to remove large volumes of illegally dumped demolition waste from the San Pedro River in Pomerene, Ariz.

In 2003, Triumph Builders supervised demolition and disposal activities for a school construction project in Benson, Ariz. Triumph’s subcontractor, D. Fenn Enterprises, illegally dumped waste materials from the project into the river. The material included broken concrete, asphalt, metal re-bar, soil and metal and PVC pipes.

“The San Pedro River is a beautiful and much-valued resource for both Mexico and the U.S.,” said Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA’s water division for the Pacific Southwest. “The EPA will be vigilant in overseeing restoration of this damaged area and protecting the river for generations to come.”

According to the EPA order, Triumph Builders and D. Fenn Enterprises must remove the waste from the river, transport it to an authorized landfill and restore the river to its natural condition.

“At present, we have not assessed any monetary penalties in association with this particular activity, but that option is reserved and always a possibility in these Clean Water Act violations,” said Jason Brush, environmental protection specialist for EPA. “Many factors, including the level of cooperation in undoing the damages on the part of the violators, contribute to our decisions on penalties case by case.”

The Clean Water Act prohibits the placement of dredged or fill materials into wetlands, rivers, streams and other waters without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Bush said the dumping of solid waste into the San Pedro and its tributaries is a more common practice than the EPA was previously aware. Because of recent events, both the state of Arizona and the EPA have increased their observation of the river, he said.

The San Pedro River is Arizona’s largest undammed river and supports 400 species of migratory birds, 40 species of reptiles and amphibians and 80 species of mammals, according to the EPA.