Company fined for damaging riverbanks in Lee

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LEE — A Connecticut-based highway construction company has agreed to pay a $100,000 fine and restore riverbanks it damaged along the Housatonic River in Lee.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced Tuesday the settlement involves allegations that Lane Construction Company's mining and manufacturing facility on Willow Road, bordering Lenox Dale, unlawfully altered the riverbanks. Lane also discharged industrial material and stormwater pollution into the river, according to Healey. The AG's office didn't say when the environmental violations occurred.

Lane has since sold the Lee facility and the rest of its Plants and Paving Division to Eurovia SAS for $555 million. The sale was completed in December.

The Lee plant is now operating under Northeast Paving, a division of Eurovia Atlantic Coast LLC.

Healey said the settlement is part of her new civil enforcement initiative out of the AG's Environmental Protection Division that focuses on combating pollution by enforcing the requirements of the federal Clean Water and Clean Air acts at industrial facilities in Massachusetts.

"This settlement requires important measures to prevent future pollution and help improve the quality of the Housatonic River," Healey said in a statement.

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"We're happy the attorney general is taking seriously issues that arise with the Housatonic River," Tim Gray, executive director of the Housatonic River Initiative, told The Eagle.

The United States District Court of Massachusetts entered the consent decree in May. The AG's complaint, filed in March, alleges that Lane illegally placed industrial material, including gravel, on the banks of the Housatonic, which spilled over the riverbanks and into the river. The complaint further alleged the pollutants from the gravel piles traveled to the river after being mobilized by rain or snowmelt.

"Stormwater pollution is the leading threat to our state's waterways and wetlands, which are vital natural resources that provide flood control and habitats for our wildlife," Healey said.

Under a federal Clean Water Act permit, Lane and other industrial facilities in Massachusetts must obtain specific authorization for any pollutant discharges, properly monitor and control their stormwater pollutant discharges, report their stormwater sampling results to the Environmental Protection Agency and comply with state water protection laws. The AG's Office had claimed Lane failed to take these required actions at its Lee facility.

Sedimentary material such as gravel that is discharged into waterways or improperly placed on riverbanks destroys habitat, harms aquatic organisms and can contribute to flooding. The Housatonic River is a state-listed impaired body of water and is habitat for several species that are endangered or of special concern.

Under the terms of the consent decree, Lane will restore the impacted riverbanks, eliminate any unpermitted stormwater discharges into the Housatonic River and improve its stormwater monitoring and control measures. Lane's $100,000 fine includes a $25,000 civil penalty payable to the state for its violations of state law. Another $25,000 payment goes to Greenagers, a nonprofit organization that provides employment and volunteer opportunities for teens and young adults in the fields of environmental conservation, sustainable farming and natural resource management. Lane will pay the remaining $50,000 to offset the costs of the AG's enforcement efforts and for future monitoring of the company's compliance with the consent decree.


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