Home Depot settles with EPA on storm water violations
Home Depot has agreed to pay a $1.3 million penalty
and implement a nationwide compliance program to resolve alleged violations
of the Clean Water Act, the Justice Department and Environmental Protection
Agency. The settlement resolves alleged violations that were discovered
at more than 30 construction sites in 28 states where new Home Depot
stores were being built.
The settlement, joined by the state of Colorado, requires that Home Depot
implement a comprehensive, corporate-wide program to prevent storm water
pollution at each new store it builds nationwide. Home Depot must develop
improved pollution prevention plans for each site, increase site inspections
and promptly correct any problems at its sites. The company must properly
train its construction managers, as well as contractors and their personnel
on the federal storm water requirements. Home Depot must also implement
a management and internal reporting system to improve oversight of on-the-ground
operations and appoint a high-level company official to oversee compliance
at all company construction sites.
The government complaint alleged a pattern of violations that EPA discovered
through state and federal inspections of construction sites and by reviewing
documentation submitted by the company. The alleged violations include
not obtaining permits until after construction had begun or failing to
obtain the required permits at all. At the sites that had permits, EPA
found violations of permit requirements that prevent pollution, such
as silt and debris, from getting into storm water runoff. Violations
included the failure to maintain adequate plans to prevent storm water
pollution, failure to properly place and install fences around project
areas to prevent silt from getting into storm water runoff, and failure
to install controls at storm drains to prevent soil and sediments from
reaching nearby waterways.
The Clean Water Act requires that construction sites have controls in
place to prevent pollution from being discharged with storm water into
nearby waterways. Each site must have a storm water pollution prevention
plan that sets guidelines and best management practices that the company
will follow to prevent runoff from being contaminated by pollutants.
EPA also requires that all construction projects larger than one acre
obtain a federal permit.
The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District
of Delaware, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval
by the federal court.