The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice will require Wright Brothers Construction Co. and the Georgia Department of Transportation to pay $1.5 million in fines for violations of the Clean Water Act between 2004 and 2007.
One of the largest fines ever assesed under the CWA, the complaint states that Wright Brothers, with approval from GDOT, buried seven primary trout streams in northeast Georgia. GDOT hired Wright Brothers to dispose of excess soil and rocks during two major highway expansion projects. More than one million cubic yards of excess rock and soil were improperly disposed of, impacting approximately 2,800 linear feet of streams.
Under the settlement, Wright Brothers and GDOT must purchase 16,920 mitigation credits at an estimated additional cost of $1.35 million to offset impacts to waters of the United States that cannot be restored. The credits must be purchased from mitigation banks servicing the area where the violations occurred.
The EPA is also requiring that Wright Brothers remove the piping and restore the bed and banks of a 150-foot stream channel that was impacted by their disposal activities. The estimated cost of the restoration is $25,000.
A 15-member panel, including North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue has stated wind energy projects along North Carolina’s coast provide vast potential for clean energy production. A report released by the Governor’s office said the state’s coast had the largest offshore wind resource on the East Coast.
According to the panel, areas in North Carolina suited for wind farms could generate a yearly average of 20,000 megawatts of power. The report says that, although producing wind energy is expensive and would raise costs for ratepayers along the coast, it would provide long-term benefits in producing pollution-free energy.
Iberdrola Renewables Inc., the second largest wind operator in the U.S. has proposed a 300-megawatt project called “Desert Wind” near Elizabeth City, N.C. The project is currently on hold because no utilities have offered to enter a long-term deal to fund the $600 million wind farm.
Iberdrola acknowledges the difficulty in investing in long-term power supply deals because natural gas prices in the U.S. are at a ten-year low. A poor economy has complicated efforts by wind developers to secure deals with utilities that do not immediately need the power.