Environment, Government, Latest News, Preston County

DEP proposes fine against Preston dam contractor

REEDSVILLE — The State Department of Environmental Protection is proposing a $61,725 penalty against  the contractor that built the Public Service District 1 dam.

 The proposed consent order is with Triton Construction Inc., of St. Albans, and public comments on the order are being accepted through Dec. 10. 

The company was the lead contractor on the dam, called Impoundment 1,  that provided an increased water supply for PSD 1. 

According to the DEP, during a Jan. 14 inspection,  12 violations of West Virginia Legislative Rules and the West Virginia/National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WV/NPDES) permit were found.

According to the  order, alleged violations ranged from minor to major. 

They include allegations that concrete wastewater with a pH value of more than 9 was discharged into Deckers Creek,  other violations of erosion and sediment control and  inadequate record keeping.

 During a Feb. 19 inspection, DEP personnel reported seven violations of the permit. On Feb. 28, an order was issued to Triton Construction in response to the alleged violations. It became effective March 2.

On March 5 DEP conducted another inspection, according to the consent order, and said “Triton Construction Inc., failed to cease and desist land disturbance activity, as required by Order for Compliance Item No. Two.” 

As previously reported, the dam construction was completed in the spring. On Sept. 1, DEP and Triton met to discuss the terms and conditions of the proposed order. 

The order for compliance calls for Triton to immediately “take all measures to initiate compliance with all terms and conditions of its WV/NPDES permit and pertinent laws and rules.”

A civil administrative penalty of $61,725 will be levied under the order.   

Under the provisions of the order, Triton “does not admit to any factual and legal determinations made by” the DEP but would not contest the order.

Final settlement is subject to public comments received during the 30-day period ending Dec. 10.  More information about the Administrative Consent Order is available by contacting the Chief Inspector, WVDEP/Environmental Enforcement, 601 57th Street SE, Charleston, WV  25304, 304-926-0470 and  at http://www.dep.wv.gov/pio/Pages/Settlements,Ordersouttopublicnotice.aspx

The impoundment, which served as PSD 1’s primary water source, was closed in 2017 by the owner, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

 The scheduled completion date for the dam to replace the 50-year-old one was December 2018, but the project was delayed. The district struggled to maintain a replacement source, and higher water treatment costs forced rates up for customers, the PSD said.

The DEP’s order does not address the time frame of the project, only how it was handled.

Triton did not reply to a request for comment in time for this report.