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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Environment - "United Water penalty money earmarked for entire state, not Gary"

This story by Teresa Auch Schultz of the Gary Post-Tribune is from June 16th. Some quotes:

When United Water agreed last week to pay $645,000 in civil penalties to end a lawsuit over its management of the Gary Sanitary District, the company promised to pay half of that money to the state.

But it’s unclear what, if any, portion of that fine would be directed to Gary, the area that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency argues saw its local rivers polluted because of United Water.

The civil penalty makes up the bulk of a consent decree that the New Jersey company signed with the federal government last week. The consent decree ended a lawsuit that claimed the company discharged water with pollutants such as E. coli that were higher than permitted levels into the Little Calumet River and the Grand Calumet River from 2006 to 2010.

United Water continues to say it did nothing wrong but that it agreed to pay the penalty to avoid a long and costly legal battle.

Barry Sneed, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, said that the money, like all penalties paid to IDEM, will go to the Environmental Management Special Fund. However, he did not have details on how that money is budgeted.

Kin Ferraro, the water and agriculture policy director and staff attorney for the Hoosier Environmental Council, said that the government could have stipulated in the consent decree that United Water’s fine be used toward a specific purpose but that it does not appear they did in this case.

Although she said she does not know what the state will do with the money, she does think it should be directed toward Gary.

“Given that there was all this money and resources put into getting a civil penalty for this specific harm, certainly it makes sense that the money be used to remedy that,” she said.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 24, 2014 08:43 AM
Posted to Environment | Indiana Government