News Release

For release: Aug. 2, 2011

Courtney Brown, Environmental Law Specialist, Portland, 503-229-6839
Rodney Weick, Water Quality Permitting Manager, Portland, 503-229-5886

ODOT Penalized $43,500 for Erosion and Sediment Control Problems at Milk Creek Bridge Project in Mulino

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has issued penalties totaling $43,500 to the Oregon Department of Transportation for violations of ODOT’s stormwater discharge permit for road improvements and replacement of the State Highway 213 Milk Creek Bridge in the Clackamas County community of Mulino.


For the bridge project, which started in January 2010, ODOT has operated under a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System general stormwater permit, which allows it to discharge stormwater from the construction site within strict discharge limits and monitoring requirements. ODOT hired Capital Concrete Construction Inc., of Aumsville, to perform clearing, grading and excavation at the site. As holder of the permit, ODOT is responsible for making sure that all hired contractors follow all permit requirements.


The penalty stemmed from ODOT’s failure to develop and implement an erosion and sediment control plan for the project. DEQ cited five instances between May 2010 and April 2011 when turbid or sediment-laden water discharged from the construction site directly into Milk Creek. DEQ issued ODOT a $39,000 penalty for this violation.


The repeated discharge of sediment and turbid water into a waterway such as Milk Creek is a serious environmental violation. Milk Creek is habitat for salmon, trout and other aquatic life, and deposition of sediments can cover up food sources, obstruct fish gills, and smother fish eggs as well as a wide range of aquatic organisms. DEQ said it was concerned that ODOT had let the site’s discharge continue without implementing appropriate and effective measures to prevent sediment from entering Milk Creek.


  DEQ issued ODOT another penalty, for $4,500, for failing to include additional wet weather requirements in its erosion and sediment control plan for the construction site between October 2010 and May 2011. During those rainy-period months, the permit requires that extra erosion controls be put in place to prevent significant amounts of sediment from entering local waterways.


In determining these penalty amounts, DEQ factored in previous enforcement efforts against ODOT for similar sediment and erosion control problems on different ODOT construction projects covered under the same permit, since 2008.


In conjunction with these ODOT penalties, DEQ has also issued a $22,000 penalty to Capital Concrete Construction Inc. for causing pollution to Milk Creek by allowing sediment to discharge into the creek during the construction project.


ODOT has until Aug. 18 to notify DEQ if it intends to appeal the penalties. On its website, ODOT says the Milk Creek Bridge replacement project is scheduled for completion in early summer 2012.

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