DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos announced in late 2018 that New York State had executed an Order on Consent with SA Dunn & Company, LLC (“Dunn”), which operates the Dunn Facility (a landfill and sand mine operation), for ongoing violations of its state mining permit1.
The Order was the culmination of a DEC investigation that began in January of 2018, when DEC observed persistent dust clouds emanating from the Dunn facility. Around that time, the Rensselaer County Legislature passed a resolution urging the DEC to increase their monitoring of the Dunn Landfill operations.
As a result of their investigation, DEC determined that “operational deficiencies [at the Dunn facility] were adversely impacting the quality of life in the surrounding community” and promised to take “all necessary measures to ensure this neighborhood is protected [and] to hold this facility accountable.” DEC Commissioner Seggos commented, “New York’s stringent rules and regulations governing mining operations exist to ensure facilities operating in our state adhere to the safest practices and highest standards possible to protect public health and the environment.”
The order assessed a $100,000 penalty against the Dunn Facility, required it to (1) develop and implement a dust control plan and (2) undertake several improvements to achieve significant dust reduction, and imposed a $225,000.00 Environmental Benefit Project primarily for the benefit of the Rensselear City School District and local community. Failure to comply with the Consent Order could lead to additional fines and even the revocation of the Facility’s permits.
Our experience with government investigations and the DEC indicates that an operator’s noncompliance with environmental laws or permit conditions can become a significant liability. This case demonstrates that obtaining a DEC permit does not end a facility’s obligations — they must still comply with applicable laws, regulations, and the conditions of their permit(s). In fact, permits often come with several conditions, the violation of which can result in fines or even permit revocation, which can be extremely costly to operators.
To avoid these potential risks and liability, operators should assiduously ensure that their facilities are in strict compliance. Host Municipalities, and those who live nearby such facilities, may do their part by reporting suspected violations to the governing federal, state, or local agencies for investigation and enforcement.
See “Landfill Operator in Rensselaer fined by DEC,” By Nicholas Buonanno, The Record, August 30, 2018, available at https://www.troyrecord.com/news/landfill-operator-in-rensselaer-fined-by-dec/article_37a8c768-fed1-5bd6-a9a5-88598be95045.html
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