23 Aug 2014
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Lehigh Agrees to Pay $10,000 Water Violation Fine

Company says discharge in Permanente Creek had 'minimal impact on the creek.'

Lehigh Agrees to Pay $10,000 Water Violation Fine

The Lehigh Southwest Cement Company will pay a $10,000 administrative civil liability fine to the California Regional Water Quality Control Board for sediment-laden runoff into Permanente Creek, a company official confirmed Tuesday.

The water board notified Lehigh officials of the fine in a letter dated April 29, stemming from an filed against Lehigh by the board in February. In that complaint, the board stated that the current storm water runoff permit held by Lehigh is inadequate; it requested that Lehigh apply for a more stringent permit.

Lehigh’s director of environmental affairs, Tim Matz, said the company did find the discharge cited in the board’s complaint and repaired it immediately. He said the sediment was coming from old, underground plumbing.

“The majority of it, we believe, was storm water,” he said. “We do believe it had minimal impact on the creek.”

Matz said the company is working with the board on acquiring a new permit, and wants to pay the fine and move on.

“In order to get to that bigger issue, we want to work cooperatively with the water district on this one,” Matz said.

Lehigh operates under an Industrial Storm Water General Permit. In its Feb. 18 letter, the water board stated that, “we find that Permanente Creek is not being adequately protected under the existing permit.”

The board wants Lehigh to instead acquire a more stringent Sand and Gravel Permit, which the company has agreed to pursue, both Lehigh and board officials said.

There is a public comment period on the $10,000 fine. Members of the public can to send their comments by email to Sandia Potter, technical staff for the water board, at smpotter@waterboards.ca.gov, or by mail to California Regional Water Board, San Francisco Bay Region, 1515 Clay St., Ste. 1400, Oakland, CA 94612

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