California Quarry Under Fire for Stormwater Discharges

According to KPIX news in San Francisco, water quality regulators let a Sonoma County-based quarry know it could face a $4.5 million fine for multiple alleged violations of the Clean Water Act that threaten the survival of endangered salmon populations in tributaries of the Russian River.

The proposed fine from the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board is part of an administrative civil liability that alleges the operator of Mark West Quarry, Dean Soiland, doing business as BoDean Co. Inc., discharged highly turbid stormwater from its quarry operations into Porter Creek from September 2018 through May 2019.

The complaint alleges that BoDean violated requirements of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System general permit by failing to implement best management practices that would have reduced or prevented sediment in stormwater discharges.

The complaint also alleges that from December 2018 through May 2019, the quarry discharged more than 10.5 million gallons of highly turbid stormwater, causing significant amounts of fine sediment to deposit in Porter Creek.

“Stormwater runoff from quarries and other industrial operations exposed to rainfall can cause substantial impacts to water quality unless practices are in place and maintained to prevent soil erosion and sediment transport,” said Claudia Villacorta, North Coast Water Board assistant executive officer.

“Had the quarry operator complied with the stormwater permit, impacts to water quality could have been avoided. The proposed fine reflects the extent of those impacts and the operator’s failure to implement minimum practices established in the permit,” Villacorta said.

A public hearing to consider the complaint and vote on whether to approve the $4.5 million fine is scheduled for Dec. 2-3 before the North Coast Water Board.

BoDean Co. is no habitual industry environmental offender, but rather an industry environmental success story. Utilizing the sun’s heat to dry its aggregates, its Mark West Quarry was the first quarry in the world to operate 100% under photovoltaic (PV) solar power, and practice reclamation concurrent with mining.

“We will continue our leadership efforts at demonstrating how innovation can lead not only to greater sustainability, but to greater profitability as well,” the company stated on its website.

BoDean Co.’s current efforts has resulted in the reduction of more than 15,000 tons of GHG (greenhouse gas or CO2 emissions) between the years 2010-2020, which is the equivalent of a medium-sized car traveling 37,500,000 miles.

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