Mo. AG sues over wastewater

Bryan Cohen Sep. 26, 2011, 2:00pm


JEFFERSON COUNTY, Mo. (Legal Newsline) - Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster filed a lawsuit on Monday against a business in Jefferson County that owns a wastewater treatment facility for nine alleged violations of Missouri's Clean Water Law.

Medley Hill Terrace Realty and Development Company in Jefferson County owns and previously operated a single-cell lagoon wastewater treatment system that served Lake Tamarack Subdivision in High Ridge, Mo. The company's permit allegedly expired in 1998 and no application for renewal has been submitted.

In 2010, wastewater from the subdivision was diverted to a permitted treatment facility, but Medley Hill's treatment facility allegedly continues to sit idle as it pollutes the state's waters. When it rains, wastewater and sludge contaminants allegedly flow over the lagoon's failing berms and contaminate a tributary to Sand Creek. Subdivision residents have complained of reeking odors coming from the lagoon.

The Department of Natural Resources alleged that inspections found the company violated clean water regulations by failing to pay the annual permit fees for the treatment plant since 2000, currently totaling at least $42,000, failing to submit quarterly discharge monitoring reports, operating without a permit, failing to apply for a renewal permit, removing the fence that formerly protected the treatment plant from children and pests, failing to submit a closure plan to the DNR to close the wastewater treatment facility, and exceeding permit limitations for fecal coliform, pH levels and biochemical oxygen demand.

"Missourians have a right to expect that waste systems are operated in compliance with the law so they won't pollute our water," Koster said. "Our office will not look the other way when businesses fail to comply with the law."

Koster is asking that the court issue a permanent injunction requiring the defendants to comply with the Clean Water Law, to assess a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000 per day for each violation of the Clean Water Law, to assess permit fees, penalties and interest, to deal immediately with the foul odor emitted by the lagoon and to require repayment of all costs associated with the case.

Koster's lawsuit names the company, its president Rose Ficken, and landowners Diane H. Duke, Bernadine R. Thomas and Eunice Jones.

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