States settle with Tool Brothers over pollution allegations

Bryan Cohen Jun. 22, 2012, 6:50am


BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) - Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler and Department of the Environment Secretary Robert M. Summers announced a multistate settlement on Thursday with Toll Brothers Inc., one of the largest homebuilders in the nation.

Toll Brothers will pay $741,000 as part of the settlement, including $22,000 to Maryland, to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act at its construction sites. Toll Brothers allegedly violated storm water permitting and management requirements at its construction sites, including locations in the state's Chesapeake Bay Watershed.

Other states involved in the settlement include West Virginia, Virginia, Texas, South Carolina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey, Minnesota, Michigan, Massachusetts, Illinois, Georgia, Florida, Delaware, Connecticut, Colorado, California and Arizona. The consent decree was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

"Stormwater management regulations are in place to protect the health and vitality of every Maryland waterway and the Chesapeake Bay," Gansler said. "This agreement addresses systemic failures and a disregard for Maryland's environment and the health of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. We are telling the major national homebuilders that they must follow the same rules as everybody else."

Maryland construction sites for Toll Brothers connected with the settlement include individual residential home locations in Worcester, Prince George's, Montgomery, Howard, Harford, Baltimore and Anne Arundel counties.

Under the terms of the settlement, Toll Brothers will invest in a compliance program throughout the company to increase management oversight and improve employee training at all current and future residential construction sites in 23 states throughout the country. The company must routinely inspect its current and future construction sites to minimize the runoff of stormwater from sites.

Toll Brothers must also submit national compliance summary reports to the EPA based on management oversight inspections and reviews, properly train construction managers and contractors on stormwater requirements, designate trained staff for each site, conduct additional site inspections beyond the ones required by stormwater regulations, document and quickly correct any problems, develop site-specific pollution prevention plans for the use of each construction site and obtain all required permits.

The agreement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court.

The EPA estimates that the multistate settlement will stop millions of pounds of sediment from entering U.S. waterways each year.

The government complaint, which was filed simultaneously with the settlement, alleges more than 600 stormwater violations by Toll Brothers. The majority of the alleged violations are connected to the company's failures to comply with permit requirements at its sites, including the failure to maintain and install adequate pollution controls for stormwater.

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