EPA Orders Contractors to Remove Demolition Waste From San Pedro River

AEN News

San Francisco, CA - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today ordered a construction company and their subcontractor to remove large volumes of demolition waste from the San Pedro River in Pomerene, Ariz.

In 2003, Triumph Builders supervised demolition and disposal activities for a new school construction project in Benson, Ariz. Triumph's subcontractor, D. Fenn Enterprises, Inc., transported solid waste materials from the project -- including broken concrete, asphalt, metal re-bar, soil, metal and PVC pipes, and vegetative debris - to the San Pedro River, and illegally dumped the waste into the river without consultation or authorization from state or federal regulatory agencies.

While the river is seasonally dry in the reach affected by the dumping, flows can be high in wet weather. The debris can cause serious problems downstream including impaired water quality, water hazards due to storm debris, and damage to the health of riparian forests and habitat for sensitive species.

"The San Pedro River is a beautiful and much-valued resource for both Mexico and the U.S.," said Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA's Water Division for the Pacific Southwest region. "The EPA will be vigilant in overseeing restoration of this damaged area, and protecting the river for generations to come." Under the order, Triumph Builders and D. Fenn Enterprises must remove the waste from the river, transport it to an authorized landfill and restore the river to its natural condition.

The San Pedro River is Arizona’s largest undammed river, and is considered one of the most significant perennial undammed desert rivers in the United States. The ecosystem of the river supports 400 species of migratory birds -- half of the U.S. total -- 40 species of reptiles and amphibians, and 80 species of mammals. The site of the Fenn violation is downstream of the San Pedro River National Conservation Area.

The EPA received complaints from concerned citizens who witnessed the discharges. The Clean Water Act prohibits the placement of dredged or fill materials into wetlands, rivers, streams and other waters of the United States without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.