FORT SMITH, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — A national freight carrier that operates in 47 states and Puerto Rico has agreed to pay civil penalties and implement compliance measures following a case in the Western District of Arkansas federal court in Fort Smith.
According to court documents, ABF Freight Systems, a company that operates more than 200 transportation facilities, resolved allegations that it violated requirements of the Clean Water Act relating to industrial stormwater at locations across the country. Under the proposed settlement, ABF will enhance and implement its comprehensive, corporate-wide stormwater compliance program at all its transportation facilities except those located in the state of Washington, and will pay a civil penalty of $535,000.
A portion of that will be directed to the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, the State of Maryland, and the State of Nevada, who all joined this settlement. The complaint in the case alleged that ABF failed to comply with certain conditions of their CWA permits, including spills that had not been cleaned up, failure to implement required spill prevention measures, failure to implement measures to minimize contamination of stormwater runoff, failure to conduct monitoring of stormwater discharges as required and failure to provide all required training to ABF’s employees.
“Water quality affects every citizen equally, its importance simply cannot be overstated,” said U.S. Attorney Clay Fowlkes for the Western District of Arkansas. “This agreement ensures that ABF will take significant steps towards ensuring that water quality is not negatively affected by its operations. This settlement would not have been possible without the commitment and cooperation of all the federal, state, and local agencies involved along with ABF.”
In April 2015, ABF voluntarily disclosed to EPA that it failed to obtain industrial stormwater permit coverage at multiple facilities and had discovered additional areas of noncompliance with the CWA through the company’s own compliance audits. To address the extent of ABF’s noncompliance, the proposed consent decree requires ABF to continue to implement and enhance its comprehensive, corporate-wide stormwater compliance program.
According to federal court documents in the case, stormwater runoff from industrial facilities can pick up pollutants like trash, chemicals, oils and sediment that can harm waters throughout the country. Pollutants in stormwater can cause changes in hydrology and water quality that result in habitat modification and loss, increased flooding, decreased aquatic biological diversity, and increased sedimentation and erosion.
The injunctive relief measures set forth in the proposed consent decree are designed to result in effective stormwater runoff management at ABF’s facilities, including those facilities that conduct vehicle maintenance and equipment cleaning.
The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, is subject to a 30-day federal public comment period and approval by the federal court. The consent decree can be viewed at: www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees.