Real estate today: City to inspect businesses’ stormwater management

March 29, 2013
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The City will start inspections of industrial businesses to ensure proper stormwater management in May, according to a City official.

The inspections are a result of a consent decree, also known as an agreed judgment, between the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and the City. The 2012 decree forced the City to pay a penalty of $235,000 for violating the Clean Waters Act and to take measures to minimize the discharge of sewage and pollutants into bodies of water in and around the city.

Dave Deegan of the EPA said evidence collected indicated that the City had numerous stormwater outfalls discharging sewage and other pollutants into Boston Harbor and other tributaries. He also said the EPA alleged that the City violated numerous stormwater permit conditions.

“This is a good thing for the environment—absolutely,” Boston Water and Sewer Commission spokesperson Thomas Bagley said about the inspections.

Bagley said the City has sent out 1,760 letters to industrial businesses throughout the city informing them about the upcoming inspections. He said 90 percent of the inspections have to be done within two years, as agreed upon in the consent decree.

Deegan said businesses subjected to inspections include manufacturing operations, landfills, sand and gravel companies, auto salvage yards, scrap recycling facilities and marinas.

Bagley the inspections will investigate the industrial businesses to make sure they are up to code with their stormwater management.

Using the Gazette as an example, Bagley said if a printing press was located at the Gazette’s office, an inspector would make sure that ink at a loading dock was not leaking into storms drains. The Gazette does not have a printing press at its office.

Bagley said if the business does not have any operations that could contaminate waterways, it would obtain a “no exposure” certification with the EPA. The certification would need to be renewed every five years. Deegan said there is no cost associated with the filing of a no exposure certification.

“The EPA wants to make sure everybody is doing their share in respect to stormwater management,” said Bagley.

He said if a violation is found, a letter will be sent to the business. A follow-up inspection will occur and the company could face a fine, according to Bagley.

The City has hired the company Stantec and other subcontractors to conduct the inspections. Bagley said inspectors will have identification bearing City markings to prevent fraud.