PALOS HILLS, Ill. -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5 has recently cited Hartz Construction Co., Inc. and proposed a $425,000 fine for illegally filling in wetlands while preparing home sites in Country Club Hills and the town of Alsip. EPA alleges that Hartz filled and regraded wetlands in Country Club Hills -- wetlands that it had agreed to preserve under terms of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit.
EPA also alleges that the company began to clear land in wetlands at the Alsip site without a permit.
"Hartz Construction is an established home builder in the Chicago area," said JoLynn Traub, regional Water Division director. "The company has received numerous wetlands permits in the past and should be well aware of federal regulations protecting wetlands. In addition, the company had been advised that the Alsip site contained wetlands."
Wetlands are among the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world, in the number and diversity of species they support. In addition. they provide flood protection, shoreline erosion control, water quality improvement, and opportunities for recreation, education, and research, according to the EPA.
Under the Clean Water Act, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers must issue a permit before any waters of the United States, including wetlands, are filled. EPA is authorized to order restoration of illegally filled wetlands and to assess administrative penalties of up to $125,000 for each violation. It may also seek judicially imposed penalties of $25,000 per day of violation, or imprisonment, or both, according to the EPA.
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