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April 04. 2013 8:08PM

Kingston firm fined $835,000 for violating Clean Water Act, filling wetlands

KINGSTON - Torromeo Industries Inc., a local gravel and concrete plant operator, has been hit with civil penalties totaling $835,000 as part of two settlements with federal and state agencies after the company was accused of violating the Clean Water Act and filling wetlands without the proper permits.

State officials said the case involves the largest amount of wetlands filled illegally in the state to date.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that Torromeo Industries Inc. has agreed to pay a $135,000 civil penalty and implement a compliance program to resolve numerous Clean Water Act violations at its sand, gravel and stone mining and ready-mix concrete plant in Kingston.

Among other things, the EPA accused the company of discharging storm water and process water into wetlands and waterways, including the Little River, without permits.

As part of the agreement with the EPA, the company will also implement a $500,000 supplemental environmental project that will involve the removal of an impervious parking lot adjacent to Cobbett's Pond in Windham. The lot will be replaced with a 35,000-square-foot pervious concrete parking lot, which the EPA said will greatly decrease the amount of polluted storm water that drains into the pond.

In a separate settlement with the state, the company agreed to pay a $700,000 civil penalty, $225,000 of which will be suspended on the condition that Torromeo complete wetland restoration on the site, according to a joint statement from the state Attorney General's Office and the state Department of Environmental Services.

Under that settlement, the state agreed to accept 8,333 tons of stone and $175,000 in cash as payment for the non-suspended portion of the penalty. The stone will be used in the Suncook River and Leighton Brook stabilization project in Epsom designed to protect the Route 4 bridge and Black Hall Road from future river damage.

Torromeo must also restore 12.5 acres of wetlands and almost 800 feet of a diverted perennial stream.

The state claims the company diverted more than a mile of perennial streams at its Kingston facility.

The agreement will also protect 69 acres of wetlands and adjacent land on Bayberry Pond in Kingston owned by Torromeo.

"Restoration is an important component of resolving all violations. We cannot allow a penalty for a violation to simply be a cost of doing business. I am pleased that Torromeo has cooperated with the state and has already restored almost three acres of wetlands," said DES Commissioner Thomas S. Burack. Henry Torromeo, the company's chief financial officer, said "99 percent" of the restoration work is complete.

He called it a "complicated case" with two different points of view, but said that it was "time for this matter to come to a conclusion."

"Nothing is more important than ensuring the integrity of our environment," he said. "No one is a bigger supporter than we are."

When asked if he was satisfied with the resolution of the two cases, Torromeo replied, "You're never satisfied. It's very expensive."

The action against Torromeo stemmed from a joint federal and state inspection in 2009.

jschreiber@newstote.com