Lawsuit Settled Against Murray’s Auto Recycling

Murray’s Auto Recycling of Londonderry and the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) reached a negotiated resolution in the case CLF filed against the auto salvage company on April 30, 2014.

The civil suit, filed in U.S. District Court under the citizen suit enforcement provisions of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, sought a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief and other relief the court deemed appropriate to correct Murray’s alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act.

CLF alleged Dudek Auto, also known as Murray’s Auto, located at 55 Hall Road and owned by Ed Dudek, discharges stormwater to wetlands adjoining Little Cohas Brook and has not applied for a stormwater permit for the facility at least since 1998.

The negotiated resolution, filed on Dec. 18, requires Dudek Auto to develop a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) by Jan. 31 and update the plan as necessary moving forward.

Development of the plan is to include formation of a pollution prevention team of qualified personnel who will be responsible for preparing the plan and assisting the plant manager in implementing practices to comply with the permit; assessment of potential stormwater pollution sources; selection of appropriate control measures that minimize the discharge of pollutants during storm events for each of these sources; and development of procedures for conducting required inspection and monitoring activities, as well as regular maintenance of control measures.

Dudek Auto is to hire a qualified engineering consultant to develop the SWPPP and include the consultant’s recommendation in the plan, as well as provide a copy of its SWPPP to CLF for review and comment by Jan. 31.

The auto salvage must also install and implement control measures, including good housekeeping practices, erosion and sediment control, and runoff management taking a low-impact development approach.

Finally, Dudek Auto agreed to a monitoring program, five installment payments totaling $23,000 to the New Hampshire Rivers Council for environment restoration of or other benefit to the Merrimack Watershed, and payment of CLF’s legal fees and costs, which total $33,000.

According to court documents, CLF alleged its complaint in a letter to Dudek Auto dated Jan. 27, 2014, after which Dudek Auto allegedly violated Section 301(a) of the Federal Clean Water Act, which prohibits the discharge of any pollutant into waters of the United States from a “point source,” unless the discharge complies with various sections of the Clean Water Act.

That Section also prohibits discharges not authorized by, or in violation of, the terms of a valid National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued pursuant to the Clean Water Act.

CLF’s investigations determined that Dudek’s auto recycling business is located on and in the federally-mapped wetland that adjoins and flows into Little Cohas Brook.

“Any automobile salvage yard discharging storm water that has come in contact with industrial materials or areas of industrial activity into public waters requires a discharge permit under the Clean Water Act,” Zak Griefen, lead attorney for CLF’s Environmental Enforcement Project, told the Londonderry Times in August. “After determining that Dudek Auto requires a Clean Water Act discharge permit, CLF checked (the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s) database to see if Dudek Auto had obtained that permit and learned that Dudek Auto had never applied for it.”

The CLF never alleged any pollutants from Dudek’s property were going into the stormwater, noted Joshua Wyatt, Dudek’s attorney.

“Mr. Dudek is glad the case is resolved and happy to invest in his property to make further improvements to help the environment,” Wyatt said.

Wyatt noted Dudek is cooperating with the CLF and continues to be in cooperation with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services to remedy environmental issues on his property.

The settlement will not be finalized until it has been reviewed and approved by the U.S. Department of Justice.

“Everyone is satisfied with the resolution and we are optimistic the federal government and court will approve it,” Wyatt said.

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