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Attorney General of Virginia

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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

Mark Herring
Attorney General

202 North Ninth Street
Richmond, Virginia 23219

 

For media inquiries only, contact:  
Charlotte Gomer, Press Secretary
Phone: (804)786-1022 
Mobile: (804) 512-2552
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ATTORNEY GENERAL HERRING AND DEQ REACH SETTLEMENT WITH ESSEX SOLAR OVER ENVIRONMENTAL VIOLATIONS

~ Settlement includes $245,000 in penalties, retention of a Stormwater Compliance Manager, stipulated penalties for violations of settlement violations, and creation of a Storm Water Management Plan ~

RICHMOND (March 12, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) today announced they have reached a settlement with Essex Solar, LLC and McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. over alleged “significant, repeated discharges of sediment, a pollutant, into state waters resulting from the construction activities and operations at the Essex Solar Farm.” As part of the settlement, Essex Solar and McCarthy will pay $245,000 in penalties, retain a Stormwater Compliance Manager, and create a Storm Water Management plan. The settlement also includes stipulated penalties for any violations of the agreed upon terms. Essex Solar and McCarthy Building Companies received at least 23 site visits from DEQ employees and four Notices of Violation because of their alleged misconduct. McCarthy Building Companies is in charge of the construction activities located at the Essex Solar Center in Essex County, Virginia.

 

“Essex Solar had numerous warnings and chances to change the way they were operating to come into compliance with environmental protection laws but they chose not to,” said Attorney General Herring. “It is so important for companies of all sizes to make sure that they adhere to environmental protections so that we can keep our land and our water clean for generations to come.”

 

“DEQ’s inspections, a result of citizen complaints as well as regular agency oversight, resulted in notices of violation,” said DEQ Director David Paylor. “DEQ requires all solar facilities to remain in compliance and follow state law in all operations. We appreciate the Attorney General’s assistance in holding the facility responsible and putting measures in place to help avoid these types of abuses in the future.”

 

As the complaint states, DEQ conducted at least 23 site inspections for various complaints, resulting in four separate Notices of Violation between June 2017 and March 2019. During these site inspections DEQ found violations of:

  • The State Water Control Law
  • The Virginia Stormwater Management Act
  • The Virginia Erosion and Sediment Control Law
  • The Virginia Stormwater Management Program Regulations
  • The Erosion and Sediment Control Regulations
  • The Virginia Water Resources and Wetlands Protection Program
  • The General Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit for Discharges of Stormwater from Construction Activities
  • The Small Renewable Energy (Solar) Permit by Rule

 

The settlement addresses eight counts of illegal actions allegedly taken by Essex Solar and McCarthy Building Companies:

  • Failure to apply permanent or temporary soil stabilization
  • Failure to design and construct and cut fill slopes
  • Failure to install, properly install, and maintain sediment trapping controls
  • Unpermitted discharge
  • Failure to obtain approval of erosion and sediment control plans prior to land disturbance
  • Failure to obtain approval of stormwater management plans prior to land disturbance
  • Failure to operate the facility in compliance with the Small Energy Projects (Solar) Permit by rule
  • Failure to modify the Small Energy Projects (Solar) Permit by rule prior to operation

 

The consent judgment has been filed in Circuit Court of Essex County.

 

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