Feb 02, 2021

Solar Array Developer Fined $1.14 Million for Wetlands Damage in Massachusetts

A Pennsylvania-based solar array developer will pay approximately $1.14 million to settle allegations of federal storm water requirement violations. 

pennsylvania water

A Pennsylvania-based solar array developer has agreed to pay approximately $1.14 million to settle allegations that it violated federal storm water requirements. 

The alleged violations occurred during the company’s 2018 construction of a 4-megawatt, 17,000-panel solar energy project at a former sand and gravel pit at 103 Briar Hill Road.

The allegations include damaging protected wetlands and polluting the West Branch of the Mill River in Williamsburg, according to state Attorney General Maura Healey, reported the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

The consent decree was filed in the U.S. District Court and settles the April 2020 lawsuit filed by Healey's office. 

The suit alleges that Dynamic Energy Solutions LLC disregarded pollution control requirements for construction sites under federal and state law when it constructed an 18.5-acre solar array on a steep hillside above the West Branch Mill River, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette. 

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“Developers must abide by our important state and federal laws designed to protect precious natural resources like wetlands that prevent flooding and storm damage, and support wildlife,” said Healey, reported the Daily Hampshire Gazette. “This resolution requires the company to restore the resources it damaged and to fund land acquisitions that will improve the water quality of the West Branch Mill River.”

The complaint filed in 2020 alleges that Dynamic caused storm water filled with sediment to flow in extreme amounts off of the array site. This eroded the hillside, uprooted trees and destroyed stream beds, which filled in wetlands with sediment. As a result, the river became brown, which is in violation of federal and state laws protecting water and wetlands resources.

Dynamic’s failure to comply with storm water pollution control requirements allegedly altered about 97,000 square feet of protected wetlands and more than 41,000 feet of riverfront area, reported the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

“We look forward to completing restoration work at the site, and to placing land into conservation to help protect Massachusetts’ natural resources,” said Tony Orr, general counsel for Dynamic wrote in an email to the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

Editor's note: This article headline has been updated to correctly state that the contractor is based in Pennsylvania, but the project took place in Massachusetts. 

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