AG Schimel Announces Environmental Protection Unit Enforcement Results

Jul 25 2017

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Department of Justice Environmental Protection Unit (EPU) has released its environmental enforcement results for the first half of 2017. The unit obtained judgments in 22 state enforcement cases and in one federal Superfund case that was prosecuted jointly with the U.S. Department of Justice. The state judgments totaled $486,476 in forfeitures and related surcharges, plus an additional $50,000 in supplemental environmental projects. The joint federal case secured $42,000,000 in remediation commitments for a large contaminated site in Ashland, Wisconsin along the shores of Lake Superior.


“Wisconsin has a proud sporting heritage and Wisconsinites regularly enjoy the recreational opportunities our rich natural resources afford us,” said Attorney General Schimel. “We are committed to preserving this legacy for future generations."


Of the 22 state enforcement actions, seven involved civil prosecutions for asbestos abatement and material handling violations and three addressed other air pollution control violations. Nine cases addressed unpermitted discharges or other threats to surface water, and an additional three cases targeted the removal of abandoned underground storage tanks containing residual petroleum products. Several cases required companies or individuals to either restore the environment or take other actions to ensure compliance with the law going forward, the cost of which is not always estimated by the State


In one example, a dairy farm worked with EPU to address prior compliance concerns while taking additional steps to better protect the environment going forward. This case involved alleged violations of state water pollution control laws at a farm in Kewaunee County. The agreement requires the dairy to pay penalties, costs, and fees totaling $50,000, and implement a $50,000 supplemental environmental project over the next five years. In agreeing to resolve allegations related to the land application of manure in cold weather conditions, the dairy agreed to better train its contract manure hauler and applicator using a qualified nutrient management planner, and agreed to install and maintain approximately 10 acres of filter strips in strategic field locations. The dairy also committed to planting seasonal crop cover on at least 100 acres of highly erodible soils annually for the next five years. Beyond adding additional environmental protections at the farm, these measures will help ensure greater compliance in the future.


The Superfund settlement secured a $42 million commitment from Northern States Power Co. of Wisconsin to remediate contaminated sediment in Chequamegon Bay associated with the Ashland/Northern States Power Lakefront Superfund Site. The settlement also establishes long-term monitoring requirements, and requires payments to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources for past and future response and oversight costs associated with the site.


“The Department of Justice continues to actively enforce the state’s environmental laws, and remains committed to working with the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, and the regulated community to ensure compliance with the law,” according to Attorney General Brad Schimel. “We also look forward to continuing our work with our federal partners to resolve additional Superfund cases in the near future.”