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Lafayette businessman fined $60K for water violations

Last Modified: Wednesday, October 03, 2012 11:09 AM

LAFAYETTE (AP) — A Lafayette businessman behind several local low-income housing developments has been fined $60,000 by the federal Environmental Protection Agency for violations during construction of a private development in Lafayette.

According to EPA documents, The Lauren Group, owned by Greg Gachassin, began construction on a 20-acre residential subdivision in January 2008.

In January 2011, the EPA issued a formal complaint charging The Lauren Group with violating the Clean Water Act. The EPA first proposed a $100,000 fine that was negotiated down to $60,000, which Gachassin paid in March.

The Advertiser reports Gachassin could have been fined up to $177,500.

When construction began on the subdivision. Gachassin obtained a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination permit allowing the discharge of storm water from the construction site to enter the Vermilion River. The permit wasn't effective until April 21, 2008, three months after construction allegedly began, according to the EPA administrative complaint.

Gachassin also submitted a permit termination notice on April 13, 2009, but construction activity continued "at least until July 31, 2009," the complaint states.

As a result, it appears the company operated without a permit for nearly six months, during which the area experienced rainfall that led to 10 unauthorized discharges, according to the EPA complaint.

Representatives of the EPA, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and Lafayette municipal storm sewer system visited the construction site in May 2008 and found several violations. The violations included "minimum storm water controls on site" with evidence of sediment runoff; no storm water pollution prevention plan available for review; and no available inspection documents.

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