The Wisconsin Department of Justice on Friday settled its lawsuit against Green Bay concrete and aggregate contractor Triple P Inc., Green Bay, and James O. Peters Sr. Circuit Court Judge Michael T. Judge approved the settlement.
Peters and his company will pay $300,000 and agree to restore or mitigate any past violations at 16 quarries. The state also settled its claims against another defendant in the case, the city of Gillett, for $10,000.
According to the complaint filed by the Department of Natural Resources, Triple P was chosen by the city of Gillett to build a bridge over Christie Brook, a tributary to the Oconto River. The complaint alleges that Triple P used undersized water protection measures, failed to install and maintain adequate protection measures, and discharged sediment to wetlands. The complaint also charged the city of Gillett with failing to ensure that water protection measures were installed, replaced and repaired, and with failing to report noncompliance to the DNR.
According to the complaint, wetland and waterway issues associated with the Christie Brook project were made worse in June 2009 when Triple P’s backhoe became stuck in the bed of the creek. The company dug a settling pond in the wetlands instead of in uplands and began dewatering the stream by pumping water and fill into the wetland, filling .257 more acres than the city of Gillett’s permit allowed. In its haste to remove the backhoe, Triple P also pumped sediment-laden water back into Christie Brook, resulting in the discharge of 9,000 cubic feet of sediment extending 6,000 feet downstream, according to the complaint. The sediment stayed in the stream for about nine months before the company removed it, according to the complaint.
The complaint also charges Peters and Triple P with violating wetland protection and storm water management laws at a gravel pit and portable concrete mixing plant in Little River. The complaint alleges that other contractors bidding for the Highway 41 project had rejected the site because wetlands on the property limited the area available for quarrying to the outline of an existing sand pit. Peters was advised that he could not disturb the wetlands on the site, and a portion of the wetland boundary was flagged. According to the complaint, the flags were ignored, a sedimentation pond was installed in the wetland, and sediment was discharged into the wetlands.
The complaint alleges that after DNR staff directed Peters to stay out of the wetland until it was fully delineated, Triple P dumped several loads of concrete block in the wetland area. At least 1.4 acres of wetlands were disturbed.
As part of the settlement, Triple P agreed to maintain a $100,000 line of credit for four years, and to use the money to pay a qualified environmental consultant to identify past environmental violations at 16 quarries and pits owned by Triple P and to identify and map all wetlands at these sites so they may be avoided in the future. The company also agreed to restore or mitigate any and all wetland violations found during the environmental assessment.
Triple P also advised the state that James O. Peters Sr. will retire from and will not act as an officer, director or employee of Triple P Inc. in the future.
Assistant Attorneys General JoAnne Kloppenburg and Diane Milligan represented the state in the case.