Vermont DEC responds to complaints
MONTPELIER — The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently released its 2018 Enforcement Report, which details how DEC responded to citizen complaints and summarizes how the Department enforced environmental regulations to protect Vermonters and the lands and waters of the state.
“Last year, DEC received over 2,700 complaints of alleged environmental harm. We investigate every complaint our division receives,” said Kim Greenwood, Director of the Environmental Compliance Division for DEC. “Citizens reporting alleged violations to DEC are a critical source of information and we take those complaints seriously. Whether you’re sure there’s a violation or only suspect it, call us and one of our Environmental Enforcement Officers will investigate it.”
The six most common kinds of violations in 2018 were:
• hazardous material releases involving petroleum or other fuels.
• unsafe fuel tanks that pose an imminent risk.
• illegal dumping.
• releasing sediment or other pollution into a stream or lake.
• septic system failures.
• wetland violations.
DEC’s Environmental Compliance Division responded to the complaints that alleged environmental or human health threats, identified whether violations were occurring, and assessed almost $200,000 in penalties for approximately 50 of the most egregious violations. The largest penalties were for septic system violations, unsafe public drinking water, illegal salvage yard operations, and burning structures without a permit. DEC always requires that the damage is fixed and, in the worst instances, fines those responsible for the damage.
Educating Vermonters, providing technical and financial assistance, and helping prevent violations before they occur is the most effective method of protecting the environment. Towns and businesses interested in learning how to adopt more sustainable practices, follow regulations and go above and beyond the minimum regulatory requirements can attend technical training and receive environmental grants. For more information on the environmental assistance workshops, training and materials DEC offers individuals and businesses, visit dec.vermont.gov/environmental-assistance.
To ask questions and receive information on how to comply with environmental laws call 800-974-9559. To report an environmental violation, call 802-828-1254. All calls can be anonymous. To read the 2018 enforcement report, visit dec.vermont.gov/enforcement/news.
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