Friday, February 27, 2009

MasTec fined $1.5 million for Oregon pipeline problems

EUGENE, Ore. - MasTec Inc., the contractor fired after being hired to build a natural gas pipeline from Roseburg to Coquille,Ore., has been ordered to pay $1.5 million in penalties to the U.S. Treasury because of damage it caused to pristine streams and rivers.
U.S. District Judge Michael Hogan issued the order despite finding that
government agencies provided inadequate oversight of the $51 million project. And though the contractor violated the Clean Water Act, the judge said there did not appear to be serious environmental harm.
The project was plagued by problems from the summer of 2003, when work began on the 60-mile long, 12-inch pipeline, until it was terminated. Crews filled streambeds with drilling spoils, threatening fish habitat. Regulators later discovered that project managers had not taken adequate steps to protect
hillsides from erosion, leading to more sediment in fish spawning habitat.
Coos County terminated its contract with Coral Gables, Fla.-based MasTec
in April 2004, and an Oregon firm finished the project later that year.
Residents and environmental groups complained early and often about the
project, contending that the state Department of Environmental Quality,
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Coos County were lax in their
oversight of a project that crossed sensitive terrain, including dozens
of parcels of private property.
Officials initially maintained that the project was on track and that state and federal clean water laws were being followed. But as contrary evidence piled up, legal battles ensued.

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