According to a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) enforcement investigation, The Harbors LLC began constructing a new resort near Two Harbors, Minn., in September 2021 before obtaining a required construction stormwater permit and failed to install erosion and sediment controls across more than seven acres of disturbed soils.
MPCA staff inspections in spring 2022 confirmed that because of noncompliant conditions of the site, unprotected steep and erodible slopes adjacent to Lake Superior, and softening soils due to springtime thawing and snowmelt, the potential for environmental harm to the lake and wetlands was very high. Other violations included:
- Failing to train staff on how to properly install, maintain, and repair erosion and sediment controls.
- Failing to conduct required site inspections on 14 occasions.
- Failing to protect the perimeters of several wetlands throughout the site.
In addition to paying the $32,500 civil penalty, The Harbors has completed a series of corrective actions including:
- Obtaining required permits and installing erosion and sediment controls to protect wetlands and Lake Superior.
- Obtaining required training to conduct inspections and maintain or fix erosion and sediment controls.
- Developing and implementing a stormwater pollution prevention plan.
- Providing documentation to the MPCA that actions were taken to bring the site into compliance.
MPCA rules and regulations are designed to protect human health and the environment by limiting pollution emissions and discharges from facilities. When companies do not fully comply with regulatory requirements, the resulting pollution can be harmful to people and the environment.
When calculating penalties, the MPCA considers how seriously the violations affected or could have affected the environment, and whether they were first-time or repeat violations. The agency also attempts to recover the economic benefit the company gained by failing to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.