(Office of the United States Attorney’s Office Western District of Louisiana)
Racehorse training-center operator Evangeline Enterprises LLC of Carencro, Louisiana, has agreed to pay $300,000 in civil penalties and to make changes in its handling of polluted wastewater at its Louisiana facility to settle Clean Water Act claims filed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), the Department of Justice and EPA announced today.
The settlement, contained in a proposed consent decree lodged today with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, resolves claims by EPA and LDEQ in a complaint filed on October 19, 2017. The complaint alleged that Evangeline is illegally discharging process wastewater, contaminated with horse manure, urine, and other biological materials, from its facility into the Vermilion River and its tributary Francois Coulee, in violation of the Clean Water Act and the Louisiana Environmental Quality Act.
“Louisiana is a beautiful state with a vast, diverse, ecosystem that is rich in natural resources, including its rivers, bayous, and coastal waters,” said U.S. Attorney David C. Joseph. “My office is committed to protecting these treasures from those who would illegally exploit or damage them. Today’s settlement is but one example of my commitment to aggressively prosecute, both civilly and criminally, those who poison Louisiana’s environment and to seek restitution for any damages they inflict.”
“This agreement is the result of extensive cooperation between the state of Louisiana and EPA,” said Regional Administrator Anne Idsal for EPA Region 6. “Ensuring the lawful handling of wastes will mean cleaner streams and waterways in Louisiana, which is important for aquatic habitats, safe drinking water, and public recreation.”
Under the Clean Water Act, facilities like Evangeline’s that house more than 150 horses for 45 days or more in any 12-month period and discharge pollutants must obtain a permit and comply with rules to ensure that pollutants, including contaminated process wastewater, is not discharged to waters of the United States or waters of the State. Evangeline discharged process wastewater into drainage ditches and pipes at the facility that then flowed into the Francois Coulee and Vermilion River. To correct this, the retention control structure required under the settlement agreement will store all process wastewater at the facility and allow it to be routed for proper treatment to stop the unauthorized discharges to the Francois Coulee and Vermilion River.
Under the settlement, Evangeline will pay the civil penalties and submit an application for a Louisiana National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, comply with best management practices for waste at the facility, and construct a waste retention control structure in compliance with federal and state regulations. In the event that Evangeline chooses to close the facility, the agreement provides alternative measures to require the company to eliminate further discharges of pollution into area waterways.
The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day federal public comment period, a 45-day Louisiana public comment period, and final court review and approval. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Department of Justice website at www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.