Granite Construction fined for Costco project environmental violations
Granite Construction was hit with a $15,400 fine Tuesday by the Nevada Environmental Commission for environmental violations during initial grading of the Costco site.
Air Quality Enforcement Officer Eric Taxer told the commission Granite was caught grading without a permit June 21. The company got a permit two days later but was cited almost immediately for not controlling a large cloud of dust from the site. Taxer said a second dust citation was issued June 26.
Granite is doing site work on the 16 acres which will be home to Costco next to Fuji Park in south Carson City.
Taxer said the state negotiated a settlement with Granite to try fix the problem by changing company policies but that for these violations the fines were increased because of Granite’s history of violations – a total of 20 in the past five years.
Granite spokesman Paul Gianoli said the company intends to fix the problem permanently and is hiring an environmental manager to supervise training of its equipment operators and ensure compliance.
He said the environmental manager will have the authority to shut down a job site if there are violations such as huge dust clouds.
He said the program will be similar to the company’s environmental program in Utah. Mystere Sapia, who runs that program, said the company has 100 percent compliance with Utah state law since she began the program.
Gianoli said the Costco situation “brought to a focus some of the issues we have with NDEP.” He said the company intends to provide the oversight, the training for its people in the field and to fix the problems permanently.
“I have the horsepower to make this happen in our company,” he said.
Two members of the environmental commission said that was good enough for them and they wanted to forgive the fines. Agriculture Director Paul Iverson said the fines don’t seem to be making a difference and that, “Before the year is over, I can almost guarantee we will be talking to these people again.”
He said the environmental commission doesn’t even get the fine money – it goes to the local school district.
“I have a problem with that,” he said pointing out that school districts already get a budget from the Legislature and that it would be better to let the construction company keep the money on the condition it use the cash to prevent future environmental problems.
Commissioner Demar Dahl agreed saying he doesn’t think Granite’s record is that bad.
“It’s not realistic to think they’re not going to have a few violations,” he said.
But Mark Doppe, who is in the construction industry, said there are other companies with nearly as many job sites as Granite which have far fewer violations. He said Granite should pay the fine and then work to cure the problems.
Chairman Mel Close Jr. said forgiving the fine would set a bad precedent for future violators.
The commission voted 9-2 and fined Granite $15,400 for the permit and dust violations at the Costco site.
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