Hotel company works to address DEP issues

PARKERSBURG – The company building a 100-unit Hampton Inn & Suites in the city is complying with orders from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to address violations that cost more than $23,000 in fines, a state inspector said Tuesday.

Florida-based MPH Hotels Inc. was cited for 13 violations between July 17, 2013, and May 1, 2014, most of them dealing with stormwater runoff and erosion and sediment controls at the construction site overlooking Emerson and Murdoch avenues, according to a document dated July 25, 2014, and posted on the DEP’s website, dep.wv.gov. The company and DEP officials agreed to the terms of the order, which is open for public comment until Sept. 19.

Under terms of the order, MPH agreed to pay a fine of $23,230, take immediate action to comply with its West Virginia/National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for the site and submit a plan of corrective action to the DEP. Garland Roberts, construction stormwater inspector for the DEP, said he inspected the site last week and the company is doing what it should.

“They’ve employed another contractor to get on top of the situation,” he said.

The 13 permit violations included three citations for failing to operate and maintain erosion and sediment control devices, two for failure to inspect and clean all adjacent public and private roads of debris that came from the construction site and two dealing with not reseeding and mulching certain areas to help maintain the integrity of the hillside.

The permit violations focused on the fact that sediment in public waters can be harmful to wildlife, Roberts said; they weren’t drinking water issues. Parkersburg’s water is drawn from underground wells, not surface water.

The number of violations is not unusual, given the conditions the company was dealing with at the hillside construction site, Roberts said. That includes the makeup of the soil, which contains very fine sand mixed with very fine silt.

“The material is very mobile,” Roberts said.

Michael Holtz, president of MPH, said the hillside itself, an extremely cold winter and heavy rains made maintaining some of the erosion and sediment controls, like a silt fence, difficult. He expressed no frustration with DEP over the matter.

“They’re doing their job. We just had a tough winter,” he said.

One of the violations said the company “failed to protect groundwater by allowing a petroleum product to flow onto or under the land surface in such a manner that could impact groundwater quality.” However, it goes on to describe the violation as utilizing a bulk fuel storage tank without a plug installed in the secondary containment area.

“In my opinion, their practices could have led to contamination. It would be difficult to prove that it did,” Roberts said. “Based on the ground around it, I would say little or no fuel leaked out of it.”

Holtz said no fuel escaped the containment unit, but that does not excuse a sub-contractor’s error in not plugging the secondary section.

“It didn’t cause any damage; nothing leaked out,” he said. “(But) the plug should have been in there.”

Another violation was for causing or allowing a non-stormwater discharge from the site, the order says. The water came from washing concrete trucks.

Holtz said the projected opening date for the hotel is Nov. 17. Furniture will be brought in starting the week of Sept. 22.