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United States v. Lambert

ELR Citation: 26 ELR 21116
Nos. 2:94-1012, 915 F. Supp. 797/(S.D. W. Va., 01/31/1996)

The court holds a landowner's estate liable for Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA) §301 violations stemming from the discharge of fill material into the Kanawha River in West Virginia. The court holds that the government established a prima facie case and is entitled to summary judgment. The court first finds that the landowner discharged fill material even though an independent contractor actually performed the bank stabilization work that caused the discharge. The landowner was responsible for the performance of the contractor's work, owned the property on which the work was done, paid for the raw materials and necessary equipment, and paid the contractor to perform the work. The court also concludes that the cranes used to place the fill material into the river constitute a point source under the FWPCA. Furthermore, the Kanawha River is a water of the United States and the landowner lacked a permit for the majority of the fill activity. The court holds that the landowner violated §10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act (RHA) by placing a boat dock in the river without first obtaining a permit. Also, the owner violated RHA §13 by placing foreign material on the riverbank.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Lois J. Schiffer
Environment and Natural Resources Division
U.S. Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 514-2000

Counsel for Defendants
J. Randolph Query
Spradling & Query
209 Hale St., Charleston WV 25301
(304) 343-2544