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Suffolk Downs Racetrack Fined For Polluting Boston Harbor

Suffolk Downs, the East Boston racetrack competing for one of three resort casino licenses, will pay a $1.25 million civil penalty for discharging horse manure, urine and bedding material into tributaries of Boston Harbor, the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Justice Department announced on Wednesday.

Sterling Suffolk Racecourse LLC will also spend $3 million to prevent polluted water from entering nearby local waterways, and embark on three projects totaling $742,000 to monitor water quality for more than 123 square miles of watershed, according to the terms of a settlement filed in U.S. District Court in Boston to settle violations of the Clean Water Act.

In additional to allowing the animal waste to discharge into Sales Creek, a tributary of Belle Isle Inlet and Boston Harbor, the federal complaint alleges that Suffolk Downs operated its concentrated animal feeding operation for race horses without a permit.

“This settlement reduces a major source of pollution into Boston Harbor,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, in a statement. “In addition, the settlement’s environmental projects include monitoring water quality in the harbor’s watershed, helping to protect a valuable urban waterway for the use and enjoyment of Boston area residents and visitors.”

The settlement is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by federal court.

Since May 2008, when the EPA first identified the pollution problems, Suffolk Downs has been working collaboratively with federal agencies to complete the water quality improvements ahead of schedule.

Said Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs, in a statement:

Suffolk Downs has worked cooperatively with federal and state environmental agencies since this issue first surfaced five years ago and we have already taken substantial measures, including construction of a new $3.5 million drainage system in our barn area, to address the conditions and bring us into compliance. We are confident that, in addition to our on-site improvements, our new walkway project in Belle Isle Marsh and our water testing in the Mystic and Saugus Rivers will contribute to a better environment in our area for the future.

This program aired on August 22, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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