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Mass. Solar Farm Ordered To Pay $1M For Polluting Wetlands, River

Owners of a solar energy farm in Massachusetts have reached a settlement with the state’s attorney general’s office to remediate a large tract of wetlands and riverfront damaged during construction of the site in 2018.

Dynamic Energy Solutions agreed to pay more than $1 million to settle charges that it violated federal stormwater protections, damaged wetlands and polluted a branch of a river, the Daily Hampshire Gazette reported on Monday.

The Pennsylvania-based company had installed 17,000 solar energy panels at the site of a former sand and gravel pit on a hillside overlooking the West Branch Mill River in the towns of Williamsburg and Goshen, the newspaper reported.

Stormwater from the site eroded the hillside, filled in wetlands and streams and polluted the branch of the river with what was equivalent to more than an acre of sediment, prosecutors said.

“The impacts to the wetlands and wildlife habitat areas were not only egregious, they were entirely avoidable,” Michael Gorski, director of Mass Department of Environmental Protection’s Western Regional Office in Springfield, said in a statement Monday. The office had investigated pollution at the site, issued remediation orders and eventually, referred the case to the attorney general’s office, the newspaper reported.

“We look forward to completing restoration work at the site, and to placing land into conservation to help protect Massachusetts’ natural resources,” Tony Orr, general counsel for Dynamic Energy Solutions, told the newspaper.

As part of the settlement, the company must comply with state and federal regulations at the site, place 24 acres of land near the river into conservation and pay $215,000 to a land trust benefiting the river, among other payments, the newspaper reported.

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