May 9, 2024 Leigh Martinez

Cement Plant Agrees to $165,000 Settlement Payment to Philadelphia-area Community Environmental Projects

The water pollution case was initiated by PennFuture and Tookany/Tacony-/Frankford Watershed Partnership to protect the Frankford Creek from industrial stormwater pollution.

Philadelphia, P.A., May 9, 2024 — PennFuture, the Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership (TTF), and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) agreed to a settlement in a lawsuit against Cosan LLC and Mossi Construction Inc., owners and operators of a cement plant formerly known as Metro Ready Mix, in a case brought over alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act and Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law. The settlement requires the facility to pay $85,000 in fines, implement immediate stormwater controls, obtain an industrial stormwater permit, and pay $165,000 into a TTF-implemented community environmental project.

In the fall of 2023, PennFuture and TTF sent the owners and operators of the facility a Notice of Intent to bring a citizen enforcement suit under the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law and the federal Clean Water Act. Although the facility ownership had agreed to shut the plant down in 2016 as part of a Consent Order and Agreement with DEP, it was clearly actively in operation, with daily truck traffic and other signs of business. In February of 2023, DEP conducted an inspection of the facility and found that it was operating without a permit. In early 2024, DEP filed a complaint against Cosan LLC, Bella Trucking Corporation, Mossi Construction Inc., Sandra Affatato-Dinardo, and Antonio Dinardo, the present and past owners and operators of the facility, for violations of the Clean Streams Law. PennFuture intervened in the suit, and the parties reached a settlement of the allegations. 

As part of the settlement, the facility must fund $165,000 towards a community environmental project. TTF will be in charge of the project, which focuses on another major source of pollution to the creek: trash and litter. Trash and litter contribute a significant portion of pollution to the 300-acre Tacony Creek Park and the creek. Litter comes from various sources, including commercial and residential "short" dumping, trash entering the park from adjacent roads either from environmental sources or human dumping, and debris that flows from both upstream and city stormwater and combined outfalls. This trash reduces the overall quality of the park, endangers wildlife, and pollutes the water. The park lacks fencing and similar clear boundaries and barriers to trash, exacerbating the problem. TTF has identified two priority sites where litter enters the park. The funding from this settlement will enable TTF to repair existing stone walls, clear vegetation, and install fencing and signage at these locations to prevent litter from entering the park and the creek.

“Strong and consistent enforcement of our water laws is critical for both water quality and for the quality of life of communities bordering our waterways,” said Jessica O’Neill, PennFuture Managing Attorney for Litigation. “This settlement ensures the facility along the Frankford Creek complies with Pennsylvania’s stormwater control requirements and funds a major project to reduce trash and dumping in the creek. The result will be a multifold improvement in water quality, while also improving the park for the people who live there and enjoy the space. ”

“Every day, we work with communities to improve our creeks and watershed using many strategies, including education, stewardship, restoration, and advocacy. In partnership with PennFuture and with the support of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, an agreement has been reached with this business to ensure that the Frankford Creek, which flows through Philadelphia environmental justice neighborhoods, will be protected from further negative impacts from operations at this site. We are proud of this resolution after so many years of concern. In addition, funds will be set aside to address dumping along Tacony Creek Park, an ongoing issue affecting the park's ecosystem and deterring residents of its enjoyment. We believe that governments, nonprofit organizations, individuals, and businesses all share a serious responsibility to follow the law and protect our waterways for the health of our community,” said Julie Slavet, Executive Director of TTF

The case is Dep’t of Env’t Prot. v. Cosan, LLC et al., 113 MD 2024 (Pa. Cmwth. 2024).