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EPA PROPOSES TO FINE CHARLES COURSON $25,000 FOR CLEAN WATER ACT VIOLATIONS IN NASSAU COUNTY, FLA.

 ATLANTA, July 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to fine Charles Courson of Fernandina Beach, Nassau County, Fla., $25,000 for the unauthorized discharge of fill material into approximately 32 acres of wetlands adjacent to Eagans Creek.
 The alleged violation occurred in 1990 when Courson dredged and filled wetlands during the construction of canals and ponds. The coastal wetlands involved are considered by EPA as an aquatic resource of national importance.
 "The EPA will not tolerate the destruction of such an important and endangered natural resource as wetlands," said EPA Regional Water Division Director W. Ray Cunningham. "Let EPA's action be a clear signal to potential violators throughout the Southeast that this agency will not hesitate to enforce the laws protecting wetlands."
 The $25,000 penalty is being assessed by the EPA Region IV office in Atlanta under a provision of the Clean Water Act which authorizes EPA to assess administrative penalties for violations of the Act. Under this authority, EPA can assess administrative penalties of up to $125,000 for the placement of fill in waters of the United States or the destruction of wetlands. For more serious violations, EPA may refer cases to the U.S. Department of Justice where greater civil penalties and criminal sanctions can be sought in the United States District Courts.
 Wetlands are among the most environmentally beneficial areas in the nation. They include marshes, swamps, bogs and similar areas that have developed between open water and dry land. Wetlands harbor unique soils and plants that provide food and habitat for fish and wildlife, water purification, erosion control, flood control during major storms, and recreation. Although wetland areas exist throughout the Southeast, they rapidly are being destroyed. Each year, 458,000 acres of wetlands are destroyed in the United States.
 The EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE) are working together to implement Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, which requires that a permit be obtained before placing fill in waters of the United States or wetland areas. EPA strongly encourages all property owners desiring to excavate or fill wetlands or waters of the United States to contact the COE prior to beginning work. The COE office which administers the Section 404 permit program in Florida is located in Jacksonville, Fla., (Regulatory Division, 400 W. Bay St., Jacksonville, FL, 32232-0019) and can be contacted at 904-791-1668.
 -0- 7/21/93
 /CONTACT: Charlis Thompson of EPA Region IV, 404-347-3004/


CO: United States Environmental Protection Agency ST: Florida IN: ENV SU: EXE

RA-MM -- AT012 -- 4032 07/21/93 14:10 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 21, 1993
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