Lawsuit Filed Against D&F Lumber and Logging Over Clean Water

February 21st, 2020 by Emmariah Holcomb

Nancy Adams and Doug Reed filed a complaint recently in Pennsylvania’s western district court against D&F Lumber and Logging (D&F). The pair allege that the company operated its sawmills in violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Clean Streams Law (CSL), the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Clean Air Act (CAA), and the Air Pollution Control Act (APCA).

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs own a 150-acre farm in Punxsutawney, Pa., and some buildings on the plaintiffs’ property are in close proximity to the defendant’s sawmill buildings, which have impacted Adams and Reed’s property.

“Defendant D&F Lumber operates two industrial sawmills directly across the road from [the] plaintiffs’ home. While the properties have been used, off and on, as sawmills for several years, in recent years, D&F Lumber’s operations were greatly expanded and began to substantially impact the use and enjoyment of [the] plaintiffs’ home,” a portion of the plaintiffs’ complaint reads.

The plaintiffs claim D&F has caused “substantial noise, dust and water trespass to adversely impact their property and their quality of life.” According to the complaint, in November 2013 D&F purchased just over 3.3 acres of the Hickory Hill Hardwoods LLC (Hickory Hill) site and its equipment. Not long after, D&F purchased additional land and used the Hickory Hill site as a “sawmill,” according to Adams and Reed.

“Storm water runoff from the new impervious surface washes over the sawdust, wood waste, other lumber, and residue of fuel leak[ed] on [the] defendant’s properties. As a result, the Storm water runoff is believed to carry high levels of tannin, organic acids, and other impurities,” a portion of the complaint reads.

Both Adams and Reed contacted the state’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as well as Henderson Township regarding what they believe was a sawmill violation. To their dismay the township and DEP inspections “did not alleviate the problems.” The pair is also alleging that D&F has discharged industrial wastes from its facilities into the Commonwealth’s waters for years.

“On information and belief, defendant have caused at least 5,000 square feet of earth disturbance. The defendant’s activity has changed the drainage patterns and characteristics of water runoff on its property that have caused and continue to cause increased runoff and impacts of storm water and pollutants onto the plaintiffs’ property,” a portion of the complaint reads.

According to court documents, the plaintiffs requested the following from the court:

  • Grant a permanent injunction against the defendant requiring the company to cease operation of its sawmills without the requisite permits;
  • Direct the defendant to remove the buried wood waste from its property;
  • Award the plaintiffs $83,000,000 in civil penalties for violations of the CWA;
  • Award the plaintiffs $15,000,000 in civil penalties for violations of the CSL;
  • Award the plaintiffs $181,917,825 in civil penalties for violations of RCRA;
  • Award the plaintiffs $181,917,825 in civil penalties for violations of CAA;
  • Award the plaintiffs $45,625,000 in civil penalties for violations of APCA; and
  • Award the plaintiffs costs and attorney fees.

D&F did not responded to [DWM]’s request for comment as of press time.

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