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Legoland hit with $346K environmental fines at New York park

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Dive Brief:

  • The owner of the $500 million Legoland New York amusement park, Merlin Entertainments, has struck a deal with the New York Department of Environmental Conservation to pay $346,000 for 36 citations primarily related to construction runoff into a local creek, the Times Herald-Record reported. This is the third fine that the DEC has levied against the park, bringing total fines to $611,550.
  • The DEC has issued 63 citations for stormwater and other violations at the site in Goshen, New York, since construction started in 2018. In June 2019, a local building inspector shut the project down during a period of heavy rain, giving the owner and contractors time to come up with a plan to prevent runoff.
  • As part of the settlement, Legoland must also donate $50,000 for an “unspecified environmental benefit project” and allow daily third-party inspections at the site. Contractors are also prevented from disturbing more than 15 acres of soil at the project, which is slated to open to the public in a few weeks.

Dive Insight:

Project officials have argued in the past that heavy rainfalls were partially to blame for the runoff. Goshen officials also had a rule in place that no dirt could be trucked on or off the site in order to keep construction vehicles off town roads. Goshen has also reportedly levied its own fines against the park.

Citations issued by the DEC against the park included two 2018 oil spills that happened after project crews removed seven underground storage tanks they discovered at the site, according to the Herald-Record.

Legoland postponed its opening to this year because of COVID-19 restrictions, the park announced on its website, but has not identified an exact opening day. New York will allow amusement parks to reopen on April 9.

Runoff from construction sites can carry contaminants into surrounding bodies of water, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also takes action for violations of the federal Clean Water Act. Last month, the EPA fined three construction companies a combined total of $122,000 for allegedly discharging pollutants into a Kansas creek.

The agency recently also fined a Nebraska contractor for dumping concrete and other construction debris into a creek adjacent to its facility in Omaha. The company has agreed to fix damage done to the creek and pay a $150,000 fine.

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