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AT&T Fined for Illegal Breakwater


Dec. 23, 2004 – AT&T Corp, a New York-based communications company, and AT&T of the Virgin Islands Inc. have been ordered to pay $450,000 in fines for violating the Clean Water Act and the Rivers and Harbors Act.
The fine is in connection with a breakwater the company illegally built in 1999 on the outer tip of Estate Peterborg near Magens Bay beach. AT&T had built the breakwater to protect ocean ground cables in the area from erosion.
The U.S. government filed a complaint and a consent decree in District Court Friday ordering the company to pay the fine.
The complaint states that AT&T constructed the breakwater without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and was therefore in violation of those laws.
In 2000 the Coastal Zoning Management agency had ordered AT&T to remove the breakwater and fined it $100,000. (See "AT&T Ordered to Remove Illegal Breakwater").
The company began work on removing the structure in September of 2001. Dexter Freeman, the manager at AT&T’s Peterborg station at that time, said the cost of removing the structure was $250,000. (See "Breakwater Coming Down"). However, total removal of the breakwater and restoration of the site was not completed.
"The unauthorized construction of the breakwater damaged sensitive marine habitat and caused harm to organisms in Magens Bay," the complaint states. "Among other things, the breakwater prevented the adjacent beach from being used for nesting by the hawksbill sea turtle, which is an endangered species."
In addition to the fine, the consent decree also orders AT&T to take steps to restore the site under the direction of the Corps of Engineers and prevents the company from further developing the area.
AT&T has 30 days from the date of the consent decree in which to pay the civil penalty of $450,000 in full. If the entire amount is not paid by the given date, the company will have to pay interest on the unpaid amount.

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