Lawmakers want tougher penalties for polluters

    State lawmakers hope to deter chronic polluters with tougher penalties.

    Delaware polluters would face harsher penalties if a proposed update of the state’s chronic polluter law.  The bill, which is expected to be formally introduced this week, clarifies that the “chronic polluter” status applies to companies that are unable or unwilling to comply with the law, or those that appear to treat environmental penalties as a cost of doing business.

    State Senator David McBride (D- Hawk’s Nest)  is one of the primary sponsors.  He says the law hasn’t been updated since 2003.  “In 2001, we put the original chronic violators  program into effect, and I believe it is now time to reexamine the program, and where necessary, to strengthen our existing program.”

    The measure gives subpoena power to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) to do its part to enforce the law.  It would also increase the maximum penalty from $10,000 per day, to $10,000 for each separate release of identifiable pollutant.  DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara says, “This legislation helps us take a proactive step to really take strong and swift action for violators that are unwilling to change their behavior.”

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