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Contractor fined $725,000 for dumping in Ventura County creek

A Ventura County contractor who illegally dumped materials into a creek was ordered Tuesday to pay about $875,000 for repairs, restitution and restoration, federal officials said

This post has been corrected. See note below

A Ventura County contractor who illegally dumped materials into a creek was ordered Tuesday to pay $725,000 for repairs, restitution and restoration, federal officials said.

In 2005 and 2006, contractor Thomas Staben and his construction company illegally dumped 40,000 cubic yards of refuse -- enough to fill about 2,000 large dump trucks -- into the creek near Camarillo, said officials with the Environmental Protection Agency.

The materials, which were not identified, were disposed of in an area known as Arroyo Las Posas without proper permits and despite warnings from the Army Corps of Engineers to stop, officials said.

The creek is the main freshwater source for the Mugu Lagoon Estuary, one of the largest coastal wetlands in the region and an area inhabited by various endangered species.

Officials said the dumping reduced the active floodplain, increasing the risk of flooding in the surrounding area, and could have further endangered wildlife.

Staben, who has a history dating to 1989 of unpermitted dumping in the creek and the Ventura River, will have to pay more than $500,000 to undo the damage, EPA officials said. Of that, $150,000 will go to the Ventura River Watershed Habitat Restoration Fund for a project creating new stream habitats and maintaining water quality.

He also must pay $225,000 in restitution.

[Corrected at 2:52 p.m.: An earlier version of this post misstated the total amount contractor Thomas Staben has been ordered to pay. He has to pay $725,000, not $875,000. The $150,000 for the Ventura Rivershed Habitat Restoration Foundation is part of the $500,000 for restoring the creek, not in addition to it.]


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Photo: Calleguas Creek in 1998. Credit: Marsha T. Gorman / For the Times

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