Suffolk Downs, EPA agree to cleanup, fine for horse manure pollution

File art: Suffolk Downs

After years of allowing polluted wastewater – including horse manure, urine and bedding material – to flow into a creek that serves as a tributary of Boston Harbor, Suffolk Downs agreed to pay a federal fine of more than $1 million.

The Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Justice and track operator Sterling Suffolk Racecourse LLC allowed for a consent decree that was filed in federal court in Boston Wednesday.

“This settlement reduces a major source of pollution into Boston Harbor,” said Cynthia Giles, an assistant administrator for the EPA.

Besides the penalty, the racetrack located in East Boston and Revere, was ordered to pay more than $3 million to prevent polluted water from entering nearby waterways and perform three environmental projects worth about $742,000 to provide water quality monitoring, according to the EPA.

In 2008, the agency ordered the racetrack to reduce the amount of pollutants it was discharging.
EPA inspections revealed that the track’s wastewater discharged from the facility to Sales Creek during dry and wet weather. Inspectors observed stormwater contaminated with manure and turbid, brown runoff being discharged from the facility to Sales Creek, the agency said.

Sampling indicated elevated levels of pollutants, including ammonia, suspended solids and bacteria, the agency said.

“Suffolk Downs has worked cooperatively with federal and state environmental agencies since this issue first surfaced five years ago and we have already taken substantial measures, including construction of a new $3.5 million drainage system in our barn area, to address the conditions and bring us into compliance,” said Chip Tuttle, the chief operating officer of Suffolk Downs.

The consent decree must be approved by the federal court.


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