After a drawn-out legal battle in which the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, or DEP, sued the Huntingdon resident for environmental violations committed by her ex-husband, an administrative court last week ordered DEP to reimburse Giordano nearly $12,000 in legal fees.
It began in July 2008, when Giordano opened her mail one day, surprised to see a letter from DEP — Pennsylvania’s version of the federal EPA.
As she scanned the letter, she was confused. DEP was assessing a “civil penalty” for water pollution against her and her estranged husband, Kirk Danfelt, for $41,250.
DEP was going after Danfelt for several blatant violations of the Clean Streams Law, which aims to reduce pollution of natural water sources. In 2007, according to court documents, when Danfelt undertook logging projects at various sites in Pennsylvania, he failed to ensure that his activities, such as loosening sediment and soil, wouldn’t pollute nearby water.
But whether the money came from Danfelt or Giordano, DEP didn’t care. That penalty had to be collected.