Every day, facilities across the US receive Notices of Violation from US EPA for alleged noncompliance with a wide variety of programs like the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts; chemical management and reporting regulations (TSCA, EPCRA, CERCLA, etc.); hazardous waste management and disposal standards (RCRA); and much more.
Below are examples of recent EPA enforcement actions that provide insight into how and why EPA issues civil penalties to facilities for environmental noncompliance. Names of companies and individuals cited by EPA are withheld to protect their privacy.
WHO: An adhesive manufacturer
WHERE: Rockland, MA
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $345,000
A company that produces sealants and adhesives reached an agreement with EPA to resolve alleged violations of chemical accident prevention laws at one of its Massachusetts facilities. EPA inspected the facility and found outdoor tanks and piping that had not been properly maintained, resulting in many potential Clean Air Act General Duty Cause (GDC) and Risk Management Plan
Since the company was alerted of the alleged violations, it has cooperated with EPA and is expected to correct all alleged violations by June 2021. The company has also agreed to conduct a follow-up chemical safety compliance audit using an independent auditing firm and produce a written audit report that will be provided to EPA.
WHO: A railway company
WHERE: Guernsey, WY
WHAT: Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $140,000
EPA has reached a settlement with a rail logistics company for alleged Clean Water violations related to a discharge of oil into the North Platte River near Guernsey, Wyoming. The Agency alleges that 5,900 gallons of diesel fuel and 800 gallons of lubricating oil
were improperly discharged on February 4, 2019, when three locomotives and five rail cars owned by the logistics company derailed.
The company reported the spill to the National Response Center (NRC), and an EPA On-scene Coordinator was dispatched to the spill site. The company has also cooperated with the state of Wyoming and EPA to clean up the spill.
WHO: A hydroponics equipment supplier
WHERE: South Portland, ME
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $137,294
EPA alleges that from approximately 2016 to 2018, a facility that makes plant-growing supplies used more than the threshold quantity of 10,000 pounds of toluene diisocyanate (TDI)
in its process and did not file the required risk management plan. The company has since reached an agreement with EPA and agreed to pay a six-figure civil penalty.
Environmental inspectors also identified several fire hazards during their investigation, including the use of a portable electric space heater inside the chemical storage area, improper storage of combustible wood pallets, lack of proper ventilation, failure to maintain equipment that was leaking TDI, and open drums of TDI-containing chemicals.
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