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: A dairy creamery
WHERE: St. Albans, VT
WHAT: EPCRA violations
HOW MUCH: $58,765
According to EPA, a New England dairy processor submitted three Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) reports
after the established due date. A 2017 TRI report for nitric acid was due by July 1, 2018 and two 2018 TRI reports for nitric acid and nitrate compounds were due by July 1, 2019. The three reports were successfully submitted in May 2020 after the company was contacted by EPA.
Under Federal TRI regulations, companies that use certain listed chemicals must report their chemical usage each year to EPA. This information serves as the basis for the Toxic Release Inventory, which is a collection of data that can be reviewed by communities as well as government and industry entities.
WHO: A fertilizer mixing facility
WHERE: Dodge City, KS
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $83,975
A facility that manufactures and distributes fertilizers took steps to bring the site into compliance with Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Plan (RMP) regulations after allegedly failing to submit and implement a risk management plan to prevent the release of aqueous ammonia
. The company stores over 20,000 pounds of aqueous ammonia in concentrations over 20% at the facility, which would be subject to RMP requirements.
RMP regulations require facilities that use extremely hazardous substances to develop a risk management plan that identifies the potential effects of a chemical accident, the steps a facility is taking to prevent an accident, and the emergency response procedures should an accident occur.
WHO: A wood preservative manufacturer
WHERE: Portland, OR
WHAT: FIFRA violations
HOW MUCH: $165,000
EPA alleges that a pesticide manufacturing company mislabeled one of its wood preservatives over the course of 24 months between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2018.
The labels allegedly did not include user safety requirements, first-aid directions, PPE use instructions. Required portions of the storage and disposal section were also allegedly not present.
The case resulted from an inspection by Oregon Department of Agriculture on March 5, 2019. Under FIFRA, a pesticide label must contain directions for use and a warning or caution statement, which may be necessary “…to protect health and the environment.”
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