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 paper mill
WHERE: Luke, MD
WHAT: RCRA violations
HOW MUCH: $650,000
According to the Maryland Attorney General, a Luke-based paper mill allegedly discharged toxic pulping liquor into the North Branch of the Potomac River
on multiple occasions starting on or around April 6, 2019. Pulping liquor is a high pH, caustic, and corrosive material that can be harmful to fish and other aquatic life.
In addition to paying a civil penalty, the mill will investigate the source of the seepages and the extent of the contamination. The company must also permanently stop the discharge and remediate the contaminated site.
WHO: A dental equipment distributor
WHERE: Chicago, IL
WHAT: FIFRA violations
HOW MUCH: $464,737.50
EPA alleges that a company that primarily distributes dental hygiene equipment allegedly offered for sale pesticide products in a kit that was not registered with the Agency
. As a result, the composition and labeling of the products had not been reviewed for efficacy and safety. In addition, the company allegedly made unapproved claims on a different EPA-registered pesticide product.
The distributor has since agreed to stop the sale and distribution of the products and pay a civil penalty to achieve compliance.
WHO: A chemical storage facility
WHERE: Othello, WA
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $135,000
Following inspections in 2013 and 2017, EPA alleges a Washington chemical company failed to properly design its anhydrous ammonia storage and distribution system
, adequately maintain inspection and testing records on certain equipment, and develop and implement written operating procedures for certain aspects of its operations. Exposure to high concentrations of anhydrous ammonia—commonly used in industrial refrigeration, agricultural, and cold storage facilities—can lead to serious lung damage and even death.
In addition to paying a $135,000 civil penalty, the company will be required to pay penalties if it violates the risk management program requirements at its ammonia storage and distribution facility and to provide compliance records and reports to EPA on a semi-annual basis.
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