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 pipeline management company
WHERE: Williston, ND
WHAT: Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $35 million
Over the span of five months between 2014 and 2015, a North Dakota pipeline company allegedly discharged 29 million gallons of wastewater from hydraulic fracking. The discharge contaminated land, groundwater, and about 30 miles of Missouri River tributaries
and is believed to be the largest inland spill in US history.
Under parallel settlements resolving the criminal and civil cases, the company has agreed to pay a total of $35 million in criminal fines and civil penalties, $15 million of which will go towards Federal criminal fines for allegedly causing the continuous spill, failing to stop it, and failing to make an immediate report as required.
WHO: Two oil and gas production facilities
WHERE: Weld County, CO
WHAT: Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $1 million
EPA announced a $1 million agreement to resolve alleged violations at two oil and gas facilities. According to EPA, there was an unauthorized discharge of oil from one facility into the Poudre River in 2014.
EPA also alleges the company failed to comply with oil spill prevention and response regulations.
The settlement requires installation of steel oil-spill containment berms and remote monitoring sensors, as well as tank anchoring at all of the company’s active tank batteries in Colorado floodplains. The company also agreed to implement and provide periodic reports on its emergency response training, drills, and exercise program.
WHO: An animal feed manufacturer
WHERE: Swanton, VT
WHAT: EPCRA violations
HOW MUCH: $40,294
A Minnesota animal feed producer allegedly failed to file Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) reports for zinc and manganese compounds
used at its Vermont facility. Under EPCRA 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.
TRI reporting information is available to the public and helps inform surrounding communities about a facility's toxic chemicals that could potentially harm public health and the environment.
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