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 metal recycling center
WHERE: Chicago, IL
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $500,000
A recycling company agreed to pay a half-million-dollar civil penalty to resolve alleged environmental violations related to two explosions in May 2020 at its now-defunct facility in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago.
The company shut down the old facility on December 31, 2020 to move its metal shredding and recycling operations to a new facility on Chicago’s Southeast Side.
The company had already agreed to pay State- and City-issued penalties when it decided to move operations to a new facility. The final permit to begin operations at the new facility is in the final stage of negotiations with the city mayor amid additional concerns.
WHO: A mineral processing facility
WHERE: Anaconda, MT
WHAT: Clean Air Act and OSHA violations
HOW MUCH: $393,200
During recent investigations, EPA and OSHA found multiple environmental and workplace safety violations at a mineral facility. The Federal agencies claim the company exposed workers to arsenic hazards. As part of the criminal environmental enforcement case, the company will likely be placed on probation for five years
and pay a penalty.
In the civil workplace safety enforcement case, OSHA issued 19 serious health and safety violations and the company agreed to pay a separate civil penalty of $106,800.
WHO: A petroleum bulk storage terminal
WHERE: Montebello, CA
WHAT: RCRA violations
HOW MUCH: $132,676
A gas and diesel company reached a settlement with EPA to resolve alleged hazardous waste violations at one of its storage terminals in California. An October 2019 inspection
of the facility identified violations of RCRA regulations, including failure to conduct assessments and maintain certifications for tanks storing hazardous waste and failure to maintain records regarding compliance with RCRA Air Emission Requirements.
In response to the inspection findings, the facility agreed to pay a civil penalty and comply with all regulatory mandates. Federal law requires facilities that generate hazardous waste to implement safe generation, handling, transportation, and disposal practices. Improper management of hazardous waste may cause harm to public health and the environment.
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