US businesses are subject to complex, overlapping environmental regulations related to air emissions, discharges to water, hazardous waste management and disposal, oil spills, chemical management, and more. Failure to comply with all applicable US EPA requirements can result in future liability and civil penalties as high as $100,000+ per day, per violation.
The EPA enforcement actions highlighted below provide insight into how and why the Agency assesses civil penalties for environmental noncompliance.
All violations mentioned are alleged unless we indicate otherwise. We withhold the names of organizations and individuals subject to enforcement to protect their privacy.
WHO: A freight shipping and trucking company
WHERE: Chenango County, New York
WHAT: Illegal hazardous materials disposal
HOW MUCH: $117,000
A Kentucky-based shipping company and its owner have agreed to pay over $117,000 in penalties and take responsibility for removing and disposing of chemically treated railroad ties allegedly dumped in Chenango County, New York. The company was convicted of two felonies related to improper disposal of hazardous materials.
Samples collected by investigators were found to be contaminated with more than eleven hazardous substances each. Among these chemicals is creosote, which has been banned from manufacturing, sale, and use in New York since 2008. The law required all creosote products to be disposed of in a New York DEC approved landfill.
WHO: A steel manufacturer
WHERE: Canton, Ohio
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $990,000
For alleged Clean Air Act violations, a Canton, Ohio steel manufacturer reached a settlement that will require its air emissions to meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Lead. In addition, the company will be required to pay a $990,000 civil penalty.
The company allegedly exceeded lead emission limits and failed to conduct emissions tests, both of which would violate their Clean Air Act permit. The company will install relevant control technologies to reduce lead emissions under a consent decree that was filed simultaneously with the United States’ complaint.
These operational changes will result in the reduction of more than 1,000 pounds of lead emissions each year, US EPA says.
WHO: A container reconditioning facility
WHERE: Milwaukee area, Wisconsin
WHAT: RCRA and Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $1.6M
A Milwaukee area facility faces $1.6M in civil penalties to the United States and the State of Wisconsin for alleged RCRA hazardous waste and Clean Air Act (CAA) violations.
The alleged RCRA violations include storage and handling hazardous waste violations at three separate facilities, specifically in St. Francis, Oak Creek, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Under a consent decree, the company must implement a container management plan for a two-year period. The alleged air violations include failure to control emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
In addition to the seven-figure civil penalty, the facility will conduct performance testing and install emissions controls and monitoring equipment.
2023 Complete Environmental Regulations Training
Join a Lion instructor for the first Complete Environmental Regulations Webinar of the year on February 2—3. Get an overview of US EPA’s major air, water, and chemical programs—from the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts to EPCRA, TSCA, Superfund, and more.
EH&S professionals who attend can identify the regulations that apply to their facility and locate key requirements to achieve compliance.
Prefer to train at your own pace? Try the interactive online course.