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 fuel provider
WHERE: Anacortes, WA
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $610,000
According to a new Consent Agreement filed by EPA, employees of a Washington oil refinery allegedly deviated from the facility’s operating procedures on February 20, 2015, resulting in the release of un-combusted toxic vapors. The company estimates these errors caused the release of about 700 pounds of un-combusted air pollutants
including hydrogen sulfide, dimethyl sulfide, mercaptans, pyrophoric iron, and benzene.
In addition to EPA’s $191,000 penalty, the company is expected to pay over $420,000 to the Northwest Clean Air Agency and the Washington Safety and Health Agency for violations of local and state environmental and worker safety regulations related to release and subsequent investigations.
WHO: An oil refinery
WHERE: Kapolei, HI
WHAT: RCRA and Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $219,638
As part of a settlement involving an oil refinery’s Risk Management Plan and hazardous waste practices
, the company has agreed to carry out changes to reduce the risk of chemical accidents and conduct sampling to determine whether improper management of hazardous wastes contaminated local soil. When properly implemented, a Risk Management Plan can be used to assess chemical risks to surrounding communities and to prepare for emergency responses.
During two separate inspections in September 2018 and March 2019, EPA identified the alleged violations at two company facilities. Violations include process safety errors in one facility’s Risk Management Plan and additional violations related to an oily residue being released onto an unlined asphalt pad and into nearby soil.
WHO: An industrial petroleum distributor
WHERE: Tacoma, WA
WHAT: Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $133,225
On February 11, 2021, EPA announced a settlement with a petroleum transport and delivery facility for violations of the Washington Industrial Stormwater General Permit. According to EPA, the company failed to train its employees on the facility’s stormwater pollution prevention plan, install and/or maintain Best Management Practices to reduce stormwater pollution, and use secondary containment to contain spills among other alleged violations.
EPA estimates the company's failure to comply with its permit requirements caused 14,000 pounds of pollutants
per year to enter Blair Waterway and Commencement Bay, a Superfund site between March 2017 and March 2019.
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