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 major chemical manufacturer
WHERE: Four facilities in TX and LA
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $3 million plus $294 million in site improvements
A large chemical manufacturer and its subsidiaries recently settled with EPA, US Department of Justice, and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at four facilities in the Southeast. According to the plaintiffs, the company allegedly “oversteamed” their flares
and failed to comply with other key operating parameters. These measures are intended to effectively combust the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants contained in any gases routed to flares.
The companies will spend approximately $294 million to install and operate air pollution control and monitoring technology to reduce flaring and the resulting harmful air pollution from 26 industrial flares at four facilities in: Hahnville, Louisiana; Plaquemine, Louisiana; Freeport, Texas; and Orange, Texas.
WHO: A magnesium metal producer
WHERE: Rowley, UT
WHAT: RCRA and CERCLA violations
HOW MUCH: $250,000 plus $37 million in site improvements
EPA has reached an agreement with one of the largest magnesium metal producers in the northern hemisphere over alleged violations of Federal hazardous waste and superfund regulations. In addition to paying a fine, the company agreed to conduct extensive site improvements to reduce the environmental impacts from its production operations and enhance worker safety.
As part of the settlement, the company will build a border wall around 1,700 acres
of the facility to prevent leaks or breaches of hazardous materials to the Great Salt Lake as well as a filtration plant to treat all wastewater. These modifications are expected to cost the company at least $37 million.
WHO: A military base
WHERE: Anchorage, AK
WHAT: RCRA violations
HOW MUCH: $61,554
A military base in Alaska agreed to a $61K settlement recently over alleged mismanagement of hazardous waste. In October 2019, the base self-disclosed that roughly 200,000 pounds
of expended small-arms cartridge casings (ESACCs) had been stockpiled and were determined to be toxic from lead contamination.
The base has agreed to restart its ESACC recycling program, which was discontinued in 2017. The base will also decontaminate the building where the scrap brass cartridges are stored, report to EPA on its progress recycling the ESACCs, and notify EPA when the recycling is completed.
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