Industrial facilities in the United States are subject to complex, overlapping environmental regulations concerning 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 (and growing every year).
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: An asphalt shingles prep facility
WHERE: Tacoma, WA
WHAT: SPCC violations
HOW MUCH: $650,000
On February 8, 2015, employees at an asphalt shingles and coating materials facility were transferring hot asphalt from rail cars to a storage tank when a connector separated from the tank. 60,000 gallons of hot, liquid asphalt
escaped the facility’s secondary containment through an open valve and flowed into the Lincoln Avenue Ditch. Four ducks were contaminated with the asphalt and were captured, cleaned, and released.
Following related EPA citations, the company has since paid a $650,000 civil penalty, which was deposited into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, a fund used by Federal agencies to respond to discharges of oil and hazardous substances.
WHO: A paper mill
WHERE: Catawba, SC
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $1.1 million
A paper mill agreed to injunctive relief designed to prevent elevated, potentially dangerous levels of hydrogen sulfide (H2S)
following an emergency order issued by EPA on May 13, 2021. EPA’s Clean Air Act Section 303 Emergency Order required the mill to install three H2
S monitors at its fence line and prohibited the mill from emitting H2
S above “health-based” levels.
Under the terms of the new agreement, the paper mill agreed to operate its steam stripper unit to control hazardous air emissions, monitor and treat sulfur-containing fuel condensate sent to the wastewater treatment system, and improve the functioning of the wastewater treatment system. The mill must install and maintain a filtration system to minimize air emissions and will add secondary containment around a storage area for black liquor (an intermediate product of making paper).
WHO: A smoke and grill products manufacturer
WHERE: Rhinelander, WI
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $90,000
Wisconsin’s attorney general recently announced an agreement with a food company over alleged violations of air pollution control laws. The company makes liquid smoke designed to produce smoke and grill flavors.
The state’s complaint alleges eight violations against the company, including exceedances of particulate matter emissions limits
, failure to construct an air pollution source in accordance with State approval, and failure to maintain required records. In additional to agreeing to pay a penalty, the company has also invested in and implemented facility upgrades to avoid ongoing violations.
Convenient, Effective Online EHS Manager Training
Managing site compliance with the many complex EPA programs that affect your business—from the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts to TSCA, EPCRA, CERCLA, and more—is a major challenge. If you’re new to the field or need an update on changing EPA rules, online training is a convenient way to quickly build in-depth expertise.
Check out the latest EPA compliance training options here:
Complete Environmental Regulations
Clean Air Act Regulations Online
TSCA Regulations Online
Clean Water Act & SDWA Regulations Online
Superfund and Right-to-Know Act Regulations Online