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: A freight railroad network
WHERE: Doon, IA
WHAT: Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $1,513,750
A freight company agreed to pay a civil penalty to resolve alleged Clean Water Act violations related to a train derailment. In June 2018, approximately 117,500 gallons of heavy crude oil
spilled when one of its freight trains derailed, resulting in discharges to the Rock River, Little Rock River, and Burr Oak Creek.
EPA says the derailment occurred during heavy flooding in the area. Impacts from the oil spill included an evacuation order for nearby residents, elevated levels of hazardous substances within the affected site, closure of nearby drinking water wells, destruction of crops, and deaths of at least three animals.
WHO: An oil refining facility
WHERE: Kapolei, HI
WHAT: Clean Air Act and EPCRA violations
HOW MUCH: $176,889
In March 2016, EPA inspectors identified violations of the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Plan
requirements, as well as EPCRA. In addition to mechanical integrity failures, EPA noted that several company operating procedures were unclear, not current, and missing information. Following incidents in 2014 and 2015, the facility also allegedly failed to notify the State Emergency Response Commission and the Local Emergency Planning Committee of releases of sulfur dioxide above the reportable quantity.
In addition to paying a penalty, the facility will complete a set of compliance tasks to ensure appropriate equipment operating conditions. The facility must certify completion of all tasks before December 2023.
WHO: A real estate development company
WHERE: Boise, ID
WHAT: Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $7,500
EPA recently settled a case with a company that improperly discharged sand, gravel, and rocks
into wetlands adjacent to Council Spring Creek in Boise. EPA claims the real estate developer failed to apply to the US Army Corps of Engineers for a Clean Water Act permit for flood control work it was conducting on a transmission line corridor.
The company agreed to remove the unauthorized fill material, restore the site, and enhance important forested wetland habitat adjacent to the Boise River and Alta Harris Creek by December 2022. This work will support diverse and abundant wildlife, such as raptors, small mammals, deer, coyote, elk, and possibly the endangered yellow-billed cuckoo, which may use the Snake River Valley for breeding purposes.
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/Superfund, 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