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 fertilizer manufacturer
WHERE: Geismar, LA
WHAT: RCRA violations
HOW MUCH: $1,510,023 plus $84 million to close facility
According to EPA, a fertilizer manufacturing facility failed to properly identify and manage certain waste streams as hazardous wastes. The corrosive hazardous wastes
were improperly mixed with process wastewater and phosphogypsum. This waste mixture was allegedly disposed of in surface impoundments.
The agreement requires the company to treat over one billion pounds of acidic hazardous process wastewater over the next several years to be processed at a newly constructed water treatment plant. The company will have over 50 years to close the facility’s phosphogypsum stacks and surface impoundments.
WHO: A limestone quarry
WHERE: Gallatin, MO
WHAT: Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $210,000 plus $300,000 in watershed restorations
A quarry allegedly filled in approximately 935 feet of Kettle Creek in Missouri without first obtaining a required Clean Water Act permit.
EPA says the impacted area contains a wide variety of fish species and that the illegal activity resulted in a loss of habitat. The Agency also alleges that the quarry failed to develop and implement a required plan to prevent discharges of oil from their facility.
As part of the settlement, the company agreed to pay the civil penalty, develop an oil spill prevention plan, restore 1,012 feet of Kettle Creek, and perform other restorative work intended to enhance watershed protection on approximately 4.7 acres of quarry property.
WHO: An apartment complex
WHERE: Las Vegas NV
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: One year in prison plus three years supervised release.
A Las Vegas apartment complex manager was sentenced to one year and one day in prison and three years of supervised release for renovating two apartment complexes in violation of asbestos regulations under the Clean Air Act. The manager admitted that he was aware of asbestos-containing materials at both buildings and that he hired untrained individuals to tear out those materials without following required asbestos work-practice standards.
EPA recently proposed new restrictions for chrysotile asbestos following a risk evaluation mandated by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA),
as amended. The public comment period closed on July 13.
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