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 municipality
WHERE: Quincy, MA
WHAT: Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $115,000 plus $100 million in remedial measures
A New England city has agreed to pay over $100 million for infrastructure repairs to reduce the discharge of sewage and pollutants into bodies of water around the city. Under the new consent decree, the city will implement a comprehensive and integrated program to investigate, repair, and rehabilitate its stormwater and sanitary sewer systems.
Water sampling suggested that untreated sanitary sewage may have been discharged from various local stormwater outfalls, including outfalls leading to beach areas.
The city has agreed to remove all identified sources of sewage and conduct more frequent and enhanced monitoring of its stormwater outfalls. Until pollutants are removed from its storm drain discharges, Quincy will be required to post notices to warn beachgoers of contaminated stormwater at such storm drain outfalls.
WHO: A public utilities agency
WHERE: Atlantic City, NJ
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $75,000 plus a $30,000 EV infrastructure project
Beginning in 2016, a NJ power company allegedly failed to develop required plans and operating procedures for its sewage sludge incinerator in violation of the Clean Air Act. In addition to developing this plan and operating procedures, the company will conduct mercury emissions monitoring, establish site-specific operating limits to control air emissions, and prepare procedures to minimize and eliminate bypass events.
The utility company is set to contribute at least $30,000 towards the installation of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations
in and around Atlantic City. If this is not feasible, these funds will go towards a State grant program to encourage municipalities to install EV charging stations.
WHO: A petroleum company
WHERE: Two locations in ND
WHAT: SPCC violations
HOW MUCH: $50,000
EPA recently announced a settlement with an oil production company to resolve alleged violations of Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) requirements. An EPA inspection in 2015 indicated that the company failed to implement satisfactory facility-wide SPCC Plans, had inadequate secondary containment measures
for storage tanks, and had other technical deficiencies at two of its facilities.
The $50,000 penalty will be deposited into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund to help federal agencies effectively respond to discharges of oil and hazardous substances. Since the 2015 inspection, the company has submitted a compliant SPCC plan and corrected the technical deficiencies found during the inspections.
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