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 packaging and construction materials manufacturer
WHERE: Lake Charles, LA and Calvert City, KY
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $1 million plus $110 million in site improvements
Three affiliated facilities in the Southeast allegedly failed to properly operate and monitor their industrial flares, which resulted in excess emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), according to a settlement with EPA. The facilities will perform air quality monitoring designed to detect benzene at the fence lines. Monitoring results must be made publicly available online to provide neighboring communities with more information about their air quality.
The three facilities must also install and operate air pollution control and monitoring technology to reduce flaring and the subsequent air pollution. Once fully implemented, the pollution controls are estimated to reduce emissions of ozone-forming VOCs by 2,258 tons per year, toxic air pollutants, (including benzene) by 65 tons per year, and greenhouse gases by over 50,733 tons per year.
WHO: A dental equipment supplier
WHERE: Cuyahoga Falls, OH
WHAT: FIFRA violations
HOW MUCH: $654,064
EPA recently reached an agreement with a dental equipment provider
after the company allegedly produced and sold two pesticides even after they were no longer registered with EPA. The products were designed to disinfect dental equipment. The company has since stopped making and selling the pesticides and agreed to pay a six-figure civil penalty.
Under FIFRA, products that claim to kill, destroy, prevent, or repel bacteria or viruses, among other things on surfaces, are considered pesticides and must go through EPA’s registration process to ensure that the products perform as intended prior to their distribution or sale in commerce. Public health claims can only be made for products that have been registered with EPA.
WHO: A food processing facility
WHERE: Ayer, MA
WHAT: RCRA violations
HOW MUCH: $19,092
According to State environmental investigators, a tofu maker improperly shipped approximately 150 gallons of hazardous waste to a company in New Jersey that can only accept empty containers. Additionally, the hazardous waste was shipped without the correct hazardous waste shipping papers
. The tofu company also exceeded the amount of hazardous waste it is authorized to generate under its registered waste generator status with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).
Under the terms of the agreement, the company will pay a civil penalty and use $14,319 of the penalty for a Supplemental Environmental Project. The project will pay for 50 percent of the hazardous materials disposal costs for nearby residents dropping off materials at a disposal event and pay for event marketing materials.
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