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: Three affiliated construction and trucking companies
WHERE: Scarborough, ME
WHAT: Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $25,000 plus $850,000 in wetland restoration
Three groups based out Maine have reached an agreement with EPA and US Department of Justice that would provide extensive wetland restoration and mitigate
alleged damage to the Rachael Carson National Wildlife Refuge. According to EPA, the organizations illegally operated on the protected wetlands for unpermitted construction filling projects for decades.
The restoration will involve removing fill and restoring roughly five acres of previously forested wetlands and creating a plant buffer between areas of remaining fill and restored areas. The companies also agreed to mitigate another 7 acres of adjacent forested wetlands by plugging drainage ditches and managing invasive species.
WHO: A petroleum refinery
WHERE: Lupton, AZ
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $279,472
EPA recently announced a settlement to resolve a petroleum company’s alleged violations of the Clean Air Act’s General Duty Clause. During a September 2016 inspection, environment investigators identified multiple alleged violations at the facility, including failure to identify and train employees about various electrical hazards, failure to conduct a hazard review, and more.
EPA claims these alleged violations may have contributed to a fire
at the facility on January 26, 2016. The facility’s incident investigation report on the fire indicated that an employee was using a wet/dry vacuum to remove excess gasoline from one of the distillation towers when the hydrocarbons ignited. The fire resulted in minor injuries to an employee, required response by firefighters, and caused significant damage to facility equipment.
WHO: A metal recycling facility
WHERE: Rosemount, MN
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $110,000 plus $1 million in site improvements
A metal recycler has agreed to pay at least $1 million in site improvements to reduce air emissions and help resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations. According to EPA, the facility exceeded emission limits
from an uncontrolled furnace hearth stack, failed to maintain a closed vent system at their scrap dryer, and failed to properly monitor lime injection at the dryer baghouse.
The agreement would require the facility to install a new baghouse to control all emissions from the furnace; upgrade the dryer baghouse; install new capture hoods and make additional improvements to the dryer closed vent system; increase emissions monitoring; and make improvements to the facility’s operations, maintenance, and monitoring plan.
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