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 national satellite TV provider
WHERE: Alameda County, CA
WHAT: RCRA violations
HOW MUCH: $5.5 million
A household name in satellite TV has agreed to a multi-million-dollar settlement with California prosecutors for alleged improper disposal of hazardous waste
in Alameda County and other areas of the state. Prosecutors alleged the company disposed of regulated electronic equipment, such as remote controls, transformers, batteries, and power adapters, in municipal garbage bins in violation of hazardous waste regulations.
Under the terms of the settlement, the company must pay a $3.32 million civil penalty and $835,500 in court fees. The satellite TV provider also agreed to implementing $500,000 in environmental compliance measures and conducting supplemental environmental projects totaling $845,000.
WHO: A stone quarry
WHERE: Marble, CO
WHAT: Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $235,430
A Colorado stone quarry must build a culvert and bridge and rehabilitate a stream that EPA alleges was negatively impacted by quarry activities. According to the US Army Corps of Engineers, the company illegally diverted about 1,700 feet of Yule Creek
from its natural channel in late 2018 in violation of its Clean Water Act permit.
The Army Corps will allow the stream to remain in its new alignment as long as the company completes ecological enhancement of the section. This includes adding woody debris, creating pools and riffles, planting willows, and monitoring progress for the next five years. The Army Corps called leaving the stream where it is the Least Environmentally Damaging Practicable Alternative, or LEDPA.
WHO: A timber company
WHERE: Longview, WA
WHAT: Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $719,000
A lumber mill recently reached a settlement with a conservation organization, agreeing to pay a $600,00 to the Columbia River Restoration Fund
plus $1119,000 in legal fees to resolve alleged violations of water quality and monitoring regulations. The group claims the mill discharged harmful levels of run-off into the Columbia River in Cowlitz County, which could deplete oxygen levels necessary for fish and spur growth of harmful bacteria.
As part of the settlement, the timber company must reroute one of its stormwater pipes from the Columbia River to a waste treatment plant. The company will also install aerators, at least one flow meter with monitoring probes, particulate streams, and biochar sock filters.
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