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 horse track
WHERE: New Orleans, LA
WHAT: Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $2.79 million, plus $5.6 million in operational changes
According to EPA, a New Orleans racetrack and fairgrounds
allegedly discharged untreated wastewater into a municipal separate storm sewer system, which ultimately leads to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. In violation of its permit, the racetrack discharged the wastewater after as little as a half-inch of rain, as well as in dry weather. EPA estimates unauthorized discharges of contaminated wastewater occurred more than 250 times between 2012 and 2018.
The horseracing company agreed to pay a $2.79 million fine, one of the largest penalties ever issued for Clean Water Act violations. The company will also implement best management practices and construction projects designed to eliminate unauthorized discharges. The fairgrounds will also perform site-specific sampling, monitoring, and hydraulic modeling to help determine whether the remedial actions are successful in eliminating unauthorized discharges.
WHO: A cold storage facility
WHERE: Honolulu, HI
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $210,564
EPA announced a settlement with a refrigeration company to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Plan requirements
at one of the company facilities on Honolulu, Hawaii. The cold storage company will pay a $210,564 civil penalty and implement changes to reduce the risk of chemical accidents at its facility.
In March 2019, an EPA inspection found that an industrial refrigeration system failed to safely manage large quantities of anhydrous ammonia. In addition, the facility’s written risk management system was deficient as components were either out of date or not being implemented.
WHO: A natural gas processing plant
WHERE: Evans City, PA
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $150,000
An energy company has settled with EPA alleged violations of the Clean Air Act, including failure to timely conduct a third-party leak detection
and repair audit, failure to timely comply with requirements for monitoring leaks at connectors, and failure to timely apply to incorporate these leak detection requirements into a Federally enforceable State operating permit. EPA identified the alleged violations while reviewing the company’s compliance with a previous administrative compliance order from March 2017.
As part of the settlement, the company did not admit liability for the alleged violations, but agreed to pay a penalty and has certified that it is now in compliance with applicable Clean Air Act requirements.
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