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 plastics manufacturer
WHERE: Point Comfort, TX
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $2.85 million
A plastics company agreed to a multi-million-dollar settlement with EPA to resolve alleged violations of Chemical Accident Prevention requirements at its Texas petrochemical manufacturing facility. EPA began its investigation after a series of fires
occurred between May 2013 through October 2016 at the facility. These accidents caused injuries to workers, including second- and third-degree burns, chlorine inhalation requiring hospitalization, and the release of extremely hazardous substances into the environment.
The company will be required to update its response and personal protection plans to prevent employee injury, conduct a third-party audit of its risk management practices, perform corrective actions based on audit results, and develop key performance indicators to evaluate future compliance. In addition, the company agreed to conduct a service compatibility evaluation to identify incompatible equipment and implement a mechanical integrity reporting program.
WHO: A railroad transporter
WHERE: Mosier, OR
WHAT: Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $82,500
On June 3, 2016, a train operated by a rail logistics company carrying Bakken crude oil from New Town, ND to Tacoma, WA allegedly derailed in the Columbia River Gorge near Mosier, OR. As a result, several railcars caught fire and four cars were damaged, releasing crude oil into the environment. About 47,000 gallons of oil were released,
16,000 gallons of which burned or vaporized.
In addition to paying a civil penalty, the company agreed to remove and dispose of the contaminated soil and water; conduct short- and long-term (2 years) air and groundwater monitoring in the community; and reclaim, re-grade, and re-plant the spill site.
WHO: A cannabis production company
WHERE: San Diego, CA
WHAT: RCRA violations
HOW MUCH: $45,000
A cannabis oil extraction company agreed to a settlement over alleged improper disposal of hazardous waste in early 2018. Prosecutors allege that hazardous waste drums were knowingly offered to a contracted transporter without a Hazardous Waste Manifest.
The contractor then abandoned seven of the drums at nearby businesses.
The company has agreed to pay a $45,000 fine and restitution of $26,482 for the costs of emergency response and restoration of the sites where the hazardous waste was abandoned.
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