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EPA Enforcement Roundup: Week of 4/18

Posted on 4/18/2022 by Lauren Scott

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: An aerospace & defense contractor
WHERE: Bethpage, NY
WHAT: CERCLA violations
HOW MUCH: $35 million in cleanup costs

From the late 1930s to 1996, a defense contractor used a government-owned facility for research of manufacture of US Navy aircrafts. These operations allegedly resulted in contamination of the soil and groundwater with hazardous substances, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and metals. Part of the facility has since been converted into a community park, causing concern for public health.

The defense contractor agreed to reimburse the Navy for remediation costs, totaling $35 million. To clean up the site, the Navy agreed to conduct soil excavation to remediate contaminated soils and shallow groundwater, design and implement on-site groundwater extraction wells and treatment systems to capture and treat VOCs, and develop a public water supply protection program.

WHO: A real estate developer
WHERE: Johns Island, SC
WHAT: Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $525,000 plus restoration costs (over $1 million total)

US Army Corps of Engineers recently reached a settlement with a real estate developer to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act, contributing to the “destruction and/or significant degradation” of wetlands on Johns Island. According to the US Attorney’s Office, the construction company filled wetlands without a permit and operated earthmoving equipment on the company owner's property as well as nearby lands.

In addition to paying a civil penalty, the developer agreed to purchase 70 freshwater wetland restoration or enhancement mitigation credits and will not be allowed to undertake certain new activities at the property without Army Corps approval. Total obligations under the settlement are over $1 million.

WHO: A construction company
WHERE: Berwick, PA
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $400,000

A construction company admitted to beginning a demolition project of a former weaving mill prior to removing regulated asbestos-containing material. Prior to purchasing the mill in January 2014, the local school district obtained an environmental assessment report that identified hazardous substances, including asbestos, in the defunct facility. Although the company was informed of these findings, the demolition went forward before the asbestos was properly removed.

As part of the deal, the company has plead guilty to violating the Clean Air Act. The business will be required to create an environmental compliance health and safety program and establish procedures for workers to report environmental violations.

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Tags: asbestos, CERCLA, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, EPA, Superfund

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