EPA Enforcement Roundup: Week of 4/4

Posted on 4/4/2022 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: A North Atlantic energy company
WHERE: Uinta Basin, UT
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $3 million

A Canadian-based energy company agreed to pay a multi-million-dollar civil penalty after EPA identified alleged violations of air emissions requirements. According to EPA, the company failed to adhere to regulations related to volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from storage tanks at 30 previously owned oil and gas production facilities.

The $3 million civil penalty will be split evenly between the United States and the state of Utah. The company has agreed to deposit $1.2 million of Utah’s share into the state’s Environmental Mitigation and Response Fund for air-quality-related projects across the state.

WHO: An oil refinery
WHERE: South Gate, CA
WHAT: Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $112,673

EPA recently reached a settlement with a California oil facility over alleged oil pollution prevention violations. EPA inspected the facility on March 31 and April 16, 2021 and found the company allegedly failed to implement tank and facility inspections according to the written procedures in the Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure Plan, promptly mitigate visible discharges that result in oil loss from containers, and develop an adequate Facility Response Plan (FRP) in the event of an oil spill.

The facility was a concern for EPA due to its proximity to the Rio Hondo Channel and the Los Angeles River, which flow to the Long Beach Harbor and the Pacific Ocean, as well as the Golden Shore Marine Reserve. As part of the agreement, the company agreed to develop an updated tank testing and inspection schedule, update its FRP, and revise its oil spill prevention training program.

WHO: A scrap metal dealer
WHERE: Longview, WA
WHAT: Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $50,300

A scrap metal dealer allegedly failed to comply with State and Federal regulations related to stormwater pollution prevention, resulting in regular discharges of industrial stormwater that eventually reached the Columbia River. The industrial stormwater was polluted with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), fuel oil, hydraulic oil, lead acid, and lead oxides, among other substances.

EPA found that the company failed to develop a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), implement best management practices, and conduct required sampling of discharges. To resolve these alleged violations, the scrap metal facility agreed to begin monitoring stormwater discharges, improve site conditions, and submit reports to EPA demonstrating effective implementation of the requirements of the Industrial Stormwater General Permit.

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