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EPA Enforcement Roundup: Week of 8/9

Posted on 8/9/2021 by Lauren Scott

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 copper smelting facility
WHERE: Leetsdale, PA
WHAT: Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $861,500

A metal manufacturing company has agreed to perform a comprehensive environmental audit, implement an updated environmental management system, and pay a six-figure civil penalty to resolve alleged violations of the Federal Clean Water Act and Pennsylvania’s Clean Streams Law. According to EPA, the facility exceeded its permitted discharge limits of copper, chromium, nickel, oil, grease, lead, and zinc, among other violations.

As part of the settlement, the company has agreed to conduct a comprehensive review of its wastewater treatment system, hire third-party consultants to conduct a compliance audit and implement corrective measures, and conduct annual compliance training of employees and contractors.

WHO: An industrial gas company
WHERE: Carson, CA
WHAT: CERCLA and Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $127,000

After a release of anhydrous ammonia in January 2019 at carbon dioxide liquidation facility, the facility waited several hours to report the incident to the National Response Center, which is a violation of emergency standards. In addition, EPA found that the company allegedly failed to properly label the facility’s emergency equipment, establish proper emergency controls, and protect electrical equipment.

In addition to paying a civil penalty, the company agreed to make safety improvements to its Carson, California facility to protect the public and first responders from dangerous chemicals. 

WHO: A wastewater treatment plant
WHERE: Wapato, WA
WHAT: Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $25,750

EPA announced an agreement with a municipal wastewater treatment center for allegedly exceeding the effluent limits on ammonia, copper, and zinc. EPA also noted the facility allegedly failed to update its Quality Assurance Plan and Operations and Maintenance Plan.

The facility is expected to take specific actions to prevent further unpermitted zinc discharges, which accounted for the majority of violations.

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Tags: anhydrous ammonia, CERCLA, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, enforcement, EPA, fines, penalties

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