EPA Enforcement Roundup: Week of 2/28

Posted on 2/28/2022 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 steel manufacturer
WHERE: Burns Harbor, IN
WHAT: Clean Water Act, EPCRA, and CERCLA violations
HOW MUCH: $3 million

A steel manufacturer has agreed to resolve alleged violations of EPA regulations related to an August 2019 unpermitted discharge of ammonia and cyanide-contaminated wastewater into the East Branch of the Little Calumet River. According to EPA, the discharge resulted in significant disruptions to aquatic wildlife and beach closures along the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

In addition to paying a civil penalty, the company agreed to update its ammonia treatment system and cyanide treatment requirements, which is expected to greatly reduce the facility’s water pollution levels. The company will also reimburse EPA ($10,025.37) and the state of Indiana ($37,650) for response costs related to the discharge incident.

WHO: An oil and gas refinery
WHERE: New Plymouth, ID
WHAT: EPCRA violations
HOW MUCH: $12,500

EPA recently issued a consent agreement and final order to a gas processing facility for alleged violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). The Agency alleges three hazardous substances over the reporting threshold were stored at the facility. The company agreed to pay a five-figure civil penalty to resolve these alleged violations.

EPCRA provides the public and local governments with information concerning potential chemical hazards present in their communities and supports emergency planning efforts at the State and local levels. Under EPCRA Section 312, a company must submit an annual report for each facility that stores quantities of hazardous substances on site at or above reporting thresholds.

WHO: A food processing and storage facility
WHERE: Ontario, OR
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $8,900

EPA issued an expedited settlement agreement to a major food corporation for the company’s alleged failure to properly document that its operators at one processing facility are trained in safely operating refrigeration equipment to prevent an anhydrous ammonia release. This documentation is required as part of the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Plan requirements.

Under these requirements, owners and operators of facilities that manufacture, use, store, or otherwise handle more than a threshold quantity of a listed, regulated chemical must implement a risk management program and submit a single Risk Management Plan for all covered processes at the facility. A risk management plan provides important information to emergency responders and planners that includes accurate chemical quantities, emergency contacts, and demonstration of safe operation and maintenance of chemical processes.

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Managing site compliance with the many complex EPA programs that affect your business—from the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts to TSCA, EPCRA, CERLCA, and more—is a major challenge. If you’re new to the field or need an update on changing EPA rules, online training is a convenient way to quickly build in-depth expertise.

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Tags: CERCLA, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, EPA, EPCRA, fines, penalties, roundup

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