EPA Enforcement Roundup: Week of 1/3

Posted on 1/3/2022 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 aluminum manufacturer
WHERE: East St. Louis, IL
WHAT: CERCLA violations
HOW MUCH: $4.1 million

EPA reached a settlement with two companies and the surrounding municipality to address hazardous wastes at a former aluminum manufacturing plant. The companies agreed to clean up radium, arsenic, chromium, lead and other hazardous substances detected in soils at the site and reimburse all future costs incurred by the United States in overseeing the cleanup. The 400-acre site was an operating manufacturing facility from 1903 to 1957.

Each company and the municipality named in the settlement own some of the property and have agreed to remediate 180 acres by excavating approximately 40,000 cubic yards of near-surface hazardous waste material to at least two feet in depth, consolidating it with other waste from the former plant, and covering it with a minimum of two feet of clean soil. Stormwater controls also will be installed or reconfigured to protect local properties.

WHO: A chemical and materials company
WHERE: Phillipsburg, NJ and Paris, KY
WHAT: TSCA and EPCRA violations
HOW MUCH: $600,000

Facilities in New Jersey and Kentucky that allegedly violated chemical safety and reporting regulations agreed to take steps to come into compliance with TSCA and EPCRA regulations. As part of the settlement, the companies submitted Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) and Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reports for a variety of chemicals including acids, bases, salts, solvents and metals.

EPA found that the company failed to file CDR reports for 13 chemical substances that it imported for commercial purposes at its New Jersey facility and that it failed to report 16 chemical substances that it imported for commercial purposes at its Kentucky facility. These CDR reports were due between June 1, 2016 and October 31, 2016. The company also failed to report 17 chemicals for its New Jersey facility to the TRI for calendar year 2015 by the required due date of July 1, 2016.
WHO: A refrigerated foods processor
WHERE: Montague, MA
WHAT: Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $252,000

A soy-based food production plant agreed to replace its wastewater treatment system after improperly discharging acidic wastewaters to the sewer system. The facility soaks soybeans in lactic acid to prepare its products and uses acidic cleaners to sanitize its equipment. Discharge of low-pH wastewaters to sewers is prohibited under the Clean Water Act pretreatment regulations because of the potential to corrode piping.

The company’s new wastewater pretreatment system controls the pH of the wastewater that the facility discharges into the municipal sewer system. The company has also agreed to pay a $252,000 civil penalty.

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Tags: CERCLA, Clean Water Act, EPA Enforcement Roundup, EPCRA, fines, penalties, roundup, Superfund, TRI reporting, TSCA

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