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EPA Enforcement Roundup: Week of 1/9

Posted on 1/6/2023 by Nick Waldron

US businesses are subject to complex, overlapping environmental regulations related to air emissions, discharges to water, hazardous waste management and disposal, oil spills, chemical management, and more. 

The EPA enforcement actions highlighted below provide insight into how and why the Agency assesses civil penalties for environmental noncompliance. US EPA increased civil penalties for regulatory violations in January 2023. 

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 chemical distributor
WHERE: Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Colorado
WHAT: Clean Air Act and EPCRA (TRI) violations
HOW MUCH: $800,000

For alleged violations of chemical management and accident prevention requirements under the Clean Air Act and Community Right-to-Know (EPCRA) regulations, a chemical distributor has agreed to a settlement valued at $800,000. The total includes $600,000 in civil penalties and $200,000 or more to be spent on increasing the capabilities of emergency responders in the areas near two of the company's facilities. 

EPA inspected five of the company's chemical distribution facilities between 2016 and 2019, noting violations related to management of hazardous chemicals including anhydrous ammonia, chlorine, and formaldehyde. The facility allegedly violations the General Duty Clause (GDC) and Risk Management Planning (RMP) programs of the Clean Air Act, as well as EPCRA's Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) recordkeeping requirements.  

WHO: A chemical manufacturing plant 
WHERE: LaPlace, LA
WHAT: RCRA hazardous waste violations
HOW MUCH: Operational changes and emissions reductions 

A chemical manufacturing plant will change the way it manages hazardous waste generated on site under the terms of an agreement with US EPA to resolve alleged RCRA violations. According to EPA, the facility did not determine whether a chemical (chloroprene) waste that they disposed of in an open-air brine pit was hazardous according to regulation.  

As part of the agreement and Final Order, the plant will: 

  • Stop moving the chloroprene waste stream to the outdoor pit, 
  • Comply with hazardous waste storage and disposal requirements, and
  • Provide personal protective equipment to employees who handle the waste.

A 2011 National Air Toxics Assessment showed elevated concentrations of chloroprene in the air in LaPlace, LA, where the facility is located. EPA estimates that improved waste management and emissions reductions at this plant will eliminate two tons of chloroprene emissions per year. 

EPA Enforcement Roundup: Week of 1/9

WHO: A polyurethane manufacturer
WHERE: Earth City, Missouri
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $7,398 in penalties, $35,500 in equipment

A Missouri polyurethane manufacturer agreed to a settlement with the EPA that requires the company to pay a $7,398 civil penalty and purchase at least $35,000 worth of gas detectors, air bags, and new fire hoses for a local fire department.

The settlement resolves alleged violations of the Clean Air Act Risk Management Planning or RMP rule, which requires facilities that use certain quantities of covered toxic and/or flammable substances (e.g., at least 10,000 pounds of methyl formate stored at the Missouri facility) to provide information to local responders to improve response to chemical emergencies in the community.

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Tags: Clean Air Act, EPA Enforcement Roundup, RCRA, RMP, TRI reporting

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