EPA Enforcement Roundup: Week of 3/21

Posted on 3/21/2022 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 explosives manufacturer
WHERE: McArthur, OH
WHAT: Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $2.3 million plus $3 million in site improvements

A company that manufactures blasting and explosives equipment agreed to implement significant upgrades to its wastewater treatment operations to resolve numerous Clean Water Act violations. According to EPA, one of the company’s facilities allegedly discharged pollutants in violation of its permits on numerous occasions since 2013. The company also allegedly failed to fully comply with an earlier Consent Order related to these incidents.

As part of the agreement, the company will invest approximately $3 million to improve two of its wastewater treatment plants, including implementing comprehensive operation and maintenance plans. The company has already eliminated discharges from four other on-site plants and under the consent decree will eliminate discharges from a fifth plant.

WHO: An antimicrobial product distributor
WHAT: FIFRA violations
HOW MUCH: $253,032

An antimicrobial surface coating was granted emergency use authorization by EPA during the COVID-19 pandemic for sale at specific sites in the Southern US. However, the company was allegedly marketing, selling, and distributing the product outside the terms and conditions set forth. EPA issued a Stop Sale, Use, or Removal Order (SSURO) for the product.

Based on the company's financial ability, it agreed to a civil penalty of $253,032 and the product will be removed from the US market. EPA recently modified the SSURO to allow for product distribution outside the US bearing revised export labeling.

WHO: An oil and gas company
WHERE: 35 facilities throughout AK
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $180,580

EPA alleges that an oil company failed to make timely repairs when leaks of methane and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were found, failed to conduct leak inspection at a new facility, and failed to accurately report on leak inspection and repair activities from 2018 through 2020. Most recently, the company’s 2020 Annual Compliance Report indicated that it failed to repair or replace 13 sources of fugitive emissions during scheduled shutdowns at one of its oil fields.

The oil company has since paid a $180,580 civil penalty for Clean Air Act violations at 35 of its Prudhoe Bay, Milne Point, and Kenai Peninsula facilities in Alaska. The oil and natural gas industry is the largest industrial source of methane and smog-forming volatile organic compounds. EPA requires the oil and gas industry to reduce fugitive emissions of methane and VOCs through regular inspections for leaks and prompt repair when leaks are discovered. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas.

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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: Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, EPA, FIFRA, roundup

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