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EPA Enforcement Roundup: Week of 5/15

Posted on 5/11/2023 by Nick Waldron and Roger Marks

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. 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.

We highlight environmental enforcement actions that offer insight into how and why US EPA and state partners assess civil penalties for regulatory noncompliance. All violations or potential violations discussed are only alleged unless we say otherwise. We withhold the names of organizations and individuals subject to enforcement to protect their privacy.

Your EPA Enforcement Roundup for this week:

In West Virginia, EPA took enforcement action to address PFAS pollution under the Clean Water Act for the first time ever. 

EPA recently ordered a chemical manufacturing facility to take corrective measures to reduce levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in its wastewater discharges. EPA says the facility exceeded discharge limits in its NPDES permit for two common PFAS—PFOA and “Gen X”—on various dates between September 2018 and March 2023. 

The agency is calling it “the first EPA Clean Water Act enforcement action ever taken” to hold a facility accountable for discharge of PFAS to the environment. 

In addition to the NPDES violations, EPA says the facility failed to “properly operate and maintain facilities and systems” to ensure compliance with the NPDES permit. For instance, inspectors noticed partially uncovered grates and unplugged pipes that allowed some PFAS-containing waste into various discharge outlets. 

Ohio river seen from parkersburg WV

An ice products maker in Michigan faces $232,593 in penalties over alleged failure to report a hazardous substance release.  

An ice and ice products manufacturing facility in northern Michigan faces a six-figure civil penalty for allegedly failing to report a release of a hazardous substance. EPA alleges that more than 1,500 pounds of anhydrous ammonia was released from a pipe failure on one day in June 2022, an event that should have triggered an immediate notification to the National Response Center (and a follow-up written report to affected local agencies). 

The EPCRA release reporting regulations list anhydrous ammonia as an Extremely Hazardous Substance (EHS) with a reportable quantity or RQ of only 100 pounds (40 CFR 355, Appendix. A). 

ice block manufacturing work


A South Carolina chemical plant will strengthen their leak detection and repair program and pay $731,250 to resolve alleged Clean Air violations

An organic chemical manufacturing plant will spent about $3 million to improve practices for leak detection and repair (LDAR), reducing emissions of hazardous air pollutants by up to 12 tons per year. The plant has also agreed to pay more than $700,000 in civil penalties for allegedly violating the Clean Air Act by failing to properly monitor and repair leaks and operate pollution control equipment.

EPA reportedly found hazardous air pollutants (HAP) including xylene, methanol, methylene chloride, and acrylic acid at the facility. The complaint alleges that the facility violated requirements for LDAR, controlling emissions from storage tanks, and characterizing and controlling wastewater.


Complete Environmental Regulations Training

Want a clearer idea of how major EPA air, water, and chemical programs all fit together to affect your site's activities? Join in on the next Complete Environmental Regulations Webinar on May 18–19 at Lion.com.

EH&S professionals who attend can identify the regulations that apply to their facility and locate key requirements to achieve compliance the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts to EPCRA, TSCA, Superfund, and more. Prefer to train at your own pace? Try the interactive online course.

Tags: EPA Enforcement Roundup, PFAS

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