EPA Enforcement Roundup: Week of 11/15

Posted on 11/15/2021 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 supermarket chain
WHERE: Concord, CA
WHAT: FIFRA violations
HOW MUCH: $206,805

In March 2021, EPA conducted an inspection at a grocery store in California and found that the store allegedly sold an unregistered antibacterial spray to 28 customers. According to EPA, the disinfectant made unsubstantiated claims about its use against COVID-19.

Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), products that claim to kill or repel bacteria or germs, including disinfectants, are considered pesticides and must be registered with EPA. EPA maintains a list of approved products that have been proven effective against COVID-19.

WHO: An oil refinery
WHERE: Carson, CA
WHAT: RCRA violations
HOW MUCH: $87,276

A California oil refinery agreed to a settlement with EPA over alleged unpermitted accumulations of hazardous waste. The oil-bearing hazardous waste included multiple types of sludge and solids from the petroleum refining process.

Instead of disposing of the oil-based hazardous waste off site, the company agreed to process the excess hazardous waste into usable product by December 31, 2021, contingent upon additional EPA oversight of the process.

WHO: A municipality
WHERE: Pāhala and Nāʻālehu, HI
WHAT: Safe Drinking Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $28,500

In June 2017, EPA and a municipality in Hawai’i voluntarily entered into an order to close five large capacity cesspools (LCCs) and complete a wastewater treatment facility as a replacement. The wastewater treatment plant design was not approved by the Department of Health by the established deadline of July 24, 2021. EPA issued a civil penalty for failure to meet this major milestone in the LCC closure agreement.

LCCs were banned under the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act in April 2005. Cesspools collect and discharge untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens and harmful chemicals can contaminate groundwater, streams, and the ocean.

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Tags: Clean Water Act, coronavirus, COVID-19, enforcement, FIFRA, fines, hazardous waste management, penalties, RCRA

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