EPA Enforcement Roundup: Week of 11/22

Posted on 11/22/2021 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 synthetic natural gas facility
WHERE: Kapolei, HI
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $230,000

A January 2020 EPA inspection of a natural gas facility revealed alleged violations of the Clean Air Act’s chemical release prevention and reporting requirements. Findings included failure to meet process safety requirements, failure to perform an adequate process hazards analysis and promptly address related recommendations, failure to correct equipment deficiencies, and a lack of required information in the facility’s emergency response plan.

In addition to paying a civil penalty, the company agreed to modify equipment, address audit recommendations, train maintenance employees, and complete other compliance tasks.

WHO: A recycling company
WHERE: Facilities in GA, OH, and UT
WHAT: RCRA violations
HOW MUCH: $200,000

EPA announced a settlement with a regional recycling company to resolve alleged hazardous waste environmental violations at the company’s facilities in Georgia, Ohio, and Utah. The alleged RCRA violations include improper management and storage of hazardous waste without a RCRA permit.

According to EPA, the company generated a spent blast media (SBM) that is toxic for cadmium, chromium, and lead, which accumulated at all three facilities. SBM is often the product of media blasting, which is performed to remove coatings, rust, and corrosion. As part of this settlement, the recycling company will stop receipt of SBM at all facilities until the company disposes of the 3.4 million pounds of SBM currently on site.

WHO: A container ship
WHERE: Three ports in CA
WHAT: Vessel General Permit violations
HOW MUCH: $66,474

From November 2016 to July 2021, a container ship allegedly failed to conduct required routine visual inspections for 11 voyages to Ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Oakland. The ship also failed to submit timely annual reports to EPA for 2016–2019. These actions are in violation of the vessel’s Vessel General Permit in accordance with the Clean Water Act.

The violations were discovered in February 2020, as part of EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard on-site visual inspections at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. EPA's settlement resolves the container ship’s violations and is subject to a 30-day public comment period prior to final approval.

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Tags: Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, EPA, fines, hazardous waste management, penalties, RCRA

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