EPA Enforcement Roundup: Week of 11/29

Posted on 11/29/2021 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 cement processing facility
WHERE: Mason City, IA
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $197,500

According to EPA, an Iowa cement manufacturer is a “major air emission source” that failed to comply with State and Federal regulations intended to limit harmful releases of air pollution. EPA reviewed facility records for 2019 and 2020 and found that the company allegedly exceeded Clean Air Act emissions limits, failed to submit required reports to the state, and failed to conduct required testing of equipment.

Under the terms of the settlement with EPA, the company agreed to conduct additional air emissions testing to demonstrate ongoing compliance with the Clean Air Act. Cement plants are the third largest industrial source of air pollution, emitting more than 500,000 tons per year of pollutants, including particulate matter.

WHO: A plating chemicals manufacturer
WHERE: West Haven, CT
WHAT: RCRA violations
HOW MUCH: $86,769

EPA reached an agreement with a company that makes plating chemicals for the semiconductor industry over alleged hazardous waste violations. During an inspection of the facility, EPA identified several RCRA violations, including the failure to make a hazardous waste determination on some of its waste chemicals, failure to properly label hazardous waste containers, and failure to provide adequate aisle space in the facility's hazardous waste storage area for employees and emergency personnel.

As a result of EPA's enforcement action, the company corrected the violations and established new compliance procedures, including new procedures to ensure that the facility's hazardous wastes are properly identified and handled. The company also permanently closed and removed a 500-gallon underground hazardous waste storage tank from the facility.

WHO: A pesticide applicator and distributor
WHERE: Gilroy, CA
WHAT: FIFRA violations
HOW MUCH: $44,275

In November 2016, environmental inspectors investigated possible links between the use of a fumigant at an almond farm and reported public health effects consistent with pesticidal exposure. EPA determined that the company that applied the fumigant misused it by not following all requirements on the product label. According to EPA, the company did not comply with the label’s soil surface compacting requirement, its site‑specific Fumigation Management Plan was missing numerous required elements, and its Post-Application Summary was inaccurate.

The fumigant used is a restricted-use pesticide intended to treat and manage soil‑borne disease, including wireworms and nematodes. The active ingredient is chloropicrin, an irritant with characteristics of tear gas. Restricted-use pesticides are not available for use by the public because of high toxicity, the potential to injure applicators and bystanders, and the risk of adverse effects on the environment.

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

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