EPA Enforcement Roundup: Week of 11/8

Posted on 11/8/2021 by Roseanne Bottone

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 chemical manufacturer and a specialty food manufacturer
WHERE: Houlton and Searsport, ME
WHAT: Chemical risk management planning violations
HOW MUCH: Civil penalties of $305,000 and $240,919

Two separate Maine businesses face more than $500,000 in combined civil penalties for allegedly violating chemical risk management provisions of the Clean Air Act. Companies that use certain volumes of regulated chemicals must prepare and submit a Risk Management Plan (RMP) to comply with Section 112(r) of the Act.  

The chemical manufacturer uses anhydrous ammonia and aqueous ammonia in quantities requiring a Plan. They also use sulfuric acid, an extremely hazardous substance subject to the General Duty Clause (GDC) of section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act. EPA also expressed concerns about maintenance of tanks and pipes at the facility.

The specialty foods company handles and stores propylene oxide, sulfuric acid, compressed natural gas, acetic anhydride, hydrogen chloride, and propane. These chemicals are also subject to RMP and other GDC chemical safety requirements. The EPA cited the facility for four serious concerns regarding their use of the chemicals at the site.

WHO: A pesticide seller and distributor
WHERE: Lombard, IL
WHAT: FIFRA violations 
HOW MUCH: “Stop Sale” order

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a “Stop Sale” order to a limited liability corporation (LLC) ordering them to immediately cease selling and distributing an unregistered pesticide in violation of FIFRA.

The disinfection product in question lists two active pesticidal ingredients (silver and phenic acid) on the unregistered pesticide product’s label and a website. FIFRA requires the evaluation of pesticides through EPA’s registration process to ensure that the products perform as intended prior to their distribution or sale.

WHO: A steel manufacturer
WHERE: Canton, OH
WHAT: Clean Air Act Violations

US EPA issued a notice of violation to a steel manufacturer for excessive lead air emissions from the company’s facility. The company was cited for monthly average lead concentrations of 0.62 µg/m3 and 0.49 µg/m3 in May and July, respectively, with monitors recording over 2 µg/m3 on multiple days. 

The National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for lead and its compounds is 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3), averaged over a 3-month period. 

Lead is a toxic heavy metal that adversely affects the nervous system, kidney function, immune system, reproductive and developmental systems, and the cardiovascular system – especially in infants and young children. There are three schools within a mile of the plant.

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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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