Every day, facilities across the US receive Notices of Violation from US EPA for alleged noncompliance with a wide variety of programs like the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts, chemical management and reporting regulations (TSCA, EPCRA, CERCLA, etc.), hazardous waste management and disposal standards (RCRA), and much more.
Below are examples of recent EPA enforcement actions that provide insight into how and why EPA issues civil penalties to facilities for environmental noncompliance. Names of companies and individuals cited by EPA are withheld to protect their privacy.
WHO: A federal naval air weapons facility
WHERE: China Lake, CA
WHAT: RCRA violations
HOW MUCH: $23,700
A naval air weapons research and development facility has agreed to pay $23,700 in RCRA fines for allegedly failing to keep hazardous waste containers closed and properly manage universal wastes. EPA also alleges the facility failed to comply with a permit condition that requires deteriorating containers to be replaced or put inside larger containers in good condition at the point of generation.
Under RCRA regulations, hazardous waste containers must always be closed during accumulation, except when necessary to add or remove waste (see 40 CFR 262.17(a)(1)(iv)(A)).
EPA identified these alleged violations, as well as others, during an inspection in 2018. The facility has since resolved the violations and is now in compliance. Operations at the facility include research and development of explosive materials and weapons, aircraft maintenance, metal fabrication operations, and storage of hazardous waste.
WHO: A petroleum refinery
WHERE: Bradford, PA
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $350,000 plus $4.5 million in equipment improvements
As part of an administrative consent agreement, a Pennsylvania petroleum refinery will pay a six-figure penalty for alleged violations of its operating permit issued by the State Department of Environmental Protection and noncompliance with Federal Clean Air Act regulations. As part of the settlement, the company has agreed to replace its coal-fired boiler and an associated fuel gas recovery system.
Alleged violations include failure to properly operate an emission-reducing flare; failure to comply with equipment leak detection and repair (LDAR) safeguards; failure to comply with performance requirements for petroleum storage vessels; and failure to comply with national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants for industrial boilers.
WHO: A mobile fast food restaurant
WHERE: Oahu, HI
WHAT: Safe Drinking Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $62,143
EPA alleges that a food truck in Hawaii failed to close three large-capacity cesspools. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA banned large-capacity cesspools in 2005. In 2017, the state of Hawaii passed legislation requiring all cesspools to be replaced by 2050.
The restaurant company has agreed to connect to nearby sewer lines by the end of 2019 as part of the settlement.
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