EPA Enforcement Roundup: Week of 10/18

Posted on 10/18/2021 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 others.
We withhold the names of organizations and individuals subject to enforcement to protect their privacy.

WHO: A chemical manufacturer and a technical consulting firm
WHERE: Orange, TX
WHAT: Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and RCRA violations
HOW MUCH: $3.1 million

EPA reached a settlement to resolve alleged violations of Federal environmental regulations at a chemical manufacturing facility. The alleged violations include failure to make hazardous waste determinations and meet land disposal restrictions, discharges of process wastewater in violation of the facility’s permits, and failure to comply with national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants from benzene waste operations.

Under the settlement, an independent third party will conduct multimedia compliance audits to review the facility’s compliance with environmental regulations. Additionally, the defendants will undertake measures to monitor and control benzene emissions and pH levels in wastewaters.

WHO: Three chemical companies
WHERE: Los Angeles County, CA
WHAT: CERCLA settlement
HOW MUCH: $77.6 million

The US District Court for the Central District of California recently approved three settlements to resolve alleged groundwater cleanup violations at two Superfund sites. One location was once the largest manufacturing plant for the pesticide DDT (dichloro-diphenyl-trichloroethane) in the US while the other used to be a rubber manufacturing facility.

Settlement requirements include pumping and treating the groundwater to Federal and State cleanup standards and then reinjecting the treated water back into the ground, treatment of the soil to address historical releases, and an investigation of potential contaminant releases in historic stormwater pathways.

WHO: A former film processing business
WHERE: Los Angeles, CA
WHAT: CERCLA liability suit
HOW MUCH: At least $20 million

The current owners of a former film processing site filed a lawsuit against the company that previously operated on the site over contamination from the facility’s alleged mishandling of chlorinated solvents during the printing and cleaning process. Many of these chemicals have already broken down into trichloroethylene and vinyl chloride and spilled into soil and groundwater under the property.

According to the lawsuit, the new owners have already paid $1.4 million out of the estimated $10 million it will take to remediate the facility. The new owners are asking at least $20 million in damages. This lawsuit is currently under review.

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

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