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EPA Enforcement Roundup: Week of 10/3

Posted on 10/3/2022 by Nick Waldron

US businesses 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.

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 containerboard manufacturer
WHERE: DeRidder, Louisiana
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $2.5 million

A containerboard manufacturer will pay civil penalties in the amount of $2.5 million for nine alleged violations of the Clean Air Act’s General Duty Clause and Risk Management Program Regulations, including a fatal explosion at their containerboard production mill.

The explosion launched a 100,000-gallon storage tank over a six-story building where it landed on mill equipment more than a football field away. The blast also caused property damage and released extremely hazardous substances into the environment. Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act was designed in part to protect communities from hazardous substances—including explosions like the one that occurred at this mill.

EPA Enforcement Roundup: Week of 10/3

WHO: A wholesale chemical distributor
WHERE: Commerce, California
WHAT: Federal and State hazardous waste violations
HOW MUCH: $134,386

An Illinois-based chemical distributor has agreed to pay $134,386 in civil penalties for allegedly mismanaging hazardous wastes at its facility in Commerce, California.

The facility is classified as a large quantity generator of hazardous wastes under RCRA. An inspection discovered these violations:

  • Failure to make an accurate waste determination,
  • Failure to perform a required assessment for the tank holding hazardous waste,
  • Failure to meet the applicable air emission standards for the tank holding hazardous waste and the associated equipment.

EPA conducted an inspection in 2021 as part of a national focus on reducing hazardous air emissions at hazardous waste facilities. 

WHO: A petroleum storage facility
WHERE: Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $500,000 and $1.3M in compliance measures

For allegedly failing to comply with Clean Air Act regulations, a petroleum storage facility in Puerto Rico will implement compliance measures valued at about $1.3 million, and pay a civil penalty of $500,000.

Alleged Clean Air Act violations include:

  • Failure to use good air pollution control practices at the petroleum storage tanks, 
  • Failure to follow regulatory requirements after liquid was found on an internal floating roof within one petroleum storage tank, and 
  • Violations related to the vapor recovery system at the site’s truck loading racks.

The facility must replace parts of some tanks that are defective before using them further and improve monitoring of vapor concentrations in tanks. 

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Tags: environmental compliance, EPA, EPA Enforcement Roundup, hazardous waste management, RCRA

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