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 trucking company
WHERE: Troy, AL
WHAT: Illegal hazardous materials transport
HOW MUCH: $3 million
For illegally transporting more than 64 tons of lead-contaminated plastic battery chips from a now-closed battery recycling facility, a trucking company will pay a $1.5 million fine
and make an equal payment to a local residential assistance fund. The company was also placed on probation for a period of three years.
Earlier this year, the company pleaded guilty to three felony counts of illegal hazardous materials transportation. Evidently, the equipment used to transport wet plastic chips did not contain any lining or packing materials to prevent releases from the trailers. During transport trips from Vernon, CA to Bakersfield, lead-contaminated liquid residue reportedly leaked out onto public roads.
WHO: A chemical plant manager
WHERE: Smyrna, GA
WHAT: Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: 12 months probation and a $2,000 fine
The former plant manager of a chemical facility was sentenced for violations of the Clean Water Act on July 24, 2019. According to EPA
(see page 4), the manager instructed employees to wash a spill of carburetor cleaner into a tributary of the Chattahoochee River using hoses following a leak from a batching tank.
The carburetor cleaner contained the hazardous chemical naphalene and killed wildlife in the creek, including fish and frogs. It also turned the water a milky white color. The manager will serve the first four months of his one year probation as home detention, and will pay a $2,000 fine.
WHO: Five marinas
WHERE: San Francisco Bay Area, CA
WHAT: SPCC Plan violations
HOW MUCH: $1,500—$2,000 each
EPA has reached settlements with five facilities in Northern California’s Bay Delta region for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act’s Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC)
These alleged violations include failure to develop, certify, and implement an SPCC plan, perform tank inspections and integrity testing, and develop adequate secondary containment. Each violation ranges from $1,500—$2,000 in penalties.
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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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