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 chemical manufacturer
WHERE: La Porte, TX
WHAT: RCRA, Clean Air Act, and Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $3.1 million
A chemical manufacturing company reached an agreement with EPA, US Justice Department, and the state of Texas to resolve its alleged environmental violations related to a methyl mercaptan release in 2014 that killed four workers. The alleged violations include failure to make hazardous waste determinations, failure to fully implement the facility’s oil spill prevention plan, and failure to comply with applicable emissions standards.
Although the facility closed in 2016, the company continues to operate a wastewater treatment system on site. Therefore, the company has agreed to perform sampling and analysis to determine the extent of any existing soil, sediment, or groundwater contamination within or around any facilities that remain on the property.
WHO: A laminating and coating facility
WHERE: North Smithfield, RI
WHAT: Clean Air Act violations
HOW MUCH: $317,000
EPA alleges that a laminating and coating business operated in violation of its Clean Air Act permit by failing to properly capture emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The facility has since been sold and operates under a new company, which has agreed to install and operate a new thermal oxidizer designed to destroy the captured VOC emissions from the facility.
The previous facility owner agreed to pay a civil penalty and install a permanent total enclosure around the entire laminating line to address the alleged capture defects EPA identified.
WHO: A heating oil supplier
WHERE: Pago Pago, AS
WHAT: Clean Water Act violations
HOW MUCH: $300,000
An energy company operating a bulk fuel terminal on a US territory allegedly violated its NPDES permit by failing to conduct regular wastewater sampling or meet the permit’s other requirements. The company allegedly further allowed the permit to expire prematurely in 2015 and began operating without a permit until 2019.
The company has agreed to eliminate unauthorized wastewater discharges from the American Samoa Terminal. It will also take steps to return the terminal to compliance with Clean Water Act sampling and reporting requirements.
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