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October 12, 2021
EPA enforcement roundup

In the third quarter (Q3), the EPA finalized 445 settlement agreements with companies large and small across the United States. This represents a significant increase in enforcement actions—up from 235 penalties issued in Q2 for 2021. The actions taken resulted in fines totaling $11,467,487. Here are some of the highlights.

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CAA violations yield biggest fine from EPA

The largest fine assessed by the EPA in Q3 was against an oil company for numerous fuel regulation (motor vehicle and engine fuels) violations under the Clean Air Act (CAA). The EPA alleges that the company failed to have the correct amount of gasoline when introducing batches of fuel into commerce by a refiner or importer during the regulatory control period; meet the per-gallon cap standard requirement that sets the maximum sulfur level of 80 parts per million (ppm) for each batch of gasoline produced at a refinery or imported; correctly report 3 benzene credit transfers; and include the correct benzene credit balance in its Annual Gasoline Benzene Report. The settlement requires that the company—with facilities in California, Missouri, and Utah—pay a civil penalty of $647,888.

Additional enforcement actions were taken against 96 other entities for CAA violations, with penalties that ranged from $400 to $500,000. In all, CAA violations accounted for $6,132,019 in Q3.

RCRA violations bringing six-figure fines

The EPA continues its consistent enforcement for Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) violations:

  • A water treatment, purification, cleaning, and hygiene company in Washington was penalized $180,000 for violations of the hazardous waste management requirements under RCRA. The company violated RCRA by failing to obtain an EPA transporter ID number, receiving dangerous waste from off-site generators without a permit, and storing and/or treating dangerous waste without a permit.
  • A consumer products manufacturer was fined $175,000 for violations of RCRA’s Standards Applicable to Generators of Hazardous Waste program at its Illinois facility. The company violated RCRA when it failed to properly notify its status as a large quantity generator (LQG) of hazardous waste; record information required for equipment recordkeeping; mark equipment; monitor pumps and valves; inspect tanks and closures storing hazardous waste; and obtain a written tank assessment.
  • A shrink sleeve manufacturer was penalized $149,000 for numerous RCRA violations observed during a 2016 inspection at the company’s facility in Kentucky. The violations included failing to conduct hazardous waste determinations on three wastestreams; register four waste profiles with the Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection (KDEP); conduct weekly inspections in certain areas of the facility; monitor pumps to detect leaks; determine the maximum organic vapor pressure of the hazardous wastes; determine the applicable air pollutant emissions controls for the tanks; and provide adequate secondary containment for the tanks.

Emphasizing clean water

The EPA cited 137 different entities for violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA), including oil and construction companies, for inadequate Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plans, as well as towns and cities for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit violations. The fines totaled $1,121,723 and ranged from $500 to $153,637.

Targeting metal suppliers

A scrap metal dealer in South Carolina was fined $95,000 for polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) violations, which are regulated under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The company violated TSCA when it failed to provide documentation to the Agency demonstrating it had obtained financial assurance using the required reporting mechanism; record deed restrictions within 60 days after completion of the redevelopment; and notify the Agency at least 30 days before ownership or operational control of the foundry property of the facility was transferred to new owners.

A steel manufacturer in Florida was penalized $34,900 for PCB violations under TSCA, including failure to maintain the leachate collection and removal system so as not to allow leachate to accumulate to a depth of more than 1 foot over the liner (outside of the sump); monitor the leachate collection and leak detection systems at least monthly; and maintain roads to and within the facility that are adequate to support the operation and maintenance of the facility without causing safety or nuisance problems or hazardous conditions.

EPCRA violations

A California ice cream company was fined $301,066 for violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) regarding its ammonia refrigeration systems. The violations included failure to comply with process safety requirements, comply with process hazard analysis requirements, correct deficient equipment, and comply with compliance audit requirements.

An agricultural product wholesaler in Washington was penalized $96,600 for EPCRA violations. The company violated EPCRA when it failed to report storage of an extremely hazardous substance at each of its three ammonia refrigeration cold storage facilities in Washington.

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