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January 11, 2022
EPA enforcement roundup

In the fourth quarter (Q4), the EPA finalized 207 settlement agreements with companies large and small across the United States. This represents a significant decrease in enforcement actions—down from 445 penalties issued in Q3 for 2021. The actions taken resulted in fines totaling $4,259,710. Here are some of the highlights.

FIFRA violations yield biggest fine from EPA

The largest fine assessed by the EPA in Q4 was against a crop inputs and services company in Colorado for violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). The company acted in violation of the EPA's June 8, 2020, Cancellation Order for Three Dicamba Products when it applied existing stocks of two restricted-use dicamba products, resulting in the selling or distribution of unregistered pesticides. The company also used several other dicamba products in a manner inconsistent with labeling requirements and was penalized $668,100.

Additional enforcement actions were taken against 54 other entities for FIFRA violations, with penalties that ranged from $500 to $35,600. In all, FIFRA violations accounted for $784,175 in Q4.

CAA violations bringing six-figure fines

The EPA continues its consistent enforcement for Clean Air Act (CAA) violations:

  • A chemical manufacturer in Louisiana was fined $275,000 for New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) violations under the CAA, including failure to maintain and operate the facility and associated air pollution control equipment in a manner consistent with good air pollution control practice for minimizing emissions.
  • A compressor station in North Dakota was penalized $250,000 for CAA violations discovered during a routine, on-site inspection in 2020. The company was in violation of the CAA Title V permit program, the NSPS, and the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP).
  • The EPA cited a natural gas company for $230,000 after a January 2020 inspection at its synthetic natural gas plant in Kapolei, Hawaii. The EPA determined the facility violated chemical release prevention and reporting requirements. The company also failed to meet safety requirements and conduct hazards analyses, failed to correct equipment deficiencies, and lacked required information in its emergency response plan.

RCRA violations

An incinerator facility was fined $224,903 and entered into a consent agreement with the EPA to resolve violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) leak detection and repair (LDAR) requirements in Grantsville, Utah. The company violated RCRA when it failed to monitor components using Method 21; cap or plug open-ended lines; operate pressure relief devices to meet the no-detectable-emissions standard; record repair information in the LDAR database; operate the facility in a manner that minimizes the possibility of a sudden or nonsudden release of hazardous waste to the air; record monitoring and leak information in the LDAR database; properly train employees to conduct Method 21; use a device capable of responding to the constituents being monitored using Method 21; and repair equipment leaks within 15 days of detection.

The EPA entered into a consent agreement with a paint manufacturer in Huron, Ohio, to resolve RCRA violations relating to the company’s tank systems, air emissions standards for equipment leaks, and air emissions standards for tanks and containers. The company was fined $97,170.

Emphasizing clean water

The EPA cited 60 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 $435,682 and ranged from $1,050 to $130,000.

Penalties for failure to report chemical releases

A material manufacturer in Moses Lake, Washington, entered into a consent agreement with the EPA to resolve violations of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). The company violated CERCLA and EPCRA when it failed to timely report multiple hydrogen cyanide (HCN) releases from its facility. The company agreed to pay a penalty of $139,100.

The EPA cited a food processing company in Wellston, Ohio, for CERCLA and EPCRA violations. The company failed to notify authorities of an anhydrous ammonia release in a timely manner and was fined $123,072.

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