In the first quarter (Q1), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized 188 settlement agreements with companies small and large across the United States. This represents a significant increase in enforcement actions—up from 71 penalties issued in Q4 for 2019. The actions taken resulted in $4.1 million in fines. Here are some of the highlights.
RCRA and CAA Violations Yield Biggest Fine from EPA
The largest fine assessed by the EPA in Q1 was to a U.S. Army Medical Command installation in Maryland for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) by failing to meet the appropriate generator requirements. Additionally, the company was penalized for Clean Air Act (CAA) violations when it failed to meet the conditions of the Title V operating permit. The company was assessed a penalty of $440,399.
There were additional enforcement actions taken against 31 other entities for CAA violations, with penalties that ranged from $6,000 to $179,000. Action was also taken against 15 organizations for violations of RCRA, with penalties that ranged from $2,800 to $77,000. CAA violations accounted for about $2.2 million, while RCRA accounted for just over $236,000 in Q1.
Targeting the Food Industry
A wholesale food distributor in Rhode Island was fined over $195,000 for violating the General Duty Clause under CAA 11(r)(1) when the company failed to conduct a hazard analysis of the ammonia refrigeration system, write procedures for the operation of the ammonia refrigeration system, and install protective guarding around ammonia-containing air coolers.
A food-processing company in Georgia was penalized $150,000 for multiple Clean Water Act (CWA) violations when it (a new source) failed to install and operate pretreatment equipment before discharge, submit a baseline monitoring report, and submit a 90-day monitoring report.
Emphasizing Clean Water
The EPA cited 58 different entities for violations of the CWA, including many towns and cities, for failing to comply with Storm Water Management Plan (SWMP) requirements and effluent permits. The fines totaled just over $500,300 and ranged from $2,000 to $150,000.
TSCA Violations Bringing Five-Figure Fines
The EPA continues its consistent enforcement for violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA):
- A hazardous waste disposal company in Connecticut was fined $58,388 for violating nondisposal and disposal regulations governing manifesting and disposal of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) and PCB remediation waste;
- A window installation company in Illinois was penalized $38,105 for failing to comply with the lead-based paint work practice requirements, recordkeeping requirements, and Pre-Renovation Education requirements;
- An ammonia supplier company in Georgia was fined $22,500 for failing to submit a chemical data reporting (CDR) report for a chemical by a specific date; and
- A shipyard in Maine was penalized $22,479 for violating notice and manifesting regulations for PCB waste that the company disposed of at a landfill that was not authorized to accept waste containing PCBs over a certain concentration.
CERCLA and FIFRA Violations
A mining company in Ohio was fined over $99,000 for violating the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) by failing to immediately report the release of over 12,000 pounds (lb) of sulfuric acid. The company also failed to provide a follow-up report of the release. A food products distributor in Missouri was penalized $95,000 for violating CERCLA by failing to immediately notify the National Response Center (NRC) and State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) of the release of over 1,800 lb of anhydrous ammonia.
A pest product manufacturer in Ohio was fined nearly $110,000 for violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) by misbranded pesticide products. An aquarium supply distribution company in Pennsylvania was penalized over $43,000 for FIFRA violations when the company made over 150 distributions of 4 unregistered pesticides, made over 350 distributions of a pesticide device not displaying any EPA registration number, and imported shipments of products into the United States without submission of Notice of Arrival forms to the EPA.