Enforcement and Inspection, Environmental, Hazardous Waste Management

EPA Enforcement Roundup Q4 2023

In the fourth quarter (Q4), the EPA finalized 206 settlement agreements with companies small and large across the United States. This represents a significant decrease in enforcement actions—down from 515 penalties—issued in Q3 for 2023. The actions taken resulted in $4,289,749.25 in fines. Here are some of the highlights.

CAA violations yield biggest fine from EPA

The largest fine assessed by the EPA in Q4 was to a city wastewater treatment plant in Washington for a penalty of $550,259 for violations related to its sewage sludge incinerator, which is subject to the federal plan requirements for sewage sludge incineration units under the Clean Air Act (CAA). There were additional enforcement actions taken against 34 other entities for CAA violations, with penalties that ranged from $140 to $525,438. In all, CAA violations accounted for $2,708,152 in Q4.

FIFRA violations bringing six-figure fines

The EPA continues its consistent enforcement for Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) violations:

  • A cannabidiol (CBD) company was penalized $250,000 for the FIFRA violation of selling an unregistered pesticide. In 2021, the EPA conducted inspections at the company’s headquarters in Missouri and one of its retail stores in Kansas. The EPA found that the company was selling unregistered pesticides, which included a cleaning wash with hypochlorous acid content 0.0092%, a cleaning wash with hypochlorous acid content 0.0046%, a cleaning wash with hypochlorous acid content 0.02%, and a cleansing gel with hypochlorous acid content 0.0046%.
  • An Indiana-based water treatment company was fined $102,080 for the FIFRA violation of failing to file reports of pesticides.

RCRA violations

  • A Tennessee-based flexible packaging producer was penalized $36,800 for various violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) following a compliance evaluation inspection (CEI) conducted by the EPA and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). The company violated RCRA when it failed to make a hazardous waste determination on a spent solvent mixture of normal propyl acetate and normal propyl alcohol when it was managed in the spent solvent tanks. The company only identified the spent solvent mixture as a hazardous waste exhibiting the characteristic of ignitability once the spent solvent mixture was removed from the spent solvent tanks. Other violations included:
    • Storing hazardous waste without a permit or interim status because the company failed to keep its containers of hazardous waste closed, which is a condition of the satellite accumulation area (SAA) permit exemption; and
    • Failing to manage hazardous waste within containers labeled with the words “Hazardous Waste” and with an indication of the hazards of the contents of the containers within SAAs at its facility.
  • A baking company in Iowa was fined $37,705 for failing to comply with RCRA regulations intended to prevent releases of hazardous waste, including:
    • Storage of hazardous waste beyond 90 days without a required permit,
    • Failure to keep a hazardous waste container closed,
    • Failure to inspect hazardous waste containers, and
    • Failure to label hazardous wastes.

In addition to the monetary penalty, the company must complete a supplemental environmental project (SEP). Per the SEP, the company must acquire and purchase emergency response equipment for the local fire department and hazardous materials (hazmat) team.

Emphasizing clean water

The EPA cited 95 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 $840,417 and ranged from $656 to $220,000.

EPCRA violations 

A national environmental solutions provider in Minnesota was fined $44,242 for violating the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) when it failed to submit safety data sheets (SDSs) and annual inventory reports (Tier I/Tier II Forms) for hazardous chemicals that were present at its facility above the established threshold amounts. The company also violated the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) when it failed to immediately notify authorities of the release of lead from its facility.

A Louisiana-based foundry was penalized $16,124 for violating EPCRA when it failed to timely report chemicals for the 2018 calendar year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.