EPA released data on its enforcement and compliance assurance results for FY 2001, which included record-setting expenditures of $4.3 billion by violators for pollution controls and environmental cleanup. The program also secured commitments for an estimated reduction of more than 660 million pounds of harmful pollutants and the treatment and safe management of an estimated record 1.84 billion pounds of pollutants.
By working in partnership with state and local governments, environmental groups, other organizations, and local citizens, the Agency advanced the goal of assuring Americans a cleaner, safer, healthier environment.
EPA's FY2001 enforcement and compliance results include:
- actions requiring violators to invest $4.3 billion in pollution control and cleanup measures the highest-ever such investment;
- enforcement actions requiring violators to reduce an estimated 660 million pounds of pollutants and treat and safely manage an estimated 1.84 billion pounds;
- the settlement of 222 civil judicial cases and the issuance of 3,228 administrative orders and field citations;
- a vigorous criminal program resulting in prison sentences totaling 256 years an increase of more than 100 years over FY2000 for criminal violations; such violations also resulted in nearly $95 million in fines and restitution;
- supplemental environmental projects totaling $89 millionùup 60 percent from $55.8 million in FY2000; these involve actions beyond injunctive relief that a violator agrees to undertake to protect the environment and human health in exchange for a penalty reduction; and
- compliance assistance for more than one million individuals and businesses by direct assistance or through EPA's Compliance Assistance Centers.
EPA undertook a strategic, comprehensive effort to achieve environmental and health protection goals through incentives that encourage those being regulated to conduct self-audits and inspections of facilities to identify violations, and to take strong and swift enforcement actions to correct existing violations and deter further ones.
Major priorities included compliance with the Clean Air Act New Source Review/Prevention of Significant Deterioration rules dealing with excess pollutant releases from facilities evading permit requirements; regulations governing protection of drinking water and illegal discharges from combined and sanitary sewer outflows and animal feeding operations; and compliance by permit evaders, those practicing illegal hazardous waste practices in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
Additional highlights of EPA's enforcement and compliance efforts in FY2001 include:
- violators paying $125 million in civil penalties to the United States and an additional $25.2 million to states;
- agreements under the Agency's audit policy with 364 companies that resulted in the correction of violations at 1,754 facilities. The policy is intended to encourage self-detection, disclosure and correction of violations in exchange for a waiver or reduction in penalties.
Further information on EPA enforcement and compliance programs is
available at http://www.epa.gov/oeca/main/fedgov/accomplish.html
UPCOMING DEADLINES - CLEAN AIR ACT
February 14, 2002 - Producers or importers of a Class I controlled substance must submit fourth quarter reports to EPA
February 14, 2002 - Importers or exporters of used Class II
controlled substances must report 2001 levels of such substances
TEXAS COMPANY, FORMER PRESIDENT CHARGED WITH WASTE VIOLATIONS
Courtney & Co. Inc., of Texas City, Texas, and its former president, Donald Ray Robertson of Hitchcock, Texas, were charged with allegedly storing hazardous waste illegally in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
Robertson allegedly directed employees to store without a permit approximately 1000 gallons ignitable hazardous wastes, including waste paint, toluene, xylene, methyl-ethyl ketone and waste paint solvents, at the Courtney & Co. facility. Storing ignitable hazardous wastes without a proper permit can create a fire hazard. If convicted, Robertson faces a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000. Courtney & Co. faces a maximum fine of up to $500,000, if convicted.
EPAÆs Criminal Investigation Division, the FBI, the Texas Parks
and Wildlife Department and the Texas Natural Resources
Conservation Commission investigated the case. The case is being
prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Houston.
SMALL BUSINESS INNOVATION RESEARCH CONFERENCES ANNOUNCED
EPA is sponsoring three workshops designed to help small businesses convert environmental ideas, inventions, innovations, patents and processes into commercial environmental technologies. Two of the workshops will be held in Boulder, Colo., and in Philadelphia, Pa., and the third will be conducted over the Internet. Detailed information regarding proposal development, topic areas, technical content and selection criteria will be covered.
The seminars are being held as part of EPA's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, an effort to help small businesses develop commercial ventures that improve environment and quality of life, create jobs, increase productivity and economic growth and improve international competitiveness of the country's technology industry. The program is interested in pollution prevention, air and water pollution control, solid and hazardous waste management, environmental monitoring and analytical technologies. Interested small businesses are urged to attend one of the meetings or the Internet seminar.
On Feb. 7, EPA's Region 8 (based in Denver, Colo.) will co-host a SBIR Proposal Preparation Workshop with the Business Advancement Center, located at University of Colorado in Boulder. For more information, contact EPA's Maurice Velasquez at 303-312-6862, Rob Laidlaw at 303-312-7064 or Karen Eye at 303-554-9493.
On Feb. 13, EPA will host a seminar on the Internet that will describe the basics of the EPA Small Business Innovation Research program, including case studies of three 2002 solicitations, research topics and schedules, helpful information on writing a competitive proposal and winning an award. For more information and to register (space is limited) see: http://clu-in.org/studio .
On Feb. 19, EPA's Region 3 (based in Philadelphia, Pa.) will host
the third workshop. For more information, contact David Byro at
215-814-5563 or Al Montague at 215-814-5562.
NEW HAMPSHIRE MAN PLEADS GUILTY IN RECYCLING FRAUD
Franklin D. Sales, formerly of Milford, N.H., pleaded guilty to mail fraud, wire fraud and making false statements to a federal agency in connection with a false recycling scheme.
The defendant owned and operated Consolidated Recycling Inc. (CRI), a firm that purported to be in the business of recycling fluorescent bulb and lighting ballast waste. The defendant accepted light bulb and light ballast wastes that included mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from school districts and government agencies in Colorado, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and elsewhere. The defendant falsely claimed that CRI had the equipment to recycle the wastes. However, CRI never purchased equipment to recycle the wastes collected, stored and abandoned at locations in Hollis and Merrimack, N.H., and Fitchburg, Methuen and Tyngsboro, Mass. Mercury is a highly toxic substance that can cause severe neurological damage and PCBs have been identified as a cause of cancer. The plea agreement calls for the defendant to serve 18 months in prison and pay restitution to victims of his offenses.
EPAÆs Criminal Investigation Division and the U.S. Postal
Inspection Service investigated the case with the assistance of
EPA's regional office in Boston and National Enforcement
Investigations Center, the New Hampshire Department of
Environmental Services and the Massachusetts Department of
Environmental Protection. It is being prosecuted by the U.S.
Attorney's Office in Concord.
UNITED STATES SETTLES CASE WITH NATURAL GAS PIPELINE COMPANY
The Justice Department and EPA announced a settlement with Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Corporation (Transco), under which the company has agreed to test for and clean up soil and groundwater contamination related to waste disposal at numerous compressor stations along its natural gas pipeline, which traverses 12 states from Texas to New York. In addition, the company will clean up polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination, complete a storm water monitoring program, conduct storm water sampling at several compressor stations and pay a $1.4 million civil penalty.
The settlement resolves claims for Transco's violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Clean Water Act (CWA) and Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) related to the company's ownership and operation of a natural gas pipeline.
Along its 10,500-mile natural gas transmission pipeline system, Transco has 53 compressor stations, which it uses to drive natural gas through the pipeline. The company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Texas-based Williams Corp, which is the largest volume-transporter of natural gas in the United States. It also uses numerous metering stations along the pipeline to measure the flow of gas at various interchanges and sales points.
In the transmission of natural gas through its pipeline, Transco generates wastes known as natural gas pipeline condensate. Natural gas condensate contains a complex mixture of hydrocarbons, including benzene, which is a known carcinogen. From the 1950s to the mid-1980s, Transco disposed of pipeline condensate and other materials in unlined earthen pits and debris areas at its compressor stations. Often the wastes in the pits were burned. In addition, PCB contamination was found at a number of Transco's compressor stations, generally resulting from historic use of PCB-containing lubricants. PCBs are classified as probable human carcinogens. At some compressor stations, PCB contamination extended beyond the company's property line onto adjacent property. Finally, Transco historically discharged commingled storm and process waters from its compressor stations without a permit.
The contamination at Transco's metering stations arose from past use of mercury in the meters. Historic mercury disposal practices contaminated soils near the surface at the metering stations with elevated levels of mercury. While these practices had ceased by 1989, contaminated soils remained at the metering stations.
As part of its investigation of the Transco pipeline, EPA learned that the company had already performed some cleanup at many sites, while in other locations additional work remained to be completed. Under the settlement, Transco will complete remaining cleanup work related to hazardous wastes released at 26 of its compressor stations. In addition, Transco will complete remaining PCB cleanup work at one compressor station. No additional cleanup at metering stations is required by the settlement, because Transco has completed cleanups at all metering stations except stations in New York, New Jersey, and Louisiana, where cleanup under state environmental agency supervision is ongoing and will be completed under state supervision.
The Transco settlement is part of a long history of EPA enforcement activities in the natural gas industry related to PCBs and hazardous wastes. Past enforcements were brought against Texas Eastern Gas Pipeline Company; Transwestern Gas Pipeline Company; Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company; and Columbia Gas Pipeline Corporation. These settlements also addressed PCB and hazardous waste cleanups along natural gas pipelines.
The settlement will be filed with the United States District Court, Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.