EPA’s New Priorities for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance

June 17, 2019
EPA has announced seven enforcement and compliance assurance priority areas for fiscal years 2020-2023. Six of the seven priorities are National Compliance Initiatives (NCIs), which will be led by EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA). For the seventh priority area, OECA will contribute to the agency’s implementation of the Lead Action Plan, which was issued by the President's Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children in December 2018.
The NCIs advance the agency’s strategic plan objectives to improve air quality, provide for clean and safe water, ensure chemical safety, and improve compliance with environmental laws, while enhancing shared accountability between the EPA and states and tribes with authorized environmental programs.
“EPA’s enforcement and compliance assurance program focuses on achieving environmental outcomes, not targeting specific industry sectors,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Susan Bodine. “With these National Compliance Initiatives, we will focus our resources on addressing significant environmental problems and risks to human health.”
EPA will be developing implementation frameworks for each NCI and working with states and tribes with authorized programs that want to participate. These implementation frameworks will include approaches to using the full range of EPA compliance assurance tools, including compliance assistance, self-audits, and informal and formal enforcement actions to achieve the goals of each NCI. While compliance assistance will be a component of each implementation framework, formal enforcement will remain an important tool in the NCIs to address serious noncompliance and create general deterrence.
The selection of the NCIs was informed by outreach to states and tribes. EPA also solicited public input through a Federal Register notice. EPA modified several of the proposed NCIs based on stakeholder comments.
The newly announced National Compliance Initiatives are:
Improving Air Quality
  • Creating Cleaner Air for Communities by Reducing Excess Emissions of Harmful Pollutants from Stationary Sources – This NCI will focus on reducing emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants (HAPs).  For VOC emissions, the NCI will focus on significant sources of VOCs that have a substantial impact on air quality and (1) may adversely affect an area’s attainment of National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) or (2) may adversely affect vulnerable populations. For HAPs, this NCI will focus on sources that have a significant impact on air quality and health in communities, consistent with the existing NCI on Cutting Hazardous Air Pollutants.
  • Reducing Hazardous Air Emissions from Hazardous Waste Facilities – This existing NCI will continue to focus on improving compliance by hazardous waste Treatment Storage and Disposal Facilities and Large Quantity Generators with regulations that require effective control and monitoring of organic air emissions from certain hazardous waste management activities. Releases from hazardous waste facilities can include constituents known or suspected to cause cancer or birth defects. In addition, leaks from these facilities can contribute to non-attainment with the NAAQS.
  • Stopping Aftermarket Defeat Devices for Vehicles and Engines – This NCI will focus on stopping the manufacture, sale, and installation of aftermarket defeat devices on vehicles and engines used on public roads as well as on nonroad vehicles and engines. Illegally-modified vehicles and engines contribute substantial excess pollution that harms public health and impedes efforts by the EPA, tribes, states and local agencies to plan for and attain air quality standards.
Ensuring Clean and Safe Water
  • Reducing Significant Noncompliance with National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permits – This NCI will focus on increasing the percentage of all NPDES permittees in compliance with their permit (as measured by reducing the rate of permittees in significant noncompliance).  Compliance with NPDES permits is critical to protecting our nation’s waters.
  • Reducing Noncompliance with Drinking Water Standards at Community Water Systems (CWSs) –An initial focus of this NCI is to work with the EPA’s Office of Water to increase capacity in states, tribes and the EPA to address drinking water violations. The objective is to support the FY 2018–FY 2022 Agency Strategic Plan goal of reducing by 25% by the end of FY 2022 the number of CWSs that are out of compliance with health-based standards. In FY 2018, 7% of the nation’s CWSs had at least one health-based violation.
Reducing Risk from Hazardous Chemicals
  • Reducing Risks of Accidental Releases at Industrial and Chemical Facilities – This existing NCI will continue to focus on reducing risk to human health and the environment by decreasing the likelihood of chemical accidents. EPA has found that many regulated facilities are neither managing adequately the risks they pose nor ensuring the safety of their facilities to protect surrounding communities as required under Clean Air Act Section 112(r).
Lead Action Plan
Rather than develop a NCI to address lead exposure, EPA’s enforcement and compliance assurance program will contribute to the agency’s goal of reducing childhood lead exposures and associated health impacts as outlined in the Federal Lead Action Plan. These agency-wide efforts may include:
  • increasing compliance with—and awareness of the importance of—lead-safe renovations under the Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule;
  • developing a mapping tool to identify communities with elevated lead exposures;
  • conducting targeted geographic initiatives; and
  • undertaking public awareness campaigns on lead issues.
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CT DEEP to Push for Greater Efficiency in Permitting, Regulatory Processes
On June 13m Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Katie Dykes presented state business leaders and environmental professionals with a set of short-term high-impact agency goals aimed at providing greater predictability, efficiency, and transparency for environmental permitting and regulatory processes. 
“A clean and healthy environment is a competitive advantage for the State of Connecticut, and the foundation of a thriving economy,” Commissioner Dykes said. “To meet our mission, maintain service levels, and communicate effectively with stakeholders, we must evolve many of our processes. These bold but attainable steps that will benefit our work and make it easier for businesses to do the right things for the environment.”
Among the top priorities, Commissioner Dykes said, was making permitting timeframes more predictable, moving processes online, improving customer service, and increasing stakeholder participation in DEEP’s process improvement efforts. The agency must also prepare for increasing retirements over the next three years. DEEP will provide follow-up progress reports on meeting the goals over the next 18 months.
“20BY20 is part of Governor Lamont’s push to make state government a partner in growing the state’s economy, while at the same time reflecting his commitment to maintaining strong environmental standards,” Commissioner Dykes said.
The initiative, termed 20BY20 for 20 goals to be achieved by December 31, 2020, presents 16 goals and invites the public and the business community to submit suggestions for the remaining four. Suggestions may be submitted by email to 20BY20@ct.gov.
Revisions to Nevada Stormwater Multisector Permit
The Administrator of the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection has renewed and revised Nevada’s Statewide General Permit NVR050000 to regulate discharge of Stormwater Associated with Industrial Activities to waters of the United States. Eligible dischargers are required to submit a Notice of Intent (NOI), filing fee, and must have completed a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) that is kept and maintained on the Permittee’s site.
The revised permit, which became effective on June 10, 2019, includes many changes. The following are a few of the substantive changes:
  • Notices of intent, no-exposure certifications, and notices of termination may be submitted online. The requirement for filing a Notice of Intent (NOI), which must be submitted online, was changed from 24 hours prior to the start of permitted activity to 14 days prior to the start of permitted activity.
  • Uncontaminated groundwater, spring water, and foundation or footing drains where flows are not contaminated have been removed from the list of allowable stormwater discharges. Instead, they are subject to either a separately issued de minimis General Permit NVG201000 or and individual permit.
  • Stormwater effluent limits discussed in Sections 1.2, 3.3, 7.3 and 9.0 of the 2019 MSGP include a greater level of specificity in order to make the monitoring terms more clear and to enable the Permittee to better comply with regulatory requirements.
  • The Comprehensive Site Compliance Evaluation and the Periodic Inspections have been consolidated into one set of inspection procedures to eliminate redundancies and reduce burden on the Permittee. To aid Permittees with inspection procedures, the Division has provided a “Sample Inspection Form” template in Appendix D of the permit.
  • Annual reports must be developed using the template in Appendix C of the Permit. Analytical results for monitoring required in Section 7.2.4, Section 7.3, and Section 7.5 of the 2019 MSGP must be submitted on the annual report.
  • A new Section 9.0 of the 2019 MSGP includes additional requirements for Sector-Specific industrial activities. The Sector-Specific Requirements are in addition to any requirements specified elsewhere in the permit.
Kansas Grants Airbag Waste Variance
Nationally, tens of millions of airbags have been, or are scheduled to be, recalled. The tendency for rupture of these recalled airbag inflators increases with the age of the inflator and long-term exposure to high humidity, so timely removal of the airbags is critical. A new variance from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment will ease requirements that might slow down the removal of defective airbags.
“Airbags are considered hazardous waste,” KDHE Secretary Lee Norman said. “And based upon the sheer volume of airbag waste, this could have bumped up auto dealers and salvagers into a higher level of regulation from KDHE, including increased fee payments. This variance will assure that won’t happen, provided the requirements listed in the variance are followed.”
“The Kansas Department of Revenue requested this variance in the interest of public safety,” KDOR Secretary Mark Burghart said. “This will expedite the removal and waste management of recalled airbags.”
The EPA issued a similar ruling in November. For information on how Kansas auto dealers/salvagers should manage airbag waste, see the Variance for Airbag Waste.
Questions on this variance and management methods can be directed to Brian Burbeck, Bureau of Waste Management, at 785-296-1613.
Washington to Update Regulations for Toxic Air Pollutants
The Washington Department of Ecology has proposed an updated rule for toxic air pollution using the most recent and best available information about health effects.  Ecology periodically updates this rule to reflect toxicity information developed by the EPA, the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. Under Washington law, Ecology develops a list of about 400 toxic air chemicals based on data from those three agencies.
Ecology’s rule protects public health by limiting new emissions of toxic air pollutants from industry. The proposed revisions add criteria to better protect children and babies from the extra risks air pollution poses to the very young. 
Of the roughly 400 chemicals covered under the air toxics regulations, standards for two-thirds will remain unchanged, 25% will become more protective, while 10 percent will become less restrictive, all based on the latest scientific information. 
You can read the proposed rule language at: www.ecology.wa.gov/460rulemaking.
Investigators within the Criminal Investigations Section of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office arrested Robert James Rollerson on two counts of knowingly discharging untreated sewage waste near Sulphur Wednesday, June 12. Under Louisiana law, knowingly discharging a pollutant to waters of the state without the appropriate LDEQ permit and without any prior treatment is a felony.
Rollerson, a former vacuum truck driver and employee of National Toilet Rentals, illegally discharged portable toilet waste into a ditch along Areno Road and La. 108 southeast of Sulphur. The discharges occurred on at least two occasions in January 2019.
During the investigation, LDEQ CIS investigators interviewed eyewitnesses who saw Rollerson discharging sewage wastes from a National Toilet Rentals vacuum truck on Jan. 9, 2019, and Jan. 18, 2019. Photographs taken by the eyewitnesses at the time of the incidents revealed toilet paper, sewage artifacts and a blue colored liquid in the ditch along Areno Road. The existence of such substances in the ditch is consistent with the discharge of portable toilet waste.
After extensive investigation and interviews with several eyewitnesses, LDEQ CIS obtained a felony arrest warrant for Rollerson on June 10, 2019. LDEQ CIS personnel, along with Calcasieu Sheriff’s deputies, arrested Rollerson.
Rollerson resigned from National Toilet Rentals shortly after the investigation began, and National Toilet Rentals officials cooperated fully with LDEQ CIS personnel throughout their investigation.
“This action was both illegal and dangerous,” said LDEQ Secretary Dr. Chuck Carr Brown. “If you willfully and purposefully violate the rules and regulations, the consequences are dire.”
If convicted of knowingly discharging a pollutant to waters of the state without the appropriate permit and without the appropriate treatment, Rollerson could be fined up to $50,000 for each violation and would be subject to serve up to three years in prison, or both, according to LDEQ.
Gravel Mining Operation Fined $675,000 for Water Quality Violations
Orland Sand and Gravel Corporation (OSG) of Glenn County and its owner/operator Dale Roy Bogart will pay a $675,000 penalty for violating the terms of a judicially approved 2018 court settlement over impacts to water quality and natural stream beds near the quarry.
“This failure to comply with applicable laws, as well as our regional board directives resulted in avoidable impacts to water quality and gave this operation an unfair competitive advantage,’’ Clint Snyder, Assistant Executive Officer for the Central Valley Water Board. “This operation was aware of their legal obligations, and had they conducted their operations in accordance with those permits, impacts to water quality and the subsequent enforcement actions would have been avoided.”
The recent judgment follows an April 2018 court-approved settlement agreement between Orland Sand and Gravel Corporation and Dale Roy Bogart and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife that provided for $175,000 in civil penalties plus an additional $500,000 in suspended penalties if OSG or Dale Roy Bogart violated any of its terms.
On May 22, 2019, the court found that Orland Sand and Gravel and Dale Roy Bogart violated several terms of the settlement and issued a judgment that includes civil penalties for violations of the federal Clean Water Act, the Water Code, and the Fish and Game Code.
The enforcement action began when a complaint was filed on behalf of the two agencies by the State Attorney General following a 2014 inspection. Most of the violations resulted from the operators unlawfully extracting gravel from Stony Creek, discharging storm water to Stony Creek, and discharging process water to unauthorized settling ponds without required permits. When operators don’t follow carefully crafted rules outlined in permits, the result is poor water quality, and threats or damage to aquatic organisms and their habitat.
$250,000 Fine for Dumping in Protected Wetlands and Rare Species Habitat
Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced that a real estate company and a construction company will pay up to $250,000 to settle allegations that they unlawfully dumped, stored, and crushed solid waste in wetlands and rare species habitat.
The consent judgments, entered in Suffolk Superior Court, settle a lawsuit the AG’s Office filed in August 2018 alleging that LH Realty LLC and G.E.R. Corporation violated the state’s Wetlands Protection Act, Clean Waters Act, Solid Waste Disposal Act, and Clean Air Act. It also settles claims that LH Realty LLC violated the state Endangered Species Act when it directed G.E.R. Corporation’s employees to illegally dump and crush construction debris and other solid waste in protected wetlands and rare turtle species habitat on its West Bridgewater property, without any required authorizations.
“Illegal dumping of construction debris harms protected areas and poses risks to public health,” AG Healey said. “This settlement will require the defendants to pay to restore damaged wetlands and wildlife habitat.”
The defendants allegedly destroyed nearly 40,000 square feet of known wetlands located within mapped habitat of protected rare turtle species in the Hockomock Swamp, the largest state-designated Area of Critical Environmental Concern in Massachusetts. According to the AG’s Office, authorities also found asbestos-containing waste material and other potentially contaminated-debris throughout piles of solid waste the defendants had dumped and crushed on the site.
The settlements require the defendants to pay up to $250,000 in civil penalties, to clean up all solid waste and potentially contaminated material, and to restore and replicate valuable wetland resources throughout the West Bridgewater property under the oversight of qualified environmental professionals in accordance with plans approved by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
“Wetlands perform critical roles in terms of stormwater control, water filtration and species habitat,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “MassDEP will continue to work cooperatively with law enforcement to protect these resources.” 
“We are pleased that this settlement will result in the restoration of important wetland habitat for state-listed species, and provide support for conservation measures to benefit state-listed turtles that are increasingly threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation,” said Mark Tisa, Director of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife.
Bemis Company, Inc. Settles Hazardous Waste Violations
Bemis Company, Inc. has agreed to pay a $78,000 penalty to settle alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations at its plastic bag manufacturing facility in West Hazleton, Pennsylvania.
According to EPA, Bemis violated RCRA rules designed to ensure the safe storage of hazardous waste at the facility. The facility generates waste inks and solvents from the printing presses that it uses to print on plastic bread bags.
The alleged violations included:
  • Failure to maintain adequate aisle space for hazardous waste containers
  • Failure to perform and record daily inspections of hazardous waste tanks
  • Failure to provide secondary containment for hazardous waste tanks
  • Failure to provide an adequate hazardous waste management training program
  • Failure to provide volatile hazardous waste tanks with air emission controls, and failure to perform required marking, inspections and monitoring of piping and equipment that conveys this volatile waste
The settlement reflects the company’s compliance efforts, and its cooperation with EPA. As part of the settlement, Bemis has not admitted liability, but has certified its compliance with applicable RCRA requirements.
Electroplating Company Fined for Hazardous Waste Management Violations
Southcoast Plating, Inc., which operates as Star Plating Company, certified in its settlement with the EPA’s New England office that it is now following RCRA federal and state hazardous waste management regulations. The company applies metal coatings, including zinc and tin, to hardware. EPA discovered the violations during a September 2017 inspection of the company's facility and followed up with a notice of potential violation in December 2017, and an administrative complaint in September 2018. Based on the company's limited ability to pay, they have agreed to a penalty of $30,000 to settle the EPA charges of 14 counts of violations of these environmental regulations.
"Following federal and state hazardous waste regulations helps ensure that these materials are properly managed, so workers and other people aren't exposed to potentially harmful substances," said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deborah Szaro. "Carefully following hazardous waste regulations also help prevent releases to the environment."
Star Plating generates metal hydroxide sludge, a hazardous waste, from its wastewater system. The company was charged with, among other things, failing to: properly store hazardous waste, including the accumulation of hazardous waste in a tank or container; properly label containers of hazardous waste; prepare a training plan and do the training; maintain an up-to-date contingency plan; post required signs; provide required emergency equipment and information; and to conduct weekly inspections of hazardous waste storage areas and keep records of these inspections, all of which were required by law. These violations could have resulted in releases of hazardous wastes to the environment.
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