With fewer environmental cops on the beat and scaled down enforcement for the foreseeable future, some facilities may assume EPA’s a paper tiger and relax.
Don’t be one of them!
Keep in mind that EPA conducted more than 15,600 inspections last year – not as many as in years past, but that’s nothing to sneeze at.
Bottom line: With electronic reporting and all kinds of new tech tools at their fingertips, EPA cops don’t need to go knocking on doors to keep facilities on their toes.
Rulemakers aren’t letting up
What’s more, inspectors are increasingly relying on other methods to hammer facilities:
1. Following up on settlements: SuperValu, a retail grocery store chain, settled stormwater violations with an enviro group in 2011. Recently EPA checked whether SuperValu was following best practices for stormwater at another site. The agency found the firm wasn’t doing visual or benchmark discharge monitoring and also lacked runoff controls. SuperValu settled those recent citations for $120,000.
2. Leaning heavily on whistleblowers: Shell Oil mislabeled and sold gasoline and diesel fuel at multiple sites. What kicked off EPA’s sting action? An eagle-eyed customer at a Virginia gas station figured out ultra-low sulfur diesel was actually low sulfur fuel, and called EPA about it. Shell’s penalty: $900,000.
Shortcuts end in major fines
What are other mistakes costing facilities fines of $100,000 and up? Here are four common errors:
- Not telling emergency responders about chemicals as well as lack of employee training. Western Operating Company didn’t file Tier ll reports or give staffers written operating instructions. Fine: $122,900.
- Potash Corp. modified facilities without getting pre-construction permits. That resulted in a spike in sulfuric acid emissions and a $1.3 million fine.
- Hazardous waste shortcuts are always a recipe for disaster. LEA Services wishes it hadn’t stored waste paints and solvents in an open pit. EPA dinged it for $700,000
About AET Environmental: AET Environmental is a leading provider of three core environmental services: hazardous waste management,
in-plant remediation and support services, compliance and training.