Compliance and Enforcement Annual Results FY2008:
Important Environmental Problems/National Priorities
FY2008 Annual Results Topics
EPA's enforcement and compliance program identifies and focuses on priority environmental risks and noncompliance problems. The enforcement and compliance priority areas identified by EPA involve pollution of the water, air, and land. Approximately 82% of pollution reductions and 67% of pollution control investments obtained through EPA’s FY 2008 enforcement actions focused on water and air priority pollution problems. Approximately 27% of hazardous waste treated, minimized or properly disposed of, and 3% of pollution control investments obtained through EPA’s FY 2008 enforcement actions focused on land priority pollution problems.
- Air Toxics
- Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations
- Combined Sewer Overflows and Sanitary Sewer Overflows
- New Source Review
- Mineral Processing
- Financial Assurance
Toxic air pollutants are those pollutants that are known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects, such as reproductive or birth defects, or adverse environmental impacts. These pollutants come from a wide variety of sources, including industrial and utility operations, as well as smaller manufacturing and commercial sources.
During wet weather events, water flows from animal feedlots transport nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as other pollutants including bacteria, pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and trace elements including metals to local waterways. Impact on ecosystems and human health include contamination of public drinking water sources and private well water, recreational and commercial fish kills and advisories, and beach closings.
Combined sewer overflows and sanitary sewer overflows cause environmental problems when heavy rainfall exceeds the storage capacity of pipes and/or water treatment plants, discharging untreated sewage, stormwater, toxic materials, and industrial wastewater into rivers, lakes, and oceans. Bacteria, pathogens, nutrients, untreated industrial wastes, oil, pesticides, wastewater solids, and debris enter waterways when overflows occur, causing human health risks including diseases that range in severity from mild gastroenteritis to life-threatening ailments such as cholera and infectious hepatitis.Modifying a facility to increase production capacity has the potential to considerably increase the amount of pollution. These projects release nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and other harmful air pollutants. These pollutants contribute to respiratory illness and heart disease, contribute to formation of acid rain, reduce visibility, and can be transported over long distances before falling on land or water.
Stormwater runoff transports water carrying contaminants directly over land into waterways from large urban areas, construction sites, and municipal separate storm sewer systems, and is one of the leading causes of water quality impairment. Typical stormwater pollutants that impair waterways include sediment, bacteria, organic nutrients, hydrocarbons, metals, oil, and grease.
Reducing risk to health and the environment by achieving increased compliance rates throughout the mineral processing and mining sectors and by ensuring that harm is being appropriately addressed through compliance assistance and enforcement.
Financial assurance means ensuring an operator has adequate funds to address the closure of facilities that handle hazardous wastes, hazardous substances, toxic materials, or other pollutants. The funds provide for the ability to clean up those materials so they do not contaminate soils, groundwater, surface waters or the air. This priority seeks to prevent improper handling and release of hazardous materials and wastes and defaults that would shift the costs from the responsible parties to others, including state and federal taxpayers.
Working with federally-recognized Indian tribes to address significant human health and environmental problems associated with drinking water, solid waste, and environmental risks in tribal schools (e.g., lead-paint) through capacity building and compliance monitoring.