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Additional Compliance Activities

EPA undertakes a number of core compliance activities in addition to its enforcement program. Three important components of the compliance program are compliance assistance, compliance incentives, and compliance monitoring. The most significant accomplishments and highlight for these programs from FY 2010 are described below.

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Compliance Assistance

Compliance assistance means helping businesses, federal facilities, local governments and tribes meet their environmental regulatory requirements.

Compliance assistance providers help regulated communities and businesses comply with environmental laws through one-to-one counseling, online resource centers, fact sheets, guides and training. Providers include: EPA regional office staff; state, local and tribal governments; federal and state small business and pollution prevention technical assistance extension agents; consultants; and trade associations.

In fiscal year (FY) 2010, EPA helped the regulated community comply with environmental rules on a range of topics including protecting stormwater from contamination, protecting the air quality of residents living near auto body shops, avoiding lead exposure during renovations and preventing oil spills. The level of outreach activity is similar to levels reported in FY 2009.

  • EPA developed 246 compliance assistance tools such as compliance booklets, instructional DVDs, brochures, websites and newsletters.
  • EPA staff gave presentations at meetings and conducted 435 compliance assistance workshops and training events for the regulated community and assistance providers.
  • EPA helped owners and operators of regulated facilities to comply during 1,075 on-site assistance visits. These were conducted on a variety of subjects, such as keeping drinking water safe on tribal lands, reducing lead paint risk and protecting students from chemical exposure.

EPA makes a wide array of compliance information available to the regulated community via websites that are designed to serve business and government sectors with similar operations, processes or practices. Sector-specific information on regulatory compliance includes links to the grant-supported Compliance Assistance Centers that serve, for example: the printing, construction, healthcare, auto recycling industries as well as federal facilities and local and tribal governments. In FY 2010 the on-line compliance assistance centers, which were visited 2,981,000 times, continued to reach their intended audiences. This is slightly higher than the 2,800,000 visits in FY 2009. The centers serving the agriculture and printing industries and the center serving federal facilities experienced increases of more than 40,000 additional visits compared with FY2009. New features were added including a compliance summary tool for food processors, an automated document distribution system for farmers and a new Web page for port operators.

Compliance Assistance Highlights

Addressing Community Health Risks in the Tri-state Region of West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio

EPA began a compliance initiative in 2010 in response to concerns that pollution is placing a disproportionate impact on the health of residents in the Port of Huntington tri-state area (West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio). With help from the Coast Guard, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Army Corps of Engineers, EPA and state partners are working to protect local communities by increasing compliance with environmental regulations and permit requirements among the more than 800 industrial facilities in the vicinity. EPA is using an array of approaches to address noncompliance in the impacted communities including:

  • reaching out to facilities to help them understand their environmental requirements
  • meeting with residents from the surrounding communities to address environmental justice issues
  • sponsoring compliance workshops for businesses
  • conducting reconnaissance to identify areas of concern
  • inspecting facilities and taking enforcement actions, where appropriate.

To help facilities comply with air, water and hazardous waste regulations, EPA distributed informational materials to facilities in the following industries: coal processing, shipbuilding and repair, scrap/recycling, auto salvage yards, port terminals and unloading operations and ready mix concrete. Regulatory compliance information was also given to the 350 K-12 schools, 200 child/day-care facilities, 50 colleges/universities and 40 hospitals/medical facilities in the area.

EPA Inspector Luke Wolfgang gives business leaders compliance tips during the Port of Huntington Compliance Workshop

In order to reach out to both residents and the business community, EPA partnered with a local business association to sponsor a free, one-day environmental compliance workshop for businesses and universities to sponsor community engagement meetings. The business workshop, attended by over 60 participants, provided information on federal environmental compliance and proper waste disposal that can help facilities reduce costs while improving environmental performance. Attendees appreciated the explanations from EPA inspectors about typical violations and tips on where to find compliance information. EPA is continuing to engage the community by creating a website, distributing fact sheets, participating in interviews with local radio and hosting public meetings. Inspections and enforcement are on-going.

Inspections conducted after the mailings and workshops confirmed that some facilities are working to correct problems highlighted by EPA as part of the compliance assistance effort.

Reducing Toxic Air Pollution in At-Risk Communities in New England

EPA Region 1 in New England (CT, MA, RI, NH, VT and ME) is actively engaged in a national campaign, to help auto body shops comply with a new air pollution control rule before it takes effect in January 2011. The rule limits auto body shops' emissions of toxic air pollutants: many of the solvents (methylene chloride) and paints (chromium, lead and cadmium) body shops use can have serious health impacts when inhaled.

EPA New England collaborated with trade associations, state and local governments, product vendors and others to distribute outreach materials to the 4,000 shops in New England and to provide free compliance assistance training, including 14 workshops and 6 webinars, for more than 1,500 technicians. To maximize health benefits, the training sessions and more than 150 on-site assessments were conducted in at-risk communities where residents are disproportionately impacted by emissions from neighboring body shops.

Complying with the new requirements is expected to result in reduced cancer deaths among workers and community residents and it can result in direct operating cost savings for shop owners.

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Compliance Incentives

EPA Closes Out a Record Number of Voluntary Disclosures

In FY 2010, EPA resolved disclosures affecting a record number, 618 entities, which resolved violations at nearly 2000 facilities, including 25 resolutions (~5%) that resulted in direct environmental benefits. As a result of disclosures resolved this fiscal year, nearly 3.5 million pounds of pollutants will be reduced or treated.

In addition, voluntary disclosers will spend more than $21 million to correct their violations. EPA's incentive policies such as the Audit Policy, "Incentives for Self-Policing: Discovery, Disclosure, Correction and Prevention of Violations", 65 FR 19,618 (04/11/00) provide incentives to companies that voluntarily discover, promptly disclose, and expeditiously correct environmental violations. The companies must also take steps to prevent future violations. EPA may reduce or waive penalties for certain violations if the facility meets the conditions of the Audit Policy. Since 1995, nearly 6,200 companies at over 17,000 facilities have disclosed potential violations under the Agency's Compliance Incentive policies.

The following are significant resolutions in fiscal year 2010:

Dominion Exploration and Production Inc.

Dominion Exploration and Production came forward and disclosed potential violations relating to emission standards for hazardous air pollutants, federal permitting, emissions monitoring and reporting requirements under EPA's Audit Policy. Under a civil judicial settlement with EPA, Dominion Exploration and Production agreed to install pollution control equipment at a cost of over $6 million to comply with the Clean Air Act at their natural gas producing facilities in the Uinta Basin, near Vernal, Utah. The retrofits and upgrades will result in nearly 1.5 million pounds/year reduction in carbon monoxide emissions, and the company paid $250,000 in civil penalties. Read more on Dominion Exploration

U.S. v. Silgan Containers LLC (Silgan)

The United States reached a civil judicial settlement with Silgan, the largest manufacturer of metal food containers in North America. Silgan commenced a national air audit of the company’s compliance with the CAA under an agreement with EPA and conducted a review of its facilities on a Region-by-Region basis. Silgan disclosed noncompliance with Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD)/New Source Review (NSR) and other CAA requirements and voluntarily corrected noncompliance, in many cases prior to this settlement, at 18 facilities nationwide. The company will reduce or eliminate an estimated 636 tons per year of volatile organic compounds by converting can welding process lines to powder coatings, permanently ceasing operations on additional lines, assuming new or modified permit emission limitations, obtaining a non-Title V synthetic minor permit with emissions limitations, and permanently retiring emission reduction credits. The company will have paid over $10 million to implement these corrective actions, conduct the national audit, and correct violations prior to settlement. Silgan paid $365,000 in civil penalties. Read more on U.S. V. Silgan

Cellco Partnership doing business as Verizon Wireless (Verizon)

After entering into a corporate audit agreement with EPA to audit more than 25,000 sites nationwide, Verizon voluntarily disclosed CAA, CWA, and EPCRA violations at 655 telecom facilities, including cell towers, mobile switch centers, call centers, and administrative offices. The company paid a $468,600 civil penalty, and promptly corrected the violations found during its audit, including preparing and implementing spill prevention, control, and countermeasure plans, applying for appropriate air permits, and submitting reports to state and local emergency planning and response organizations informing them of the presence of hazardous substances. Read more on Verizon Wireless

In the Matter of Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI)

JCI agreed to reduce its air emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by 310 tons per year at five facilities and correct violations of the CAA. Following acquisition of the facilities from York International Corporation and Environmental Technologies Inc., which manufactured commercial and residential air conditioning units, JCI voluntarily conducted audits and disclosed to EPA that the facilities did not have CAA operating permits. JCI obtained the appropriate CAA operating permits, instituted equipment and process changes, and incorporated the new emission limits in its state operating permits. JCI’s process and equipment changes at its Wichita, Kansas facility, which brought the facility into compliance, will not only reduce 310 tons per year of VOC emissions but will save JCI over $250,000 per year. The prior practice of using large amounts of expensive, high VOC-content lubricating oils in the fin presses was significantly more expensive than purchasing aluminum sheet metal rolls pre-coated with low VOC-containing lubricant oil which is pre-applied on the rolls. Read the Johnson Controls Inc. Consent Agreement (PDF) (17 pp, 812 K, About PDF)

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Compliance Monitoring

In FY 2010 EPA conducted approximately 21,000 inspections and evaluations and 281 investigations. EPA monitored compliance with 33 different and unique programs, e.g., storm water, mobile sources, under eight separate and distinct environmental laws, e.g., Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act.

The inspections, evaluations, and investigations performed were split between these 33 programs with some programs having more activity, and other programs less based on environmental risk, observed non-compliance, response to citizen complaints, and whether the activity should be addressed at the federal level. These inspections, evaluations and investigations targeted communities where environmental problems were identified; national sectors with known impacts on human health or the environment; states and on tribal lands to address serious non-compliance; or programs not delegated to states, tribes, or local agencies.

In addition, these activities aggressively targeted facilities and sites where pollution problems impacting human health and the environment were identified or observed. Approximately 1300 inspections and evaluations, and 167 investigations were conducted in response to national environmental problems including raw sewage and contaminated stormwater runoff in our waters, animal waste threatening our surface and ground waters, widespread air pollution from large sources, toxic air pollution that affects communities’ health, and pollution from mineral processing operations.

Significant EPA Compliance Monitoring Activities Conducted in Fiscal Year 2010:

  • Inspections and Evaluations - The following significant inspections and evaluations were conducted:
    • 7,000 inspections to monitor compliance with drinking water regulations
    • 3,700 evaluations conducted to monitor compliance with clean air regulations
    • 3,500 inspections conducted to monitor compliance with clean water regulations
    • 2500 inspections conducted to monitor compliance with underground storage tank regulations
    • 1,700 inspections conducted to monitor compliance with hazardous waste regulations
    • 1,400 inspections conducted to monitor compliance with toxic substances regulations
    • 800 inspections conducted to monitor compliance with emergency planning and reporting regulations
    • 400 inspections conducted to monitor compliance with pesticide regulations
  • These inspections and evaluations resulted in identification of approximately 5,300 facilities in potential violation, and 932 instances where the facilities took immediate action to correct a potential violation.
  • Investigations - Of the 281 comprehensive civil investigations conducted, 230 were conducted under the clean air statute, 24 under the clean water statute, 12 under the drinking water statute, 11 under the hazardous waste statute, and 2 under the toxic substances statute.
  • Ports Initiative - The Port of Huntington is the largest inland port in the United States, lying along 200 miles of three major rivers in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia. EPA Regions 3, 4 and 5 developed a multi-region compliance strategy that included a significant compliance monitoring effort targeted at businesses, schools and hospitals to address observed environmental problems and non-compliance. The strategy involved a significant compliance monitoring program that effectively identified facilities that were out of compliance, and which resulted in actions taken to address the identified non-compliance. EPA partnered with the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Huntington to conduct reconnaissance inspections. Additional resources were provided by West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, and the Kentucky Department of the Environment.

    The reconnaissance inspections included a land and river team component which provided EPA inspectors real-world observations into day-to-day facilities operations. Information was gathered on over 100 port facilities through reconnaissance of these two, twenty mile segments and the findings helped drive future enforcement, compliance assistance and community outreach efforts. Specifically, this effort helped identify an industrial park in Nitro, WV which was inundated with potentially non-compliant facilities.

    In November 2009 OECEJ conducted 11 multi-media inspections at these facilities. Initial findings indicate potential non-compliance at all 11 facilities including potential multimedia non-compliance at 8 of the facilities. Additional inspections were also conducted in the Ashland, KY and Ironton, OH areas. Information on potential non-compliance at these facilities is not currently available.

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