Environmental Audits & Self-Disclosures
CHANGES ANNOUNCED TO SELF-DISCLOSURE POLICIES To expand its regulatory compliance incentives program, EPA revised its two self-disclosure policies, the Audit Policy and the Small Business Compliance Policy. Both policies protect human health and the environment by encouraging companies and other regulated entities to voluntarily disclose and correct violations. After a two-year evaluation, EPA revised the policies based on extensive public outreach and the Agency's experience in handling self-disclosure cases. Businesses that meet policy conditions are eligible for penalty reductions and waivers and other benefits; however, both policies prohibit benefits to companies for certain violations, such as those that may result in serious harm or risk, those that reflect repeated noncompliance, or those in which corporate officials condone criminal behavior. In addition, the policies allow EPA to recover economic benefits from violating companies to ensure businesses that comply with environmental laws are not put at a competitive disadvantage by those not complying. The key revisions to the Audit Policy include: lengthening the amount of time from 10 to 21 days that entities have to disclose a violation after it is discovered; clarifying that a facility may qualify for Audit Policy credit even if another facility owned or operated by the same parent organization is already the subject of an inspection, investigation or information request; clarifying that companies will have at least 21 days to disclose violations discovered at newly-acquired facilities; and clarifying that the repeated noncompliance condition will not disqualify disclosures from newly-acquired facilities. The Small Business Policy, available for companies with 100 or fewer employees, reduces or waives penalties for small businesses that disclose and make good faith efforts to correct violations, provided they meet the criteria in the policy. The key revisions to the Small Business Compliance Policy lengthens the amount of time from 10 to 21 days that entities have to disclose a violation after discovery and expands the number of ways that the violations can be discovered. Both revised policies were published in the April 11 Federal Register Notice and will take effect on May 11, and will be available at: http://www.epa.gov/compliance. Materials are available at EPA's Enforcement and Compliance Docket and Information Center, 202-564-2614.
FIVE NEW SELF-AUDIT PROTOCOLS ANNOUNCED EPA released
five additional self-audit Protocols for conducting environmental compliance
audits under the following federal regulations: Safe Drinking Water Act,
PCB/lead paint/asbestos; the Toxic Substances Control Act, used oil and
universal waste; the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, storage tanks
and Subtitle D facilities. EPA is continuing to encourage the development
of self-assessment programs to help facilities meet their obligation to
comply with environmental laws. In 1998, EPA's Office of Compliance began
developing manuals that would outline voluntary environmental compliance
programs to encourage businesses and organizations to perform audits and
disclose violations in accordance to EPA's Audit and Small Business Policies.
For greater flexibility, users can custom-tailor the protocols to more
specific environmental aspects associated with their facility. EPA has
issued four self-audit protocols and plans to issue four more by December
2000. This brings a total of nine protocols and copies can be obtained here.
Incentives for Self-Policing: Discovery, Disclosure, Correction and Prevention of Violations - The official 12/22/95 policy of U.S. EPA, more commonly referred to as U.S. EPA's "Audit Policy" , "Self-Disclosure Policy" , "Policy on Incentives for Self-Policing".
Audit Policy Update The Spring 1999 report is now on-line with reports on the policy evaluation process, a voluntary audit program for pork producers, telecommunications companies disclosing violations and more. The report is available Audit Policy Update (from U.S. EPA Headquarters) - Learn about cases which have been settled successfully under U.S. EPA's Self-Disclosure policy. This file is in Acrobat PDF, which requires you to download the free Acrobat Reader
Policy on Compliance Incentives for Small Businesses - Effective 6/10/96, this policy sets forth enforcement and compliance procedures specific to small businesses (Small Business Policy"). The relationship between this policy and U.S. EPA's self-disclosure policy is explained in Section H.
VIRTUAL SELF-AUDIT & INSPECTION GUIDE - ORGANIC COATINGS - EPA has produced a self-audit and Inspection Guide for facilities conducting cleaning, preparation and organic coating of metal parts in the form of an interactive audio-visual CD-ROM and accompanying written guidance Publication number: EPA 305-B-95-002). The CD ROM places the user at a virtual control panel from which they can navigate a tour through an organic coating facility using video and animation. The Guide provides a video or animated presentation, and a narrated description of 17 metal parts cleaning, coating and curing processes with Internet hot links to additional resources. For each process area the guide provides:
- summaries of the applicable Federal environmental statutes and regulatory requirements;
- hot links to the full text of Federal environmental statutes and regulatory requirements;
- self audit and inspection questions;
- sources of pollution;
- common causes of violations;
- pollution prevention alternatives.
This Guide provides easy access to the latest regulatory and technical information for the organic coating industry. This tool will assist inspectors and facility personnel to identify activities and requirements necessary to conduct an audit of production processes, equipment, and management systems. If you would like to request a copy of the Guide, please contact the National Center for Environmental Publications and Information at 1-800-490-9198 and reference the title and document number ( EPA 305-B-95-002). If you have questions or comments regarding the Guide, contact Anthony Raia at (202) 564-6045; or Scott Throwe at (202) 564-7013.
State Policies and Resources
- Pennsylvania Department Of Environmental Protection Audit policy -
"POLICY TO ENCOURAGE VOLUNTARY COMPLIANCE BY MEANS OF ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE AUDITS AND IMPLEMENTATION OF COMPLIANCE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS "
- Maryland Department of the Environment Audit policy - "MDE's Enforcement Policies"
- Contact Betty Barnes (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 215-814-3447.
- Public Information Hotline - 800-438-2474
- Business Assistance Hotline - 800-228-8711