Self-Disclosure of Federal Violations
What Policies does EPA have on Self-Disclosure?
To better safeguard human health and the environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued two policies whose purpose is to encourage regulated entities to voluntarily discover, disclose, correct and prevent violations of Federal environmental requirements.
The first, Incentives for Self-Policing: Discovery, Disclosure, Correction and Prevention of Violations Policy (revised, April 11, 2000) (commonly referred to as the "Audit Policy"), provides incentives for regulated entities to detect, promptly disclose, and expeditiously correct violations of Federal environmental requirements. The Audit Policy contains nine conditions, and entities that meet the requirements of the Policy are eligible for up to 100% mitigation of any gravity-based penalties that otherwise could be assessed. The Audit Policy is designed to enhance protection of human health and the environment by encouraging regulated entities to voluntarily discover, disclose, correct and prevent violations of Federal environmental requirements.
The second policy is the Small Business Compliance Policy (65 F.R. 19629, April 11, 2000). This policy is for businesses with 100 or less employees. The Small Business Compliance Policy implements, in part, the Executive Memorandum on Regulatory Reform (60 F.R. 20621, April 26, 1995) and Section 223 of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (signed into law on March 29, 1996) (SBREFA). Basically, this policy contains three conditions, and entities that meet the requirements are eligible for up to 100% mitigation of any gravity-based penalties that otherwise could be assessed.
What Information is Needed in a Disclosure to EPA Region 4?
Submission of a disclosure must be made in writing to EPA within 21 days of discovery stating that a potential violation has occurred. Although submission of the facility's audit report is not required, the disclosure must provide information on whether the facility has met policy criteria and information needed for EPA to determine if the disclosed violation is in fact a violation. Therefore, to avoid or minimize the need for EPA to request additional information, please provide the following information in your self-disclosure to EPA:1. Factual Information Specific to the Applicable Policy's Conditions
Depending on which policy is applicable, please provide in the disclosure all available factual information which addresses conditions one through nine of the Audit Policy or one through four of the Small Business Compliance Policy.2. Information on the Violation
General Information: In order to ensure that the Agency has complete information on the violations that may have occurred, EPA requests information on the discloserís compliance record. Specifically, please provide the following information as it pertains to the following areas.
Facility name; Facility type (if appropriate); Facility address (street, city, state, zip code); Date facility began operations;
Specific Information: At a minimum, please include the following information for each disclosed violation:
Nature of potential violation(s) (e.g., failure to submit annually to the LEPC, SERC, and the fire department; a completed chemical inventory form; etc.); Dates of possible noncompliance (e.g., March 1, 2003 - present); Chemical(s) involved (if appropriate); Quantity of material(s) (lbs.) (e.g., amount stored, released, spilled, or disposed of; amount of waste uncharacterized; etc.); Date audit team commenced/completed audit; Date EPA notified of possible noncompliance; Date facility returned to compliance; and Actions taken to return to compliance (e.g., Tier II form submitted to the LEPC, SERC, and fire department, etc.).
For each violation or aggregate of violations for a facility, determine the cost to return to compliance. Such costs may include becoming familiar with the regulations (either internal staff or outside consultantís time to train staff); determining which chemicals meet/exceed reporting thresholds, preparing forms, plans or permits; submitting forms to appropriate agencies. Other examples of costs include fees collected by state or other regulatory agencies, funds for installing release detection equipment, secondary containment or start-up costs of plan implementation, and tank monitoring. If available, the Agency would also like to hear of any pollution prevention activities that might have come out of correcting noncompliance.
EPA encourages early consultation, even before disclosures are made, so that the regulated entity and EPA can discuss mutually acceptable disclosure details and compliance schedules.
Before self-disclosing, you may wish to consult one or more of U.S. EPA's policies which deal with self-disclosure and incentives for compliance. You may visit the EPA's audit policy pages to view these policies and additional related information or contact EPA at the number below to obtain additional information.
Does EPA Have an Electronic Self-Disclosure System?
EPA is piloting a web-based pilot program that makes it easier and faster to self-report ECPRA environmental violations pursuant to EPA's Audit Policy. This web-based pilot system is known as eDisclosure, and it allows companies nationwide to electronically self-disclose violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (ECPRA). Once EPA has gained experience with electronic self-disclosures, EPA will refine the system, as necessary, and decide whether to expand, on a nationwide basis, the eDisclosure system to allow regulated entities to electronically self-disclose violations of other federally enforceable environmental requirements for possible incentives under the Audit Policy.
Who in Region 4 Should Receive Disclosures?
Voluntary self-disclosures of potential violations at facilities in U.S. EPA's Region 4 (Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee) should be mailed to:
Kelly Sisario, Chief
Enforcement and Compliance Planning and Analysis Branch
Office of Environmental Accountability
U.S. EPA, Region 4
Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center
61 Forsyth Street, SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30303-8960
Phone: (404) 562-9054
Fax: (404) 562-9598
E-mail: Kelly Sisario (email@example.com)
EPA recommends that voluntary disclosures be sent by certified mail to ensure that the disclosure is received by EPA.
How Will EPA Region 4 Process the Disclosure?
Upon receipt, the disclosure will be assigned a Docket Number and an EPA attorney will be assigned. A letter will be sent informing the discloser of EPAís receipt of the disclosure and providing the Docket Number for future reference. The disclosure will be distributed to media programs within the Region based on the noncompliance statutes referenced in the disclosure. If needed, the Agency will request additional information to clarify points made in or missing from the disclosure. If, at the time the disclosure is submitted, there are disclosed violations which have not yet been corrected, the discloser will remain obligated to complete the corrective actions necessary to abate any disclosed violations. The disclosure must report, in a timely manner and in writing, the completion of these corrective actions. Ultimately, the EPA attorney will compile the various program media findings, and a final agency action will be issued.