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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

2009 Region 9 Compliance and Enforcement Annual Results

Highlights by Area in Region 9

States of Region 9 click for Pacific Islands click for Hawaii click for California click for Nevada click for Arizona click for Tribal Lands

Ensuring Compliance

The goal of any EPA compliance assurance activity, whether technical assistance or formal enforcement, is to bring a facility into compliance with all applicable environmental requirements as quickly as possible.  During FY 2009, Region 9 implemented a variety of approaches to address compliance.  To help regulated entities understand how to comply with environmental regulations, Region 9 provided compliance assistance and targeted outreach through on-line resources, workshops and training, consultations and on-site facility visits, reaching almost 84,000 regulated entities last year.  During routine inspections and evaluations, EPA inspectors provided regulatory assistance to facilities to improve their ability to better maintain compliance with regulations. During inspections where compliance problems were detected, inspectors were able to direct facilities to take immediate actions to address minor deficiencies in approximately one-third of these inspections.  For facilities determined to be in violation of environmental regulations, in addition to issuing penalties where warranted, in about 70% of the cases, Region 9 required violators to take specific actions that will result in environmental cleanups, direct reductions of environmental pollution, or preventative actions to better protect the environment and public health.

Arizona

desert butte in Arizona

In FY 2009, Region 9 concluded several important Civil Judicial actions under the Clean Air Act (CAA), Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), Clean Water Act (CWA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). In total, under the judicial actions violators must invest over $430 million in environmental clean-up and pollution controls, and pay over $5.6 million in penalties and federal clean-up cost recovery.

Salt River Project-Coronado In one of Region 9’s biggest  conclusions of FY 2009, the Salt River Project’s coal-fired power plant at Coronado must pay $950 thousand in penalties and invest over $430 million in the latest air pollution control technology for CAA violations.  The required installation of controls and modifications to the facility is expected to yield reductions of over 42 million pounds per year of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, air pollutants which contribute to dangerous ground-level ozone.

Johnson International For violations of the Clean Water Act, EPA and the Department of Justice required land development companies Johnson International and General Hunt Properties, along with a land-clearing contractor, 3-F Contracting, to pay an unprecedented $1.25 million penalty.  The companies were fined for bulldozing, filling, and diverting approximately five miles of the Santa Cruz River, a major waterway in Arizona, and a major tributary, the Los Robles Wash, without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

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California

Maintaining a strong Federal presence in California in FY 2009, Region 9 concluded two major Civil Judicial cases under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA) in addition to concluding 131 civil administrative enforcement actions and 6 other civil judicial actions against violators of federal environmental laws, and performing inspections at over 500 regulated facilities.

CEMEX In FY 2009, Region 9 saw conclusion of the civil judicial action against CEMEX for violations at its Victorville  plant, Portland Cement, one of the largest cement plants in the United States.  For illegal releases of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide without required permits that set emission limits under the Clean Air Act, CEMEX must pay a $2 million penalty and invest over $1.1 million in controls to meet new air pollution emission limits.  Under the new limits, CEMEX will reduce emissions by 1890 tons per year, close to a 40 percent reduction.  Nitrogen oxide is a harmful air pollutant that causes smog and leads to respiratory problems in children and the elderly. The Victorville area fails to meet federal air quality standards for both ozone and particulate matter.

East Bay Municipal Utilities District Region 9, in partnership with the California State Water Resources Control Board and the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, reached a settlement with the East Bay Municipal Utility District to take steps to address sewage discharges to the San Francisco Bay during wet weather, at an investment of $88 million.  Under the order, EBMUD must implement a program requiring repair of leaking private sewer pipes that extend from homes and businesses to city sewer mains; spend at least $2 million annually in incentives to accelerate repair of private sewer pipes; develop improved maintenance and repair programs for its sewers and the sewers of the contributing cities; and deploy flow meters throughout the East Bay sewer network to identify areas with the highest wet weather sewage flows and areas for sewer repair and flow reduction.

Hawaii

Sea turtle in Hawaiian waters

City and County of Honolulu Following information from a complaint, inspectors from Region 9 and the Hawai’i Department of Health inspected the Maili’ili Stream in Maili, Oahu.  From the inspection and review of city documents, inspectors confirmed that City and County of Honolulu had filled an area of about 1.08 acres in Maili’ili Stream with concrete rubble, metal debris, used asphalt and dirt.  The fill covered an area of about 1.08 acres in Maili’ili Stream, along both the north and south banks. Taking action to protect the coastline and water quality, EPA issued an Administrative Compliance Order requiring the City and County of Honolulu to remove the unauthorized material, restore the stream, including properly disposing of materials, and install erosion and sedimentation control measures. The cost to comply is estimated at $100 thousand.    

Nevada

Anaconda Mine at Yerington One of the key EPA actions in Nevada in FY 2009 is an Administrative Compliance Order for the Anaconda Mine in Yerington.  In this settlement, EPA required the Atlantic Richfield Corporation (ARC) to invest $8 million (Injunctive Relief) to clean up environmental contamination and to prevent future degradation.  The clean up requirements include installation of cover to prevent the accumulation of standing water in former evaporation ponds to protect wildlife and prevent the migration of hazardous dust; removal of radiological materials in the former process areas to a level that is safe for permanent workers at the site; abatement of threats from abandoned electrical systems; removal of asbestos laden transit pipe; continued operation and maintenance of the heap leach fluid system to prevent catastrophic discharges of acidic fluids; and operation of deterrents to keep wildlife from approaching the acidic fluids. In addition to the Injunctive Relief, ARC will repay $2.2 million to EPA for federal costs involved in addressing environmental conditions at the site.

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Pacific Islands

Commonwealth Utilities Corporation In FY 2009, Region 9 concluded an important case referred to the Department of Justice against Commonwealth Utilities Corporation (CUC) for violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) at its plants in the Commonwealth of Northern Marianas islands (CNMI). CUC had a history of environmental violations at the wastewater plants and collection systems, public drinking water systems, five power plants and an oil transfer pipeline.  To address the many compliance issues and threats to water resources, the settlement requires CUC to invest over $320 million to implement engineering controls and make systems changes to prevent sewer overflows, implement treatment and monitoring improvements to protect drinking water quality, which currently present a health risk to the public; the order also requires CUC to take actions to prevent oil spills at its power plants and pipeline, comply with oil spill regulations, have a plan to respond to oil spills, and provide appropriate cleanup for past and future oil spills.  The required actions will result in CUC cleaning up and preventing future releases of over 521 thousand pounds of contaminants per year to surface water sources and providing safer waters for swimming and drinking for over 76 thousand residents and visitors to CNMI.

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Tribal Lands

Protecting the health of the people and the environment of the 147 federally recognized tribes in the Pacific Southwest, whose lands span over 27 million acres in this region, has long been a priority for Region 9.  In FY 2009, as part of the National Tribal Priority for enforcement and compliance assurance, we committed additional regional resources to focus on compliance with regulations that protect community drinking water systems, schools and solid wastes.  Region 9’s Drinking Water Office provided technical assistance to 100 percent of the 300+ public drinking water supply systems that service tribal communities to help system owners and operators identify and correct deficiencies and improve their ability to provide safe drinking water.  The Solid Waste program closed 38 illegal dumps, provided technical assistance to 45 tribes on the proper disposal or collection of solid/hazardous wastes, and helped a dozen tribes develop Solid Waste Management Plans.  Region 9 inspected more than 28 schools that had not been previously inspected for asbestos, lead, pesticides and lab chemicals, and conducted follow-up for 66 schools that were inspected over the previous three years.  In all regulatory programs, EPA conducted a total of 159 inspections.  We also issued 8 Federal Inspector Credentials to tribal inspectors, who on behalf of EPA, performed 163 inspections under the FIFRA, RCRA-UST and CWA-NPDES programs.  Region 9 took 45 enforcement actions against violators on tribal lands, resulting in $63,500 in penalties, and the required investment of over $6 Million to address environmental pollution, including removal of nearly 100K cubic yards of contaminated soil at the Northeast Churchrock Mine site on the Navajo Nation. 

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