Pacific Southwest, Region 9
Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations
2006 Region 9 Compliance and Enforcement Annual Results
Federal Case Highlights Presented State-by-state
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice reached a settlement with Unidynamics/Phoenix, Inc. and its parent company, Crane Co. requiring parties potentially responsible for soil and groundwater contamination at the Phoenix-Goodyear Airport North Superfund Site to clean up the site at an estimated cost of $35 million. The settlement also requires the company to pay $8 million, which includes $1 million on a Brownfields project in the city of Goodyear, a $500,000 penalty and $6.7 million in past costs and future oversight costs.
- Working with the U.S. Department of Justice, the EPA negotiated settlements totaling roughly $250,000 in penalties against two firms in the Phoenix area for PM-10, or dust, violations. Edward Kraemer & Sons Inc. paid $190,000 and Meritage Homes of Arizona paid $57,770. The companies failed to control dust, a key culprit behind the area's continuing air-pollution problem. Maricopa County currently exceeds the national health standard for coarse air particulates, of which dust is a contributor. Much of the dust is stirred up by construction activities.
- The EPA reached an agreement with Cyprus Tohono Corporation requiring the company to clean up a 450-acre area of its 10,505-acre mine site responsible for contaminating groundwater on the Tohono O’odham Nation, 32 miles southwest of Casa Grande. Two of the evaporation ponds and the mill tailings impoundment are considered to have contributed to groundwater contamination of an aquifer that was previously the sole source of drinking water for the North Komelik community. Area residents have also reported that in certain wind conditions dust from the mine blows up into North Komelik, creating potential inhalation of particulate contamination. Contaminated soil will be excavated, placed on a liner, and covered with a soil cap.
- The agency resolved the city of Nogales’s long-standing failure to comply with a March 2004 EPA administrative order requiring the city to submit drinking water monitoring and reporting data. The city will pay a $5,500 fine and spend at least $50,000 to repair or replace sewer lines that have degraded and are leaking wastewater into the surrounding soil and possibly into groundwater supplies.
- The EPA reached an agreement with Tucson developer Whetstone Development Corp. and its general contractor K.E. & G. Development to pay penalties totaling $110,000 to settle Clean Water Act violations. Whetstone Development Corp also agreed to donate 40 acres of open space, which contains approximately 2.5 acres of desert wash riparian habitat, to the city of Benson. The EPA's agreement with Whetstone Development Corp. compensates for the permanent loss of approximately 0.25 acres of desert streams, or ephemeral washes, which were filled without a permit during construction activities at “The Canyons at Whetstone Ranch” residential development in Benson. The affected area is part of the San Pedro River watershed, a vital ecological resource in Arizona.
- The EPA took an enforcement action against construction company Triumph Builders and its subcontractor D. Fenn Enterprises, Inc. after they transported solid waste materials -- including broken concrete, asphalt, metal re-bar, soil, metal and PVC pipes, and vegetative debris -- from a construction project to the San Pedro River in Pomerene, and illegally dumped the waste into the river without consultation or authorization from state or federal regulatory agencies. The companies were ordered to remove the demolition waste from the San Pedro River.
- The EPA and the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority agreed on actions the utility will take to comply with wastewater discharge, monitoring and maintenance regulations at its Window Rock and Tuba City Wastewater Treatment Plants on the Navajo Nation. The utility violated its pollutant discharge permits by exceeding the effluent limitations for biochemical oxygen demand, total suspended solids, fecal coliform and/or E. coli, and residual chlorine.
- National settlements with refineries have brought more than $240 million in on-the-ground environmental improvements and nearly $2 million in penalties at the Valero Refineries in Benicia and Wilmington, the Conoco Phillips Refineries in Carson, Wilmington, Rodeo and Arroyo Grande, and at the Exxon-Mobil Refinery in Torrance. The Conoco Phillips case alone will reduce nearly 1.2 million pounds of SOx and 328,000 pounds of NOx. The Valero and Exxon Mobil cases also include stipulations that the companies spend $400,000 and $250,000 on supplemental environmental projects, respectively.
- A settlement with ARCO Terminal Services Corporation for air pollution violations at the Port of Long Beach, Calif. required the company to use control equipment during all ship loadings at its Long Beach piers to control air pollution consistent with South Coast Air Quality Management District regulations; invest in a $675,000 supplemental environmental project at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to control diesel exhaust from cargo handling equipment, such as fork lifts, rubber tire gantry cranes, and trucks; and pay a $225,000 fine.
- The EPA also completed settlements with Southern California foam manufacturers for air pollution violations. Advance Foam Plastics, Inc., a manufacturer of expanded polystyrene foam, will pay $150,000 for air pollution violations, at its Azusa, Calif. facility. Under the terms of this settlement, Advance Foam Plastics Inc. has terminated manufacturing operations, surrendered its South Coast Air Quality Management District permit to operate and will pay the penalty. As part of a November settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the South Coast Air Quality Management District, Los Angeles foam manufacturer Falcon Foam paid $369,000 for excessive volatile organic compound emissions. Volatile organic compounds react with other pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, or "NOX," in the presence of sunlight to form ozone, or smog.
- In the largest Clean Water Act case ever taken against a soft drink bottler, the Seven-Up/RC Bottling Company of Southern California agreed to pay more than $1 million in criminal and civil fines for industrial stormwater and wastewater violations at its soft drink bottling plants in Vernon and Buena Park, Calif. Under the terms of this global settlement, the Seven-Up/RC Bottling Company of Southern California will pay a $600,000 criminal penalty and a $428,250 civil penalty for illegal discharges into the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers.
- San Rafael-based Dutra Dredging Company paid a combined $735,000 fine for ocean dumping violations, which includes a $450,000 EPA fine and $285,000 to fund projects to protect and restore the natural environment of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. After reviewing trip disposal data, the EPA and NOAA’s Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary discovered that the company leaked or dumped dredged material from its disposal vessels over 200 times from 1999 through 2003, while en route to the EPA’s designated deep ocean disposal site 55 miles offshore of San Francisco in nearly 10,000 feet of water.
- U.S. EPA, South Coast Air District settle with L.A. foam maker for $369,000 over air quality violations. As part of a joint settlement with the EPA and the South Coast Air Quality Management District, a Los Angeles foam manufacturer will pay $369,000 for air pollution violations. Under the terms of the joint settlement agreement, Falcon Foam decided to terminate its manufacturing operations by December 31, 2005, rather than install emissions controls. Falcon Foam did not meet the air permit requirements for volatile organic compounds which are limited to no more than 2.4 lbs. per 100 lbs. of raw materials used in the process. EPA requires that companies like Falcon Foam must comply with the Clean Air Act and local air quality to prevent VOC's from contributing to air pollution.
- Sixteen firms are paying $14.9 million for cleanup costs at the San Gabriel Valley Area 2 Superfund Site. The EPA’s cleanup calls for removing contaminants from approximately 30 million gallons per day of contaminated groundwater in and near Baldwin Park, benefiting some 85,000 households. More than $100 million has been spent in the last three years alone on the construction and operation of four large water treatment systems to clean the groundwater and provide a safe and reliable source of drinking water to area residents and businesses. The groundwater cleanup, one of the largest in the country, has been a cooperative effort involving the EPA, the state of California, and seven local water agencies.
- Working with the Department of the Defense, the EPA secured $21 million in soil and groundwater cleanups at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Mather Air Force Base, Edwards Air Force Base, Alameda Naval Air Station, the Marin Corps Logistics Base in Barstow and the Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro.
- The EPA also ordered important Superfund cleanup orders at two sites in Southern California; the Halaco Site in Oxnard and the Montrose Site in Torrance. In Oxnard, four parties are spending nearly $1 million to stabilize and secure the former smelter site near Ormond Beach where Halaco left behind a 28-acre pile that includes an estimated 400,000 cubic yards of waste – including heavy metals, radioactive isotopes, flammable liquids, corrosive liquids and solids -- and abuts wetlands and lagoon. In Torrance, three entities are spending $1.7 million to remove and dispose of contaminated soil piles from an industrial parcel. The EPA order requires Ecology Control Industries, Ronald Flury and Montrose Chemical Corporation to remove between 4,000 to 5,000 tons of soil from the ECI property at 20846 Normandie Avenue in Los Angeles County, and fill and cover the open excavations. The excavated soil is contaminated with DDT and other hazardous substances.
- Hawai’i Dept. of Transportation Stormwater: The agreement with the Hawaii Department of Transportation requires the department to pay a $1 million penalty and spend an estimated $60 million to address Clean Water Act storm water violations at highways and airports in Hawai’i. The settlement requires HDOT to take a variety of actions over the next five years to improve management of storm water runoff from its highways and airports. HDOT will also spend over $1.1 million on projects providing compliance assistance to construction and development firms, and developing environmental management systems for HDOT facilities statewide. Press release 10/6/05
- Pflueger Stormwater: A nearly $7.5 million settlement with James Pflueger over Clean Water Act violations associated with construction activities on Pflueger’s property at Pila’a on the island of Kaua’i. The settlement included payment of $2 million in penalties to the State of Hawai’i and the United States, and Pflueger will spend approximately $5.3 million to prevent erosion and restore streams at areas impacted by the construction activity.
- Large Capacity Cesspools: A settlement requiring Costco to install wastewater treatment and pay a fine of $75,000 for failing to close and replace three large capacity cesspools at its Kona facility on the Big Island. Costco will also spend an estimated $875,000 to close and replace its large cesspool. Compliance agreements were also made with the Hawai’i Department of Education, spending $22 million to replace and close over 320 large capacity cesspools throughout the state. Also the County of Hawai’i will spend $5 million to replace and close 30 large capacity cesspools on the Big Island.
- Wetlands restoration: D & J Ocean Farm was ordered to restore sensitive wetlands at Kalaeloa on Molokai that were illegally filled. The order requires the company to remove soil and other fill on the property created while cutting a new channel for Keawanui Stream. The Coluccio Construction Co. and Kaneohe Ranch Co. were also ordered to remove illegal fill and restore sensitive wetlands adjacent to Hamakua Stream in Kailua, Oahu. The companies filled a wetland area without the proper permits.
Other Hawaii Highlights
- Clean Air Act violations against Waste Management of Hawai’i, Inc., and county governments on Oahu and Hawai’i at the Waimanalo Gulch landfill at Kapolei and West Hawai’i landfill at Waikaloa. At the Waimanalo Gulch landfill, EPA inspectors found that the gas collection and control system was installed seven years late in August 2005, and does not meet requirements. At the West Hawai’i landfill, Waste Management and the County of Hawai’i violated several reporting requirements.
- An action with $1,375 in fines against Hawaiian Electric Co. for improperly disposing of 75 pounds of absorbent material contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls, a violation of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act.
- A settlement with three facilities in Maui County that requires them to pay a collective $5,700 for failing to review and update risk management plans for hazardous chemicals by June 2004. The Wailuku/Kahului, Lahaina and Kihei Wastewater Reclamation Facilities settled under the agency’s expedited settlement agreement policy with reduced penalties. One-ton cylinders of chlorine are used in quantities reported at 16,000 pounds or more at each site.
- Hoku Scientific paying a fine of $14,200 as a result of hazardous waste violations at its former facility on Oahu. In November 2004, EPA inspectors found the facility did not have a hazardous waste identification number and also had two 55-gallon drums in a waste storage area that were not properly labeled and emergency contact information not posted in the area where the waste was stored.
- A settlement for $3,300 with Kamehameha Schools for the improper use of a rodenticide within the Keauhou forest region on the Big Island. Kamehameha Schools failed to comply with the conditions set forth in an EPA experimental use permit authorizing the limited aerial application of a pesticide to control mongoose and rats for wildlife conservation purposes. As a result of the pesticide’s non-permitted use inside bait traps, at least 12 non-targeted wild pigs were killed in addition to the targeted rat and mongoose populations.
Clean Water Act
- Union Pacific Railroad stormwater case – Flooding along Meadow Valley Wash and its tributaries washed out and undermined portions of the rail line in eastern Lincoln and Clark in January 2005. The EPA and the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection inspected the area and found that Union Pacific had placed fill material and conducted other work in streams that was beyond the scope of emergency authorizations and without required storm water controls to protect against further damage. The EPA ordered Union Pacific to stop additional fill activities and repair damage to four areas along the streams that were unstable and restricted natural flows. Cost to clean up – Roughly $4 million
- Bruce Industries and Medallic Art Co. wastewater case – Two Lyon County metal finishing businesses, Bruce Industries and Medallic Art Co. were ordered to monitor their respective wastewater discharges for cyanide, metals and oil and grease, and to treat discharge if necessary to comply with federal discharge limits. The requirements will remain in effect until Lyon County adopts a local sewer use ordinance and can issue its own sewer discharge permits. The discharge requirement is intended to protect the wastewater treatment plant from unanticipated pollution loading from industrial wastewater.
Clean Air Act
- Tronox LLC formerly Kerr-McGee hazardous waste storage plan – As part of a new enforcement policy, the EPA offered Tronox LLC a reduced penalty after it acted quickly to update its risk management plan and pay a $1,400 fine. The Clean Air Act requires facilities using hazardous substances above certain quantities to develop chemical risk management plans to assess the potential effects of an accidental spill or release. The plan must also include an emergency response program that outlines procedures for informing the public and response agencies in the event of an accident. Plan updates were required by June 2004. Reduced fine to $1,400
Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act
- Northern Nevada True Value Hardware selling cancelled pesticides – The U.S. EPA fined two northern Nevada True Value stores nearly $5,000 for selling residential pesticides that contain chlorpyrifos, a chemical that has been federally restricted since 2001. North Valleys True Value of Reno was cited for selling Greenthumb Flea & Tick Killer, and Shelly’s True Value of Sparks was fined for selling True Value Greenthumb Borer Spray II. Both products are designed for residential use and contain the cancelled pesticide chlorpyrifos. The EPA removed chlorpyrifos from the residential market due to its potential health risks, especially to children. Consumer may still legally use remaining stocks of chlorpyrifos products, provided they follow all label directions and precautions. Fine to Shelly’s $500, the North Valley case is headed for an administrative hearing
- Intermountain Farmers Association improper distribution and sales of restricted pesticide – The EPA fined Salt Lake City-based association $5,200 for allegedly distributing and selling Fort Dodge Gopher Bait to a non-certified applicator in Yerington, Nev. Fort Dodge Gopher Bait, a restricted use pesticide, is used to control pocket gophers underground in rangeland, pastures, and non agricultural areas. The EPA classified certain pesticides that present significant human health or environmental hazards as restricted use pesticides in order to minimize risks to human and the environment. Restricted-use pesticide applicators required specific training and certification. Fine $5,200
Superfund response actions (with significant assistance from the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection)
- Anaconda Yerington Mine site mine tailings dust work – Beginning in April the EPA began work to cap soil at a 100-acre mine tailings area to prevent contaminated dust from blowing offsite. The sulfide tailings were considered an imminent and substantial threat requiring immediate action. Water trucks were run continuously to reduce dust during the work and air monitors have been set up around the work area to ensure dust was kept to a minimum. EPA cost of this action, $750,000
- Anaconda Yerington Mine Site mine drainage ponds work – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency conducted work at the Anaconda Mine site to construct and line heap leach evaporation ponds before the fall and winter rain season to prevent overflow of mine drainage. Work began in early September, draining the existing ponds, construction of a new 4-acre evaporation pond and prepping other ponds for repairs. Lining of the newly constructed 4-acre evaporation pond with heavy-gauge plastic liner was completed in early October. Repairs to other ponds were completed at end of October. EPA cost of this action, $1.5 million
- An agreement with the CNMI government outlining the closure of the Puerto Rico Dump. The agreement includes a schedule with deadlines for a financing plan, design and construction of final closure, and post-closure monitoring. At various times, inspectors have observed contaminated storm water and leachate ponding at the dump and flowing into Tanapag Lagoon. The dump has been a source of water pollution for over 50 years and the final closure will greatly reduce the dump’s adverse impacts to the surrounding ocean ecosystem.
- A settlement that requires the Guam Shipyard to spend $25,000 to create an environmental management system and pay a fine of $19,534 for storage of hazardous waste without a permit, and for its failure to close hazardous waste containers. The environmental management system will improve on management of hazardous waste by encouraging pollution prevention and requiring regular employee training. The shipyard will also conduct a yearly review and certification of its waste management efforts.
- Fines of $55,000 to the Guam Waterworks Authority for failing to submit a drinking water and wastewater disposal master plan as stipulated in a 2003 consent order.
- A settlement with Langkilde Service Station for $10,000 for underground storage tank violations at the facility located in Malaloa Village, American Samoa. To date, this is the largest UST fine in the Pacific Islands area.
Other Pacific Islands Highlights
Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands
- A complaint to determine penalties and enforce compliance against JG Sablan Rock Quarry, Inc. for storing used oil in corroded and leaking drums at its Lower Base facility in Saipan. The company failed to comply with an EPA order issued in May requiring the proper management and disposal of used oil and hazardous waste. The company also violated the EPA’s spill prevention rules by storing used oil in corroded and leaking containers; not marking containers of used oil; and failing to clean up spilled used oil.
- A fine against Pacific Development Inc., located in Saipan, CNMI, for $23,650 for waste storage and disposal violations. Inspections at the company’s auto and bus service shop in June 2003 and March 2004, found improperly stored and labeled containers holding used oil and solvents. PDI also failed to respond and clean up a spill of used oil.
- An increase in the fine to the Guam Department of Public Works by $5,500 for continuing to miss the deadline to submit plans and a permit application for the island’s new municipal solid waste landfill. In February, the EPA assessed a $2,000 fine and because the Guam DPW did not submit the required plan and permit application, an additional fine was assessed.
- Underground tank inspections in Guam. The EPA and Guam EPA conducted 28 inspections, found 19 violations and issued 5 citations for a total of $2,150 in penalties at facilities such as Guam Waterworks, Shell Oil and Mobil Oil service stations.
- A settlement that requires Graphic Center, Inc. to pay a fine of $12,500 for hazardous waste violations at its Maite, Guam facility. A March 2004 inspection discovered the facility’s silver recovery unit was not in place. Discharge hoses from the film developing unit were taped to a drain hose, allowing a silver-contaminated wastewater to be improperly disposed of in the drain without a permit.
- Fines to Tri Marine International for $5,000 for the improper disposal of a tuna skiff offshore of Pago Pago Harbor in American Samoa. The company scuttled the tuna skiff without a permit and failed to provide the required notifications.
- A settlement with the American Samoa Port Authority for SPCC issues. The authority has paid the fine of $2,600 and is hard at work on developing an updated comprehensive oil spill prevention and control plan for the commercial harbor and airport.