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U.S. EPA requires Sacramento area sanitation district to reduce risk of chemical releases, pay penalty

Sanitation district also to support local emergency response efforts

Contact Information: 
Soledad Calvino (

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached a settlement with the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District for chemical safety and risk management violations at the Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant. The sanitation district will pay a $37,830 civil penalty and make improvements to its risk management practices.

“Public agencies must ensure the safety of their workers and nearby residents when using hazardous chemicals,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “Compliance with good chemical management practices helps to protect public health and the environment.”

As part of the settlement, the sanitation district will also spend an estimated $100,500 in support of emergency planning and preparedness programs in the city and county of Sacramento. The sanitation district will provide the County of Sacramento Environmental Management Department with an incident response vehicle, portable radios, and response gear. The Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District will receive a handheld device for identifying chemicals. 

The Sacramento Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant is located on Laguna Station Road in Elk Grove, Calif. The facility treats wastewater from the cities of Sacramento, Folsom, West Sacramento, Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova, and Citrus Heights; the communities of Courtland and Walnut Grove; and unincorporated Sacramento County.

EPA inspected the treatment plant in May 2016 and found facility staff had not immediately notified the National Response Center of three separate releases of chlorine in 2013 and 2014, in violation of the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act’s reporting requirements. 

Facility staff had not complied with EPA’s risk management program regulations, in violation of the Clean Air Act. Proper implementation of risk management programs helps prevent and control chemical releases at facilities that store large amounts of regulated substances. Violations at the treatment plant included failure to perform certain equipment tests and inspections and failure to adequately investigate a release of chlorine.

In addition to the civil penalty, the settlement requires the sanitation district certify that certain equipment complies with risk management plan requirements, update the piping and instrument diagrams included in its risk management plan, and arrange for a third-party audit after upgrading the gas management system.

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