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EPA increases California environmental enforcement cases by 33 percent since 2001

Release Date: 12/11/2003
Contact Information: Leo Kay, U.S. EPA, 415-947-4306

     Agency fines polluters throughout state $279 million in 2003

     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency increased its enforcement actions against polluters in California 33 percent over a two-year period, fining polluters a collective $279 million in 2003.

     The EPA took 195 enforcement actions against businesses and government organizations throughout the state for numerous air, water, hazardous waste, community right to know, and pesticide violations, up from 188 in 2002 and 146 in 2001.

     "A strong enforcement program is one of the primary tools the EPA employs in ensuring companies comply with environmental regulations," said Wayne Nastri, administrator of the EPA's Pacific Southwest Office in San Francisco.  "Thanks to our partnerships with the state, tribes and local communities, we are continuing to bring cleaner air, water and land to all Californians."

    Nationally, the EPA increased environmental benefits from enforcement actions by 131 percent over 2002 efforts   reducing, treating or managing roughly 600 million pounds of pollutants this past year compared to 260 million pounds in 2002.

     Below are a number of agency enforcement highlights for California for 2003.  Please go to for a full description of the EPA's enforcement cases throughout California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands in 2003.

                   Air Enforcement Highlights
    National Cement Co. of California Inc. paid $838,296 to settle violations of the Clean Air   and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Acts at the company=s Lebec   cement plant.  The company violated air emission standards and notification and   monitoring requirements imposed by an EPA air permit.  The company has since installed   additional pollution control equipment and made other operation changes that have   reduced its excess emissions by 225,000 pounds per year of nitrogen oxides, 18,000   pounds per year of sulphur dioxide and 2.6 million pounds per year of carbon dioxide.

    The EPA fined Herman Goelitz, also known as the Jelly Belly Candy Co., $200,000 for   failing to get an air permit when it expanded its Fairfield facility during the mid-1990s.  The company uses products that emit volatile organic compounds, a precursor to ozone (smog) formation, and has installed equipment to reduce emissions by 110,000 pounds per year.

    Silgan Containers Corp. underwent a self audit to evaluate compliance with the Clean Air   Act and New Source Review requirements for 38 of its facilities in the United States.  As part of the audit, the company opted to disclose its own findings to EPA and ultimately reached a settlement with EPA to reduce emissions at six of its California San Joaquin Valley plants by as much as 118 tons per year at an estimated cost to the company of $1.57 million.  The company also agreed to pay a fine of $659,900 for alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act.

    An Oakland glass manufacturer, Owens Brockway Glass,  paid $200,000 for air quality   violations and took corrective measures to improve compliance with air regulations.    Glass manufacturing produces particulate emissions from raw materials that vaporize   during the melting process and then condense in the exhaust stack.  Excess emissions of   particulates can penetrate deep into people's lungs and cause respiratory problems.  

                  Water Enforcement Highlights
    ExxonMobil Oil Co. paid $4.7 million to resolve California and federal claims against it for a 1991 crude oil spill from a Southern California pipeline into the Santa Clara River. The spill coated approximately 14 miles of the river between Los Angeles and Ventura counties, killing or injuring hundreds of birds and dozens of amphibians and mammals. Some of the $4.7 million will be used for habitat restoration projects.

    Pick Your Part Auto Wrecking Co. paid $128,000 for stormwater violations at five auto wrecking and recycling yards in Chula Vista, Santa Paula, Sun Valley and Wilmington.  The company will also start to remove and recycle mercury in switches from salvaged vehicles at its nine California yards, the first such program in the state.  In the United States, an estimated 10 tons of mercury are released to the environment each year from mercury-containing light switches during the shredding and crushing of old vehicles.  

    The EPA reached a settlement with Union Pacific Railroad requiring the company to pay $125,000 for alleged wetlands violations at two Santa Barbara County waterways in the 90's.  Union Pacific paid $55,000 for illegally discharging dredged materials into   Carpinteria Salt Marsh during a project in 1997, and another $70,000 for similar   violations in 1999 at Laguna Creek.

    In southern California, Los Angeles and neighboring beach communities experience some of the country=s highest rates of beach health advisories and closures due to sewage spills and contaminated storm water runoff.  The EPA ordered the 25 separate districts of Los Angeles County to examine their programs and identify what improvements are necessary to reduce the number and volume of spills. The EPA also ordered the South Coast Water District to create a plan that will end sewer spills from its 140-mile network of sewer pipes and pump stations that collect sewage from the city of Dana Point and portions of Laguna Beach and San Clemente.  Finally, the agency issued orders to several Los Angeles companies  to stop stormwater runoff from industrial sources   one of the biggest causes of water pollution in the greater Los Angeles area.  Further south, the EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice filed a complaint against the city of San Diego for its sewage spills and illegal discharges to waters.  San Diego has submitted the required plans and is working toward improving its operation and maintenance of the sewer system.

                     Clean Land Highlights
    The EPA negotiated settlements totaling nearly $40 million for the cleanup of the   Casmalia Resources hazardous waste management facility Superfund site in Central   California.  The Casmalia site was a commercial hazardous waste treatment, storage and   disposal facility located 10 miles from Santa Maria.  Between 1972 and 1989, the site   accepted over 5.5 billion pounds of liquid and solid hazardous waste, including seven   million drums of waste. The EPA has estimated that overall cleanup cost will be about   $284 million.

              The EPA reached a $10 million settlement requiring 17 companies to clean up the Waste Disposal Inc. Superfund site in Santa Fe Springs. The 38-acre waste facility includes a buried 42-million gallon, concrete-lined reservoir built in the 1920s and later used by the oil industry as a landfill.  Soils are contaminated with metals, polyaromatic hydrocarbons and volatile organic compounds.

              Emergency planning, community right to know
              The EPA fined the Union Oil Company of California $105,600 for failing to file timely or accurate reports estimating its releases of toxic chemical compounds, a violation of the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.  The company failed to properly report its releases of ammonia, hexane, methy tert-butyl ether, sulfuric acid,tetrachloroethylene (a known human carcinogen) and 1,1,1, trichloroethane to the environment in 1996.  The releases were from the company=s refinery in Wilmington, which UNOCAL no longer owns.  Last year, UNOCAL paid $1.7 million for violating air emissions at its ship loading terminal in Los Angeles.

              Chevron USA, as part of a larger national settlement, agreed to pay an $800,000 penalty for failure to immediately report releases of hazardous substances and to properly implement a risk management program required by the Clean Air Act at its refinery in El Segundo.  Chevron also committed to supplemental environmental projects that will directly benefit the environment and the city=s residents.  Chevron will spend $300,000 on diesel emissions reduction projects in the El Segundo area and $100,000 on        emergency response equipment to be donated to the El Segundo Fire Department.

              The Conoco Phillips Company will pay $150,975 as a settlement for federal community right-to-know violations at its petrochemical refinery in Wilmington, Calif.  U.S. EPA alleged that the facility failed to file timely or accurate estimates of releases of six toxic chemicals to the environment in 1997 and/or 1998.  Conoco Phillips Company admitted liability for the violations.  Conoco Phillips is the successor to the Tosco Corporation, owner of the Wilmington facility at the time if the violations.

              The EPA fined Napa State Hospital in Napa, Calif., $40,000 for environmental violations related to a March oil spill that resulted in roughly 230 gallons of diesel threatening the Napa River.  EPA also cited  the hospital for failing to maintain an oil spill response plan. The hospital houses four 10,000-gallon storage tanks that contain diesel used to power its boilers.  A ruptured underground  pipe that had been transporting diesel from the tanks to the boiler caused the spill.  The hospital failed to notify state and federal authorities of the spill, and failed to immediately clean up the diesel.