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EPA Region 6 Announces Enforcement Actions for 1997

Release Date: 12/22/1997
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

Within the five states of Region 6, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded 682 enforcement actions during fiscal year 1997, October 1996 through September 1997.

"Enforcement is the cornerstone of EPA's mandate to ensure that all Americans can live and raise their families in safe environments and that our natural resources are protected for future generations. EPA's enforcement, when combined with the enforcement of our state environmental agencies, sends a clear message to the regulated community disregard for the environment and public health laws of this country will not be tolerated," Acting Regional Administrator Jerry Clifford said.

Enforcement actions ensure that violators comply with environmental laws and deter potential violators. Region 6 enforcement actions during 1997 stopped an estimated $330 million of damage to our environment.

During fiscal year 1997, Region 6 performed almost 2,400 inspections, many in response to citizen's complaints. These resulted in the Agency initiating 883 enforcement actions.

The number of field citations EPA issued more than quadrupled compared to the last fiscal year. And more than twice as many civil case were referred to the Department of Justice.

Settlements increased 25 percent over fiscal 1996. Fifty-one defendants were charged in 74 criminal actions resulting in almost 23 years of jail time.

Civil and criminal settlements resulted in almost $10 million in penalties. An additional $10.5 million in Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEP) was included in about 60 agreements. These projects go beyond what companies must do to comply with environmental laws. They range from developing programs to educate a community about environmental issues to creating more environmentally protective industrial processes.

Significant actions in Region 6 included:

* Penalties of almost $10 million and a court order to comply the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) against a Louisiana industrial recycler who had failed to obtain permits and ignored EPA regulations for the safe handling and disposal of hazardous materials.

* A $290,000 penalty against a Louisiana refinery for violations of the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and RCRA, which governs the storage, transportation and disposal of hazardous waste.

* An oil company was ordered to provide potable water and pay penalties to an Oklahoma tribe for contaminating groundwater while operating oil leases.

* EPA is seeking penalties and orders to comply with regulations preventing oil spills against an Oklahoma oil producer who is responsible for more than 300 oil spills in six states.

* A chemical company on the Texas Gulf Coast agreed to a $6.6 million SEP and will install equipment to greatly reduce air emissions.

Note: Narrative summaries and statistics for individual states are not available at this time.