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Release Date: 02/10/2000
Contact Information: Wesley Lambert, EPA Media Relations, 404-562-8316
EPA Region 4 today announced enforcement figures for Fiscal Year (FY) 1999. Region 4 had a significant increase in penalties over 1998 with approximately $7.38 million in civil judicial penalties (up 42% from 1998) and $4.96 million in administrative penalties (also up 42%). In addition the Region imposed over $215 million in injunctive relief and almost $4.7 million in Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEP’s). This $4.7 million will be applied toward environmentally beneficial projects as a result of 37 concluded enforcement actions. These penalties included notable actions against Ashland ($5.8 million in civil penalties, $12 million to correct violations and $14 million in SEP’s) and Tennessee Eastman ( $2.75 million in civil penalties and $250,000 to correct violations.)

Nationally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced record enforcement actions and penalties for Fiscal Year 1999 including $3.6 billion for environmental cleanup, pollution control and improved monitoring, an 80 percent increase over 1998; $166.7 million in civil penalties, 60 percent higher than 1998 and 3,945 civil judicial and administrative actions, the highest in the last three years. Criminal defendants were sentenced to a record 208 years of prison time for committing environmental crimes.

Mr. John H. Hankinson, Jr., Regional Administrator for Region 4 said, “The enforcement report announced today demonstrates the Agency is accomplishing its goal of using enforcement to promote complete compliance with this nation’s environmental laws. We will continue to use all of our enforcement options to protect and improve the environment. These figures show that our enforcement strategy has been enormously successful in targeting violators for aggressive action to achieve environmental results while at the same time providing real incentives for those who voluntarily disclose violations.”

During FY 1999, EPA, Region 4 also concluded two precedent setting enforcement actions against federal facilities under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and the Clean Air Act (CAA). On December 10, 1998, the U.S. Army and EPA reached settlement for SDWA violations at the Redstone Arsenal Support Activity facility in Huntsville, Alabama. This case was the first ever administrative enforcement action against a federal facility under section 1447 of the SDWA amendments of 1996. Secondly, on September 23, 1999, two consent agreements were filed against were filed against two Federal Bureau of Prison facilities in Butner, North Carolina for violations of the CAA. This action marks the first time that the Region has utilized recent authority under the CAA to assess penalties against federal facilities for violations of the CAA.

The Region also continues to maintain a strong enforcement presence conducting 3, 339 inspections with 646 civil administrative and judicial actions in FY 1999. The Region referred 56 cases to the Department of Justice - the same as in the previous fiscal year.

With regard to criminal cases, judges handed down 384 months of imprisonment time compared to 232 months the previous year. Fines went up significantly. EPA, Region 4 defendants were assessed $8,572, 981 for fiscal year 1999 compared to $3,108,106 in FY 1998. EPA, Region 4 also opened 46 new cases and referred 29 for criminal prosecution.