EPA Enforcement Actions in 2022 Help Protect Public Health and the Environment from Dangers of Lead Exposure
WASHINGTON — Today, as part of National Lead Poisoning Prevention Week, EPA released its 2022 Lead Enforcement Bulletin, which highlights the most notable lead enforcement cases during the past fiscal year. EPA pursued both civil and criminal cases for violations of federal laws to prevent and reduce exposure to lead in paint, drinking water, soils, hazardous waste and other environmental sources. Many of the enforcement actions and activities highlighted in the Lead Enforcement Bulletin address lead exposures in communities disproportionately impacted by lead and areas with environmental justice concerns.
"Despite our understanding of the negative health impacts that can result from lead exposure, many Americans are still exposed, and this is particularly true for underserved and overburdened communities,” said Larry Starfield, EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Over the last year, EPA took numerous enforcement actions to protect the public from lead exposure.”
The Bulletin highlights both civil settlements and criminal sanctions for violations involving lead in paint:
- The latest cases against companies whose alleged renovation violations were broadcast on national television involved renovators on the shows “Maine Cabin Masters” and “Good Bones.” In both cases, the companies agreed to pay civil penalties and educate the public about lead-safe work practices, among other things. Other recent enforcement actions also addressed alleged renovation violations aired on the television shows “Magnolia Homes,” “Texas Flip N Move,” and “Rehab Addict and Bargain Mansions.”
- A renovation company agreed to pay a $137,804 civil penalty to settle alleged renovation violations.
- A property management/development firm agreed to pay a civil penalty to resolve alleged renovation and asbestos violations in an area with environmental justice concerns.
- Two criminal cases resulted in sentences and fines. One was for a property manager that failed to disclose known lead paint hazards to prospective tenants and the second was for the owner/operator of a lead inspection firm for falsifying lead paint inspection reports.
Lead in Drinking Water
The Bulletin highlights EPA’s issuance of an order to Benton Harbor, Michigan’s Public Water System to address elevated lead levels in drinking water and other violations of the Safe Drinking Water Act. This unilateral administrative order requires the City of Benton Harbor’s Public Water System to inform consumers when lead action level exceedances are detected and improve applications of orthophosphate for corrosion control, in addition to repairs at the water treatment plant and improvements to disinfection. The order also requires an independent third-party analysis of alternatives for long-term operation and maintenance of the system.
Lead in Soil / Superfund / Hazardous Waste
The Bulletin highlights:
- A settlement to recover approximately $1,950,000 in costs for the cleanup of lead-contaminated soil in the Chicago area.
- EPA’s order requiring the removal of lead-contaminated soil from 58 residential properties in Viburnum, Missouri.
- EPA’s selection of a remedy to address lead and other contamination at a Lead Superfund site in Indiana.
- Criminal sanctions for a former landfill director for illegally storing and disposing of hazardous waste containing lead in North Carolina.
- EPA’s order to prevent the release of lead to the environment from a waste processing facility in Georgia.
In addition, the Bulletin highlights EPA enforcement and compliance assurance activities that address lead exposures from air emissions at federal facilities and on tribal lands.