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EPA FY 2008 penalties dwarf OSHA fines (12/8)

December 8, 2008
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In fiscal year 2008, EPA concluded civil and criminal enforcement actions requiring regulated entities to spend an estimated $11.8 billion on pollution controls, cleanup and environmental projects, a record for EPA, according to an agency press statement.

In comparison, a search of OSHA’s web site turns up no information on annual enforcement penalties. OSHA’s latest information on enforcement activity is for FY 2007.

In the largest settlement with a stationary source in EPA history, American Electric Power, a coal-fired electric utility company, agreed to install pollution controls and take other measures that will reduce a record 1.6 billion pounds of air pollution. The company also agreed to pay a $15 million penalty, the largest ever paid by an electric utility for New Source Review violations of the Clean Air Act.

Four of the nation's top ten home builders, Centex Homes, KB Home, Pulte Homes, and Richmond American Homes, agreed to pay civil penalties totaling $4.3 million to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Water Act for delays or failures to obtain proper storm water permits for numerous construction sites in 34 states and the District of Columbia. The settlements also require the companies to develop improved pollution prevention plans for each site, increase site inspections and promptly correct any problems that are detected.

Massey Energy Company, Inc., Central Appalachia’s largest coal producer, agreed to pay a $20 million penalty, the largest of its kind, for discharging pollution into local waterways. Massey also agreed to take measures at all of its facilities that will prevent an estimated 380 million pounds of sediment and other pollutants from entering the nation’s waters each year.

British Petroleum Exploration (Alaska), Inc., pleaded guilty and was ordered to pay a $12 million criminal fine and $4 million in restitution to the state of Alaska for two pipeline leaks, one of which was the largest spill ever on the state’s North Slope.

Owners or operators of hazardous waste sites committed to invest $1.6 billion for investigation and cleanup of Superfund sites, the highest total in seven years.

EPA reached a record $250 million settlement with W.R. Grace for asbestos contamination in Libby, Mont. This is largest cash payment ever made by a company to reimburse the federal government for the costs of investigating and cleaning up a Superfund site.

EPA conducted approximately 20,000 on-site inspections and investigations nationwide to identify environmental violations of our nation’s environmental laws.

In comparison, OSHA imposed the largest penalty in the agency's history, more than $21 million, against BP for the fatal explosion at its Texas City, Texas refinery in 2005, which BP paid in full. OSHA has proposed penalties totaling $8,777,500 against the Imperial Sugar Co. and its two affiliates alleging violations at their plants in Port Wentworth, Ga., and Gramercy, La. OSHA initiated the inspections following an explosion and fire on Feb. 7, 2008, at the Port Wentworth refinery that claimed the lives of 13 employees and hospitalized 40 others.

In Fiscal Year 2008, OSHA has 2,186 employees. The agency's appropriation is $490.3 million. EPA in FY 2008 has 17,324 employees (almost eight times larger than the OSHA headcount) and a budget of approximately $7.2 billion (more than 14 times the size of OSHA’s budget).

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