Verizon Wireless has agreed to pay a $468,600 civil penalty to settle self-disclosed violations of federal environmental regulations discovered at 655 facilities in 42 states, according to an EPA press release.
Verizon voluntarily entered into a corporate audit agreement with the EPA and conducted environmental compliance audits at more than 25,000 facilities nation-wide. The Environmental Appeals Board at EPA has approved an administrative settlement resolving violations Verizon found through its compliance audits.
Verizon audited facilities that include cell towers, mobile switch centers, call centers, and administrative offices. As a result of its audit, the company reported violations of clean water, clean air, and emergency planning and preparedness regulations to EPA. Verizon promptly corrected the violations found during its audit, which included preparing and implementing spill prevention, control, and countermeasure plans, applying for appropriate air permits, and submitting reports to state and local emergency planning and response organizations informing them of the presence of hazardous substances.
EPA encourages companies with multiple facilities to conduct corporate-wide audits and develop corporate-wide compliance systems. A corporate audit agreement allows corporations, universities or other organizations with many facilities to plan corporate-wide or facility-wide audits with an advance understanding between the entity and EPA regarding schedules for conducting the audit and disclosing violations. EPA factors in the companies’ cooperation and willingness to do the audit voluntarily, and the penalties are typically lower than if the same violations were discovered through enforcement.
Since 1998, nearly 5,400 telecom facilities have been brought into compliance through 35 settlements as part of EPA’s enforcement effort to improve compliance in the telecom sector.
Verizon is required to pay the penalty within 30 days.