EPA goes after big violators, billions in fines
Deepwater Horizon cases and Walmart’s hazardous waste policies were among the cases pursued by the EPA last year. The agency’s annual enforcement report shows a focus on major violators that have the most impact on public health.
“Our enforcement work over the past year reflects our focus on the biggest violators and the cases that make the most difference in protecting American communities from pollution,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “We’ve reduced deadly air toxics from refineries and chemical plants and cleaned up toxic pollution in communities. We’re working with cities to cut discharges of raw sewage and contaminated stormwater to the nation’s waters.”
The report includes:
- EPA’s cases resulted in criminal sentences requiring violators to pay more than $4.5 billion in combined fines, restitution and court-ordered environmental projects that benefit communities, and more than $1.1 billion in civil penalties.
- Deepwater Horizon cases resulted in more than $3.7 billion going back to benefit the Gulf States and communities impacted by the spill.
- Requiring Walmart to commit to cutting edge hazardous waste handling systems, as well as compliance and training programs that will protect employees and nearby residents. Walmart also paid more than $80 million in fines and penalties for mishandling pesticides and hazardous waste.
- In a landmark settlement, AVX Corporation committed to pay over $366 million to clean up contamination in Massachusetts’s New Bedford Harbor, the largest single-site cash settlement in Superfund history.
- Reducing dangerous air toxics released from industrial flares at refineries and chemical plants, requiring companies to implement technologies that control emissions. A recent Clean Air Act settlement with Shell Deer Park in Texas requires continuous monitoring of cancer-causing benzene and vehicle retrofits to reduce diesel emissions, put in place to benefit nearby overburdened communities. See another example of innovative pollution controls from Countrymark Refining.
- Reducing emissions from coal fired power plants, requiring companies to cut pollution and conduct mitigation projects that promote energy efficiency and protect clean air for local communities. Examples include Wisconsin Power and Light, Dominion Energy and Louisiana Generating.
- Working with cities to cut discharges of raw sewage and contaminated stormwater to the nation’s waters through integrated planning, green infrastructure and other innovative approaches. This helps cities manage resources better, cut pollution and improve quality of life for local residents. Recent settlements with Seattle and King Co., WA and Wyandotte County, KS require cities to initially provide relief to overburdened communities most impacted by sewage discharges. Other examples of innovative settlements include San Antonio, TX and Jackson, MS.
More information about EPA’s Fiscal Year 2013 enforcement results: www2.epa.gov/enforcement/enforcement-annual-results-fiscal-year-fy-2013