EPA Enforcement: Agency secures FY2004 cleanups worth record $4.8 billion
Other recent enforcement notices include: Transportation firm fined $10M for Buzzards Bay oil spill; N.C. dredging company indicted; Ga. rendering plant pleads guilty; Pa. photo processing refurbisher plead guilty; La. shipyard co-owner agrees to plead guilty; Va. trailer park owner charged in Clean Water Act case; Minn. metal finisher convicted in sewer line case; Tenn. dairy farmer indicted; Ex-sewage treatment company president indicted in illegal discharge cases...
Also below, you'll find these recent agency enforcement notices of interest:
-- Transportation company fined $10 million for Buzzards Bay oil spill
-- N.C. businessman and dredging company indicted
-- Ga. rendering plant pleads guilty in Clean Water Act case
-- Pa. photo processing refurbisher and president plead guilty
-- La. shipyard and co-owner agree to plead guilty
-- Va. trailer park owner charged in Clean Water Act case
-- Minn. metal finisher convicted in sewer line case
-- Tenn.dairy farmer indicted on Clean Water Act charges
-- Former sewage treatment company president indicted in illegal discharge cases
-- Md. demolition company and co-owner charged with polluting surface waters
-- Calif. food & beverage firm and executive face illegal sewer discharge case
Record FY2004 enforcement also prevents one billion pounds of pollution
WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 15, 2004 -- EPA enforcement actions concluded in fiscal year (FY) 2004 will reduce a projected one billion pounds of pollution and require cleanups estimated to total a record $4.8 billion -- significant increases from last year. Other annual measures of the Agency's enforcement and compliance activity -- such as the number of inspections (up 11% from FY 2003) and investigations (up 32% from FY 2003) -- surpassed or kept pace with previous years, indicating continued progress in deterring violations of the nation's environmental laws and reflecting an emphasis on environmental benefits and compliance.
"EPA's enforcement strategy is focused on what matters most: achieving real environmental improvements that benefit everyone," said Tom Skinner, EPA acting assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "We are getting significant, real-world pollution reductions through mechanisms like injunctive relief -- pushing companies to install more effective pollution controls -- and supplemental environmental projects, which improve the environment and public health both nationwide and close to home."
In addition to the record environmental benefit and cleanup figures resulting from Agency actions during FY 2004, EPA estimates that 3.4 million cubic yards of contaminated soil and sediment and 9.5 million cubic yards of groundwater will be cleaned up, 1,300 acres of wetlands will be protected, and the drinking water of four million Americans will comply with EPA standards. Of the 4,257 cases concluded by EPA in FY 2004, 83% resulted in actions to bring facilities into compliance with environmental laws.
Each fiscal year, EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance compiles a range of data to track national environmental results and enforcement and compliance activity. Projected pollution reductions and the estimated dollar value of required cleanup, or injunctive relief, are annual indicators of results from EPA's environmental enforcement. Pollution estimates project the amount of pollution that will be reduced, treated or properly managed as a result of EPA enforcement actions concluded during the fiscal year. The information is used to gauge enforcement results and activity and guide program priorities.
FY 2004 enforcement and compliance accomplishments include:
* One Billion Pounds of Pollution Reductions -- As a result of cleanup commitments reached in FY 2004, EPA estimates that one billion pounds of pollution will be reduced, treated, or properly managed, an increase of 67% from last year.
* Record-Breaking Injunctive Relief Increases 66% -- The estimated dollar value of compliance actions required by EPA in FY 2004 will total $4.8 billion -- a new EPA record and a 66% increase from FY 2003.
* Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) Increase 42% -- EPA obtained 213 SEPs in FY 2004 -- a 42% increase compared to FY 2003's 150 SEPs. The dollar value of SEPs in FY 2004 was $48 million, compared to FY 2003's $65 million. Of the 213 SEPs in FY 2004, 26 will be performed in environmental justice communities. SEPs are environmentally beneficial projects that a violator voluntarily agrees to perform as part of an enforcement settlement. SEPs go beyond what is required of a violator to return to compliance with environmental requirements.
* Compliance Incentive Program Addresses 14% More Facilities -- Under EPA's Compliance Incentive Program, the number of facilities resolving self-disclosed violations increased 14% in FY 2004 to 969 -- up from 848 in FY 2003.
* Compliance Assistance Reaches More Than 730,000 -- EPA data shows that 731,000 businesses and individuals received assistance from EPA in FY 2004 to help understand and comply with environmental laws. EPA compliance assistance reached 721,000 in FY 2003.
* EPA Final Administrative Penalty Orders Increase 32% -- EPA finalized 2,248 civil administrative penalty actions in FY 2004 -- up 32% over 1,706 in FY 2003.
* Inspections and Evaluations to Determine Compliance Increase 11% -- In FY 2004, EPA conducted 21,000 inspections, up from FY 2003 with 18,880.
* Civil Investigations Increase 32% -- In FY 2004, EPA initiated 455 civil investigations, a 32% increase over the 344 investigations in FY 2003.
* Facilities Disclosing Environmental Violations Double -- In FY 2004, 1223 facilities self-disclosed environmental violations to EPA. In FY 2003 there were 614 facilities that self-disclosed violations.
* EPA Charges 46 more Criminal Defendants -- EPA enforcement charged 293 defendants with environmental crimes in FY 2004, 46 more defendants than in FY 2003.
Highlights of individual enforcement cases and compliance assistance are available online at: www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/reports/endofyear/eoy2004/2004highlights.html.
More information on EPA's FY 2004 enforcement and compliance program and data is available at: www.epa.gov/compliance/planning/results/press/2004eoy/index.html.
Following are other more recent agency enforcement notices that may interest you:
Transportation Company Fined $10 Million for Buzzards Bay Oil Spill: Dec. 1, 2004 -- Bouchard Transportation Company of Hicksville, N.Y., was fined $10 million on Nov. 18 by the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Boston for violating the Clean Water Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The company was also ordered to comply with remedial measures to prevent oil spills. The fine will be distributed as follows: $7 million will be used to conserve wetlands in the Buzzard's Bay area, $2 million will be paid to the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and the remaining $1 million will be suspended if Bouchard Transportation successfully establishes the environmental program ordered by the court. The violations resulted when Bouchard Transportation improperly operated the tugboat Evening Tide on April 27, 2003. This caused a barge towed by the Evening Tide to drift outside the Buzzard's Bay channel and hit some rocks. The barge then spilled approximately 98,000 gallons of number six fuel oil in Buzzards Bay. The spill killed 450 protected birds, necessitated the closure of thousands of acres of shellfish beds in Buzzards Bay and polluted nearly 90 miles of Massachusetts shoreline. The case was investigated by the Boston Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Office of Law Enforcement. Investigative assistance was provided by the U.S. Secret Service, the Massachusetts Environmental Police and the Massachusetts attorney general's office. It was prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Boston.
North Carolina Businessman and Corporation Indicted: Dec. 1, 2004 -- All State Environmental Dredging Inc. and its president, Rudy J. Lanier of Sneads Ferry, N.C., were indicted on Nov. 17 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Norfolk, Va., on counts of violating the Clean Water Act, making false statements and false claims. All State had a contract with the Army Corps of Engineers to perform dredging work on Tangier Island in the Chesapeake Bay. All State's contract with the Army required the company to dredge Tangier's Channel and turning basin and to deposit the dredged spoil at a beach replenishment site on the island's southwest coast. The indictment alleges that in late 2000, Lanier directed All State employees to accelerate the dredging process by rerouting the discharge pipeline and discharging spoil into the waters of Tangier Sound, off the island's east coast. The indictment also alleges that after army contracting personnel were alerted to the illegal discharges, Lanier made a series of false statements to them in an attempt to evade detection and to obtain full payment under the contract. Lanier also allegedly directed an employee to falsify forms concerning weather delays in an attempt to avoid penalties for missing the contract's completion deadline. Improperly disposing of fill material in surface waters can harm fish and wildlife. The case is being investigated by the Army Criminal Investigative Division and the Washington, D.C., Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, with assistance from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality's Criminal Investigation Unit. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office for the Eastern District of Virginia, and the Regional Counsel's Office for EPA Region 3.
Georgia Rendering Plant Pleads Guilty in Clean Water Act Case: Dec. 1, 2004 -- Griffin Industries Inc., of Cold Spring, Ky., pleaded guilty on Nov. 22, in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia in Augusta to a misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act by discharging number six fuel oil through a designated storm water outfall into Bay Branch Creek. The plea agreement calls for the company to pay a fine of $50,000. The agreement also calls for the company to continue to employ an environmental consulting company for a minimum of 12 months to oversee the disposal of wastewater. Griffin Industries is a rendering plant that converts inedible animal waste into tallow, a main ingredient in cattle feed and dry pet food. According to charges in the plea agreement, employees of Griffin Industries' East Dublin, Ga., plant violated the company's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System storm water permit by allowing number six fuel oil to enter the south storm water outfall. Rainfall or wash-down water from clean up procedures discharged the number six fuel oil from the south storm water outfall into Bay Branch Creek. Discharging wastewater containing number six fuel oil can be harmful to fish and other aquatic life. The case was investigated by the Atlanta Area Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, with the assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center, EPA Region IV, and the Georgia Department of Natural Resources' Environmental Protection Division. It was prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District of Georgia.
Pennsylvania Company and President Plead Guilty in Clean Water Act Case: Dec. 1, 2004 -- BEF Corp. of Allentown, Pa., and Elward Brewer of Englewood, Fla., BEF's founder and president, each pleaded guilty on Nov. 12, in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia to violating the Clean Water Act by discharging silver-laden and acidic wastewater into sewers operated by the City of Bethlehem, Pa., and the City of Allentown, Pa. In addition, BEF also pleaded guilty to violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and to making false statements to the government. The plea agreement calls for Brewer and the company to jointly pay $700,000 in fines. In addition, Brewer faces up to one year in prison. The exact length of his sentence will be determined at sentencing. BEF buys used one-hour photo processing machines, refurbishes them and then resells them throughout the world. During the refurbishment process, BEF generates silver-laden and acidic wastewater which was illegally discharged into sewers. The other charges arose from BEF's illegal export of goods to Iran, and from BEF's practice of discounting the fair market value of its photo labs on Shippers' Export Declarations to help its international customers avoid paying import duties. Unlawfully disposing of metal laden and acidic wastewater into sewers can damage sewage treatment equipment and can interfere with the proper treatment of sewage by sewage treatment facilities. The case was investigated by the Philadelphia office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the U.S. Commerce Department's Office of Export Enforcement and the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Investigative assistance was provided by EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center and the wastewater treatment departments of the Borough of Catasauqua, the City of Bethlehem, South Whitehall Township and the City of Allentown. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Philadelphia.
Louisiana Shipyard and Co-Owner Agree to Plead Guilty: Dec. 1, 2004 -- William Barnett Jr., co-owner and manager of Barnett Marine Inc., of Belle Chasse, La., pleaded guilty on Nov. 3 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana in New Orleans to a misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA). The plea agreement calls for Mr. Barnett to serve three years probation. Barnett Marine agreed to plead guilty to a felony violation of the Solid Waste Disposal Act (SWDA) and pay a $100,000 fine and serve five years probation. Barnett Marine is a bankrupt company that repaired and repainted barges. The CWA violation involved the unlawful disposal of red dust into the Harvey Canal, and the SWDA violation involved the unlawful use of lead-contaminated sandblasting sand as fill material in the yard at the Barnett Marine facility. Contaminating waters can harm fish and wildlife. Lead is a toxic metal which can cause neurological damage, and materials contaminated with lead must be disposed of properly to avoid human exposure. The case was investigated by the Baton Rouge Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. It is being prosecuted by the New Orleans U.S. attorney's office.
Owner of Virginia Trailer Park Charged in Clean Water Act Case: Dec. 1, 2004 -- D.J. Cooper, owner of the Hardy Road Trailer Park in Bedford County, Va., turned himself in to authorities on Nov. 8 in response to Clean Water Act charges brought in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Roanoke. The charges allege that Cooper operates a sewage treatment lagoon at the trailer park and that the lagoon daily discharges 3,000-4,000 gallons of improperly treated wastewater into Sandy Creek which is a tributary of Falling Creek. Water from Falling Creek flows into the Roanoke River and eventually into Smith Mountain Lake. Previous attempts by Virginia State Regulators to bring the sewage treatment system at Hardy Road Trailer Park into compliance have been unsuccessful. This effort included a $10,000 fine by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality last summer. The discharge of improperly treated sewage into surface waters can make the waters unfit for human contact and can damage fish and wildlife. An inspection of Sandy Creek in 2002 by a biologist found the creek "essentially devoid of life." The case was investigated by the Washington, D.C., Area Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division with assistance from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office in Roanoke.
Minnesota Metal Finisher Convicted in Sewer Line Case: Nov. 23, 2004 -- Kenneth Heroux, owner of Hardcoat Inc., in St. Louis Park, Minn., was convicted on Nov. 5 on two counts of making false statements to officials from the U.S. EPA and Hennepin County by a jury sitting in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota in Minneapolis. The defendant falsely told state and federal investigators that a sewer pipe used to discharge pre-treated industrial wastes from the Hardcoat facility did not show any problems with leakage. In reality, the pipe had several breaks through which pre-treated industrial wastes could have leaked. The defendant replaced the pipe, but he knowingly lied to officials about the fact that the pipe had been compromised. Sewage pipes that have breaks create a potential source for groundwater pollution. Two other defendants, Hardcoat Inc., and George Miklasevics were acquitted. The case was investigated by the Minneapolis Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the Hennepin County Department of Environmental Services. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minneapolis.
Tennessee Dairy Farmer Indicted on Clean Water Act Charges: Nov. 23, 2004 -- Milton Beard, owner of the Black Jack Ridge Dairy near the community of Santa Fe, Tenn., was indicted on Nov. 4, in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee in Nashville on two felony and one misdemeanor count of violating the Clean Water Act. The indictment alleges that Beard used both a manmade pipe and a spray irrigation system to discharge waste from his dairy facility onto the grounds of his property. The wastes then allegedly flowed into Lick Creek which empties into the Duck River. Polluting surface waters with animal wastes can make the waters unsafe for drinking and recreational uses, and it can also present a danger to fish and wildlife. The case was investigated by the Nashville Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Inspector General and the FBI with the assistance of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. It is being prosecuted by the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Tennessee.
Former Sewage Treatment Company President Indicted in Illegal Discharge Cases: Nov. 23, 2004 -- Gordon T. Tollison, former president and owner of Environmental Utilities Services Inc., was arraigned on a 39-count indictment on Nov. 4, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, in Oxford. The indictment arose from the alleged improper operation of four sewage treatment plants in Lafayette County between 1999 and 2002. Tollison, a professional engineer who holds a Class IV wastewater treatment operator certification, was charged with discharging pollutants in excess of limitations in his discharge permits, failing to disinfect sewage and lying to investigators about wastewater analyses he was required to perform and submit to the State of Mississippi. The indictment alleges that between 1999 and 2002, four of Tollison's treatment plants, Brittany Woods, College Hill Heights, Rolling Woods and Western Hills discharged sewage that exceeded the limitations for fecal coliform bacteria in their permits. These plants collectively serve approximately 900 homes. It further alleges that improperly treated wastewater from these plants was discharged into tributaries of the Sardis and Enid Reservoirs. Discharging wastewater with higher than permitted levels of fecal coliform bacteria into surface waters can present a health hazard to humans, domestic animals and wildlife who come into contact with the waters. The case was investigated by the Jackson Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the FBI, the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. It is being prosecuted by the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi in Oxford.
Maryland Company and Co-Owner Charged with Polluting Surface Waters: Nov. 12, 2004 -- Restoration East, LLC, of Baltimore, Md., and Louis J. Helmacy, a Restoration East Co-Owner, were charged on Oct. 28 in Montgomery County Circuit Court with illegally discharging demolition waste into a tributary of Rock Creek. From June 1, 2003 to June 10, 2003, the defendants were conducting a hydrodemolition of a concrete floor in a parking garage located in Montgomery County. This activity involved using a high pressure hose to pulverize the floor and create a concrete slurry. The defendants, however, did not get a discharge permit for this activity from the state, and wastewater from the project allegedly entered the Rock Creek tributary. The case was investigated by the Environmental Crimes Unit of the Maryland Attorney General, the Maryland State Police, the Washington Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the U.S. Park Police. It is being prosecuted by the Maryland Attorney General's Office.
California Food and Beverage Company and Vice President Charged with Illegal Sewer Discharge: Nov. 12, 2004 -- Triple H Food Processors Inc., of Riverside, Calif., and Richard J. Harris, the company's vice president, were both charged on Oct. 28 in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles with violating the Clean Water Act by allegedly discharging acidic wastewater with a pH level below 5 into Riverside's sewer system. In a plea agreement which is subject to court approval, Triple H agreed to plead guilty to a felony violation for discharging the pollution and to a second violation for knowingly failing to manually monitor its pretreatment system for pH. Harris agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor for negligently discharging a pollutant. According to the charges and the plea agreement, employees of Triple H violated the company's discharge permit on several occasions by knowingly discharging wastewater with a pH below 5. If the court accepts the plea, Triple H will pay a $750,000 fine, serve three years probation and upgrade its pretreatment system. Under the agreement, Harris will spend three months in home confinement as part of three years probation and will also pay a $50,000 fine. The agreement also calls for both defendants to pay a total of $11,480 in restitution to the City of Riverside, and hire an environmental consultant and a new employee to run the company's pretreatment system. The case was investigated by the Los Angeles Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the Water Quality Control Plant of the Riverside Public Works Department. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles. The filing of federal charges is merely an accusation and all defendants are presumed innocent unless or until they are proven guilty in a court of law.