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Companies Come Clean About Environmental Violations

Release Date: 10/25/2006
Contact Information: Bonnie Smith, 215-814-5543

PHILADELPHIA – Eight companies that voluntarily disclosed and corrected environmental violations had penalties waived by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, the result of an EPA policy that has been successful in getting companies to make good-faith efforts in self-policing their own environmental compliance.

These recent ‘self-audit’ cases handled by EPA’s mid-Atlantic regional office had potential penalties ranging from $1,000 to about $764,000 for environmental violations that the agency determined caused no harm to human health or the environment. Altogether, the eight companies located in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia avoided about $1.2 million in fines.

“EPA wants to acknowledge companies that make a concerted effort to protect the environment,” said Donald S. Welsh, EPA’s mid-Atlantic regional administrator. “Promptly disclosing violations, correcting them, and acting to prevent future problems is the responsible thing to do.”

EPA’s audit policy can cover most regulatory requirements under the agency’s environmental statutes, such as reporting on using or storing toxic chemicals, proper record keeping, oil spill prevention measures, and notifying residential tenants about the presence of lead-based paint.

In the cases announced today, each company discovered its potential violations during an environmental compliance audit and reported these violations to EPA. Because the companies satisfied all of the conditions of EPA’ self-disclosure policy and the amount of economic benefits gained were insignificant, EPA waived potential penalties.

In self-audit cases, EPA determines if a company qualifies for a penalty waiver under the agency’s audit policy, which substantially reduces, and often eliminates, penalties for a company that takes action to report and correct violations. The policy excludes criminal acts, violations resulting in significant harm to public health or the environment, or violations that economically benefit the company.

The recent self-audit cases include:


    Maryland

    Odenton, Md. -- National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak)
    Amtrak filed a series of self-disclosures, which included violations of four environmental statutes at its Odenton maintenance facility. The corrections have been made and the penalty of $30,777 was waived.

    Perryville, Md. -- National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak)
    Amtrak reported violations of four environmental reporting regulations at its maintenance facility located in Perryville, Md. The corrections have been made and the penalty of $289,098 was waived.

    Pennsylvania

    Berwick, Pa. -- Cheetah Chassis Corporation
    In June 2006, Cheetah Chassis notified EPA that it had failed to submit toxic chemical release inventory forms for xylene at its facility for 2000, 2001, 2002 and again in 2004. The company makes steel frames with wheels and tires to carry shipping containers. Cheetah has now filed the correct reports. The total civil penalty of $77,905 for these violations has been waived.

    Bethlehem, Pa. -- PolyOne Corporation
    In June 2006, PolyOne, a polymer services company, disclosed that it had failed to submit a toxic release inventory form for barium compounds for 2004. Since PolyOne satisfied all of the conditions of EPA’s self-disclosure policy the $21,922 penalty for these violations has been waived.

    Harrisburg, Pa. – Widener University School of Law Harrisburg Campus
    In March 2004, Widener University self-reported violations to EPA under three environmental statutes. EPA found three violations - - non-compliance with three requirements for managing waste. A $1,650 penalty was waived. EPA has made additional efforts to encourage compliance and self-disclosure in an agreement with the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania.

    Morrisville, Pa. -- National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak)
    Amtrak self-disclosed and cited a violation of the Clean Water Act as amended by the Oil Pollution Act designed to prevent oil spills at its Morrisville maintenance facility. Under the EPA audit policy, the $1,000 penalty was waived.

    Waynesburg, Pa. -- Waynesburg College
    Waynesburg College self-disclosed violations under five statutes. Violations were found for failure to notify tenants about the presence of lead-based paint, not following the proper procedures for managing hazardous waste, and failure to follow necessary oil spill prevention requirements. The corrections have been made. Through an agreement with the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Pennsylvania, EPA encourages compliance and self-disclosure of violations at college facilities and campuses. As a participant under that agreement and due to EPA’s self-audit policy, Waynesburg College received a $74,524 penalty waiver.

    Virginia

    Salem, Va. -- Novozymes Biologicals, Inc.
    In a self-disclosure provided by Novozymes Biologicals, Inc. in November 2005, the company reported potential violations at seven of its facilities located throughout Salem. The facilities had not submitted reports to local area responders and therefore, could not prepare emergency response plans for hazardous substances used or stored at the facilities. Novozymes also disclosed that it had failed to submit required toxic chemical release inventory forms for toxic chemicals in 2001 and 2004.
The company produces enzymes and microorganisms for thousands of everyday products from clothes to candy. Novozymes has satisfied all of the conditions of EPA’s self-disclosure policy and a $764,006 penalty has been waived.
    EPA’s audit policy is posted at http://www.epa.gov/region3/audits/. For information on audits and compliance assistance, go to: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/incentives/index.html.

    For information on environmental management systems see http://www.epa.gov/ems/

    Process-Based Self-Assessment Tool for the Organic Chemical Industry http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/publications/assistance/sectors/organic.pdf.

    The Environmental Self-Audit for Small Businesses http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/ppu/esasb.pdf.

    The Small Business Source Book on Environmental Auditing http://www.epa.gov/sbo/auditbook_500.pdf.