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Record Pollution Reduction Reached in the Southeast Due to Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Efforts

Release Date: 12/04/2008
Contact Information: Laura Niles, (404) 562-8353, niles.laura@epa.gov

(Atlanta, GA – Dec. 4, 2008) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Region 4 enforcement program has reduced pollution by 1.2 billion pounds in fiscal year (FY) 2008, the highest annual pollutant reduction ever in the Southeast region. Additionally, Region 4 will ensure proper treatment, minimization or disposal of nearly 4 billion pounds of hazardous waste.

“Through the vigorous effort and dedication of our EPA Region 4 enforcement program, the health of the environment in the Southeast has been greatly improved for its citizens,” said Jimmy Palmer, Regional Administrator. “We have achieved the most significant annual pollution reduction numbers ever due to continued compliance with our environmental laws.”

Region 4 enforcement and compliance assurance efforts during FY 2008 will result in the investment of more than $670 million in pollution control and cleanup. Through these enforcement actions, respondents are required to clean up more than 24 million cubic yards of contaminated soil and water and restore more than 7,900 feet of stream miles. In addition, respondents have agreed to implement more than $2 million in supplemental environmental projects, which are environmentally beneficial projects that respondents may voluntarily agree to undertake as part of a settlement. The regional office also conducted 50 workshops and/or training sessions, and along with one-on-one meetings, provided compliance assistance to more than 25,000 entities within the regulated community.

Nationally in FY 2008, EPA’s enforcement and compliance program 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.

Specific Region 4 successes include:

Settlement entered with Georgia Gulf Chemicals. Under the agreement, Georgia Gulf Chemicals and Vinyls, LLC (Georgia Gulf) will perform corrective measures for violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Clean Air Act (CAA) at its polyvinyl chloride manufacturing facility in Aberdeen, Miss. This case represents the largest amount of RCRA pollutants reduced in the nation, which includes the minimization, treatment or proper disposal of 3,926,232,000 pounds of hazardous waste. Georgia Gulf will pay a civil penalty of $610,000 to be split evenly between the United States and the State of Mississippi. Georgia Gulf has also agreed to perform corrective measures at an estimated cost of $2.9 million.

Stormwater cases result in over 688 million pounds of pollution reduced in Region 4 states. In support of EPA’s National Enforcement Priority for Wet Weather/Storm Water, EPA brought actions against developers and homebuilders in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee for failure to follow discharge permit conditions. Four of the Nation’s top home builders: Centex Homes; KB Homes; Pulte Homes; and Richmond American Homes were included in these actions. In addition to paying penalties, the settlements require the companies to develop improved pollution prevention plans for each site, increase site inspections and promptly correct any problems that are detected.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama Enters Hunt Refining Company and Hunt Southland Refining Company Consent Decree. The scope of this settlement covers three of Hunt’s petroleum refineries located in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Lumberton and Sandersville, Miss. The Consent Decree addresses all the major issues in the National Petroleum Refinery Initiative including Leak Detection and Repair; Benzene National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants; Prevention of Significant Deterioration/New Source Review; and New Source Performance Standards applicability to sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from Claus Recovery Plants and Heaters and Boilers and Flares. Hunt was ordered to pay a $400,000 penalty and spend more than $48.5 million in new and upgraded pollution controls at its refineries. The emissions reductions expected at the Hunt refineries include NOx (150 tons per year) and SO2 (1,100 tons per year).

Consent Decree Entered for Cleanup at Jacksonville Ash and Brown’s Dump Sites in Jacksonville, Fla. The agreement requires the City of Jacksonville to conduct the cleanup of two Superfund Sites contaminated with incinerator ash located within the City at an estimated cost of $94 million. The plans require soil excavation at residential properties, schools and parks, and the installation of a two foot layer of clean soil. Cleanup will also include streams and creeks, and groundwater will be monitored to ensure protection of public health and the environment.

East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) Acid Rain Consent Decree Entered. EKPC did not obtain the necessary credits as part of the acid rain provisions under title IV of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the NOx SIP Call program and did not apply for permits as required under title V of the Clean Air Act. As a result, thousands of tons of SO2 and NOx were emitted illegally during the years 2001-2005. The consent decree requires EKPC to participate in the acid rain program, to apply for an acid rain permit, to install additional pollution control equipment and continuous emissions monitoring equipment, and to purchase and retire SO2 and NOx emissions allowances. EKPC will also pay a fixed penalty of $11.4 million over 5 years, plus pay additional contingent penalties annually depending on financial performance. The decree will result in the removal of approximately 35 million pounds of SO2 and 9,536,660 pounds of NOx.

Consent Decree Entered for the Gurley Pesticide Burial Site in Selma, N.C. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina entered a Consent Judgment in favor of the United States against Cargill Dry Corn Ingredients, Inc. (CDCI) and Exxon Mobil Corporation (Exxon Mobil). The Consent Decree will implement the Remedial Design/Remedial Action (RD/RA) and will reimburse EPA for approximately $825,000 in past response costs spent at the Site. The RD/RA will address both soil and groundwater contamination and is estimated to cost about $7.2 million.

Administrative Order for Past Costs at the Starmet Site in Barnwell, S.C. EPA executed an Administrative Order to recover past costs at the Starmet Removal Site. Under the Order, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of the Army will pay $4,701,729.23, and USEC, a private company, will pay $1 million. These costs were associated with an EPA Emergency Response conducted at the Site to address uranium contamination in two waste water ponds.

EPA continues to seek out and take action to address environmental crimes. In 2008, the EPA Region 4 Criminal Enforcement Program referred 22 new cases for prosecution. Prosecutors in Region 4 charged 44 companies and individuals with environmental crimes, most of which were felonies. Twenty-eight defendants were convicted of or pled guilty to environmental crimes. Criminal defendants were assessed $1,545,000 in fines and $239,956 in restitution.

The report, U.S. EPA OECA Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 Accomplishments Report: Protecting Public Health and the Environment, is available on-line at: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/reports/accomplishments/oeca/fy08accomplishment.pdf

More information on EPA's Region 4 enforcement and compliance activities and data for FY 2008 is available at:
http://www.epa.gov/region4/ead/annual_results/2008/

More information on EPA FY 2008 national enforcement and compliance results:
http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/reports/endofyear/eoy2008/fy2008.html