EPA Enforcement Going Strong Nationally And Locally
Release Date: 11/16/2005
For Release: Wednesday, November 16, 2005
(#05136) New York, New York – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that enforcement actions concluded in fiscal year 2005 will reduce a projected 1.1 billion pounds of pollution and require cleanups estimated to total a record $10 billion – significant increases compared with 2004. EPA’s Region 2 office, which covers New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, took actions that will reduce pollution of the land, air and water by an estimated 83 million pounds and require cleanups or corrective actions worth an estimated $587 million. EPA’s fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30.
“Using a full range of compliance and enforcement strategies, EPA continues to bring more and more facilities into – and beyond – compliance with the laws that protect public health,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. “These accomplishments continue to bring us closer to reaching our goals of clean air, land and water.”
In addition to the environmental benefit and cleanup figures for fiscal year 2005, EPA Region 2 estimates that 470,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil will be cleaned up; over 7.6 million people are receiving cleaner drinking water; and, 6.1 million gallons of pollutants were prevented from release.
Each fiscal year, EPA’s national Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance tallies a range of statistics to keep track of national environmental results and enforcement activity. Projected pollution reductions and the estimated dollar value of required cleanups, 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 settlements, consent decrees, court rulings, supplemental environmental projects and other actions concluded during the fiscal year. Enforcement activities, such as inspections, administrative actions, civil case referrals and criminal enforcement statistics, are also tracked on an annual basis. The information on enforcement results and activity is used to guide program priorities and management.
In the area of criminal enforcement in Region 2, more than 51 individuals and companies were charged with environmental crimes. Defendants in criminal cases were sentenced to more than 59 years in prison, more than 67 years of probation and ordered to pay nearly $10.6 million in fines for criminal violations. In one of the most significant criminal cases in the nation involving criminal violations of asbestos requirements, Alexander Salvagno was sentenced to 25 years in jail and his son, Raul was sentenced to 19.5 years in jail for illegal asbestos abatement activity and money laundering in upstate New York. These sentences represent the longest periods of incarceration for an environmental crime in U.S. history.
Region 2 also continues its great success with “smart enforcement” approaches such as its healthcare and university compliance initiatives. “Smart enforcement” consists of an integrated approach of assistance, incentives and enforcement to maximize compliance across an entire sector. To date, 37 health care institutions with multiple facilities and 16 colleges and universities have signed agreements committing them to conduct full audits of their environmental programs.
During Fiscal Year 2005, 129 companies with 255 facilities self-disclosed violations to Region 2 under EPA’s Audit Policy and committed to fix the violations.
In Region 2, a total of 103 Notices of Determination (NOD), under EPA’s Audit Policy, were issued. The costs of remediating the self-disclosed non-compliance and ensuring continued compliance were over $1.7 million for the facilities involved. More than 38,535 pounds of hazardous waste and over 163,000 gallons of oil are being managed properly because of these disclosures.
Thirty-two of the NODs were in response to health care disclosures. At these healthcare facilities, more than 12,000 beds, 58,800 staff and approximately 400,000 patients benefitted from the correction of the violations. Twenty-two of the NODs were issued in response to college/university disclosures. Five thousand staff and students are now better protected from environmental hazards.
Fiscal Year 2005 Enforcement Results in EPA Region 2 (New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands):
Fiscal Year 2005 Enforcement Results in EPA Region 2
- Environmental benefits - As a result of cleanup commitments reached in fiscal year 2005, EPA projects that more than 83 million pounds of pollution will be reduced, treated or properly managed in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- Injunctive relief (work required to bring facilities into compliance) - The estimated dollar value of cleanup or corrective actions required by Region 2 in fiscal year 2005 will total more than $587 million, an increase of 222% over the previous year.
- Additional projects that benefit the environment - In the 2005 settlements, facilities agreed to perform 13 projects worth more than $1.2 million. These projects benefit local communities and will take facilities beyond compliance with environmental law.
- Final administrative penalty orders - In Region 2, 205 penalty orders addressed violations at 227 facilities. Three hundred and fifty-one administrative compliance orders were issued covering 564 facilities.
- Inspections - Region 2 continued its aggressive inspection program with 3003 inspections.
- Referral of cases to the Department of Justice - Region 2 referred for possible prosecution 25 cases to the Department of Justice.
SUMMARIES OF NOTABLE CASE HIGHLIGHTS IN REGION 2
Juncos Landfill Cleanup/Penalty Actions:
The Juncos Landfill site, located in the Municipality of Juncos, Puerto Rico is a closed municipal landfill that operated from 1957 to 1981, and that received industrial waste. On December 30, 2004, the U.S. District Court of Puerto Rico entered as final judgments two Consent Decrees issued pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) relating to the site. The first Consent Decree, with Becton Dickinson Acutecare Holdings, Inc., Browning-Ferris Industries of Puerto Rico, Inc. and General Electric Company, requires those parties to pay $3.35 million in reimbursement of EPA’s and DOJ’s past costs at the Site.
The second Consent Decree, with the Municipality of Juncos, the Puerto Rico Land Administration and the Puerto Rico Development and Housing Improvement Administration, requires that these parties pay $650,000, of which $500,000 was denominated as a civil penalty for violation of two CERCLA Section 106 unilateral orders previously issued to remediate the Site. The construction of the remedy was completed in September 2005.
Ames Goldsmith Corporation/SEP:
As part of a settlement of an enforcement action under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act, the Ames Goldsmith Corporation in Glens Falls, New York will conduct a significant Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) to install a “Fume Free Dissolving Process” in their silver nitrate manufacturing line. The value of the SEP is $446,663. Ames Goldsmith’s SEP proposes switching to a fume free processing system by installing a bulk hydrogen peroxide storage and dispensing system, and to replace the present stack and gas burner set up with a wet scrubber operating with sodium hydroxide.
The advantages of fume free processing include:
- The company expects to consume one-third less nitric acid by reducing tanker shipments by one third.
- They will discontinue the use of natural gas by switching to hydrogen peroxide.
- These changes will eliminate the generation of combustion products such as carbon dioxide and various nitrogen oxides.
- Exhaust gases will be able to be scrubbed, whereas after incineration above 1200 degrees Fahrenheit using the former method, this result would not have been practical.
On January 27, 2005, a Second Supplement to the 1998 federal Consent Decree, which requires New York City to construct and place into operation a filtration facility for the Croton Water Supply, was entered in the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, New York. The Second Supplement establishes a long-term compliance schedule for the City to filter its water from the Croton supply. The Croton supply provides approximately 10% of the City’s water under normal operating conditions and up to 30% during periods of drought. New York City must filter the Croton Water Supply to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Surface Water Treatment Rule, as well as the New York State Sanitary Code. Filtering drinking water reduces the risk of waterborne disease in water systems, such as the Croton Water Supply.
On September 28, 2004, the City issued its notice to proceed with construction of the Croton filtration plant and has initiated excavation at Mosholu Golf Course in the Bronx. This was a significant achievement toward the construction of a Croton filtration plant. When completed, the City will have spent approximately $1.4 billion in constructing a plant that will produce 290 million gallons of water daily and will serve over one million people. This case remains the largest successful action ever taken by EPA against a public water system, in terms of total penalties, injunctive relief costs and population impacted