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U.S. EPA’s enforcement efforts yield nearly $300 million in environmental improvements in California in 2006

Release Date: 11/15/2006
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano, 415/947-4307

SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s enforcement program secured nearly $300 million in on-the-ground environmental improvements in fiscal year 2006, as well as an additional $2 million in commitments from responsible parties to fund community projects with expanded environmental benefits.

The EPA took 248 enforcement actions against businesses and government organizations throughout the state in fiscal year 2006 for numerous air, water, hazardous waste, community right-to-know and pesticide violations. Over the past five years, the EPA has taken 1,407 enforcement cases in California, netting more than $4.3 billion in on-the-ground environmental improvements and more than $22 million in fines.

“The U.S. EPA’s collective efforts in California in 2006 will benefit human health and the environment for millions of Golden State residents for years to come,” said Wayne Nastri, administrator of the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Office in San Francisco. “We continue to focus our efforts on bringing about public health safeguards in the areas that need it most, such as restoring precious groundwater resources and improving air quality.”

Highlights include monumental settlements reached to restore contaminated groundwater at Southern California Superfund sites, cleanup orders for military installations and far reaching Clean Air Act cases at refineries.

National settlements with refineries have brought more than $240 million in on-the-ground environmental improvements and nearly $2 million in penalties at the Valero Refineries in Benicia and Wilmington, the Conoco Phillips Refineries in Carson, Wilmington, Rodeo and Arroyo Grande, and at the Exxon-Mobil Refinery in Torrance. The Conoco Phillips case alone will reduce nearly 1.2 million pounds of SOx and 328,000 pounds of NOx. The Valero and Exxon Mobil cases also include stipulations that the companies spend $400,000 and $250,000 on supplemental environmental projects, respectively.

A settlement with ARCO Terminal Services Corporation for air pollution violations at the Port of Long Beach, Calif. required the company to use control equipment during all ship loadings at its Long Beach piers to control air pollution consistent with South Coast Air Quality Management District regulations; invest in a $675,000 supplemental environmental project at the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to control diesel exhaust from cargo handling equipment, such as fork lifts, rubber tire gantry cranes, and trucks; and pay a $225,000 fine.

The EPA also completed settlements with Southern California foam manufacturers for air pollution violations. Advance Foam Plastics, Inc., a manufacturer of expanded polystyrene foam, will pay $150,000 for air pollution violations, at its Azusa, Calif. facility. Under the terms of this settlement, Advance Foam Plastics Inc. has terminated manufacturing operations, surrendered its South Coast Air Quality Management District permit to operate and will pay the penalty. As part of a November settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the South Coast Air Quality Management District, Los Angeles foam manufacturer Falcon Foam paid $369,000 for excessive volatile organic compound emissions. Volatile organic compounds react with other pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, or "NOX," in the presence of sunlight to form ozone, or smog.

    In the largest Clean Water Act case ever taken against a soft drink bottler, the Seven-Up/RC Bottling Company of Southern California agreed to pay more than $1 million in criminal and civil fines for industrial stormwater and wastewater violations at its soft drink bottling plants in Vernon and Buena Park, Calif. Under the terms of this global settlement, the Seven-Up/RC Bottling Company of Southern California will pay a $600,000 criminal penalty and a $428,250 civil penalty for illegal discharges into the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers.

    San Rafael-based Dutra Dredging Company paid a combined $735,000 fine for ocean dumping violations, which includes a $450,000 EPA fine and $285,000 to fund projects to protect and restore the natural environment of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. After reviewing trip disposal data, the EPA and NOAA’s Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary discovered that the company leaked or dumped dredged material from its disposal vessels over 200 times from 1999 through 2003, while en route to the EPA’s designated deep ocean disposal site 55 miles offshore of San Francisco in nearly 10,000 feet of water.

    Sixteen firms are paying $14.9 million for cleanup costs at the San Gabriel Valley Area 2 Superfund Site. The EPA’s cleanup calls for removing contaminants from approximately 30 million gallons per day of contaminated groundwater in and near Baldwin Park, benefiting some 85,000 households. More than $100 million has been spent in the last three years alone on the construction and operation of four large water treatment systems to clean the groundwater and provide a safe and reliable source of drinking water to area residents and businesses. The groundwater cleanup, one of the largest in the country, has been a cooperative effort involving the EPA, the state of California, and seven local water agencies.

    Working with the Department of the Defense, the EPA secured $21 million in soil and groundwater cleanups at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Mathers Air Force Base, Edwards Air Force Base, Alameda Naval Air Station, the Marin Corps Logistics Base in Barstow and the Marine Corps Air Station in El Toro.

    The EPA also ordered important Superfund cleanup orders at two sites in Southern California; the Halaco Site in Oxnard and the Montrose Site in Torrance. In Oxnard, four parties are spending nearly $1 million to stabilize and secure the former smelter site near Ormond Beach where Halaco left behind a 28-acre pile that includes an estimated 400,000 cubic yards of waste – including heavy metals, radioactive isotopes, flammable liquids, corrosive liquids and solids -- and abuts wetlands and lagoon. In Torrance, three entities are spending $1.7 million to remove and dispose of contaminated soil piles from an industrial parcel. The EPA order requires Ecology Control Industries, Ronald Flury and Montrose Chemical Corporation to remove between 4,000 to 5,000 tons of soil from the ECI property at 20846 Normandie Avenue in Los Angeles County, and fill and cover the open excavations. The excavated soil is contaminated with DDT and other hazardous substances.

    Please go to http://www.epa.gov/region09/enforcement/results/index.html for a full description of the EPA’s enforcement cases throughout California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands in 2006. For information on the EPA’s national enforcement summary for 2006, go to: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/data/results/annual/fy2006.html
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