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California Companies Correct Environmental Violations, U.S. EPA Forgives Fines/ Nearly $2 Million in penalties reduced for 15 California-based companies who self-reported violations

Release Date: 11/18/2008
Contact Information: Mary Simms, (415) 947-4270, simms.mary@epa.gov

(11/12/2008 -- SAN FRANCISCO) Fifteen California companies that voluntarily disclosed and corrected environmental violations have seen penalties waived by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. It’s 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.

The recent self-disclosure cases had potential penalties ranging from $8,700 to $459,000 for environmental violations that the agency determined caused no serious or actual harm to human health or the environment. Altogether, the 15 companies avoided $1,603,200 in penalties.

“This is a win for communities and for the EPA,” said Enrique Manzanilla, the EPA's Communities and Ecosystems Division director for the Pacific Southwest region. “Responsible businesses take it upon themselves to check for compliance and promptly disclose any environmental violations found. If they correct them quickly, these companies often see penalties reduced – in some cases to zero.”

In the cases announced today, each company discovered the violations of the Emergency Planning and Community-Right to-Know-Act on its own and reported the violations to the EPA. Because the companies satisfied all conditions of the EPA’s self-disclosure policies and there was no economic benefit gained, the EPA eliminated potential penalties.

The recent self-disclosure cases include the following California facilities:

BAE Systems, Mojave
Potential Fine: $61,000

Beef Packers, Inc., Fresno
Potential Fine: $21,900

Brenntag Pacific Inc., Southgate, Richmond, and Fresno
Potential Fine: $163,300 (Southgate); $248, 000 (Richmond); $47,700 (Fresno)

Chrome Tech, Inc., Santa Ana
Potential Fine: $82,500

Gillig Corporation, Hayward
Potential Fine: $ 244,400

Guardian Industries Corp., Kingsburg
Potential Fine: $97,500

IMACC Corporation, City of Industry
Potential Fine: $8,700

Johnson Bateman Company, Ontario
Potential Fine: $87,100

Kop-Coat, Inc., Los Angeles
Potential Fine: $13,300

Marcel Electronics International, Orange
Potential Fine: $142,100

Orthodyne Electronics Corporation, Irvine
Potential Fine: $76,700

Owens Corning Cultured Stone, Napa
Potential Fine: $ 65,800

Pechiney Cast Plate, Inc., Vernon
Potential Fine: $13,400

PRC DeSoto International, Inc., Mohave
Potential Fine: $65,800

Vista Metals Corp., Fontana
Potential Fine: $164,000

Under the EPA's audit policy, the agency may reduce penalties up to 100 percent for violations that are voluntarily discovered through an audit or management system, promptly disclosed to the agency, and quickly corrected. The policy excludes criminal acts, violations resulting in serious actual harm to public health or the environment, and repeat violations.

Under the EPA’s small business compliance policy, the EPA will eliminate or significantly reduce penalties for businesses with fewer than 100 employees that voluntarily discover violations of environmental law and promptly disclose and correct them.

Federal law requires certain facilities using chemicals over specified amounts to file annual reports to the EPA and the state that estimate the amounts released to the environment, treated or recycled on-site or transferred off-site for waste management. The information is then compiled into a national database called the Toxics Release Inventory and made available to the public.

More information about the audit policy can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/incentives/auditing/auditpolicy.html.

For more information on the small business policy, go to http://www.epa.gov/compliance/incentives/smallbusiness/index.html.

To find information on the Toxics Release Inventory program visit: http://www.epa.gov/tri.

The U.S. EPA's environmental databases, including the TRI data, can be accessed at: http://www.epa.gov/enviro.