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By the Numbers: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Releases 2008 Environmental Enforcement Report/ Violators to invest nearly $2 billion for pollution control and cleanup

Release Date: 12/05/2008
Contact Information: Northern California: Wendy Chavez, (415) 947-4282, chavez.wendy@epa.gov Central California: Mary Simms (415) 947-4270, simms.mary@epa.gov Southern California: Francisco Arcaute (213) 244-1815, arcaute.francisco@epa.gov

(12/5/2008 -- SAN FRANCISCO) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2008 enforcement actions in California included enforcement actions to reduce water pollution, clean oil spills, improve local air quality; prosecute environmental violators, and much more.


    The EPA’s aggressive environmental enforcement during 2008 yielded substantial environmental benefits and civil penalties from California polluters and violators.

    “EPA enforcement actions against California companies will reduce more than 83.5 million pounds of pollution and clean up more than 100 million cubic yards of contaminated soil and water,” said Wayne Nastri, the EPA’s administrator for the Pacific Southwest region. “As a result of the EPA’s enforcement, these companies are also investing well over $1.7 billion at California facilities on pollution control and environmental cleanup to comply with environmental regulations.”

    Nationally, the agency took 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 the EPA.

    Locally, the impact of stringent enforcement has yielded marked improvements to the health, safety, and welfare of millions of residents living in communities’ throughout California.

    During 2008, the EPA completed more than 200 enforcement actions involving environmental violations at California facilities. For details and highlights, please see the charts below.
      Please go to http://www.epa.gov/region09/enforcement/results/08/index.html for a full description of the EPA’s enforcement cases throughout California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands in 2008.

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

      For information on the EPA’s national enforcement summary for 2008, go to: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/reports/endofyear/eoy2008/fy2008.html


      Media Contacts:
      Northern California: Wendy Chavez, (415) 947-4282, chavez.wendy@epa.gov
      Central California: Mary Simms (415) 947-4270, simms.mary@epa.gov
      Southern California: Francisco Arcaute (213) 244-1815, arcaute.francisco@epa.gov


      Northern California enforcement highlights for 2008
      Nation’s Largest Home Builders Settle Storm Water Violations, Restore California Watershed

      EPA settled with four home builders to resolve violations of stormwater run-off regulations at construction sites in 34 states and the District of Columbia. The settlements require the companies to develop improved pollution prevention plans for each site, increase inspections and promptly correct any problems that are detected. In Region 9, Pulte Homes will spend approximately $608,000 to help restore two major tributaries to the Garcia River in Mendocino County, Calif. The river is impaired for sediment and contains important steelhead and coho salmon habitat in need of restoration. Pulte will also spend an estimated $418,000 on the North Fork of the Garcia River, the largest sub-watershed of the river, to treat sediment and upgrade roads and stream crossings within the sub-watershed. The North Fork project will decrease sediment loading and runoff and improve the anadromous fish habitat. Pulte will also spend an estimated $190,000 to restore the Blue Waterhole Creek; the project will prevent road-related sediment runoff associated with the 17 miles of roads on the surrounding land and, by adding to the riparian canopy, will decrease water temperatures needed to provide suitable habitat for coho salmon.
      U.S. EPA enforcement prompts VA medical center to correct federal environmental violations

      The Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System violated five requirements of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which governs the storage and handling of hazardous materials. The teaching hospital agreed to pay a penalty for the violations and has complied with RCRA regulations. The hospital also instituted a new tracking system for managing pharmaceutical waste.
      U.S. EPA recovers taxpayers costs for cleanup of abandoned N. California mine site

      The EPA settled with Alpheus Kaplan Nehemiah Development Company and eleven other parties to pay $721,000 to pay for the cleanup of the Central Eureka Mine, an abandoned gold mine site in Amador County, Calif. The defendants were responsible for moving arsenic-laden waste from previous mining operations on to sub-divided properties and, in many cases, constructing homes directly on the contaminated mine tailings. Last year, EPA reached agreement with Honeywell International, Inc., the successor company to the mine operator, for $2 million. The court entered both consent decrees at the same time. The EPA cleaned up the mine site, and the settlement funds will reimburse the EPA and be used to finance future clean-ups.
      EPA orders 11 California public drinking water systems in California to reduce arsenic levels

      The EPA ordered 11 public drinking water systems in California to reduce the level of arsenic in their drinking water systems or face penalties of up to $32,500 per day for each violation. The orders require the public drinking water systems to develop and meet a schedule to comply with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act’s arsenic standard.

      Central California enforcement highlights for 2008
      Exxon Mobil Corporation pay for Coastal Pollution

      The EPA settled with Exxon Mobil Corporation for $2.64 million for disposing of and improperly handling polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) on an offshore oil and gas platform in the Santa Barbara Channel, off the southern California coast. Between 2002 and 2005, two large electrical transformers located on Platform Hondo, part of Exxon’s Santa Ynez Unit, leaked nearly 400 gallons of PCB-contaminated fluid. Exxon allowed one of the transformers to leak for almost two years before repairing it. The leaking from the transformers constitutes illegal disposal of PCBs, a violation of the Toxic Substances Control Act.
      Energy Company Faces Major Penalties From U.S. EPA

      At the direction of the EPA and, in conjunction with state and local authorities, Greka Oil and Gas, Inc., has been engaged in clean up efforts at numerous Central California spill sites. Greka failed to meet multiple clean-up deadlines set by the EPA and as a result, the agency took control of a portion of cleanup activities at various sites. Greka faces fines and penalties pursuant to multiple administrative orders issued by the EPA -- the law allows for fines up to $32,500 per day for each violation.
      EPA orders 11 California public drinking water systems in California to reduce arsenic levels

      The EPA ordered 11 public drinking water systems in California to reduce the level of arsenic in their drinking water systems or face penalties of up to $32,500 per day for each violation. The orders require the public drinking water systems to develop and meet a schedule to comply with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act’s arsenic standard.

      Southern California enforcement highlights for 2008
      U.S. EPA fines Southern California technology company for “nano coating” pesticide claims on computer peripherals

      The EPA settled with ATEN Technology Inc., of Irvine, acting for its subsidiary, IOGEAR, for selling unregistered pesticides and making unproven claims about their effectiveness. Products that kill or repel bacteria or germs are considered pesticides and must be registered with the EPA prior to distribution or sale. IOGEAR made unsubstantiated public health claims regarding unregistered products and their ability to control germs constituting a violation of the Federal Insecticides and Rodenticide Act. IOGEAR products at issue included a wireless laser mouse with nano shield coating and a wireless keyboard.
      Riverside Cement Company to spend at least $385 million to replace old kilns, improving air quality

      The EPA settled with the Riverside Cement Company for violating Clean Air Act standards at its Oro Grande plant, located near Victorville. The Oro Grande facility is one of the largest sources of damaging nitrogen oxides in California. Under the terms of the settlement, the Riverside Cement Company will improve local air quality by shutting down seven 50-year old short dry kilns. In place of the kilns, the Riverside Cement Company will begin operation of a single state-of –the-art kiln that will remove 1,500 tons of harmful nitrogen oxide emissions annually.
      EPA orders 11 California public drinking water systems in California to reduce arsenic levels

      The EPA ordered 11 public drinking water systems in California to reduce the level of arsenic in their drinking water systems or face penalties of up to $32,500 per day for each violation. The orders require the public drinking water systems to develop and meet a schedule to comply with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act’s arsenic standard.
      Billions of gallons of contaminated groundwater cleaned, EPA costs recovered

      The County of San Bernardino paid the EPA $11 million to be used for cleanup and enforcement work at the site of the Newmark Groundwater Contamination Superfund Site, located near San Bernardino. The Superfund site was formerly the Cajon Landfill, which was operated by San Bernardino County from 1963 until 1980. The EPA concluded that the landfill contributed to the contamination of groundwater and the settlement resolves the county’s potential liability at the site, although the county does not admit any liability in the settlement. This is the second consent decree for this Site. Under a 2005 settlement, EPA, the City of San Bernardino and the United States Army agreed that the Army would pay $69 million to the City and the City would operate and maintain portions of the Site. The Army also paid $6.5 million to EPA and $3 million to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control to reimburse EPA for its cleanup costs.
      U.S. EPA requires Chino dairies to protect water from manure waste

      The EPA ordered six dairies in the Chino area to comply with California’s Dairy Permit, which is designed to protect streams, rivers and groundwater from discharges of manure waste and other pollutants. The EPA and the Santa Ana Regional Water Quality Control Board are collaborating to ensure compliance with the dairy general permit, which helps to protect human health and the environment.
      EPA recovers costs for groundwater contamination at the San Gabriel Valley Superfund site

      Thirty-nine parties agreed to pay $12.4 million to the EPA and the Department of Justice for the cleanup of the South El Monte area of the San Gabriel Valley Superfund Site located outside Los Angeles. The site was listed on the National Priorities in 1984 after industrial solvents and other materials in the south El Monte area contaminated soil and groundwater with volatile organic compounds, perchlorate, and other chemicals. Three local water companies were operating cleanup systems. The EPA will use funds from the settlement to reimburse the water companies through an agreement with the San Gabriel Basin Water Quality Authority.
      Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles ordered to comply with federal Clean Water Act

      The EPA ordered tenants of the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to comply with Clean Water Act stormwater regulations. Because of the concentration of industrial facilities at the ports and their proximity to the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors, the EPA and the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board reviewed stormwater management practices at industrial facilities at both ports, including inspections of tenant compliance with the state’s industrial stormwater permit. The orders required each tenant to fix violations found during the inspections, including completing on-the-ground corrective measures.
      Toy company fined for ozone-depleting novelty item

      The EPA fined Imperial Toy LLC., of North Hills, California, $66,180 for selling a novelty toy that contained R-22, an ozone depleting substance. Selling or distributing products containing R-22 violates the Clean Air Act.
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