Risk Management - Avoid Penalties by Self-Reporting Violations to U.S. EPA
California companies disclose environmental violationsTen California companies that voluntarily disclosed and corrected environmental violations had penalties waived by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the result of EPA policies that have 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 $196,000 for environmental violations that the agency determined caused no serious or actual harm to human health or the environment. Altogether, the 10 companies avoided $668,100 in penalties.
Solution: Check for compliance, promptly disclose violations found, correct them, act to prevent future violations, and make the information available to others"This is a win for communities, for business, and for the EPA," said Nate Lau, the EPA's Communities and Ecosystems Division associate director for the Pacific Southwest region. "Checking for compliance, promptly disclosing violations found, correcting them, acting to prevent future violations, and making the information available to surrounding communities are the responsible actions for companies to take."
In the cases cited, each company discovered the violations 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 waived potential penalties.
The recent self-disclosure cases include:
Location: City of Industry, Calif.
Business: Manufacture fastening systems primarily for aerospace industry
Violations: Failure to report copper, nickel, nitric acid for calendar years 2002 and 2003.
Potential Fine: $121,900
Facility name: Arch Mirror West
Facility name: BJB Enterprises, Inc.
Facility name: Formica Corp.
Facility name: Hightower Plating
Facility name: Impressions, Polishing and Plating, Inc. (No longer in
Facility name: M. Argueso
Facility name: Net Shapes, Inc.
Facility name: Peterson Systems International
Facility name: Polyclad Laminates
EPA's Audit Policy for Penalty ReductionsUnder 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, quickly corrected, and satisfies other audit policy conditions. The policy excludes criminal acts, violations resulting in serious actual harm to public health or the environment, and repeat violations.
EPA's Small Business Compliance PolicyUnder 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.
Chemical Reports by Facilities and StatesFederal 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 EPA Audit PoliciesMore 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 epa.gov/compliance 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: www.epa.gov/enviro.
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