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SEATTLE (August 31, 2023) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that Jens Schkade of Grand View, Idaho has agreed to pay a $88,749 penalty over violations of the Clean Air Act related to the safe handling and disposal of asbestos.
In 2021, Schkade demolished a former retail building called the Square Deal Store in Grand View, Idaho. After tearing down the building, Schkade transported the debris, including approximately 10,000 square feet of asbestos-containing asphalt roofing, to his private property and burned it.
The demolition project was subject to federal asbestos laws under the Clean Air Act. EPA alleged that Schkade failed to survey the site for asbestos and notify EPA before beginning demolition, and to follow work practice standards designed to protect against asbestos contamination and exposure during building demolition and waste disposal.
Schkade voluntarily cleaned up the debris in coordination with EPA.
“Proper removal and disposal of asbestos containing materials is essential to ensuring that asbestos fibers are not released during demolition or renovation,” said EPA Region 10 Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Director Ed Kowalski. “When you fail to follow those procedures, your job site can become contaminated and put people at risk from exposure to asbestos, a known carcinogen.”
Additional details can be found in the Consent Agreement and Final Order
WASHINGTON – Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice announced that Japan-based Tadano Ltd. and its subsidiaries – known collectively as the Tadano Group – will pay a $40 million civil penalty and contribute an additional $3.2 million to reduce diesel emissions to resolve allegations that it violated Title II of the Clean Air Act (CAA). EPA and the Justice Department worked together to negotiate the settlement, which resolves allegations that Tadano Group imported and sold nonroad cranes with diesel engines not certified to applicable CAA emission standards, and that Tadano Group violated related CAA and regulatory requirements, resulting in the release of excess carcinogenic diesel exhaust containing nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM).
“Diesel exhaust is one of the dirtiest forms of pollution,” said Assistant Administrator David M. Uhlmann for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Exposure to diesel exhaust is linked to serious health conditions, including asthma and respiratory illness, and those health risks are increased by engines that fail to meet emission standards. This settlement should send a clear message that EPA will continue to vigorously enforce against companies that sell illegal diesel engines, including nonroad engines.”
“Tadano Group imported and sold giant cranes with engines that didn’t carry valid EPA certificates of conformity, flouting federal law that protects the public from harmful emissions,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This settlement holds Tadano accountable for its violations and requires completion of a project that will improve the quality of life for those living in the Port Arthur, Texas area.”
Tadano Group will also spend $3.2 million on a project to mitigate the harm caused by excess NOx and PM emissions from its noncompliant crane engines by retiring and replacing a 1975 tugboat with a new, cleaner tugboat to service ships in the Port of Port Arthur, Texas. The old tugboat has outdated diesel engines which release unnecessary pollution near low-income communities with environmental justice concerns. The new tugboat will have up-to-date, Tier 4 engines, preventing the release of an estimated 2,075 tons of NOx emissions and more than 22 tons of PM emissions over 20 years. The Port of Port Arthur is near the Tadano America Corp. facility in Houston, TX.
The complaint against Tadano Group alleges that, between 2011 and 2017, Tadano sold nonroad cranes with at least 269 diesel engines that violated the CAA because the engines were not covered by current EPA-issued certificates of conformity, nor did the engines qualify for a limited exemption under EPA’s Transition Program for Equipment Manufacturers. The Tadano Group also did not comply with CAA reporting, bonding, and fuel inlet labelling requirements. The Tadano Group includes Germany-based Tadano Faun GmbH, Tennessee-based Tadano Mantis Corp. and Texas-based Tadano America Corp.
The Environment and Natural Resources Division’s Environmental Enforcement Section filed the complaint and lodged the proposed consent decree on behalf of the EPA in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. The settlement is subject to a public comment period and final court approval. The consent decree will be available for viewing here: www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decrees.
SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a settlement with Grocery Outlet Inc. resolving claims that the company violated federal law for the sale and distribution in California of four kinds of wet wipes and a cleaning product that were not registered with EPA. The agency will not register a disinfectant or sterilizer until it is determined to be effective and not posing an unreasonable risk to consumers when used according to the label directions. Products not registered with EPA can be harmful to human health, cause adverse effects, and may not be effective against the spread of germs.
As part of the settlement, Grocery Outlet will pay a $392,000 penalty. Between October 24, 2020, and May 30, 2021, the company sold the unregistered products at its stores in Redwood City and Oakland and distributed them to independently operated Grocery Outlet stores, including in Stockton and Concord.
“Unregistered products claiming to be disinfectants or sterilizers, like the kinds sold by Grocery Outlet in California can defraud the public and threaten human health,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division Director Amy Miller. “This settlement shows EPA’s continued commitment to enforcing laws that protect consumers from potential health risks and fraudulent claims.”
The unregistered products are:
The wet wipes that Grocery Outlet sold and distributed claimed to sterilize or kill germs and bacteria on surfaces and the cleaning product claimed to be effective against bacteria such as E. coli. Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, products that claim to kill or repel bacteria or germs, including disinfectants and sterilizers, are considered pesticides and must be registered with the EPA. The term “sterilizing” is a claim attributed to pesticide products with the highest level of efficacy against microorganisms. Public health claims can only be made regarding products that have been properly tested and are registered with the EPA.
Learn more about the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
SEATTLE (August 28, 2023) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that Congdon Packing Company, LLC, and D&H Properties Yakima, LLC, agreed to pay $194,302 for violations of Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act.
Under the Clean Air Act, facility owners or operators handling or storing 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia are required to develop and implement a risk management plan to prevent accidental chemical releases.
In violation of this requirement, the owner and operator of the facility failed to:
Keep safety information up to date
Adequately address process hazard analysis recommendations
Perform a timely process hazard analysis every five years
Provide initial safety training for three employees
Replace and maintain process equipment for safe operation
“Ammonia is extremely dangerous, so risk management planning can save people’s lives,” said EPA Region 10 Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Director Ed Kowalski. “By creating a solid plan and making it central to their business operations, companies can reduce the chances of a chemical release and lower risks to plant workers, first responders and the surrounding community – and minimize the risk of a hefty EPA penalty.”
Exposure to ammonia may result in chemical-type burns to skin, eyes and lungs. Accidental ammonia releases can cause injuries and death to employees, emergency response personnel and people in surrounding communities.
This settlement is part of EPA’s National Enforcement and Compliance Initiative, “Reducing Risks of Accidental Releases at Industrial and Chemical Facilities.” Additional details can be found in the Consent Agreement.
Congdon Packing Company, LLC operated a cold storage facility in Yakima, Washington, which was owned by D&H Properties. In October 2021, Congdon Packing Company, LLC terminated operations at the facility. D&H Properties Yakima, LLC subsequently sold the ammonia refrigeration facility and removed ammonia from the refrigeration system.
WASHINGTON – Diesel performance parts retailers GDP Tuning LLC and Custom Auto of Rexburg LLC, dba Gorilla Performance, as well as the companies’ owner Barry Pierce, pleaded guilty to criminal charges today in federal court in Pocatello, Idaho, and agreed to pay a total of $1 million in criminal fines. The companies also agreed to implement compliance programs and to not manufacture, sell or install any device that defeats a vehicle’s emissions controls.
GDP Tuning pleaded guilty to an information charging it with conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act (CAA). Gorilla Performance and Pierce pleaded guilty to an information charging them with violating the CAA by tampering with the monitoring device of an emissions control system of a diesel truck. Under the plea agreement, the companies and Pierce agree to pay a $1 million criminal fine. Pierce also faces up to two years in prison.
“Nearly a decade after EPA began cracking down on illegal defeat devices that violate the Clean Air Act, there is no excuse for companies to be continuing to cheat on vehicle emissions and putting the health of the environment and our communities at risk,” said Assistant Administrator David M. Uhlmann of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “EPA will continue to pursue criminal charges against companies like Gorilla Performance, which broke the law brazenly and repeatedly, until this egregious criminal activity comes to a stop once and for all.”
“Tampering with vehicles’ on-board diagnostic devices isn’t just a violation of federal law – it’s a major health hazard,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “People are harmed as a direct consequence of the many air pollutants that would be removed by emissions controls systems absent the illegal tampering. We have made progress in curbing harmful emissions, but that progress is undermined by sellers and distributors of defeat devices. We are committed to enforcing the Clean Air Act and holding accountable businesses and individuals that violate federal law.”
“The defendants in this case purposefully violated laws that protect air quality and the overall quality of life for Idahoans, especially vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly and those who suffer from respiratory conditions,” said U.S. Attorney Josh Hurwit for the District of Idaho. “My office will continue to partner with law enforcement agencies to prosecute those who seek illegal profits at the expense the public’s health and our shared environment.”
According to court documents, GDP Tuning conspired with Pierce and others to violate the CAA by purchasing and selling tens of thousands of tuning devices and accompanying software which, when used together, tampered with vehicles’ on-board diagnostic (OBD) systems. OBDs normally detect any removal and malfunction of a vehicle’s emissions control equipment and record a diagnostic trouble code which will illuminate a vehicle’s “check engine light.” If the malfunction is not remedied, some vehicles can go into “limp mode,” where the maximum speed is limited to 5 mph as an incentive to have the vehicle repaired.
GDP Tuning bought and sold devices and software that allowed customers to reprogram or “tune” a vehicle’s OBD. This reprogramming tampers with emissions monitoring built into the diagnostic system and allows removal of the vehicle’s emissions control equipment without detection by the OBD. Removing a vehicle’s emissions controls is typically referred to as a “delete” and is accompanied by a “delete tune.”
In addition to GDP Tuning’s national wholesale operation, Gorilla Performance and Pierce operated a retail shop and auto repair facility in Rexburg, Idaho, where customers’ trucks were deleted and tuned.
Diesel exhaust contains a variety of air pollutants, such as particulate matter (PM), nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide and non-methane hydrocarbons, among other hazardous air pollutants. Factory-standard emissions control equipment dramatically reduces these emissions.
Deleting a diesel truck causes its emissions to increase dramatically. For a fully deleted truck with all emissions equipment removed, EPA testing has quantified the increased emissions as follows: NOx increased 310 times, non-methane hydrocarbons increased 1,400 times, carbon monoxide increased 120 times and PM increased 40 times. EPA’s Air Enforcement Division released a report in November 2020 finding that more than 500,000 diesel pickup trucks in the United States – approximately 15% of U.S. diesel trucks that were originally certified with emissions controls – have been illegally deleted.
Diesel emissions contain multiple hazardous compounds that harm human health and the environment. Diesel emissions have been found to cause and worsen respiratory ailments such as asthma and lung cancer. One study found that 21,000 American deaths annually are attributable to diesel particulate matter. Additionally, exposure to polluted air in utero has been associated with a host of problems with lifelong ramifications including low birth weight, preterm birth, autism, asthma and brain and memory disorders.
Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 8 before U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill for the District of Idaho. Though the corporate defendants agreed to pay $1 million in criminal fines under the plea agreements, they face a maximum fine per count of $500,000 or twice the gross pecuniary gain derived from the offense, and Pierce faces up to two years in prison. The defendants’ sentences will be determined at the discretion of the court after application of statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which consider a number of variables.
The criminal case stemmed from an investigation by the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division. U.S. Attorney Josh Hurwit for the District of Idaho, Senior Trial Attorney Cassandra Barnum of the Environment and Natural Resources' Environmental Crimes Section and EPA Regional Criminal Enforcement Counsel Karla Perrin are prosecuting the case.
Stopping the manufacture, sale and installation of illegal delete devices is a priority for EPA. To learn more, visit www.epa.gov/enforcement/national-compliance-initiative-stopping-aftermarket-defeat-devices-vehicles-and-engines.
SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a series of settlements today with companies based in California, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington state that had illegally sold “defeat device” products throughout the United States that altered vehicle emissions control systems. These products are designed to “defeat” emissions controls, enabling increased emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter, both of which contribute to serious public health issues. Distribution and sale of defeat devices are violations of the Clean Air Act.
“Defeat devices enable more air pollution from vehicles to the detriment of Americans’ health, and EPA is vigilant about holding accountable the entities that sell these illegal products,” said Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “These settlements demonstrate EPA’s commitment to enforcing critical environmental laws that protect clean air and public health.”
Except for Competition Specialties, Inc., the companies each paid or will pay a reduced penalty because of a demonstrated inability to pay a higher amount.
Stopping the sale of aftermarket defeat devices for vehicles and engines is one of EPA’s National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives. According to a study by EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, known sales of defeat devices for certain diesel trucks after 2009 and before 2020 resulted in more than 570,000 tons of excess NOx and 5,000 tons of excess particulate matter over the lifetime of the trucks.
The Clean Air Act authorizes the EPA to set standards for emissions from a variety of types of vehicles and engines. Required emission controls often include filters and catalysts installed in the vehicles or engines’ exhaust systems, as well as calibrations that manage fueling strategy and other operations in the engines themselves. Federal law prohibits tampering with emissions controls, as well as manufacturing, selling, and installing aftermarket devices intended to defeat those controls.
The EPA has found numerous companies and individuals that have manufactured and sold both hardware and software specifically designed to defeat required emissions controls on vehicles and engines used on public roads as well as on nonroad vehicles and engines. Illegally modified vehicles and engines contribute substantial excess pollution that harms public health and impedes efforts by the EPA, tribes, states, and local agencies to plan for and attain air quality standards.
On August 1, Roseville, Calif.-based Sinister Mfg. Company, Inc., pleaded guilty to criminal charges in federal court in Sacramento, California, and agreed to pay a total of $1 million in criminal fines and civil penalties. The company also agreed to implement a compliance program and to not manufacture, sell or install any device that defeats a vehicle’s emissions controls. Additionally, an official for Fiat Chrysler corporation pled guilty to conspiring to violate the Clean Air Act by misrepresenting information on vehicle emissions, fuel efficiency and compliance with U.S. emission standards.
SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a settlement with Arctic Glacier U.S.A., Inc., that resolves claims of violations of federal environmental rules at the company’s ice processing facility in Fremont, Calif. Under the settlement, Arctic Glacier has certified that the facility is in compliance with Clean Air Act regulations that are designed to ensure the safe manufacture, use, storage, and handling of anhydrous ammonia, a toxic substance used as a refrigerant. Arctic Glacier will pay a $169,400 penalty as part of the settlement.
“Toxic substances like anhydrous ammonia can pose serious threats to workers, first responders and the public, so it’s imperative that companies using them follow federal requirements to prevent accidents,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “This settlement demonstrates that EPA will be vigilant in holding accountable companies that fail to comply with environmental laws.”
Arctic Glacier owns and operates an ice processing, production and storage facility in Fremont that includes a refrigeration system containing about 14,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia, a toxic substance regulated by EPA under the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Program. Anhydrous ammonia is very corrosive, and exposure may result in chemical-type burns to skin, eyes, and lungs.
Based on an inspection of the Arctic Glacier facility in 2018, EPA determined that the facility’s piping, operating equipment, and safety systems were not in compliance with regulatory requirements. The company has addressed the EPA identified deficiencies at the facility.
EPA’s Risk Management Program (RMP) regulations work to prevent accidental chemical releases in our communities and the environment. Facilities holding more than a threshold quantity of a regulated substance are required to comply with EPA’s RMP regulations. The regulations require owners or operators of covered facilities to implement a risk management program and to submit a risk management plan to EPA.
Learn more about the Risk Management Program rule.
Learn about the National Enforcement and Compliance Initiative on reducing risks of accidental releases at industrial and chemical facilities.
For more information on reporting possible violations of environmental laws and regulations visit EPA’s enforcement reporting website.
SEATTLE – La Agencia de Protección Ambiental de EE. UU. anunció hoy que Multistar Industries Inc., de Othello, Washington, pagará USD 850 000 por haber infringido las leyes ambientales.
El 1 de agosto, el Tribunal de Distrito de EE. UU. correspondiente al Distrito Este de Washington le ordenó a Multistar el pago de una multa por haber cometido cinco infracciones al Programa de Manejo de Riesgos de la Ley de Aire Limpio y dos infracciones a la Ley de Planificación para Emergencias y Derecho a Saber de la Comunidad. Las infracciones se relacionan con el hecho de que Multistar almacenó una sustancia química peligrosa llamada trimetilamina, o TMA, en su planta de Othello, Washington.
Además de la multa, el Tribunal accedió a la solicitud de la EPA de un mandamiento judicial, que exige que Multistar cumpla inmediatamente con los requisitos de la Ley de Aire Limpio y presente informes semestrales durante los próximos cinco años que demuestren su cumplimiento continuo. En la orden judicial, el Tribunal se refirió a las infracciones de Multistar como “sumamente graves” y declaró que la conducta de la empresa “pone en riesgo la vida de los trabajadores, así como la vida de las personas de la comunidad”.
Multistar comenzó a almacenar TMA en vagones de su planta en 2017, pero tomó medidas para cumplir con los requisitos de la CAA y la EPCRA recién después de que la EPA comenzara a investigar la operación en 2019. Incluso entonces, el Tribunal determinó que Multistar no había cumplido totalmente con los requisitos de la CAA en el momento del juicio. Multistar tiene una larga historia de problemas de cumplimiento en su planta, con infracciones previas resueltas con la EPA en 2005, 2016, 2019 y 2021.
“Este fallo fue un gran logro para prevenir accidentes químicos”, expresó Ed Kowalski, director de la Oficina de Seguimiento de la Implementación y el Cumplimiento de la Ley de la Región 10 de la EPA. “Tanto el Programa de Manejo de Riesgos de la EPA como la Ley de Planificación para Emergencias y Derecho a Saber de la Comunidad se centran en planificar y prevenir la liberación accidental de sustancias peligrosas, especialmente donde hay grandes poblaciones vulnerables”.
Multistar almacenó un promedio de 696 380 libras de TMA en vagones no motorizados desde 2019. La empresa aumentó su capacidad de inventario desde un promedio de 156 988 libras en 2018.
La trimetilamina es una sustancia muy inflamable, que es corrosiva para los ojos, la piel y las vías respiratorias. Se usa con frecuencia en la fabricación de productos electrónicos, explosivos, productos farmacéuticos y papel, y como aditivo en la gasolina.
Puede encontrar más detalles en los antecedentes de hecho y conclusiones de derecho del Tribunal, así como en la orden de concesión del mandamiento judicial del Tribunal.
COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (August 18, 2023) - Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $300,030 settlement with the Suncor Energy USA Inc., Commerce City Refinery (Suncor) to resolve alleged violations of toxic chemical-related regulations.
The settlement addresses chemical accident prevention, toxic chemical release reporting and community right-to-know violations at the refinery, which EPA discovered during an inspection conducted from September 14-17, 2020. Suncor will pay $60,000 in civil penalties. It will also spend at least $240,030 on emergency response equipment as a Supplemental Environmental Project to enhance the chemical release accident response capabilities of the South Adams County Fire Department in Commerce City, Colorado.
"Facilities must properly handle hazardous substances to prevent dangerous chemical accidents and follow reporting requirements when releases occur,” said KC Becker, EPA Regional Administrator. “If they don’t, EPA will hold them accountable. We are pleased that Suncor is implementing critical safety measures to protect workers and the community."
The inspection focused on the root causes related to the catalyst release that occurred on December 11, 2019, among other areas. The EPA found that Suncor violated the following regulations:
Suncor certified that it addressed these findings.
Please see Consent Agreement and Final Order for more information.
Read more information about the Risk Management Program, Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act and section 103 of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.
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