Risk Management Plan Violation Results in Fines & Settlement

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “A national company that distributes ammonia has agreed to install and operate $345,000 in ammonia leak detection systems at 14 facilities across the country to settle claims by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that it violated federal clean air regulations on chemical risk management at plants in Rhode Island and Michigan. Tanner Industries, based in Southhampton (sic), Penn., also agreed to pay a $56,700 penalty to settle these claims.” http://tinyurl.com/3vsb97w

Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act requires facilities to prepare Risk Management Plans if they store certain chemicals (including ammonia) above a specified threshold.

Perhaps this action is a reflection of the Environmental Protection Agency’s FY 2011-2015 EPA Strategic Plan that includes (Goal 4) “Ensuring the Safety of Chemicals and Preventing Pollution” and (Goal 5) “Enforcing Environmental Laws.”  It may be prudent to keep a watchful eye on enforcement trends.

If you have questions about Risk Management Plans or environmental compliance, contact Matthew Schroeder (mschroeder@dragun.com) at 248-932-0228.

More Signs of EPA Enforcement for Agriculture

 Have you ever benefited from someone flashing their high beams to warn you that a “cop” was just around the corner? If you are like me, probably so. I have personally “benefited” from these warnings from my fellow motorists and avoided costly tickets. Consider this our precautionary flash of the high beams because there might be an EPA “cop” up ahead for agriculture. Here is just the latest of what we have “spotted.”

• According to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Inspector General (OIG), “Region 4 should strengthen oversight of Georgia’s concentrated animal feeding operation program.” In a 17-page document dated June 23, 2011, the EPA OIG states, “…our review identified a number of deficiencies for 34 of the 48 CAFOs Georgia inspected. CAFOs were operating without NPDES permits or Nutrient Management Plans, inspection reports were missing required components, and the Georgia Department of Agriculture was not assessing compliance with permit conditions.”

As part of their recommendations the OIG states, “We recommend that the Regional Administrator, EPA Region 4 

1. Implement controls between EPA Region 4 and GEPD (Georgia Environmental Protection Division) to:

  a. Require enforcement data tracking between GEPD and Region 4.

  b. Assure CAFO inspections are accurate and complete.

  c. Assure that GEPD takes timely and appropriate enforcement actions” (emphasis added).

As an interesting side note, the impetus for this action came from an EPA Hotline Complaint. http://www.epa.gov/oig/reports/2011/20110623-11-P-0274.pdf

• In our June 30th blog we stated that EPA Region 5 is looking for a “CAFO Enforcement Officer.” The CAFO Enforcement Officer will conduct inspections, investigate cases of violation, and/or prepare enforcement actions.

https://alan917.wordpress.com/2011/06/30/epa-region-5-hiring-new-sheriffs-to-focus-on-livestock-agriculture/

This, combined with the focus on the Chesapeake Bay watershed, should cause farmers to sit up and take notice and look at environmental compliance issues at their farms (NPDES, SPCC, Nutrient Management, et al).

There is little doubt the EPA cops are around the corner. Will they enforce? I’m not a gambling man, but if the EPA hires someone and their title is “CAFO Enforcement Officer,” I’ll place my bet on increased enforcement.

If you need assistance with an environmental permitting or planning issue contact Christopher Paré (cpare@dragun.com) or Matthew Schroeder, P.E. (mschroeder@dragun.com) at 248-932-0228.