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Compliance and Enforcement Annual Results FY2008:
Cross-Media Enforcement Case Highlights

Civil Enforcement Cases || Criminal Enforcement Cases

Many enforcement cases address environmental harm across air, water and land. Combining enforcement of all media results is a more effective overall management of a facility’s or a company’s environmental liabilities and is generally more cost-effective than bringing two or more independent media-specific actions.

Civil Enforcement Cases

Criminal Enforcement Cases


Civil Enforcement Cases

Emissions – Vinyl Chloride

In 2002, EPA developed a multimedia chemical targeting approach utilizing public health and environmental data to identify potential candidates for enforcement. Using this approach, EPA selected six chemicals, one of which was vinyl chloride - a known carcinogen and an ozone precursor. Most vinyl chloride is used to make polyvinyl chloride plastic and vinyl products. Exposure to vinyl chloride emissions has been linked to adverse human health effects and cancer. To date, five settlements have addressed and resolved alleged violations of environmental requirements and, when fully implemented, are expected to reduce vinyl chloride emissions and discharges by approximately 140,000 pounds. [More Information]

The following is a major case concluded in fiscal year 2008:

Georgia Gulf Chemicals and Vinyls, LLC

Georgia Gulf committed to perform corrective measures to prevent the discharge of up to 12,000 pounds of vinyl chloride per year from entering an unlined surface impoundment and to properly treat and dispose of an estimated 3.9 billion pounds of hazardous waste a year at its Aberdeen, Mississippi polyvinyl chloride manufacturing facility. The Consent Decree also required Georgia Gulf to perform corrective measures at an estimated cost of $2,900,000. The requirements included installation of an air stripper to reduce volatile organic compounds by removing vinyl chloride from process wastewater. The company resolved alleged violations of RCRA, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and EPCRA. Georgia Gulf also will pay a civil penalty of $610,000 to be split evenly between the United States and the State of Mississippi. [More Information]

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Chemicals

Chemicals have become a pervasive and enduring part of our environment. They are used in our manufacturing processes, and they are essential components for consumer and industrial goods. EPA assures that chemicals made available for sale and use in the United States do not pose any adverse risks to human health or to the environment.

The following is a major case concluded in fiscal year 2008:

Equistar Chemicals, LP

Equistar, an ethylene and petro-chemicals producer, entered into a Consent Decree to resolve alleged multimedia violations at seven facilities. The company is required to perform corrective actions at a cost of $125 million and to conduct environmental audits of its operations and correct identified problems. Equistar will pay a $2.5 million civil penalty divided evenly between the United States and the States of Iowa, Illinois and Louisiana. The company will monitor and fix leaks of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants, such as benzene, from process units; replace equipment that uses ozone-depleting substances, reduce flaring of VOCs, and install a wastewater treatment system that will reduce harmful air emissions by at least 52,000 pounds per year. The company also will eliminate the improper land disposal of an estimated 300,000 million pounds of benzene-contaminated hazardous waste per year. [More Information]

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Supplemental Environmental Projects

Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) are environmentally beneficial actions that a violator agrees to perform as part of an enforcement settlement. SEPs go beyond compliance and provide significant benefits to public health and the environment. EPA enforcement settlements concluded in fiscal year 2008 include 188 cases requiring violators to implement SEPs with a value of over $39 million. The following four settlements are examples of fiscal year 2008 cases that include SEPs with substantial environmental or public health benefits. [More Information]

The following are major cases concluded in fiscal year 2008:

Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority

The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) committed to spend $1.13 million to purchase approximately 152 million kilowatt-hours of renewable wind-powered energy from the Philadelphia Electric and Gas Company (PECO). The purchase of renewable energy is expected to decrease the amount of green house gases from fossil-fuel powered electric plants that would otherwise be emitted due to the generation of the power necessary to meet SEPTA’s needs for two years. PECO estimates that the purchase of wind power would reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere by as much as 1,242 pounds per megawatt-hour purchased. Based on PECO's estimate, this SEP could result in the reduction of up to nearly 189 million pounds of CO2.

Equistar Chemicals, LP (Equistar)

Equistar, a petrochemical manufacturer, agreed to conduct a $6.65 million SEP as part of its settlement to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Equistar will install a system to capture hazardous air emissions from process vents at its Channelview, Texas facility. Such emissions can contribute to respiratory disorders such as asthma, and can reduce lung capacity. They can also cause damage to ecosystems and reduce visibility. [More Information]

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Valero Energy Corp. (Premcor)

As part of a settlement for violations of the Clean Air Act, Valero Energy Corp. (formerly Premcor), agreed to perform federal and state SEPs valued at $4.25 million. The federal SEPs include: construction of a local health center serving underinsured and uninsured residents of the Port Arthur, Texas for the diagnosis and treatment of asthma and other respiratory illnesses that may be caused or exacerbated by air pollution, a mobile air monitoring van for the Port Arthur, Texas local emergency response commission, “Shelter-in-place” air control systems to detect, isolate and filter air pollution that may result from air emissions near the local elementary school in Port Arthur, Texas, replacement of existing high-emitting water heaters with new low-emission water heaters in low-income residences in Port Arthur, Texas; a study to prevent vehicle idling in Lima, Ohio, installation of controls on vents from the Lima, Ohio refinery to reduce fugitive VOC emissions, a study of the use of infrared imaging equipment to identify leaks of fugitive VOC emissions at the Lima, Ohio and Memphis, Tennessee refineries, and installation of vapor controls to reduce or eliminate hydrogen sulfide off-gassing from the City of Memphis (Tennessee) wastewater treatment works. [More Information]

Merck and Company (Merck)

As part of a settlement to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act, Merck agreed to perform SEPs valued at $4.5 million. The SEPs are designed to improve the water quality and ecosystems of the Wissahickon River, a source of drinking water for the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania community. The projects include restoration activities around the Schuylkill River, a key tributary of the Wissahickon River, creation of wetlands on a 10 acre parcel of property, purchase and installation of a system designed to provide early warning to the Philadelphia Water Department of materials that may pose a threat to drinking water, and the purchase and installation of an enhanced automated dissolved oxygen control at the Upper Gwynedd Township Wastewater Treatment Facility. [More Information]

Upper Southampton Sewer Authority

Upper Southampton Sewer Authority (Upper Southampton) agreed to include a SEP as part of a settlement to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act. Upper Southampton agreed to undertake an awareness campaign that would focus on the proper disposal of pharmaceuticals. The dumping of old and unused pharmaceuticals into the drinking water supply can cause risks to public health and impact drinking water quality. The awareness campaign will focus on the safe disposal of pharmaceuticals at hospitals, retirement communities, and schools. [More Information]


Criminal Enforcement Cases

Cross Media

Criminal enforcement covers all the media (air, water, land) and major environmental statutes plus full Title 18 (U.S. Criminal Code) authority that is often associated with environmental crimes, such as conspiracy, false statements, mail and wire fraud, racketeering, and obstruction of justice. The final decisions regarding the specific counts to which a defendant is charged or plead guilty are made by the Department of Justice.

The following is a major case concluded in fiscal year 2008:

Wally El-Beck

Wally El-Beck (doing business as Arkansas Municipal Waste to Energy, Inc.) was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment after being convicted by a federal jury on 37 counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud while operating the Osceola, Arkansas municipal incinerator. El-Beck was also ordered to pay close to $905,000 in restitution. El-Beck was paid to incinerate industrial waste. Rather than doing that, El-Beck stored approximately 10,000 55-gallon drums of industrial waste, along with other medical waste, which were stored in unsafe conditions, at the Osceola site. His customers were required to reclaim the waste, have it destroyed elsewhere, and contribute towards the cost of clean-up at the incinerator and storage site, incurring losses of approximately $1.16 million. The EPA spent over $4 million in clean-up costs associated with the site. [More Information]

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