Federal Facility Enforcement Highlights
EPA is responsible for ensuring the federal government complies with all environmental laws, regulations and responsibilities required under some presidential executive orders. In fiscal year 2009, EPA concluded 51 enforcement actions against federal agencies and federal facility contractors for alleged violations of environmental laws. These actions will prevent more than 13 million pounds of pollutants from being released into the environment. EPA collected $978,000 in penalties from federal facilities from enforcement actions. Federal agencies also committed to spending more than $1.3 billion to improve their facilities and operations to remedy past violations, to prevent future violations and to clean up past pollution.
UST Enforcement at Federal Facilities
Federal agencies must comply with the Underground Storage Tank (UST) requirements contained in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. In 2006, EPA launched a strategy specifically focused on improving federal facility compliance with UST requirements. EPA, in coordination with its regional offices and state counterparts, has been inspecting and taking enforcement actions at federal facilities violating UST requirements.
EPA's federal facility UST enforcement program saw robust enforcement in fiscal year 2009. EPA settled 27 enforcement actions against federal facilities in which federal facilities paid more than $500,000 in penalties and committed to actions valued at more than $2 million to come into compliance. For example:
- The Puerto Rico Army National Guard and the Army & Air Force Exchange Service settlement resulted in a $69,000 fine for UST violations at their Camp Santiago facility in Salinas, Puerto Rico. The Guard will also install a system to conserve water and reduce pollution at the facility, estimated to cost $670,000, and reduce water use by approximately six percent annually, or 1.2 millions gallons (or over 11 million pounds/year.) [More Information]
- The U.S. Army also agreed to pay a $30,000 civil penalty, remove USTs and install above-ground tanks at a cost of $209,000 to settle alleged violations of UST regulations at their Aberdeen Proving Ground facility in Aberdeen, Maryland. [More Information]
In its ongoing efforts to improve UST compliance in the federal sector, EPA also developed and launched an UST training program on FedCenter, the federal government's center for comprehensive environmental stewardship and compliance assistance information located at www.fedcenter.gov.
Compliance at Federal Laboratories:
Other important EPA enforcement actions and settlements involved violations at laboratories operated by federal agencies.
- Under the terms of a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the VA paid a $51,000 penalty and will spend an additional $482,000 on a program to properly identify, segregate and manage its pharmaceutical and chemical wastes at its Eastern Kansas Health Care System hospitals. [More Information]
- Under the terms of a settlement with the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, New Hampshire, the Army paid an $89,500 penalty for violations of federal and state hazardous waste management laws. The violations included failure to determine whether numerous containers held hazardous wastes and properly label hazardous wastes containers. [More Information]
Federal Facilities Compliance Assistance Training
EPA, in conjunction with FedCenter, launched several interactive, multi-media on-line training courses to assist the federal community in complying with environmental requirements.
The training courses include "Environmental Compliance Training for Federal Laboratories" and "Underground Storage Tanks." Both courses cover common environmental compliance problems and what the federal law requires. The course for federal laboratories also includes information on how environmental management systems (EMS) and pollution prevention, can help facilities attain or maintain compliance. EPA also worked with the Office of the Federal Environmental Executive to launch a course on developing effective environmental management systems.Since these courses are available 24/7 people can schedule training at any time that is convenient to them.