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Compliance Assistance and Incentive Initiatives

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College and University Initiatives

EPA Region 4 constantly strives to protect human health and the environment by ensuring that the regulated community complies with environmental laws and regulations. This goal frequently involves focusing on a specific sector or segment of the regulated community. Since 2002, Region 4 has been working to improve environmental performance at the higher learning institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Colleges and universities are as much a part of EPA’s regulated community as business, industry and government facilities. Therefore, they must comply with federal and state environmental laws or are subject to enforcement, which may include penalties as prescribed by statute. Among the potential environmental problem areas at colleges and universities are improper handling, storage and disposal of hazardous waste; laboratories and chemical storage; air quality problems; stormwater runoff and wastewater discharge; inadequate underground storage tank management; sewage treatment facilities that are not operating properly; improper abatement of lead-based paint and asbestos.


What Tools Does EPA Use to Assure Compliance?

The four primary tools that EPA uses to assure compliance with environmental laws include:

What is Region 4’s Approach to Colleges and Universities?

Region 4 believes that through awareness, education and reasonable options, both public and private members of the regulated community will choose to be proactive in voluntary efforts to comply with pollution control regulations. The Region's work in the College and University sector combines compliance assistance and incentives coupled with ongoing compliance monitoring (inspections) and, when necessary, enforcement.

The Region’s goal is to increase compliance with the nation's environmental laws in the southeast. A strong regional effort in the areas of compliance assistance and incentives will encourage and enable colleges and universities to independently identify and correct pollution violations while strategically using state or federal environmental agency enforcement resources.

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College and University Compliance Incentive Initiative

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Compliance incentives are actions and programs designed to provide specific rewards or opportunities to regulated communities for voluntary compliance efforts. In February 2007, Region 4 launched the Colleges and Universities Compliance Incentive Initiative, encouraging voluntary environmental self-audits. Region 4 mailed more than 400 letters to 4-year public and private colleges in the southeastern United States. The February 2, 2007 letter (PDF) (4 PP, 64 K) highlighted the opportunity for a college or university to take advantage of EPA’s Audit Policy. This policy provides incentives for regulated entities that voluntarily discover, promptly disclose, and expeditiously correct non-compliance. Disclosures meeting the necessary conditions of the policy may receive a partial or complete reduction in financial penalties.


Who’s Participating in the Incentive Initiative?

Approximately 200 of the 400 colleges and universities contacted have responded by showing an interest in using the flexibilities offered in the Audit Policy. These positive responders include both public and private educational institutions. All of the Region 4 states are represented.

Ceremony at Emory University Establishes Commitment by Southeastern Colleges and Universities to EPA's Voluntary Self-Audit Program

On June 25, 2007, EPA Region 4 and Emory University hosted a signing ceremony for participating southeastern colleges and universities who have joined together and agreed to conduct voluntary self-audits under EPA Region 4's College and University Compliance Incentive Initiative. The voluntary self-audits, performed pursuant to the Audit Agreement signed today will assist 101 private colleges and universities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee (PDF) (2 PP, 67 K) and three public universities in Alabama to achieve better compliance with environmental laws and regulations.


What are people saying about the Incentive Initiative?

Although not exhaustive, view the links below to see what the participants are saying about the EPA Region 4's Colleges and Universities Incentive Initiative.

Lincoln Memorial University Exit EPA disclaimer
Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA)(3 PP, 41 K) Exit EPA disclaimer
TICUA Go Green! Project Exit EPA disclaimer
Cumberland University Joins "TICUA Go Green!" Initiative Exit EPA disclaimer
Toccoa Falls College Exit EPA disclaimer
Southern Adventist University Exit EPA disclaimer


What if I Didn’t Receive the February 2, 2007, Letter Inviting me to Participate?

If your educational institution did not receive the February 2, 2007, letter, you can still take advantage of the benefits offered by the Audit Policy. This policy always is available for use by any business, school, facility or corporation. Under the Audit Policy, your decision to conduct an audit and self-disclose violations is purely voluntary.


I’ve Heard About Something Called an Audit Agreement. What’s an Audit Agreement?

Self-audits and their associated disclosures frequently cover multiple major federal environmental programs such as air; water; pesticides; emergency planning; solid and hazardous wastes; hazardous substances and chemicals; and emergency planning. An audit agreement is an effective mechanism for resolving a broad range and number of violations discovered during environmental audits. These agreements are an optimal compliance tool for regulated entities with facilities located in more than one location by ensuring that the disclosures are processed on the same schedule with one EPA point of contact. Also, a regulated entity is able to plan an audit with an advanced understanding between the entity and EPA regarding schedules for conducting the audit and disclosing violations beyond the 21-day disclosure requirement for non audit facilities.

For many, an audit agreement approach provides the opportunity to evaluate institutional practices and environmental compliance without the stigma of an enforcement action and removes the uncertainty and cost of litigation, attorney fees, and sanctions for violations. An agreement provides entities with assurance that violations disclosed over an extended schedule will meet EPA’s expectations for timely disclosure. This approach provides an opportunity for institutions to design and implement practices that incorporate environmental compliance into their operations.


How do I Submit a Self-Disclosure?

Once a violation has been discovered, a company has 21 days from the time of that discovery to disclose in writing the violation to EPA. The initial disclosure should identify the means of discovery, type of violation, and facility location. An outline of the procedures, including a Region 4 developed self-disclosure template for use in disclosing under the Audit Policy, can be found at the following Region 4 webpage: Self-Disclosure of Violations.


What are the Results of the College/University Incentive Initiative?

Region 4 has finalized decisions on 36 disclosures submitted by participants in the Region's Compliance Incentive Initiative for Colleges and Universities. Over 1,000 disclosed violations have been corrected. The most common violations have been related to the Resource Conservation Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Clean Water Act (CWA), including the Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures (SPCC) (see Chart 1). The types of violations disclosed in Region 4 are very similar to those found in other EPA Regions during their past work with the College and University sector (see Region 1, Region 2 and Region 3).

Chart 1: Distribution of Violations Disclosed

Most of the RCRA violations were related to the failure to identify hazardous wastes (i.e., failure to make waste determinations) or the failure to properly manage hazardous wastes (i.e., failure to properly label, follow storage time requirements, close containers, etc.). Approximately 36% of the RCRA violations were related to improper storage/disposal of universal hazardous wastes (e.g., fluorescent light tubes, batteries). The Clean Water Act violations were split between the failure to have the proper management plans, including in some cases secondary containment, for oil (i.e., Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures) and unknown discharges to the local Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW).

Colleges and Universities have estimated that over $500,000 has been spent to correct the federal violations disclosed under this Incentive Initiative. The breakdown of the costs for benefit corrections (i.e., injunctive relief) were distributed across the following environmental benefit categories:

As shown in Chart 2, 4% percent of the costs associated with these benefit corrections have been direct.  Direct benefits include those actions that treat, reduce or eliminate a pollutant or emission/discharge thereby reducing/eliminating human exposure or environmental impact.  It is estimated that over 7,000 lbs of pollutants have been reduced or treated through correction of disclosed violations.Chart 2: Cost Distribution of Environmental Benefits

Sixty-five percent of the costs associated with benefit corrections have been preventative. Preventative actions include those actions that properly manage a waste stream or prevent a release or exposure (i.e., they reduce the likelihood of future human exposure or adverse environmental impact). As a result of correcting disclosed violations, it is estimated that more than 20 cubic yards of pollutants is now being properly managed and more than 157,000 gallons of oil is now being properly managed. In addition, two grade Kindergarten-12 schools, which are operated by a college/university, are now adhering to the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA).

The remaining costs of correcting the disclosed violations, 31%, were categorized as FMIP. This last benefit category covers those actions that a facility conducts to better manage their environmental program and/ or to inform the public or government authority of the toxicity, quantity and location of chemicals, wastes or emissions (e.g., submission of Tier II Reports, employee training, record keeping, etc.).

The average penalty mitigation per college/university disclosure with violations is estimated to be approximately $75,000.

Resources

Audit Policy and Guidance
Audit Protocols
Small Business Compliance Policy (PDF) (5 PP, 256 K)
Region 4’s PowerPoint Presentation on the Audit Policy (PDF) (20 PP, 60 K)

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College and University Compliance Assistance 2002 to 2006

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In 2002, Region 4 began its College and University Compliance Assistance Initiative to assist colleges and universities in complying with environmental laws and regulations. During this initiative, Region 4 in partnership with state environmental agencies conducted 7 compliance assistance workshops for colleges and universities. The workshops were held throughout the southeast and provided an opportunity for all colleges and universities to participate and gain valuable information on the Agency’s environmental expectations of their facilities.

Compliance assistance efforts for colleges and universities ended with a final workshop held in Atlanta on September 20-21, 2006. Over 600 participants attended the 7 compliance assistance workshops.


Where were the Compliance Assistance Workshops Held?


What happened at the Compliance Assistance Workshops?

Each workshop covers environmental laws and regulations applicable to the college and university sector. View the agendas for the South Carolina (PDF) (2 PP, 22 K) Exit EPA disclaimer and North Carolina (PDF) (3 PP, 57 K) Exit EPA Disclaimer workshops and click on the agenda topics to see the presentations.


What were the Results of the Compliance Assistance Workshops?

Surveys that were completed by attendees of the 7 workshops showed the following results:

Disclaimer: The above percentages were not calculated from a representative sample of the regulated entity universe. Instead, the percentages are based, in part, on the number of regulated entities [respondents] that answered affirmatively to these questions on voluntary surveys. The percentages do not account for the number of regulated entities who chose not to answer these questions or the majority of entities who chose not to answer the surveys.


Resources:

EPA College Compliance Assistance Material - Region 2

Compliance Assistance – EPA Headquarters
Compliance Assistance Centers Code: Exit EPA disclaimer
Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange Exit EPA disclaimer
Compliance Assistance Newsletters and Listserv

HealthySEAT (Healthy School Environmental Assessment Tool). The Healthy School Environments Assessment Tool (HealthySEATv2) is a fully customizable and easy to use software program designed to help school districts evaluate and manage ALL of their environmental, safety and health issues.

Environmental Compliance and Best Management Practices. Guidance Manual for K-12 Schools (October 2006). This document was developed for U.S. EPA Region 2 by Long Island University and Columbia University. The manual is intended to be a primary environmental compliance guide for teachers, custodians, maintenance workers, administrators and staff members at K-12 schools. The manual not only covers environmental compliance, but also best management practices applicable to schools. http://www.epa.gov/region02/children/k12/k12pdf.htm.

Environmental Health & Safety in the Arts: A Guide for K-12 Schools, Colleges and Artisans.This document was developed for U.S. EPA Region 2 by the Pratt Institute. This guide focuses on federal hazardous waste requirements and seeks to expand the focus of educational standards for the arts to include basic environmental, health and safety training information on hazardous materials, hazardous substances and hazardous waste found in various art mediums and processes.

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Hospital and Healthcare Initiative

EPA Region 4 is constantly striving to strategically plan how to protect human health and the environment by ensuring that the regulated community obeys environmental laws and regulations. Frequently, this planning leads to focusing on a specific sector or segment of the regulated community. In 2005, EPA Region 4 began working to improve environmental performance in the close to 2,000 hospitals and healthcare facilities located in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Hospitals and healthcare facilities are as much a part of EPA’s regulated community as business, industry and government facilities and must comply with federal and state environmental laws. If not, they are subject to enforcement penalties as prescribed by the applicable environmental statutes. Hospitals contribute to the presence of mercury, dioxin and other persistent, bioaccumulative toxics (PBTs) in the environment. They are the fourth largest source of mercury discharged into the environment. Also, they generate a wide variety of hazardous waste, such as chemotherapy and antineoplastic chemicals, solvents, formaldehyde, photographic chemicals, radionuclides, and waste anesthetic gases. In addition, hospitals produce two million tons of solid waste, which is 1% of the total municipal solid waste in the United States.


What Tools Does EPA Use to Assure Compliance?

The four primary tools that EPA uses to assure compliance with environmental laws include:

What is Region 4’s Approach to Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities?

Region 4 believes that through awareness, education and reasonable options, both public and private members of the regulated community will choose to be proactive in voluntary efforts to comply with pollution control regulations. The Region's work in the Hospital and Healthcare sector has occurred through an integrated strategy which has combined a Compliance Assistance Initiative with Compliance Incentives, ongoing inspections and, when necessary, enforcement.

The Region’s ultimate goal is to increase compliance with the nation's environmental laws within the Hospital and Healthcare Sector in the southeast. A strong effort in the areas of compliance assistance and incentives will work to encourage and enable colleges and universities to independently identify and correct pollution violations before use of more state or federal environmental agency enforcement resources becomes necessary.

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Hospitals and Healthcare Facilities Compliance Assistance 2005 - 2008

You will need Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.

In 2005, Region 4 began its Hospital and Healthcare Compliance Assistance Initiative to assist hospitals and healthcare facilities in complying with environmental laws and regulations. During this initiative, Region 4 in partnership with state environmental agencies (and when possible, State Hospital Associations) is conducting compliance assistance workshops for hospitals and healthcare facilities. The region is working to hold workshops throughout the southeast to provide an opportunity for all hospitals and healthcare facilities to participate and gain valuable information on the Agency’s environmental expectations of their facilities. During this initiative, 7 workshops were held reaching approximately 600 participants.

Where were the Compliance Assistance Workshops held?


What happened at the Compliance Assistance Workshops?

Each workshop covers environmental laws and regulations applicable to the healthcare sector.


What were the Results of the Compliance Assistance Workshops?

Workshop surveys that were completed by hospital and healthcare attendees show the following results:

Disclaimer: The above percentages were not calculated from a representative sample of the regulated entity universe. Instead, the percentages are based, in part, on the number of regulated entities [respondents] that answered affirmatively to these questions on voluntary surveys. The percentages do not account for the number of regulated entities who chose not to answer these questions or the majority of entities who chose not to answer the surveys.


Resources:

EPA Hospital Compliance Assistance Material - Region 2

Compliance Assistance Resources for Hospitals & Healthcare Facilities (PDF) (2 PP, 39 K)
Compliance Assistance – EPA Headquarters
Healthcare Environmental Resource Center (HERC) Exit EPA disclaimer
Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange Exit EPA disclaimer
Compliance Assistance Newsletters and Listserv
Hospitals for a Healthy Environment Exit EPA disclaimer

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Prisons Compliance Assistance Initiative (2008 - Present)

In our continuing effort to provide and promote compliance with environmental regulations, Region 4 has identified prisons (state and federal) as a focus for compliance assistance beginning in late 2008. Prisons are in effect small cities, and potential environmental problem areas at prisons include improper handling, storage and disposal of hazardous waste, including medical wastes; improper wastewater discharge; inadequate underground storage tank management; sewage treatment facilities that are not operating properly; improper abatement of lead-based paint and asbestos.


What Tools Does EPA Use to Assure Compliance?

Prisons are as much a part of EPAís regulated community as business, industry and government facilities. They must comply with federal and state environmental laws or are subject to enforcement, which may include penalties as prescribed by statute. The four primary tools that EPA uses to assure compliance with environmental laws include:

What is Region 4’s Approach to Prisons?

The Regionís goal is to increase prison compliance with the nation's environmental laws. Region 4 believes that through awareness, education and reasonable options, both public and private members of the regulated community will choose to be proactive in voluntary efforts to comply with pollution control regulations. One of the first steps the Region is taking to assure compliance is to provide prisons with a firm foundation of its environmental obligations through educational outreach, mainly in the form of Compliance Assistance Workshops.


Where are Compliance Assistance Workshops for Prisons to be held?

The following workshops have been held:

For more information about these and additional workshops please contact Laila Hudda in EPA, Region 4 at hudda.laila@epa.gov or Phone: 404-562-9007.

Resources:

Compliance Assistance – EPA Headquarters
Compliance Assistance Centers Code Exit EPA disclaimer
Pollution Prevention Resource Exchange Exit EPA disclaimer
Compliance Assistance Newsletters and Listserv

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For information about the contents of this page please contact Wes Hardegree


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