Record $2 Billion to be Spent on Environmental Controls and Cleanup in the Southeast
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 4 enforcement program will reduce, treat or eliminate 167 million pounds of pollution in the Southeast as a result of agreements and concluded enforcement actions taken in fiscal year 2007. This includes reducing harmful air emissions (sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide) and significant volumes of untreated sewage, as well as cleaning more than 1.9 million cubic yards of contaminated soil. The estimated value of corrective action or cleanup required by EPA Region 4 enforcement agreements will total more than $2 billion, the highest total ever achieved by Region 4.
“Citizens of the Southeast will breathe healthier air, and have cleaner water and better protected land as a result of EPA Region 4’s enforcement and compliance assurance efforts,” said Jimmy Palmer, Regional Administrator. “I am proud of the work that EPA Region 4 personnel are doing in partnership with our states and tribal nations to ensure that compliance with our environmental laws is achieved.”
Nationally in FY 2007, EPA’s civil and criminal enforcement actions produced commitments to reduce pollutants by 890 million pounds. Nearly 70 percent of these reductions were achieved by addressing high-priority air and water pollution challenges. EPA’s enforcement program achieved historic results to protect the nation’s air, water, and land in FY 2007. Industries, government agencies and other regulated entities agreed to spend a record $10.6 billion in pollution controls and environmental projects, exceeding the previous record of $10.2 billion set in 2005.
Two enforcement actions in Kentucky contributed substantially to the overall amount of pollutant reductions achieved this fiscal year in the Southeast. The settlement of a Clean Air Act case with East Kentucky Power Cooperative will result in the reduction of 124 million pounds of harmful air emissions. A consent decree finalized with Winchester Municipal Utilities and the City of Winchester will require upgrades and changes to the City’s sanitary sewer system that will reduce the unauthorized discharge of over 1.6 million pounds of pollutants into waters of the United States.
An agreement reached between the Department of Justice and EPA with Valero Energy Corporation provides for a $4.25 million penalty and $232 million in new and upgraded pollution controls at refineries in Tennessee, Ohio and Texas. In addition to new pollution controls at the Memphis refinery which will result in substantial reductions of nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide, Memphis-Shelby County, Tenn., will receive a portion of the civil penalty.
In support of EPA’s National Strategy to address storm water violations due to wet weather events, EPA Region 4 issued 27 administrative actions to developers and homebuilders in North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, Alabama and Tennessee for failure to obtain or follow discharge permit conditions. These actions are estimated to reduce the release of 31.9 million pounds of pollutants.
During storms, overflows from inadequate combined sewers and sanitary sewers can discharge untreated sewage and industrial wastewaters into rivers, lakes, oceans, and other waterways. A Clean Water Act Administrative Order and Consent Agreement between EPA and the City of Charlotte, N.C., will require Charlotte to implement measures to eliminate sewage overflows and perform other actions to restore and protect the McDowell Creek Watershed. The estimated cost of these measures is $196 million, with reductions of more than 139,000 pounds of pollution. Enforcement actions taken throughout the country in FY 2007 led to investments of $3.6 billion in pollution controls to remove 45 million pounds of pollutants in discharges from overflows of combined sewers and sanitary sewers.
An Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent for Removal Action at the LWD, Inc. Superfund Site in Calvert City, Ky., will provide for the continued removal and treatment of over 1.1 million cubic yards of contaminated debris and hazardous wastes. The work is estimated to cost approximately $12 million and will include the reimbursement of cleanup work previously performed by EPA.
More than 42 million cubic yards of contaminated groundwater and 193,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil will be addressed at the Department of Energy Savannah River Site (SRS) near Aiken, S.C., as a result of negotiations by EPA Region 4. In Georgia, consent decrees with Stoller Chemical Company and Pelham Phosphate Company in Pelham will provide for the reimbursement of $10.1 million for costs that EPA has incurred through cleanup actions at the site. The settlements in Georgia are the last in a series of settlements for this site, resulting in EPA’s recovery of $14.1 million. Nationally, as a result of Superfund enforcement and other remediation agreements, responsible parties agreed to invest $688 million last year to clean up contamination.
EPA continues to seek out and take action to address environmental crimes. In FY 2007, the criminal enforcement program opened 10 percent more environmental crimes cases than in 2006. Criminal fines and restitution also increased from the previous year by 46 percent, totaling $63 million. A case investigated by EPA Region 4 Criminal Investigation Division resulted in a guilty plea for an employee of Acuity Specialty Products, Inc., a company that has a manufacturing plant in Atlanta, Ga. Per the terms of the plea agreement, a sentence of five years of probation and a fine of $3.8 million was imposed, the harshest sentence ever imposed on a company in the Northern District of Georgia for a violation of environmental laws. Acuity admitted that from at least September 1998 until November 2002, while inspectors from the City of Atlanta Watershed Department were at the Acuity facility conducting sampling, Acuity employees changed the wastewater flow in order to render the sampling inaccurate.
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