Every three years the Environmental Protection Agency releases a set of National Enforcement Initiatives. The EPA decides to focus resources on national environmental issues. Most of the time these issues have significant non-compliance with laws, and can see an improvement with federal enforcement.
What will inspectors be looking for?
- Prevent industrial pollutants from contaminating waterways (new initiative)
- Ensure that raw sewage and contaminated stormwater are kept out of waterways
- Limit air toxics exposure, including mercury, lead, benzene, etc (expanded initiative)
- Reduce air toxics emissions from large sources, including refineries, factories, chemical sites, etc
- Limit runoff of animal waste and fertilizer
- Prevent hydraulic fracturing from contaminating groundwater
- Reduce accidental releases that happen at industrial and chemical sites (new initiative)
Additionally, the accidental release initiative is tied to revisions for Risk Management Plans. One major change is performing a mandatory root cause analysis after every spill/leak. Also, audits are to be performed by a third-party firm after any accident. Paper mills, coal producers and chemical plants all need to employ safer technologies and alternatives analysis.
All three initiatives related to clean water will most likely affect chemical and metal manufacturing facilities, mining faculties and food processing facilities more than any other industries. Preventing runoff from your site is crucial, especially if your site is near impaired waters.
What happens if the EPA finds your company in violation of the initiatives? Potential fines could reach the six-figure range–at a minimum. Plus, any supplemental clean up projects.