EPA to Offer Streamlined System for Self-disclosure and Penalty Mitigation

This fall, EPA will unveil eDisclosure, a web-based system to more efficiently receive and process compliance violations self-disclosed under its 2000 Audit Policy and Small Business Compliance Policy.

These policies offer penalty mitigation and other incentives for companies that discover, promptly disclose, and quickly correct environmental compliance violations and take steps to prevent future violations. While the new system will make reporting easier and speed the resolution process, the requirements of the audit policies will remain unchanged.

In general, to take advantage of the penalty mitigation under the audit policy, the following conditions must be met:

  1. Systematic Discovery (discovery of the violations through an environmental compliance audit or through an environmental management system review) – required for 100% penalty mitigation, otherwise only 75% mitigation
  2. Voluntary Discovery
  3. Prompt Disclosure – within 21 days of discovery
  4. Discovery, Disclosure Independent of Government/Third Party Plaintiff
  5. Correction and Remediation – within 60 days after discovery unless written agreement/order
  6. Prevent Recurrence
  7. No Repeat Violations – can’t have same or closely related violation at same facility within past 3 years
  8. Other Violations Excluded (serious actual harm, imminent and substantial endangerment)
  9. Cooperation

The portal will accept new disclosures involving almost all types of civil violations. Pre-existing unresolved EPCRA disclosures can be resubmitted through the eDisclosure system within 90 days after launch of the portal, but preexisting disclosures that are subject to audit agreements will be resolved outside the eDisclosure system through a Notice of Determination (NOD), Consent Agreement and Final Order (CAFO), or Consent Decree (CD).

To use the eDisclosure portal, reporters must: (1) register with the system; (2) promptly disclose their violations online within 21 days of discovery; and (3) submit an online Compliance Report certifying that any noncompliance was timely corrected. The Compliance Report is usually due within 60 days of submitting an initial online Audit Policy disclosure (or within 90 days for Small Business Compliance Policy disclosures), but limited reporting deadline extensions will be available in certain circumstances.

Compliance violation disclosures resolved through the portal will be resolved either as a “Tier 1” or “Tier 2” disclosure.

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FLASH: Judge Clarifies WOTUS Injunction Limited to 13 States

A federal judge in North Dakota has clarified that his injunction blocking a new USEPA definition of “waters of the United States” in the language of the Clean Water Act applies only to the 13 states that sued to block the rule and is not applicable nationwide.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson clarified the temporary injunction he issued on August 27 at the request of North Dakota and 12 other states. The states sought to stop USEPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from regulating some small streams, tributaries and wetlands under the Clean Water Act.

“Because there are competing sovereign interests and competing judicial rulings, the court declines to extend the preliminary injunction at issue beyond the entities actually before it,” Erickson wrote.

 The states involved in the lawsuit with North Dakota are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, South Dakota and Wyoming.

This week, Mississippi and Alabama joined 16 other states in filing a separate motion to block the rule.

via US News and World Report

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FLASH:  MSU’s Gulf Community Design Studio Receives EPA Award for Bayou Auguste Restoration

USEPA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Gulf of Mexico Program recognized Mississippi State University’s Gulf Community Design Studio (GCCDS) in Biloxi, Miss. with a First Place 2015 Gulf Guardian Award in the Civic/Non-Profit Category. The awards ceremony was July 30th at the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi, Texas.

In 2009, GCCDS worked to produce neighborhood plans for East Biloxi, Miss., a community still recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. From a list of concerns, residents responded positively to suggestions to improve a degraded inner-city bayou. GCCDS began its work to restore Bayou Auguste by engaging elementary student in environmental education activities, and later expanded outreach to a wider audience of residents. The goals of the project were to restore and expand the natural habitat, to make a beautiful natural place free of invasive species and litter, to provide public access and learning opportunities, and to increase local environmental stewardship.

GCCDS worked in partnership with other organizations to transform Bayou Auguste into a neighborhood nature park. GCCDS secured several grants and led a partnership with the City of Biloxi, the Biloxi Housing Authority, Biloxi Public Schools, and the Land Trust for the Mississippi Coastal Plain. The City provided assistance to remove fill material and a retaining wall and to reshape the stream bank. Hundreds of students and volunteers planted native plant species along the upland habitats of Bayou Auguste that reduce erosion and filter stormwater runoff and improve water quality.


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Part II: 5 Environmental Programs that Apply to You: Stormwater

One of the toughest tasks in compliance audit is telling a well-intentioned client that the environmental program that he has been ignoring does, in fact, apply to his operation. In most instances, it’s not a matter of being unaware of the regulation but instead incorrectly determining that the requirement doesn’t apply. This can result from several sources of false confidence:

A program may not be an exact fit–An emergency response program would seem on the surface not to apply to a facility that doesn’t house any hazardous materials or dispose of hazardous waste
A program may not have been intended for them–An oil spill prevention program would seem not to apply to a facility that does not store oil
A facility may have had successful agency compliance inspections–The inspector may have been conducting a media-specific inspection and may not have looked at issues outside that specific medium. Or, as inspectors or human, he may have just missed it—this time.

This is the third in a five part series. In part one, we examined the requirements of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA). In part three, we looked at the Clean Water Act’s Spill Prevention Rule.

In this second article of a five part series, we will briefly touch on the requirements of the Clean Water Act’s Stormwater Permitting program.

Stormwater Permitting

Stormwater includes rainfall and snow melt that leaves your facility either through a concentrated discharge such as a ditch or culvert or overland as a sheet flow. An industrial facility is required to obtain a permit and develop a plan to prevent stormwater contamination if it has a stormwater discharge associated with an industrial or commercial activity either directly to waters of the United States or to a municipal separate storm sewer system and it engages in one or more of the industrial or commercial activities identified by USEPA in the regulation.

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