Compliance and Enforcement Annual Results:
FY2007 Water Case Highlights
FY2007 Annual Results Topics
Aging municipal sewer systems and urban storm water runoff are significant sources of pollutants contributing to impairments to our nation's waterways. Overflows of raw sewage from both combined and separate sanitary sewer systems contribute to beach closures, shellfish bed closures, contamination of drinking water sources and other environmental and health concerns. In addition, urban storm water runoff from municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4) and construction sites can introduce a variety of harmful pollutants including bacteria, organic nutrients, pesticides, hydrocarbons, sediment, oil and grease into rivers, lakes and streams. Ensuring effective and enforceable solutions to these problems has been an EPA enforcement priority since 1998. In fiscal year 2007, EPA concluded numerous enforcement actions eliminating and preventing millions of gallons of polluted overflows and run-off from entering surface waters.
Criminal Enforcement Cases
Combined Animal Feeding Operations Cases
Combined Animal Feeding Operation
Animal feeding operations (AFOs) are agricultural enterprises where animals are kept and raised in confined situations. They congregate animals, feed, manure and animals mortalities and production operations on a small land area. Feed is brought to the animals rather than the animals grazing or otherwise seeking feed in pastures, fields, or on rangeland. There are approximately 450,000 animal feeding operations in the United States. Concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) are a relatively small number of AFOs that are regulated by EPA. Manure and wastewater from animal feeding operations have the potential to contribute pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorus, organic matter, sediments, pathogens, heavy metals, hormones, antibiotics, and ammonia to the environment. Excess nutrients in water can result in or contribute to low levels of dissolved oxygen and toxic algal blooms. These conditions may be harmful to human health and, in combination with other circumstances, have been associated with outbreaks of microbes. Decomposing organic matter (i.e., animal waste) can reduce oxygen levels and cause fish kills. Pathogens have been linked to impairments in drinking water supplies and threats to human health. Pathogens in manure can also create a food safety concern if manure is applied directly to crops at inappropriate times. In addition, pathogens are responsible for some shellfish bed closures. Nitrogen in the form of nitrate, can contaminate drinking water supplies drawn from ground water. [More Information]
The following major case was concluded in fiscal year 2007:
Waldbaum/City of Wakefield, Nebraska
Waldbaum/City of Wakefield, Nebraska has agreed to pay a $1.05 million penalty to resolve allegations that the company violated the Clean Water Act. The violations concern allegations of overloading the wastewater treatment lagoons at the City of Wakefield, Nebraska's publicly owned treatment works; discharging pollutants from a large pile of poultry waste into Logan Creek without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit and improperly dumping process sludge waste from its egg processing facility at two of its other poultry farms rather than spreading on the ground in accordance with state standards. As part of this settlement, Waldbaum has committed to comply with a schedule in its current NPDES permit for construction of a wastewater treatment plant to treat the effluent from its egg processing facility and to develop and implement manure management plans at its pultry farm. Construction of the new plant will be completed in 2009 at an estimated cost of $16 million. [More Information]
Municipalities throughout the country use two different types of sewer systems to transport storm water runoff and sewage. Many older municipalities’ systems depend on single-pipe “combined sewer systems” designed to convey both storm water runoff and sewage to the treatment facility. When the capacity of combined systems is exceeded during heavy rainfall or snow melt, a mixture of storm water, household sewage and industrial wastewater overflows untreated through sewer outfalls (CSOs) into rivers and lakes. CSO systems combine sanitary (regular) sewage and stormwater runoff. These overflows may also back up through storm water drains onto streets, yards and into basements. Most municipalities depend on “sanitary sewer systems” which transport sewage and industrial wastewater to sewage treatment plants and have separate storm water collection systems. Like combined systems, sanitary sewer systems can become overwhelmed during wet weather events and experience overflows (SSOs). Both combined sewer overflows and sanitary sewer overflows can occur frequently in some municipal systems, reflecting chronic problems. Sewer overflows to waterways can contain bacteria, viruses and other microbial pathogens, suspended solids, toxics, trash and other pollutants. Sewer overflows contribute to beach closings, shellfish bed closures, contamination of drinking water supplies and other environmental damage. Tackling this problem has been a priority for EPA enforcement since 1998.
Often working with states, EPA has concluded major settlements with dozens of the nation’s cities bringing critical systems back into compliance and protecting communities from future harm. In the past ten years, EPA has entered into nearly 50 judicial settlement agreements with municipalities to address CSO and SSO violations. States have participated as co-plaintiffs in over 70% of these actions. The settlement agreements, when implemented, will result in the reduction of billions of gallons of sewage overflows into the nation’s waters. These results are achieved through consent decree provisions requiring comprehensive plans to improve maintenance and operation of systems to reduce overflows, and through long-term capital construction projects that expand capacity to ensure proper treatment. [More Information]
The following are major cases concluded in fiscal year 2007:
City of Indianapolis, Indiana
City of Indianapolis, Indiana will make more than $1.86 billion in improvements to curb overflows from its sewer system. The settlement is the third highest-cost Clean Water Act settlement addressing combined sewer overflows (CSO), and will ultimately reduce the volume of Indianapolis' untreated CSO discharges by 7.2 billion gallons in an average year. Although EPA is not aware of any health problems from sewage overflow in Indianapolis, nationwide, sewer overflows can lead to outbreaks of disease from such substances as E.coli bacteria and cryptosporidium. [More Information]
Prasa V- Puerto Rico Aquaduct and Sewer Authority
Prasa V- Puerto Rico Aquaduct and Sewer Authority eached a comprehensive civil settlement resolving repeated environmental violations at 61 wastewater treatment plants throughout the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. PRASA will spend an estimated $1.7 billion implementing capital improvement projects (CIPs) and other remedial measures at all of its 61 wastewater treatment plants and related collection systems over the next 15 years. To comply with the settlement, PRASA will complete 145 short, mid, and long-term CIPs, which will include installing dechlorination equipment, installing flow proportional chlorination equipment, repairing and replacing equipment, and implementing a chemical treatment program for phosphorous and other compound removal. As a result of these projects, 8,700,000 pounds per year of biological oxygen demand (BOD) and 5,110,000 pounds per year of total suspended solids (TSS) will be reduced. [More Information]
Sanitation District 1 of Northern Kentucky
Sanitation District 1 of Northern Kentucky settled with EPA for numerous CSOs, SSOs, violations and exceedences of permit effluent limits at its wastewater treatment plants. This settlement will result in substantial reductions of discharges and bring the District into compliance with its permit limitations. The injunctive relief performed by Sanitary District #1 will reduce its CSOs by an estimated 850 million gallons per year. SSOs will be reduced by an estimated 8.2 million gallons per year. Northern Kentucky will spend 880 million dollars to accomplish these reductions. [More Information]
Federal Facilities Enforcement Cases
Federal Contractor for Groton, Connecticut. Submarine Base
EPA fined two contractors hired by the Navy at a construction site at the U.S. Naval Submarine Base in Groton, Connecticut $17,000 in penalties for violations of the Clean Water Act. The two contractors, M.A. Mortenson Co., and Pettini Contracting Corp., violated storm water discharge requirements by failing to conduct and/or document storm water inspections, failing to implement and maintain storm water controls required by the site’s storm water pollution control plan and failing to update or amend the plan as needed. [More Information]
U.S. Navy, San Clemente Island, California
EPA ordered the Navy to comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act at its naval auxiliary landing field on San Clemente Island, located off the coast of San Diego, Calif. The order required the Navy to reduce levels of total trihalomethanes - byproducts of the water disinfection process – in the drinking water system that serves approximately 700 people on the island. Trihalomethanes may cause liver, kidney or central nervous system problems and may increase the risk of cancer. [More Information]
Oil spills can pose a serious threat to human health and often have a long-lasting impact on the environment. It may take years for an ecosystem to recover from damage caused by an oil or hazardous substance spill. Even one pint of oil released into the water can spread and cover one acre of water surface area and seriously damage aquatic habitat. Recent EPA investigations are revealing problems, such as pipeline breaks, leaking tanks, faulty valves, and overturned trucks, leaking ships and illegal dumping. Federal law regulations require companies that handle oil products to establish and maintain spill prevention and cleanup programs. Complying with these requirements will reduce the likelihood of a spill and minimize damage when accidents occur.
Oil Spills can significantly reduce the amount of oxygen available for fish and aquatic life. Oil that is spilled in inland waters, such as small rivers and streams, may be especially harmful if there are limited oxygen resources in the water body and little dispersal of the oil. Oil emulsions can injure or kill fish and aquatic life by suffocating them, and can kill birds as a result of potential hypothermia and drowning. The long-term effects of spills may continue for years even if the oil spill is cleaned up in a relatively short period of time. These long term effects include the contamination of food sources and nesting habitats; the reduction of breeding animals and plants that provide future food; and the reduction of reproductive success through contamination and reduced hatchability of eggs. [More Information (PDF)], (pp 4, 532 KB, About PDF)
The following major cases was concluded in fiscal year 2007:
Kinder Morgan has agreed to pay nearly $5.3 million to resolve liability under the Clean Water Act, Oil Pollution Act, Endangered Species Act, and California's Porter-Cologne Water Quality Control Act and Oil Spill Prevention and Response Act, for three oil spills in 2004 and 2005. The $5.3 million includes cost of clean up, remediation and natural resource damages in addition to penalty. The penalty portion was nearly $3.8 million. The spills, on Kinder Morgan's 3,000-mile Pacific Operations Unit pipeline system, discharged a combined 200,976 gallons of diesel fuel, jet fuel and gasoline into waters, sensitive ecosystems, and impacted endangered and other species, habitat and commercial uses. The settlement addresses the April 2004 123,774 gallon spill at the Suisun Marsh in Solano County, California, the February 2005 76,902 gallon spill at Oakland Inner Harbor in Alameda, California, and the April 2005 300 gallon spill in to Summit Creek that impacted waters in the pristine Donner Lake watershed in the Sierra Nevada Range in Placer County, California The 224-acre Suisun Marsh is the largest salt-water wetland in the western United States. This sensitive habitat serves as a breeding area for water fowl and is home to the salt marsh harvest mouse – an endangered species. The discharged diesel fuel spilled into the marsh, caused petroleum tarring along the shorelines, and significantly impacted or killed mammals and birds, including the salt marsh harvest mouse. [More Information]
Mid-Valley Pipeline and pipeline operator Sunoco Pipeline L.P. (SPLP), reached a settlement requiring the companies to pay a $2.57 million penalty relating to a January 2005 spill that dumped more than 260,000 gallons of crude oil into the Kentucky and Ohio Rivers. Mid-Valley and SPLP will pay $1.4 million to the United States, and $1.17 million to Kentucky in penalties for the Kentucky spill. In addition, Mid-Valley and SPLP will perform measures to enhance future spill response preparation, and will reimburse the Commonwealth for response costs of more than $120,000. The defendants have already reimbursed federal response costs of at least $234,000. The settlement also requires Mid-Valley and SPLP to donate $230,000 to a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the environment of Kentucky.
The complaint and consent decree also address the government’s claim under the Clean Water Act against Mid-Valley and the pipeline operator, Sun Pipe Line Company, for the spill of 63,000 gallons of crude oil due to pipeline corrosion on Nov. 24, 2000. The settlement requires Mid-Valley and Sun to pay a federal civil penalty of $300,000 for that spill. [More Information]
Safe Drinking Water
The Safe Water Drinking Act authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency to set national health-based standards for drinking water to protect against both naturally-occurring and man-made contaminants that may be found in drinking water. EPA, states, and water systems then work together to make sure that these standards are met. Millions of Americans receive high quality drinking water every day from their public water systems, (which may be publicly or privately owned). There are a number of threats to safe drinking water: improperly disposed of chemicals; animal wastes; pesticides; human wastes; wastes injected deep underground; and naturally-occurring substances can all contaminate drinking water. Likewise, drinking water that is not properly treated or disinfected, or which travels through an improperly maintained distribution system, may also pose a health risk.
Originally, the Safe Drinking Water Act focused primarily on treatment of the water as the means of providing safe drinking water at the tap. The 1996 amendments to the act greatly enhanced the existing law by recognizing source water protection, operator training, funding for water system improvements, and public information as important components of safe drinking water. This approach ensures the quality of drinking water by protecting it from source to tap. The Act applies to every public water system in the United States. There are currently more than 160,000 public water systems providing water to almost all Americans at some time in their lives. [More Information]
The following is a major case concluded in fiscal year 2007:
DuPont residents in the area of DuPont’s Washington Works plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia, have been exposed to C-8 from DuPont’s manufacturing processes for over 50 years. A University of Pennsylvania study showed that the population around the facility had blood serum levels of C-8 that were disproportionately higher than those in the general population (75-100 times higher than the national average of 5ppb). To reduce exposure in the area of the Dupont facility, EPA issued an Order under the emergency powers authority of Section 1431 of the Safe Drinking Water Act. Pursuant to EPA’s enforcement action, Dupont is required to provide carbon filtration systems for private water systems if the source water that contains water with C-8 at or above 0.50ppb. Dupont must maintain the system in good working order until the C-8 level is below 0.50ppb for a period of four consecutive quarters. The EPA Order covers all private and public water systems in the areas identified by EPA. To date, Dupont has complied with the Order and has provided the required progress reports to the affected states and to EPA on an ongoing basis.
The discharge of storm water runoff from construction activities (e.g., land development, road construction) can significantly impact rivers, lakes, and wetlands. During construction, soil is compacted, excavated and displaced, and vegetation is removed. These activities increase erosion and runoff, thus increasing the amount of sediment transported to receiving waters. The National Water Quality Inventory: Report to Congress for the 2002 reporting cycle identifies sediment as one of the leading causes of impairment in assessed waters. States reported sediment and siltation as the leading cause of impairment in assessed rivers and streams, and the fourth leading cause of impairment in assessed lakes, ponds and reservoirs. In addition to sediment, as storm water flows over a construction site, it can pick up other pollutants like debris, pesticides, petroleum products, chemicals, solvents, asphalts and acids which may also contribute to water quality problems.
Storm water discharges from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) in urbanized areas are a concern because of the high concentration of pollutants they carry. Storm water picks up and transports pollutants into the MS4 where it is discharged (untreated) to waterways. Urban storm water runoff and discharges from storm sewers are a leading source of impaired water quality in the United States. [More Information]
The following major case was concluded in fiscal year 2007:
J.H. Berra Holding Co, Inc.
J.H. Berra Holding Co, Inc. contributed to the contamination of streams and lakes in St. Louis, Missouri by allowing runoff from its construction sites to enter the water. Berra and the other defendants, HB Properties, JMB No.2 LLC, and CMB Rhodes, all connected to Berra, will pay a civil penalty of $590,000. It is estimated that when the injunctive relief required by this settlement is completed, the discharge of sediment from Berra construction sites throughout Missouri will be reduced by an estimated 26 million pounds annually. [More Information]
- Data Falsification/Reporting Violations
- Ocean Dumping/Vessel Pollution
- Underground Injection
- Wastewater/Pipeline Discharges into Waterbodies
Data Falsification/Reporting Violations
State and federal regulators rely on comprehensive and accurate reporting of pollutant data from regulated entities in order to ensure protection of the public and the environment. Individuals or companies that knowingly fail to file required reports or who falsify those reports are subject to criminal prosecution.
The following are major cases concluded this fiscal year 2007:
Acuity Specialty Products, Inc. (Georgia)
Acuity Specialty Products, Inc. a chemical blending facility that manufactures numerous detergent and cleaning products used for industrial and domestic purposes, was sentenced to five years of probation and a fine of $3.8 million for falsifying wastewater sampling results it submitted to the city of Atlanta. Acuity also admitted that on two occasions, it had failed to report discharges to the City of Atlanta, including a 10,000 gallon phosphorus discharge and an acid spill. As a result of the investigation, Acuity’s former Director of Environmental Compliance, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the CWA. He is awaiting sentencing. [More Information (PDF)], (pp 2, 39K, About PDF)
Hamilton Sundstrand Corporation (Connecticut)
A global supplier of aerospace and industrial products, was sentenced to pay a total of $11 million in fines and projects after pleading guilty to exceeding its CWA permit limits, knowingly submitted false data to the government, and knowingly discharged tens of thousands of gallons of contaminated wastewater to the Farmington River, a “Wild and Scenic” River’ that is also a major source of drinking water and an Atlantic salmon restoration habitat. [More Information (PDF)], (pp 4, 532 KB, About PDF)
Sinclair Tulsa Refining (Oklahoma)
Sinclair Tulsa Refining a subsidiary of major oil and gasoline producer Sinclair Oil, and two former company managers, were sentenced for CWA violations after having pled guilty to knowingly manipulating the refinery processes, wastewater flows, and wastewater discharges to make it appear that the refinery was in compliance with its wastewater permit required under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program. The manipulated samplings were intended to influence analytical testing results reported to the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) and EPA. Sinclair paid a $5 million fine and a $500,000 payment to an environmental organization that protects the Arkansas River and adjacent lands along the river. The two managers were each sentenced to serve three years of probation and six months of home detention, as well as paying criminal fines. [More Information]
Ocean Dumping/Vessel Pollution
During the last decade, EPA, along with the U.S. Coast Guard, FBI and other components of DOJ, has undertaken an extensive initiative to protect the oceans and coastal waters of the United States from illegal dumping of waste oil, sludge, and other hazardous wastes. The initiative began with an investigation of the cruise ship industry and has extended to other commercial vessels such as cargo ships. In addition to violations of environmental legislation such as the Oil Pollution Act, companies have also been charged with U.S. Criminal Code violations such as conspiracy and obstruction of justice.
The following are major cases concluded this fiscal year 2007:
Overseas Shipholding Group Inc. (OSG) (Multiple Jurisdictions)
OSG pleaded guilty and was sentenced to pay a total of $37 million dollars for violations in Boston, Portland, Maine, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Wilmington, N.C. In addition to the fine, OSG was sentenced to serve a three-year term of probation during which it must implement and follow a stringent environmental compliance program that includes a court-appointed monitor and outside independent auditing of OSG ships trading worldwide. The total $37 million plea agreement is the largest-ever involving deliberate vessel pollution. The prosecution resulted from the combined efforts of the U.S. Coast Guard units in each port, the Coast Guard Investigative Service, Coast Guard Office of Maritime and International Law, Coast Guard Office of Investigations and Analysis, and Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigations Division. The share of the total fine attributed to EPA was $2.4 million. [More Information (PDF)], (pp 3, 44K, About PDF)
Pacific-Gulf Marine, Inc.
Pacific-Gulf the company owner of the M/V Tanabata was sentenced pursuant to a guilty plea to four counts of violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. PGM was ordered to pay a $1 million criminal fine, ordered to pay $500,000 for toward community service project and serve 36 months probation. Pacific Gulf was also ordered to implement a company-wide comprehensive environmental compliance plan. Ships owned by the company had knowingly discharged oily water overboard through the vessels’ “Oil Water Separator,” that exceeded the legal discharge limits. Three individuals are also being prosecuted in this case. [More Information (PDF)], (pp 2, 38K, About PDF)
Selendang Ayu (Alsaka)
Selendang Ayu IMC Shipping Co. Pte. Ltd. (IMC), a Singapore corporation, was sentneced to pay $10 million in fines after pleading guilty to violations of the Refuse Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act after illegally discharging more than 340,000 gallons of oil and killing thousands of migratory birds following the grounding of the M/V Selendang Ayu in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Subsequent efforts by the U.S. Coast Guard to rescue the crew of the Selendang Ayu resulted in the loss of a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter at sea when it was struck during the storm by a 30 foot wave. Six of the Selendang Ayu crew members died in the crash. [More Information (PDF)], (pp 2, 40K, About PDF)
The Safe Drinking Water Act established the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program to provide safeguards so that injection wells do not endanger current and future underground sources of drinking water. The UIC program establishes injection practices for five categories (classes) of wells, and defines what types of wastes (including hazardous wastes) are suitable and legal for each category of well.
The following is a major case concluded this fiscal year 2007:
Greka Energy Corp. (California)
Greka Energy Corp. Santa Maria Refining Co., located in Santa Maria, Calif., and a subsidiary of Greka Energy Corp., was sentenced to three years probation, a $1 million fine, and $15,500 in restitution to the EPA for violating the Safe Drinking Water Act and making false statements. Half of the fine will go towards environmental improvements in the Los Padres National Forest. The refinery disposed of contaminated wastewater which contained benzene, a carcinogen, into wells that were not permitted for that use, posing a risk to groundwater supplies. [More Information]
Wastewater/Pipeline Discharges into Waterbodies
The National Pollution Discharge Elimination System, established by the Clean Water Act, regulates the amount of treated and untreated wastewater that can be discharged into the rivers, lakes, streams or other water bodies of the United States. The Act also provides for criminal sanctions, both felonies and misdemeanors, for leaks, spills, explosions or similar discharges into the waters of the United states.
The following are major cases concluded this fiscal year 2007:
David Kircher (Michigan)
David Kircher (Michigan) owner of the Eastern Highlands apartment complex in Ypsilanti, Michigan, was sentenced to 5 years imprisonment and a $1,000,000 fine for violating two felony counts of the State of Michigan Water Protection Act. Kircher had previously been found guilty following a seven day bench trial of knowingly and unlawfully ordering employees to discharge wastewater into a storm drain which drained into the Huron River. At least three children were exposed to the untreated sewage during this discharge, including two minors who ingested some of the sewage. [More Information]
Mid-America Pipeline Company, LLC (Kansas)
The Mid-America Pipeline Company, LLC, was sentenced to pay a $1 million fine after pleading guilty to negligently releasing 200,000 gallons of ammonia into a Kansas creek and killing 25,000 fish. The pipeline ruptured approximately six miles west of Kingman, Kan. creating a vapor cloud forty feet high, and causing a number of residents to evacuate their homes. [More Information]
The Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (Puerto Rico)
PRASA was sentenced after having pled guilty to 15 felony counts of violating the CWA through the illegal discharge of pollutants from nine sanitary wastewater treatment plants and five drinking water treatment plants. PRASA will pay a criminal fine of $9 million—the largest fine ever paid by a utility for violating the CWA, complete capital improvements to nine wastewater treatment systems at an estimated cost of $109 million, spend $10 million to correct the discharges to the Martin PeZa Creek, and serve a five-year term of probation. Further, PRASA is required to fully comply with the terms of a civil consent decree and the court may extend PRASA’s term of probation, with all available sentencing options, to ensure that PRASA comes into substantial compliance with the conditions of probation. [More Information]