In fiscal year 2015, enforcement actions required companies to invest more than $7 billion in actions and equipment to control pollution and clean up contaminated sites
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its annual enforcement and compliance results highlighted by large cases that reduce pollution and protect public health in communities across the country. In fiscal year 2015, EPA secured record-setting hazardous waste, Clean Air Act and Superfund settlements, and acted swiftly to win a large criminal plea agreement following a major coal ash spill, among other accomplishments.
Additionally, EPA made progress on cases that will benefit communities in the future, by pursuing a final settlement that puts billions of dollars to work restoring the Gulf and helping communities affected by the BP oil spill, and by launching an investigation against Volkswagen for illegally emitting air pollution from diesel vehicles.
“The large cases we tackled in 2015 will drive compliance across industries, and protect public health in communities for years to come,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “These cases are putting cutting edge tools to work, and using innovative approaches to reduce pollution. Through another strong year in enforcement, we are implementing America’s environmental laws and delivering on EPA’s mission.”
In fiscal year 2015, EPA enforcement actions required companies to invest more than $7 billion in actions and equipment to control pollution and clean up contaminated sites. EPA’s cases resulted in $404 million in combined federal administrative, civil judicial penalties and criminal fines.
Other results include:
- Reductions of an estimated 430 million lb of air pollutants;
- Almost $2 billion in commitments from responsible parties to clean up Superfund sites; and
- More than $39 million invested in environmental projects that provide direct benefits to communities harmed by pollution.
Accomplishments in 2015 include:
- Mosaic Fertilizer LLC, one of the world’s largest fertilizer manufacturers, committed to ensuring the proper treatment, storage and disposal of an estimated 60 billion lb of hazardous waste at eight facilities across Florida and Louisiana, the largest amount of hazardous waste ever covered by a federal or state Resource Conservation and Recovery Act settlement.
- EPA’s criminal program secured $4 billion in court-ordered environmental projects, generated $200 million in fines and restitution and sentenced defendants to a combined 129 years of incarceration.
- Three subsidiaries of Duke Energy Corp., the largest energy utility in the U.S., agreed to pay a $68 million criminal fine and spend $34 million on environmental projects and land conservation to benefit rivers and wetlands in North Carolina and Virginia. As part of the plea, two Duke subsidiaries will ensure they can meet legal obligations to remediate coal ash impoundments within North Carolina, which will cost an estimated $3.4 billion.
- EPA is working closely with local governments and utilities in places like Fort Smith, Ark., Delaware County, Pa., and across Puerto Rico, to cut discharges of raw sewage and contaminated storm water through integrated planning, green infrastructure and other innovative approaches.
- Cal-Maine Foods, one of the nation’s largest egg producers, is implementing a series of measures to comply with laws that control pollutants, including nutrients and bacteria, from being discharged into waterways.
- XTO Energy Inc., a subsidiary of ExxonMobil and the nation’s largest holder of natural gas reserves, will restore eight sites in West Virginia damaged when streams and wetlands were filled to build roads, and implement a plan to comply with water protection laws.
- Through settlements with three Nevada gold mining operations, Newmont, Barrick and Veris, EPA ensured that more than 180 million lb of mercury containing RCRA hazardous waste were treated, minimized, or properly disposed.
- The largest bankruptcy-related cleanup settlement in American history, with Anadarko and Kerr McGee, will put more than $4.4 billion into toxic pollution cleanup, improving water quality and removing dangerous materials in tribal and overburdened communities.
- EPA ensures federal agencies take responsibility and clean up toxic pollution. The Army addressed more than 19 million cu yards of contaminated groundwater at the Anniston Army Depot in Alabama, and the U.S. Navy and Defense Logistics Agency are required to implement at least $90 million in upgrades and improvements to prevent potential leaks at the Red Hill Bulk Storage Facility in Hawaii.