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EPA Waives $163,000 Penalty After Company Voluntarily Discloses Chemical Violations at Lancaster, Pa. Plant
Release Date: 6/7/2001
Contact Information: Donna Heron, (215) 814-5113
Donna Heron, (215) 814-5113
LANCASTER, Pa. – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is waiving a potential $163,000 penalty against Armstrong World Industries after the company voluntarily disclosed and corrected toxic chemical release reporting violations at its plant on Columbia Avenue in Lancaster, Pa.
Acting under an EPA policy that rewards companies for strictly monitoring their own environmental compliance, the agency’s mid-Atlantic office today announced that it is waiving total penalties of $345,100 against Armstrong World Industries and seven other companies in Virginia and Pennsylvania after they voluntarily disclosed environmental violations.
Acting Regional Administrator Thomas Voltaggio noted that EPA has collected substantial penalties for similar violations. “Companies can protect the environment and their own bottom lines by closely monitoring their regulatory compliance, promptly disclosing and correcting violations, and acting to prevent future problems,” Voltaggio said.
On October 16, 2000, Armstrong World Industries notified EPA that an environmental compliance company, hired to perform an environmental compliance audit, uncovered potential violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) -- the federal law requiring companies to file annual reports on toxic chemicals.
Under EPCRA, companies that manufacture, process or use more than a threshold amount of regulated chemicals must report both routine and accidental releases of these chemicals. Armstrong World Industries discovered that it had inadvertently failed to file timely reports on releases of two chemicals, methanol and diisocyanates, from 1995 through 1998. The company promptly filed the required reports. Note: the alleged violations involved reporting requirements, not unlawful chemical releases.
EPA determined that the company qualified for a penalty waiver under the agency’s audit policy, which encourages companies to self-police their own compliance with environmental regulations and voluntarily report violations. The policy substantially reduces, and often eliminates, penalties for violations discovered and corrected by a company. The policy does not cover criminal violations, or violations resulting in significant harm to public health or the environment.
EPA determined that the company’s reporting violation did not result in any serious actual harm to human health or the environment. Because the company did not gain a significant economic benefit from these reporting violations, EPA agreed to a complete penalty waiver.
For more information on the policy, call the EPA Business Assistance Center at 800-228-8711 or check out EPA’s web site at www.epa.gov/reg3ecej/audits.htm.