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EPA FY04 Enforcement Secures Cleanups Worth a Record $4.8 Billion and Will Stop One Billion Pounds of Pollution - California Press Release

Release Date: 11/15/2004
Contact Information: Washington, D.C. office - John Millett 202-564-7842 / Pacific Southwest region - Laura Gentile 415/947-4227, cell 415/760-9161

EPA enforcement actions concluded in fiscal year (FY) 2004 will reduce a projected one billion pounds of pollution and require cleanups estimated to total a record $4.8 billion -- significant increases from last year. Almost every other annual measure of the Agency's enforcement and compliance activity -- such as the number of inspections (up 11 percent from FY 2003) and investigations (up 32 percent from FY 2003) -- surpassed or kept pace with previous years, indicating continued progress in deterring violations of the nation's environmental laws and reflecting an emphasis on environmental benefits and compliance.

"EPA's enforcement strategy is focused on what matters most: achieving real environmental improvements that benefit everyone," said Tom Skinner, EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "We are getting significant, real-world pollution reductions through mechanisms like injunctive relief -- pushing companies to install more effective pollution controls--and supplemental environmental projects, which improve the environment and public health both nationwide and close to home."

In addition to the record environmental benefit and cleanup figures resulting from Agency actions during FY 2004, EPA estimates that 3.4 million cubic yards of contaminated soil and sediment and 9.5 million cubic yards of groundwater will be cleaned up, 1,300 acres of wetlands will be protected, and the drinking water of 4 million Americans will comply with EPA standards. Of the 4,257 cases concluded by EPA in FY 2004, 83 percent resulted in actions to bring facilities into compliance with environmental laws.

Each fiscal year, EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance compiles a range of data to track national environmental results and enforcement and compliance activity. Projected pollution reductions and the estimated dollar value of required cleanup, or injunctive relief, are annual indicators of results from EPA's environmental enforcement. Pollution estimates project the amount of pollution that will be reduced, treated or properly managed as a result of EPA enforcement actions concluded during the fiscal year. The information is used to gauge enforcement results and activity and guide program priorities.

National Info - FY 2004 Enforcement and Compliance Accomplishments:

Pollution Reductions Increase 67 Percent -- As a result of cleanup commitments reached in FY 2004, EPA estimates that one billion pounds of pollution will be reduced, treated, or properly managed, an increase of 67 percent from last year.

Record-Breaking Injunctive Relief Increases 66 Percent -- The estimated dollar value of compliance actions required by EPA in FY 2004 will total $4.8 billion -- a new EPA record and a 66 percent increase from FY 2003.

Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) Increase 42 Percent -- EPA obtained 213 SEPs in FY 2004 -- a 42 percent increase compared to FY 2003's 150 SEPs. The dollar value of SEPs in FY 2004 was $48 million, compared to FY 2003's $65 million. Of the 213 SEPs in FY 2004, 26 will be performed in environmental justice communities. SEPs are environmentally beneficial projects that a violator voluntarily agrees to perform as part of an enforcement settlement. SEPs go beyond what is required of a violator to return to compliance with environmental requirements.

Compliance Incentive Program Addresses 14 Percent More Facilities -- Under EPA?s Compliance Incentive Program, the number of facilities resolving self-disclosed violations increased 14 percent in FY 2004 to 969 -- up from 848 in FY 2003.

Compliance Assistance Reaches More Than 730,000 -- EPA data shows that 731,000 businesses and individuals received assistance from EPA in FY 2004 to help understand and comply with environmental laws. EPA compliance assistance reached 721,000 in FY 2003.

EPA Final Administrative Penalty Orders Increase 32 Percent -- EPA finalized 2,248 civil administrative penalty actions in FY 2004 -- up 32 percent over 1,706 in FY 2003.

Inspections and Evaluations to Determine Compliance Increase 11 Percent -- In FY 2004, EPA conducted 21,000 inspections, up from FY 2003 with 18,880.

Civil Investigations Increase 32 Percent -- In FY 2004, EPA initiated 455 civil investigations, a 32 percent increase over the 344 investigations in FY 2003.

Facilities Disclosing Environmental Violations Double -- In FY 2004, 1223 facilities self-disclosed environmental violations to EPA. In FY 2003 there were 614 facilities that self-disclosed violations.

EPA Charges 46 more Criminal Defendants -- EPA enforcement charged 293 defendants with environmental crimes in FY 2004, 46 more defendants than in FY 2003.

California - FY 2004 Enforcement and Compliance Accomplishments:

* As part of an enforcement settlement, Pick Your Part Auto Wrecking in Hayward, Calif, agreed to spend $40,000 to remove and recycle mercury switches from junked cars, which will prevent the mercury from scrapped cars from contaminating the environment. As part of a statewide effort, the company also started recycling mercury switches from approximately 60,000 salvaged vehicles at its nine California yards, the first such program in the state. Within the United States, an estimated 10 tons of mercury are released to the environment each year from mercury-containing light switches during the shredding and crushing of old vehicles.

* United Airlines agreed to develop an environmental compliance management system at its San Francisco International Airport facility at an estimated cost of $500,000.

* Silgan Containers Corp. agreed to reduce air emissions at six of its San Joaquin Valley plants by as much as 118 tons per year at an estimated cost to the company of more than $1.5 million. The reduction in volatile organic compounds is significant because the San Joaquin Valley ranks second to the Los Angeles Area as the smoggiest area in the country. The container manufacturer will install pollution controls and also pay a fine of $659,000 for alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act.

* As part of a far-reaching initiative, the University of California and the EPA completed a comprehensive audit of its environmental management practices, including its handling of more than one million pounds of hazardous waste per year, at nine campuses statewide. Greater overall compliance has resulted from these self-audits than would have been possible through traditional inspections.

* More than 36 million pounds of hazardous waste were reported to the EPA in 2004 as a result of an innovative approach - the nation's first expedited settlement involving biennial reports. The federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act requires large quantity hazardous waste generators to file a report with the EPA every other year. After discovering that numerous facilities had failed to file their biennial report, the EPA streamlined the settlement process in order to increase compliance.

Highlights of individual enforcement cases and compliance assistance are available online at:

EPA's Pacific Southwest Office feature story:

For more information on EPA's FY 2004 enforcement and compliance program and data, log on to: