Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Common EPA Fines - And How to Avoid Them

Your company can avoid expensive EPA fines- if you
follow the rules. Learn more about the most common
EPA violations and how to avoid them.

Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued $2.98 billion in fines on businesses and individuals. The EPA is notorious for strict enforcement of its environmental regulations. These regulations protect citizens from the toxic effects of pollution; however, your business does not have to suffer expensive fines. Here are some common fines issued by the EPA - and the rules to follow in order to avoid them.

Violation of the RRP Rule
The EPA Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule are a set of guidelines regulating projects that disturb lead-based paint. This is by far one of the most common types of EPA fines. You can read more about the RRP Rule on the EPA website or on Zack Academy, where we've extensively covered its jurisdiction, its technicalities, and more.

Here are some general guidelines if you're working on a project where there might be lead paint:
  • You cannot perform qualifying work on a home or child-occupied facility built before 1978 without a valid RRP training certification and a valid EPA Lead-Safe Firm certification.
  • An EPA-certified Lead Renovator must be present on the jobsite at certain times during the project, and always available by phone while work is performed.

EPA will cite anyone in violation of lead paint regulations. Recently, hosts of the popular HGTV show Fixer Upper were fined $40,000 for violations against the RRP rule.

Thankfully, getting RRP certified only takes one day. Learn more about lead renovator certification here.

Mishandling of Asbestos
The Clean Air Act defines policies on handling asbestos. You can read more about these policies on the EPA website, but here are some rules you need to be aware of:
  • You cannot handle or remove asbestos without the correct certification. Asbestos is regulated carefully, down to the type of asbestos it is. Without the proper training, you can expose people to toxic, carcinogenic material, on top of receiving thousands of dollars in fines.
  • You must always notify the EPA or Authorized State before beginning an asbestos removal project. The EPA keeps detailed records on asbestos projects in order to ensure a project is safely handled.
  • You must dispose of asbestos in a manner that complies with EPA standards.
  • You must keep necessary documentation of your asbestos project. It is recommended to hold onto your documentation in case the EPA performs a record-keeping audit your project.
EPA asbestos fines can be severe. Recently, two Massachusetts construction firms were fined nearly $200,000 for illegal asbestos work.

Improper Wastewater Disposal
The Clean Water Act is not just applicable to stormwater professionals. Any business that accumulates waste water such as construction sites, restaurants, factories, clinics, and laboratories, must dispose of waste water in an EPA-compliant manner. 

If you're unfamiliar with the Clean Water Act you can read more about these policies on the EPA website. Construction firms should also be aware of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) which publishes additional water discharge regulations on construction activities.

If your business falls under the Clean Water Act, here are some rules to remember:
  • You must have an EPA stormwater prevention plan.
  • You must know which chemicals can be disposed of through drains, and which chemicals require a filtration system.
  • You must know which types of waste water can be disposed of through floor drains.
EPA wastewater citations are serious. Last month, a Hawaii-based commercial fishing company waste fined $475,000 for violations of the Clean Water Act.

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