Enforcement of Environmental & Safety Regulations

Enforcement of Environmental & Safety Regulations

Overview - EHSO's Opinion

So, you're wondering whether the government is going to catch you? The odds are good that you'll be caught - sooner or later. It's just that the government's enforcement activities, like all government agencies is based upon nutty, illogical, politically-motivated methods. In short, they go after money; but money from two main sources - big companies with deep pockets (who they charge massive penalties for often minor infractions) and small companies (who get charged whatever the agencies think they can get away with). Medium sized companies seem to get off-scot free (because they employ people in the area of jurisdiction and they haven't got big bucks the agencies want).

Our opinion is that if the EPA and state agencies really cared at all about the environment, they would start conducting unannounced random inspections of all sizes and types of companies, using the business license lists. Fat chance of that happening. They rather go after easy money and companies too small to fight back against often absurd charges. Meanwhile, the really bad ones get away with dumping.

We would love to hear your stories of inspections and enforcement actions - both deserved and undeserved - just email us (anonymously, is fine)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Statutory and Regulatory Enforcement

Pesticides Enforcement Frequently Asked Questions - information about enforcement of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) that relates to the required proper handling and management of pesticides.

Solid/Hazardous Waste Enforcement Frequently Asked Questions - information about enforcement of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) that relates to the generation, transportation, treatment, disposal and other handling of solid and hazardous wastes and to the regulation of underground storage tanks (USTs) and medical wastes. Also, included is information about enforcement of the Mercury-Containing and Rechargeable Battery Management Act (Battery Act).

  • Cleanup Enforcement FAQs - Information on enforcing remediation or cleanups at contaminated sites, including Superfund sites.

Hotlines -For assistance with your questions about general environmental issues try the EPA Hotlines.

Enforcement-related Publications

Statutory and Regulatory Enforcement Programs

The publications or the series of publications listed below relate to the various statutory and regulatory enforcement programs and associated topics.

Clean Air Act (CAA)

The Plain English Guide to the Clean Air Act (04/93) (EPA 400-K-93-001)

Clean Water Act (CWA)

Water Enforcement Bulletin -- An update of cases relating to water enforcement published by the Water Enforcement Division, Office of Regulatory Enforcement, Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. It is published on an irregular basis.

Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA)

The Nitrate Compliance Initiatiate Report (04/02) (EPA 300-R-02-003) (PDF, 3.9MB, 115 pages)

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)

RCRA Citizen Guides -- Popular guides for the public that give general information about compliance and enforceable requirements for RCRA. There are currently two guides:

"EPA Hazardous Waste Enforcement -- Actions Today to Protect Tomorrow" (PDF, 212KB, 3 pages)

"Your Questions Answered: A Citizens Guide to the Administrative Process and Penalty Calculation under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act" (PDF, 405KB, 5 pages)

RCRA Underground Storage Tank Guides -- Information important to complying with underground storage tank (UST) requirements:

Underground Storage Tank (UST) Requirements Chart (PDF, 80.8KB, 1 page)

OUST Publications (Links to Office of Underground Storage Tanks Web Site)

Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA)

The Consumer Confidence Report Rule: Annual Reporting Requirements for Drinking Water Suppliers (11/99) (EPA 300-F-99-006) (PDF, 7.5MB, 7 pages)

Enforcement Economic Models

ABEL Model User's Manual (12/01) (PDF, 520.1KB, 64 pages)

BEN Model User's Manual (09/99) (PDF, 549.2KB, 59 pages)

CASHOUT Model User's Manual (09/92) (PDF, 352.7KB, 80 pages)

INDIPAY Model User's Manual (12/01) (PDF, 323.7KB, 38 pages)

MUNIPAY Model User's Manual (09/00) (PDF, 438.9KB, 60 pages)

PROJECT Model User's Manual (09/99) (PDF, 415.7KB, 58 pages)

White Paper: Identifying and Calculating Economic Benefit that Goes Beyond Avoided and/or Delayed Costs (05/25/03) (PDF, 170.8KB, 19 pages)

Multimedia/Multi-Statute Enforcement

Multimedia Investigation Manual (Revised 03/92) (EPA-330/9-89-003-R) (PDF, 518.8KB, 234 pages)

Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Act (SBREFA)

U.S. EPA Small Business Resources [EPA's SBREFA Information Sheet] (EPA 300-F-99-004) (09/99) (PDF, 23.7KB, 2 pages)

Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs)

Beyond Compliance: Supplemental Environmental Projects (01/01) (EPA 325-R-01-001) (PDF, 1.87M, 40 pages)

Supplemental Environmental Projects (10/98) (EPA 300-B-98-001) (PDF, 17.4MB, 8 pages)

Using Supplemental Environmental Projects to Facilitate Brownfields Redevelopment (09/98) (EPA 330-F-98-001) (PDF, 32.8KB, 4 pages)

Opportunity to Submit Project Ideas for Consideration as Supplemental Environmental Projects (07/11/03) (PDF, 48.7KB, 1 page)

EPA Sector Notebooks
A link to the index of Sector Notebooks, all of which can all be downloaded in Adobe Acrobat PDF. A separate notebook for selected major industrial groups, including the Pulp and Paper, Electronics and Computers and Metal Finishing Industries has been developed by the EPA Office of Compliance. These notebooks focus on key indicators that present air, water, and land pollutant release data.

Summary of Completed Criminal Prosecutions. This ZIP file contains six WordPerfect documents. The documents list cases through May 1992. Additional updates will be forthcoming as they become available. Once you download the file to your computer, use an unZIPping utility to access the files which can then be brought into a word processor.

Reporting violations

Are you concerned about an environmental situation within your community but don't know where to go for answers? Here is a list of numbers to call to report any type of activity you suspect may not be in compliance with federal environmental regulations. Information is also provided on the difference between environmental violations and environmental emergencies.

What types of activities might be considered environmental violations?

An environmental violation occurs when an activity or an existing condition does not comply with an environmental law or regulation. Environmental violations can include (but are not limited to):

  • Smoke or other emissions from local industrial facilities;
  • Tampering with emission control or air conditioning systems in automobiles;
  • Improper treatment, storage, or disposal of hazardous wastes;
  • Exceedances of pollutant limits at publicly-owned wastewater treatment plants;
  • Unpermitted dredging or filling of waters and wetlands;
  • Any unpermitted industrial activity;
  • Late night dumping or any criminal activity including falsifying reports or other documents.

What is the difference between environmental violations and environmental emergencies? An environmental violation is a situation which does not comply with an existing environmental law or regulation. An environmental emergency is a sudden threat to the public health, or the well-being of the environment, arising from the release or potential release of oil, radioactive materials, or hazardous chemicals into the air, land, or water.

Examples of environmental emergencies include:

  • Oil and chemical spills
  • Radiological and biological discharges
  • Accidents causing releases of pollutants

If you are involved in or witness an environmental emergency, you must call the National Response Center at: 1-800-424-8802. For more information, see the Concerned Citizens page on Environmental Emergencies.

Where do I report a suspected violation?

Many issues are handled at the local level. You may first want to try contacting your local government office for concerns about trash, litter, strange odors, recycling pickup, and household chemical disposal, including paints, pesticides, oil, antifreeze, etc. You can find information about your local government in the blue pages of your telephone book or by contacting your public library.

For concerns that may not be handled at the local level, the next step is to contact your state environmental agency. Information about state agencies can be found in the blue pages of your telephone book as well.

Click here to open a form to submit a form window with the national EPA to report a suspected violation. Most environmental violations are handled by your state environmental office, but tips or complaints provided through this web site will be reviewed by the Regional EPA office responsible for your area for further action. Please try to include as much information as possible about the alleged violation and how you were able to find out about this alleged violation. While you are not required to identify yourself in order for EPA to review your concern, please be aware that if you do not identify yourself EPA will have no way of notifying you of our intent to pursue, refer, or gather more information regarding your concern.

Region 1 - (888) 372-8477
Call this number to report suspected violations within the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut. Or for Environmental Emergencies (800) 424-8802

Region 2 - (212) 637-5000
Call this number to report suspected violations within the states of New York and New Jersey. In Puerto Rico or US Virgin Islands, call (787) 729-6951.

Region 3 - (800) 438-2474
Call this number to report suspected violations within the states of Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Also try here

Region 4 - 1 (800) 241-1754
Call this number to report suspected violations within the states of Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina.

Region 5 - (312) 621-8430 or (800) 621-8431
Call this number to report suspected violations within the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Region 6 - (214) 665-2210 or (800) 887-6063 (Region 6 states only)
Call this number to report suspected violations within the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

Region 7 - (800) 223-0425
Call this number to report suspected violations within the states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.

Region 8 - (800) 227-8917 (Region 8 states only)
Call this number to report suspected violations within the states of Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.

Region 9 - (415) 744-1500
Call this number to report suspected violations within the states of Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, and the territories of Guam and American Samoa.

Region 10 - (206) 553-4973 or (800) 424-4372
Call this number to report suspected violations within the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

EPA's Violators (list of compliance actions, consent decrees, court orders, etc. regarding environmental laws)


CAA: Clean Air Act Significant Violator

CWA: Clean Water Act Significant Non-Complier

EPCRA (313): Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (Section
313) Significant Non-Complier

FIFRA: Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act Significant

RCRA: Resource Conservation and Recovery Act High Priority Violator

TSCA: Toxic Substances Control Act Significant Non-Complier

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