By Leonard Robinson
In 2000, Nucor Steel headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina was required to pay a $9 million civil penalty to settle allegations that it violated federal environmental laws including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act, and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, a hazardous waste statute. The agreement also calls for Nucor to carry out several community-based projects to benefit the environment. $2 million for community-based supplemental environmental projects. The projects will be in communities near Nucor facilities. The projects were:
- Wind mill power generation
- Scrap recycling days
- Creation of wetland “buffer zones”
- Emergency equipment donations
- Sanitary sewer line expansion
- Community facility asbestos abatement projects
- Up to $50,000 for community-based recycling education projects
In 2006 Northstar Mountain Properties was cited for violation of the state of California’s storm water permit and waste discharge violations which resulted in a $2.75 million fine. . Under the terms of the settlement, Northstar Mountain Properties has agreed to pay $500,000 to be distributed between the State Water Resource Control Board’s Cleanup and Abatement Account (80%) and Waste Discharge Permit Fund (20%). The remaining $2,250,000 will fund a major supplemental environmental project which will focus on watershed improvements within the affected area. In addition to water quality and habitat improvement, the project will ultimately result in a technology transfer to land managers within the affected area through a “Watershed Evaluation, Treatment and Monitoring Handbook” and through a “Forest Fuels Treatment/Water Quality Protection Handbook.
In 2014, as a result of the violation of the Clean Air Act (CAA), Shell Deer Park in Deer Park, Texas implemented a $200,000 project designed to reduce diesel emissions from school buses and/or non-school bus publicly owned vehicles in the vicinity of the Covered Facilities. No supplemental environmental project funds were allowed to be used for testing or demonstration. This project was required to be completed no later than 24 months after the Entered Date
In 2013, as a result of violation of the Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA), UOP LLC in Baton Rouge, Louisiana spent $40,375 to purchase a hazardous material response truck, emergency lights, Motorola radio and emergency response kit for the City of Baton Rouge Fire Department.
The recovery of economic benefit and the imposition of additional gravity based penalties should be considered in every case. Additional relief remediating the adverse public health or environmental consequences of the violations at issue should be included in the settlement to offset the effects of the particular violation
Remember, the key is creating that proper SEP that has a nexus with the environment violation and at the same time meet the financial requirements of the citing agency. The Sustainability Team at Ditthavong & Steiner include former Federal and State regulatory executives. With our experience and strategies, we can navigate your company through the process of negotiated settlements and create supplementary environment projects (SEPS) that can be implemented to help regain the confidence of the affected community and send a strong message to government and stakeholders that lessons have been learned through the experience.
The author Leonard Robinson is a former Gubernatorial appointee serving served under four California Governors and is currently the Senior Sustainability Strategist for Ditthavong & Steiner