Verizon Wireless has just agreed to pay $468,600 in civil penalty to EPA for a series of violations uncovered in its corporate wide audit at 655 facilities in 42 states. Here is a link to EPA’s press release.
A corporate audit agreement is an agreement that allows corporations, universities or other organizations with many facilities to plan corporate-wide or facility-wide audits with an advance understanding between the entity and EPA regarding schedules for conducting the audit and disclosing violations. EPA factors in the companies’ cooperation and willingness to do the audit voluntarily, and the penalties are typically lower than if the same violations were discovered through enforcement.
Some of the violations that Verizon uncovered included failure to prepare SPCC plans, failure to obtain air permits and failure to file Tier II reports.
As expected, the new Obama EPA has begun the process of “un-doing” some of the rules put into place by the previous administration. In December of 2006, the Bush EPA issued the TRI Burden Reduction Final Rule that expanded Form A eligibility for non-Persistent, Bioaccumulative, Toxic (non-PBT) chemicals to 5,000 pounds and allowed use of Form A for the first time for PBT chemicals under limited circumstances. This rule was met with concern over the availability of required data under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and resulted in a lawsuit by 13 states to restore the TRI Form A thresholds and usage to what they were prior to the 2006 rule.
On April 21, 2009, Lisa Jackson – the new EPA Adminstrator – reversed the 2006 rule and restored the original TRI Form A threshold.
Following the rule signature, all reports on PBT chemicals must be submitted on the more detailed Form R. For all other chemicals, the shorter Form A may only be used if the annual reporting amount is 500 pounds or less and less than 1 million pounds of the chemical was manufactured, processed or otherwise used during the reporting year.
TRI-ME software and other reporting assistance materials are being revised and will be available soon. TRI reports for 2008 are due on July 1, 2009.