Pacific Southwest, Region 9
Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations
Region 9 Strategic Plan, 2011-14
Enforcing Environmental Laws
EPA’s national enforcement initiatives are selected based on widespread non-compliance or significant impacts to human health and the environment. Region 9 will focus many of its enforcement resources on these six issues.
- Raw sewage and contaminated stormwater: Region 9 will continue its focus on ensuring that large municipal wastewater systems are in compliance with the Clean Water Act. Many of our largest cities are under consent decrees to implement major infrastructure improvements. Region 9 will to work with municipal systems throughout the Region to ensure compliance, and inspect wastewater collection systems not yet evaluated. The Region will also continue targeted enforcement actions to ensure municipalities and industry are reducing or eliminating stormwater runoff.
- Animal waste: Concentrated animal feeding operations can have a significant impact on water quality. Region 9 is working closely with the California Water Boards to ensure that these facilities, and in particular the many dairies in the region, have adequate permits and are in compliance with federal and state requirements.
- Toxic air pollution: The Clean Air Act and EPA’s regulations impose strict emission control requirements for all 187 hazardous air pollutants that pose significant threats to human health. Region 9 will focus on excess emissions caused by industrial and commercial facilities’ failure to comply with EPA’s leak detection and repair requirements and restrictions on flaring, and to address excess emissions during start-up, shutdown and malfunction events.
- Widespread air pollution from large sources: The Clean Air Act requires certain large industrial facilities to install state-of-the-art air pollution controls when they build new facilities or make “significant modifications” to existing facilities. However, many industries have not complied with these requirements, leading to excessive emissions of air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter. Region 9 will work with our states to investigate and take enforcement action against non-compliers in the coal-fired utility sector, as well as the manufacturers of cement, glass and acid.
- Minerals processing: Mining and minerals processing facilities generate more toxic and hazardous waste than any other industrial sector, based on data compiled in EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory. Region 9 has a significant number of mines, including the most gold mines in the nation. Region 9 will continue to address noncompliance in the mining sector, particularly at copper and gold mines.
- Energy extraction: As the nation expands its search for new forms and sources of energy, there is an urgent need to assure that we develop “clean energy” sources that protect our air, water and land. Some energy extraction activities, such as new techniques for oil and gas extraction and coal mining, pose a risk of pollution of air, surface waters and ground waters if not properly controlled. Region 9 is exploring the extent to which this sector impacts human health and the environment within our region.
- Environmental justice: Region 9, with state and local agencies, is engaged in a three year effort (2010 to 2012) to address non-compliance in communities along the I-710 freeway corridor in Los Angeles County. Inspections under multiple environmental statutes, including chemical risk management and emergency planning, are planned for this corridor. Hazardous waste inspections are targeted for heavily impacted areas in San Bernardino and Riverside. The Region will also be conducting inspections of multi-family buildings in socially vulnerable communities for lead disclosure violations. For additional objectives related to Environmental Justice, please see targets related to the I-710 Corridor Plan, below.
- Tribal lands: The Region will oversee inspections at underground storage tank facilities with federally-credentialed tribal inspectors and contract inspectors. Each underground storage tank facility will be inspected at least once every three years. On the Navajo Nation, the Region will identify and enforce against parties responsible for the cleanup of abandoned uranium mines.
- Tribal lands and Pacific islands: Region 9 focuses enforcement resources on jurisdictions not authorized to implement federal programs as is the case in many of our tribal lands and Pacific islands. The Region will continue to invest in enforcement activities across Indian country including inspections of underground storage tanks, pesticide applications and hazardous waste generation and storage facilities. Noncompliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act is relatively high in the Pacific islands and tribal communities, and is an important focus for Region 9. In addition, we are continuing our work in closing banned large capacity cesspools which threaten Hawaii’s coastal waters.
- Wetlands: The Region brings enforcement actions for illegally filling wetlands, and requires restoration of damaged wetlands. We will inspect high-value wetlands, such as the Central Valley’s vernal pools and the coastal streams of Hawaii and California.
- Groundwater: Compel companies responsible for pollution to design, construct and pay for treatment of contaminated groundwater. This implements EPA’s policy wherein “the polluter pays” to preserve taxpayer dollars for the cleanup of abandoned hazardous sites where no financially responsible party exists.
- Clean Air Act mobile sources: In 2010 we settled the Region’s first mobile source case, involving tampering with diesel particulate filters. We have three other investigations underway and in 2011 will initiate our first investigations of illegal engine imports through container ports.
- Pesticides: Our enforcement focus is on worker protection, soil fumigants, and pesticide imports. We are also actively engaged in cases of unsubstantiated claims of efficacy of products, including hospital grade disinfectants.
- Asbestos in schools: We are integrally involved in ensuring compliance by the Bureau of Indian Affairs with AHERA at tribal schools.
- Oil spill prevention: Due to a number of spills in recent years, Region 9 has dedicated significant enforcement resources to conduct Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure inspections at oil production facilities in southern and central California. We will conduct inspections or exercises at facilities that are required to prepare Facilities Response Plans.
- Chemical safety: A significant portion of Region 9’s inspection resources are focused on refineries, anhydrous ammonia handlers, and other facilities that represent a high risk to surrounding communities in the event of an accidental chemical release. We will conduct EPCRA/Risk Management Program inspections and take enforcement action if warranted.
- State enforcement program oversight: Under the national State Review Framework, in 2012 Region 9 will complete the review for the State of Nevada’s hazardous waste and water programs, and Clark County, Nevada’s air program.