The company got a visit from EPA to determine compliance with their Industrial Stormwater Permit. During the inspection, EPA says enforcement officers found evidence at the facility’s shipping and rail receiving areas that pollutants have been discharged into a direct tributary of the San Francisco Bay.
Later on in the year, EPA inspectors came back and took samples of debris and soils in the areas that flow to San Francisco Bay, where the facility conducts shipping and receiving activities. EPA says the results of the samples found elevated PCBs, mercury, lead, copper, and zinc.
EPA Serious About Stormwater Compliance
No word yet on any penalty EPA may impose on this company, but the Agency says the company is working cooperatively with EPA to address requirements of the order. This is smart because violations under CWA can bring administrative, civil, and criminal penalties. Civil penalties are exclusively monetary, while criminal penalties may also include prison time in addition to any fine imposed.
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The CWA establishes authority for EPA, state regulatory agencies, and individual citizens to enforce the provisions of the Act, which include the regulation of stormwater discharges.
By the way, EPA makes it easy for anybody to report a violation by posting contact information right on their website–another good reason for companies to stay in compliance.
Do You Need a Stormwater Permit?
EPA rules define a stormwater discharge associated with industrial activity as "the discharge from any conveyance … used for collecting and conveying stormwater and which is directly related to manufacturing, processing or raw materials storage areas at an industrial plant."
Essentially, this means that any stormwater coming in contact with any aspect of a defined industrial activity and discharged through a discernible outfall must be in compliance with the current NPDES stormwater permitting program. If you are a regulated industrial facility you’ll be identified either by your Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code number or by a general description in the rule.
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There are 11 categories of industrial facilities that are subject to the NPDES stormwater program and are required to obtain permit coverage unless otherwise exempted.
To determine whether if industrial facility requires a stormwater permit, use the following steps:
- Step 1. Does the facility or site discharge to an MS4 or to waters of the United States? If it discharges to one or both, proceed to Step 2; otherwise, no permit is needed.
- Step 2. Are the facility’s industrial activities listed among the 11 categories of industrial activities? If its activities are listed, proceed to Step 3; otherwise, no permit is needed.
- Step 3. Does the listed facility or site qualify for an exemption or waiver under the federal regulations? Facilities identified as "light industry" may be eligible to claim a condition of "no exposure" and be exempted from permitting.
See tomorrow’s Advisor to find out how your facility can obtain the no exposure exclusion.