Ten cheese companies have corrected 264 environmental violations under EPA''s Audit Policy, which allows the agency to reduce or eliminate penalties when companies voluntarily audit, promptly disclose and correct violations.
The agency waived 100 percent of potential gravity-based penalties in return for the companies'' voluntary disclosure of violations and speedily return to compliance.
The companies are Dairy Farmers of America, Suprema Specialties Northeast Inc., Wyeth Nutritionals Inc., H.P. Hood Inc., Friendship Dairies, First District Association, Great Lakes Cheese of New York Inc., McCadam Cheese Co., Milnot Co. and Saputo Cheese USA Inc.
The 264 violations occurred at 32 facilities in 11 states.
All of the companies self disclosed violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA), which requires manufacturers to report, for inclusion in the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), releases of more than 600 designated chemicals to the environment.
The TRI provides for each community vital information about toxic chemicals being used, manufactured, treated, transported or released into the environment.
The 10 cheese companies failed to report the presence of water dissociable nitrate compounds, nitric acid and phosphoric acid at their facilities.
In addition to EPCRA violations, Saputo Cheese USA Inc. reported and corrected violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) at 18 facilities.
Before a settlement could be reached under the Audit Policy, Saputo was required to certify that it is currently in compliance with environmental requirements.
Under the proposed settlement, Saputo will pay $10,943, which is the amount they saved by delaying compliance with EPCRA and CWA.
The settlement is not final until it is approved by the Environmental Appeals Board.
by Virginia Sutcliffe