“This is an opportunity for new owners to make a ‘clean start’ by correcting environmental problems that began under the previous owner’s watch,” said Granta Y. Nakayama, assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This can lead to big gains for the public and the environment.”
Under the current audit policy, EPA offers reduced penalties to companies that self-audit their facilities, promptly disclose and correct any violations discovered and take steps to prevent future violations. Under the new interim policy, which EPA announced Aug. 1, an owner who acquires a new facility may get additional penalty reductions from disclosing an even greater range of violations.
EPA encourages companies with newly acquired facilities to examine compliance of their facilities, correct environmental problems that began before acquisition, make changes to ensure they stay in compliance and reduce pollutants going forward.
Since 1995, more than 3,500 companies at nearly 10,000 facilities have used the audit policy to disclose and resolve violations, most of which involved recordkeeping and reporting. With these new incentives, EPA hopes to encourage new owners to disclose violations that, once corrected, will yield significant environmental benefit and direct pollution reductions.
The new interim policy will be in effect immediately and EPA will accept public comments until Oct. 30, 2008. These comments potentially could influence the final policy.