$1.2 million Fine for Solvent Spill in Alberta

Drever Agencies Inc. was recently fined $1,250,000 in Wetaskiwin Provincial Court for an offence under the Canadian Fisheries Act. The company pleaded guilty to a charge of depositing a deleterious substance into water frequented by fish. The fine will be directed to the Government of Canada’s Environmental Damages Fund.

The incident which led to the fine occurred in August 2017. Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers responded to a report of a solvent spill on a commercial property in Wetaskiwin. A number of dead fish were observed in an unnamed creek that flows into the Battle River. An investigation determined that approximately 1800 litres of Petrosol solvent leaked from a storage tank owned by Drever Agencies Inc. and entered the creek. Through laboratory analysis, it was confirmed that the solvent was deleterious (harmful to fish).

Wetaskiwin is a city of 12,000, approximately 70 kilometres south of Edmonton. The city name comes from the Cree word wītaskiwinihk, meaning “the hills where peace was made”

As a result of the conviction, the company’s name will be added to the Environmental Offenders Registry.

Undated Photo of Drever Agencies Facility (Source: Drever Agencies Web Site)

 

Crystal Geyser Gushes $5 Million in Hazardous Waste Fines

Written by Dawn DeVroom, IDR Environmental Services

The recent federal case against the company that bottles Crystal Geyser Natural Alpine Spring Water proves that the improper handling of hazardous waste can be costly.

Recently, CG Roxane pled guilty in U.S. District Court to unlawful storage of hazardous waste and unlawful transportation of hazardous material. The plea agreement to the two counts came with a $5 million criminal fine.

The charges stemmed from allegations that over the last 15 years, CG Roxane has dumped wastewater contaminated with arsenic into a man-made pond at the company’s Olancha, California, facility. Samples taken by the Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board revealed arsenic levels were eight times higher than legally allowed.

This case underscores the importance of proper identification, transportation and disposal of hazardous waste. It also stresses the consequences of not working with the right certified company to ensure your business is meeting all state and federal regulations. Not doing so can result in substantial fines and negative publicity that can have a disastrous effect on your business.

Improper Waste Disposal Can Be Costly

hazardous wasteFailure to manage hazardous waste streams according to state and federal guidelines can bring unwanted consequences for both the environment and your company.

As CG Roxane discovered, costly criminal fines often accompany cases in which companies are found guilty of improper hazardous waste management. Two other companies may find themselves in trouble from this case as well. CG Roxane hired United Pumping Services Inc. and United Storm Water Inc. to transport and treat the wastewater. Both could face fines of up to $8 million if found guilty for their role in the case.

Other multimillion-dollar companies have faced similar consequences. Companies like FedEx, Rite Aid and Walmart have been fined millions of dollars over the past few years for improper waste management practices. Walmart, in particular, agreed to pay more than $81 million after pleading guilty in 2013 to six counts of violating the Clean Water Act.

In addition to fines, improper waste disposal can be a nightmare for a company’s public image, and worse, become a risk to public safety. Spills, fires, explosions and exposure to toxic chemicals can stem from the mishandling of hazardous waste.

How To Ensure Proper Waste Management

It is critical for hazardous waste generators to ensure compliance with regulations by providing ongoing training opportunities for employees and by working with an experienced hazardous waste disposal company.

The onus falls on you to ensure any hazardous waste you generate is disposed of properly. That responsibility does not end once your waste is removed from company property. Under the Resource and Recovery Act of 1976 (RCRA), you are legally and financially responsible for the appropriate treatment and proper disposal of that waste … from cradle to grave.

Choosing the wrong vendor can prove costly, too.

So, how do you properly vet a company for the best business practices and avoid the nightmare scenarios described above?

1. Begin with a thorough background check of a vendor.

In addition to checking state and federal licenses, set up an interview with the vendor. Ask questions such as:

  • Do you have a Dun & Bradstreet report or a bank letter of credit?
  • Do you meet minimum insurance requirements and have coverage for accidents?
  • Do you have adequate personnel that are properly trained and certified?
  • Can you provide a statement of qualifications (SOQ)?
  • How do you deal with unknown chemicals?
  • Are you legally permitted for the transportation, storage, treatment and disposal of hazardous waste materials?
  • Can you provide a list of references on past related projects?

More ideas for questions to ask a vendor can be found in our article, What Manufacturers Must Know About Hazardous Waste Disposal.

2. Confirm the experience of any vendor being considered.

A hazardous waste generalist, for example, is used to working in different environments and has a broad base of experience working with different toxic chemicals.

Check to make sure the vendor includes these services:

  • Identification of waste streams by profiling and testing them
  • Development of site-specific plans, including training and emergency preparation
  • Transportation to recycling and disposal sites
  • Manifest preparation and any other paperwork that must be completed

3. Look for a certified hazardous waste disposal company that is consultative.

In other words, look for a company that offers a hazardous waste walk-through program.

Areas of focus should include:

  • Waste manifesting
  • Hazardous waste procedures
  • Waste storage evaluation
  • Emergency readiness
  • Hazardous waste evaluation
  • Employee training procedures

A waste walk-through program will help you stay atop any regulatory changes at the local, state and federal levels.

Better Safe Than Sorry

The improper handling of hazardous waste can have devastating effects on the environment, community and your business.

Many companies that do not take the proper precautions to ensure the waste they generate is properly disposed of find themselves tangled up in a legal mess for years. At the end of that mess is rarely a positive outcome for the company.

Working with a certified hazardous waste disposal service will help you avoid costly fines and a tarnished public image, as well as allow you to be assured that the hazardous waste your company generates is being transported and disposed of safely and legally.


About the Author

Dawn DeVroom is the CFO at IDR Environmental Services based in California. The company specializes in hazardous waste disposal.

Hazardous Waste Enforcement: U.S. EPA and Electronics Recycling Facility Enter into Consent Agreement

Written by Walter Wright Jr.Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates & Woodyard, P.L.L.C.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and AERC Acquisition Corporation dba AERC Recycling Solutions (“AERC”) entered into a February 25th Consent Agreement (“CA”) addressing alleged violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (“RCRA”) regulations (which the State of Virginia has adopted). See Docket No. RCRA-03-2020-0070.

The CA provides that AERC performs electronics and universal recycling at a facility (“Facility”) in Richmond, Virginia.

The Facility is described as consisting of 40,000 square feet of building space that has been in operation as an electronics recycler since 2013. The Facility is stated to have begun recycling waste lamps in 2014.

AERC is stated to have submitted to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (“VDEQ”) May 6, 2014, and May 30, 2017, notifications indicating the Facility is a small quantity generator of hazardous waste at the Facility. Such notices are also stated to have indicated the Facility was a large quantity handler of universal waste along with being a transporter and a transfer facility.

The Facility is stated to not have a permit for the treatment, storage, or disposal of hazardous waste.

An inspector from EPA is stated to have undertaken a Compliance Evaluation Inspection (“CEI”) of the Facility on August 22, 2017. The purpose of the CEI was stated to be the examination of the Facility’s compliance with Subtitle C of RCRA and associated Virginia regulations.

EPA is stated to have sent an information request letter to AERC to acquire additional information. AERC responded to the request in a letter dated September 16, 2019.

A Request to Show Cause was also provided to AERC to which EPA and AERC met to discuss alleged violations.

The CA alleges the following violations have occurred at the Facility:

  • Operating a treatment, storage, and disposal facility without a permit or interim status
  • Failure to label or mark clearly a number of containers of hazardous waste lamps with the prescribed words
  • Boxes stored in a manner that prevented the inspector from observing whether they were properly labeled and dated
  • Failure to mark containers of waste lamps with the date upon which each period of accumulation began
  • Failure to mark with the date upon which accumulation began, or otherwise track accumulation start date for certain containers of hazardous waste lamps
  • Failure to maintain a tracking system documenting the length of time the containers are accumulated on site
  • Failure to meet certain requirements of the Generator Accumulation Exemption
  • Failure to keep containers storing waste lamps closed except when it is necessary to add or remove waste
  • Failure to minimize risk of release, and failure to immediately contain all releases of waste lamps

The CA assesses a civil penalty of $10,000.

The CA also provides that AERC will within 90 days of the effective date of the document conduct an electronics recycling event within and in coordination with the City of Richmond, Virginia. The cost of such event will be no less than $40,000.

A copy of the CA can be downloaded here.


About the Author

Walter Wright has more than 30 years of experience in environmental, energy (petroleum marketing), and water law.  His expertise includes counseling clients on issues involving environmental permits, compliance strategies, enforcement defense, property redevelopment issues, environmental impact statements, and procurement/management of water rights. He routinely advises developers, lenders, petroleum marketers, and others about effective strategies for structuring real estate and corporate transactions to address environmental financial risks.