Many in industry have heeded the call and have proactively established voluntary guidelines to minimize adverse impacts on the environment. The legal relevance of these voluntarily set guidelines has been the subject of debate for years. In a case that EPA brought against E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont) earlier this year, the debate has become less academic and very real.
In a much publicized administrative action where the government may seek record-breaking penalties, EPA charged DuPont on July 8, 2004, with violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The charges are based in part on DuPont’s alleged failure to report certain exceedences of an internal exposure guideline that EPA alleges should have been reported under TSCA Section 8(e).1 Although the complaint does not seek a specific penalty amount, EPA could seek a sum in excess of $300 million under TSCA’s statutory penalty provisions and controlling EPA penalty policies.
This column summarizes the administrative enforcement action that EPA has brought against DuPont for violation of its internal exposure drinking water guideline, and the le