DALLAS -- In 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) worked with companies that violated environmental laws to bring more than $1.8 million in benefits to communities in Louisiana, Texas, and New Mexico. These benefits came from supplemental environmental projects, or SEPs, as part of settlement agreements with companies. SEPs contribute to EPA’s goals of protecting public health and making a difference in local communities.
In Louisiana, EPA enforcement staff found the TT Barge company of Port Allen had been releasing hazardous waste and violating storage requirements at their facility. The company agreed to install a wastewater treatment facility—valued at over $300,000—to improve overall environmental performance and reduce the amount of hazardous waste transported through a nearby neighborhood.
In Shreveport, the Calumet Lubricant and Waxes company agreed to expand a fenceline air monitoring system to increase awareness of toxic releases. The system includes 32 additional sensors and will monitor for hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, and flammable gas. Calumet will also host quarterly meetings with local community members to discuss their concerns and results of the monitoring program.
Outside Houston, Texas, the Shell Oil facility in Deer Park agreed to $1.2 million in public health and pollution prevention measures. The company will install equipment that will prevent over 4,500 tons of harmful emissions per year by increasing the efficiency of flaring operations—a system that’s the first of its kind in the nation. Shell also agreed to install a fenceline system to monitor for benzene levels near a residential neighborhood and a school. The company will release weekly results on a public website.
The city of Albuquerque, NM, agreed to additional measures to reduce water pollution. The city retrofitted parking surfaces at the Pino Yards Municipal Facility with permeable pavement. This allows precipitation to more easily sink into the ground to refill underground aquifers instead of flowing over pavement, collecting pollution and trash before being discharged directly into local waterways. Stormwater management measures like these can also help prevent flooding.
These projects were all part of settlements in which companies also had to address violations and return to compliance with the law and pay a penalty. EPA’s enforcement and compliance assurance programs are crucial to ensuring the agency can fulfill its mission of protecting human health and the environment.