FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE |
FRIDAY, APRIL 22, 2005
ENRD (202) 514-2007|
TDD (202) 514-1888
THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENTíS ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES DIVISION COMMEMORATES EARTH DAY
Friday, April 22, 2005 Marks The 35th Anniversary Of Earth Day
WASHINGTON, DC - Over the past four years, the Environment and Natural Resources Division has worked tirelessly to enforce the nationís environmental laws, resulting in numerous civil and criminal accomplishments, and tangible benefits that protect Americaís rivers, skies, and lands for everyone to enjoy.
Since Earth Day 2004, ENRD has obtained $7.3 billion in commitments from polluters to take measures that will improve the quality of the nation's air and water, and an additional $27 million in commitments to undertake environmental projects that will further alleviate the harmful effects of past pollution. ENRD has also obtained commitments totaling over $71 million to restore or replace natural resources injured by pollution. Courts have imposed over $100 million in civil penalties, which helps to level the playing field among industrial competitors. In addition, the division has recovered $235 million to replenish the Superfund as well as commitments by responsible parties to spend an estimated $350 million to clean up contaminated waste sites around the country.
ENRD has over 7,000 active cases and is comprised of over 600 staff members. The division promotes public health by enforcing Clean Air and Water Acts and protecting wildlife and natural resources by enforcing Americaís environmental laws.
2004-2005 ENRD ACCOMPLISHMENTS
CLEARING THE AIR
Reductions in Coal-fired Power Plant Emissions: Nine major settlements were reached in response to charges of Clean Air Act violations by operators of coal-fired electric power generating plants. The settlements will decrease pollutant emissions by over 940,000 tons annually as a result of installation of $5.5 billion worth of pollution control equipment.
Action on Oil Refinery Emissions: Fifty-seven American oil refineries, collectively representing more than 50 percent of domestic refining capacity, have now been brought into compliance with Clean Air Act requirements through negotiated settlements.
Ozone-Depletion Violations Resolved: A major international retailer agreed to a civil penalty for violating the Clean Air Act through sales of refrigerants containing ozone-depleting substances to customers uncertified in the proper use of such refrigerants.
Illegal Asbestos-Removal Activities Prosecuted: Two men were sentenced to the longest terms of imprisonment ever imposed in the United States for criminal violations of federal environmental laws. The defendants received 25 - and 19Ĺ - year terms, respectively, for illegal and unsafe asbestos removal activities in buildings throughout New York.
Prosecuting Ocean Dumping: A Taiwanese container shipping company was ordered to pay a record $25 million fine for repeated instances of deliberate dumping of waste oil into the oceans. The company pleaded guilty to 24 felony charges spread across five U.S. jurisdictions in Oregon, Washington, California, South Carolina, and New Jersey.
Recovery for Clean Water Act Violation on Tribal Lands: A $5.5 million settlement brought a major oil producerís activities on leased lands of the Navajo Nation into compliance with water pollution control requirements. The company also committed to construct a drinking water supply line for remote homes located on the oil fields.
Addressing Pollution from Stormwater Run-Off: A builder of more than 200 retail stores annually across the United States agreed to settle charges of storm water run off violations at its construction sites. The company will pay $3.1 million and institute pollutant control measures, thereby setting an example for other developers.
Reducing Bacteria in Waterways of the Nationís Capitol: A settlement reached with the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority is intended to eliminate massive overflows of sewage-contaminated storm water following a $1.4 billion control project.
Settlement with Groundwater Polluters at Superfund Site: Five rubber producers agreed to remedy groundwater pollution flowing from the Industrial Excess Landfill Superfund Site in Ohio. The settlement required the companies to reimburse $18 million in costs incurred by the U.S. government for work already performed at the site.
Conserving Wetlands, Protecting Public Health: Real estate developers in Mississippi were convicted of illegally filling hundreds of acres of wetlands in violation of the Clean Water Act while defrauding low-income homeowners after the defendants ignored cease- and-desist orders and installed septic systems in saturated soil.
$10 Million Criminal Fine for Clean Water and Clean Air Act Violations, Negligent Endangerment: An oil refiner pleaded guilty to negligently endangering workers, discharging pollutants into the Delaware River, and releasing sulfuric acid into the air following the explosion of a 415,000-gallon capacity tank that killed a worker.
SAFEGUARDING NATURAL RESOURCES
$66 Million Cleanup at Hazardous Waste Site: Two related consent decrees provide for remediation at the Commencement Bay Superfund Site in Tacoma, Washington. The defendants will dredge and remove approximately 625,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediments, preserving public funds in the Superfund for cleanups of sites where no viable responsible parties can be found.
Restoring Fish and Wildlife Habitat: Eight corporations agreed to pay $56 million to restore natural resources damaged by a century of industrial releases of oil and other hazardous substances into the Grand Calumet River and Indiana Harbor Canal. The companies also set aside for protection 233 acres of fish and wildlife habitat.
Protecting Migratory Birds: A potash mining operator pleaded guilty to violations of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act following discharges of sodium salts into a New Mexico lake, resulting in avian mortalities. Similarly, a copper mining company pleaded guilty to violations of the Act after deaths in impounded waters on its mine site.
CITES and Endangered Species Act Enforcement: Successes included prosecutions leading to sentences of imprisonment for international orchid smugglers. One orchid shipment allegedly included some 1,145 specimens, of which 490 were not authorized for export by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Other Wildlife Prosecutions: A Washington defendant pleaded guilty to violating the Lacey Act after collecting a green sea turtle and killing the animal for its shell. Two other individuals were convicted of violating the Marine Mammal Protection Act after shooting a sea lion while sport fishing for salmon.