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6 Tips to Avoid Environmental Compliance Violations

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Did you know that the EPA recovers $1.76 billion in environmental fines each year? The truth is that many companies struggle to comply with environmental regulations.

Running a business is complicated enough on its own, but if your company manages any amount of hazardous materials or general refuse, there are several environmental regulations you need to follow in addition to your usual responsibilities. Failing to do so can result in harsh penalties from the state and federal government, including hefty fines, the shutdown of your business, or incarceration.

In many cases of an environmental compliance violation, civil litigation is pursued for the purpose of reaching a settlement between the state and a business. These litigations are when a large majority of the cost of an environmental compliance violation originate, as not only can there be considerable legal fees, but the final settlement can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. They often occur when someone reports them to the EPA. The best way to avoid these penalties is to not commit a violation in the first place, and fortunately there are many ways to ensure your business remains compliant with local and federal environmental regulations.

Review Local and Federal Environmental Regulations

While a violation of environmental compliance regulations may seem malicious or at the very least intentional in some cases, there are many that occur simply because a company wasn’t aware of local and federal regulations. The most effective way to protect yourself from any violation is to educate yourself on all environmental regulations, and periodically review those regulations should they ever change. Once you’re familiar with these regulations, you can then take the proper measures to ensure your business is compliant with all of them.

Follow Proper Waste Disposal Guidelines

The government has a number of regulations to protect the planet by controlling pollution. Unfortunately, they can cause some challenges for many businesses that are not aware of them.

If your business produces, manages, or is otherwise responsible for some form of waste or hazardous substance, it must be disposed of according to the explicit instructions set forth by your local or federal government. Illegal dumping not only carries significant fines and rigorous legal action, but it can be incredibly harmful to the environment. And in the case of a spill or accidental release, it must be properly reported and addressed immediately to avoid any possible civil litigation.

Properly Document All Waste Disposal

In addition to the proper disposal of waste, accurately documenting the disposal of any hazardous material should prevent any violation of environmental regulations. Falsified or fraudulent documents of any kind are grounds for a violation, and regulatory agencies are trained to discern when a company is attempting to provide documentation with inaccurate information. If you’re concerned about accidentally providing inaccurate information on any official documentation, a third-party environmental engineering company can provide an environmental compliance audit.

Promptly Address Any Potential or Ongoing Hazards

If you notice any aspect of your company that is or may be contributing to an environmental compliance violation, it must be fully addressed as soon as possible. Be it a leaking waste receptacle or faulty equipment, remedying these problems will ensure that conditions don’t worsen, and it will help demonstrate to any regulatory body that you took action as soon as the issue was brought to your attention.

Avoid Using Illegal Chemicals

Many companies, particularly in the industrial sector, are bound to generate hazardous waste. Regulatory agencies know this and take it into consideration whenever reviewing the environmental compliance of a company, however, there are still some substances that are prohibited from use. Many of these substances have been shown to be harmful to humans and the environment as a whole, and using them will not only endanger your company, but your employees and the greater community as a whole.

Monitor How the Surrounding Area is Affected

While you should keep a close eye on how your company is avoiding environmental violations within its own walls, it’s important to also monitor how the immediate area around your business is being affected as well. If any emissions or waste created by your company is harming local wildlife or infesting local water supplies, take all necessary action to resolve these issues. Any failure to do so may result in civil litigation should a regulatory agency find your business responsible for such environmental changes.

Your business has many moving parts that can be difficult to manage by yourself, but one thing that shouldn’t be neglected under any circumstances is how it affects the environment. Environmental compliance violations carry serious penalties for business owners, and if you’re found to be noncompliant with any regulations, you may find yourself without a business and serving time in prison. With some careful discretion and a discerning eye, however, your business can remain free from the scrutiny of any local or federal regulatory agencies.

Veronica Davis is a writer, blogger, and legal assistant operating out of the greater Philadelphia area. She writes for civil appeals lawyer, Todd Mosser.