Environmental Compliance Audits
As the body of environmental regulations grows in complexity, new industries are targeted by state environmental agencies and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Industries that faced little or no regulatory interest are now seeing widespread inspection and enforcement actions. It is more important than ever for operators of private and public facilities to take a proactive approach to environmental compliance. Taking action before an inspection occurs is critical to avoiding expensive response costs and potential penalties.
Members of Goldberg Segalla’s Environmental Practice Group have the ability to explain on a practical level complex environmental regulations to help clients understand and manage their environmental compliance needs, including facilitating relationships with appropriate vendors and consultants to ensure long-term, sustainable compliance. Our experience ranges from the development of comprehensive audit programs and environmental management systems for entire industry sectors to educating stand-alone operators on their waste streams and permitting needs.
In addition, Goldberg Segalla attorneys have extensive experience with the EPA’s Self-Audit Policy, guiding participants through an audit and disclosure process. In return for participation, the government waives penalties it would have assessed if it had discovered the reported violations. Most states have similar “clean slate” initiatives designed to promote voluntary compliance. Depending on the state, an environmental compliance audit can result in a waiver or significant reduction in penalties. As an experienced leader in the audit field we can develop new compliance programs from scratch or improve long-established programs.
Involving Goldberg Segalla is good for the environment and good for business. Our clients have alleviated documented potential health risks and prevented hazardous substances from being released. We have also achieved significant savings for our clients — totaling more than $50 million in fines that were avoided — while providing our clients with valuable knowledge to ensure continued compliance into the future.
Industries Under the Regulatory Microscope
State and federal enforcement has been increasing. The EPA secured $840 million for enforcement in 2014 and the President proposed a $40 million increase in 2015. Our Environmental Compliance Audits are particularly well-suited for previously untargeted entities who may face an investigation, such as:
- Nursing homes
- Other health care facilities
- Grocery stores
- Retail stores
- Manufacturers of industrial and consumer products
- Ports and harbors
- Trucking and other transportation companies
- And other industries not previously targeted for environmental enforcement
Our team maintains respected working relationships with the EPA and state regulators, monitors their activity, and keeps a close eye on industries these agencies may identify as posing particular environmental and public health concerns.
For example, in Region 2 (which includes New York and New Jersey), the EPA recently focused its attention on the health care industry, placing hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities at heightened risk for one of the estimated 21,000 on-site federal compliance inspections the EPA conducts each year. The retail sector, including supermarkets, big-box stores, and pharmacies, is a target for 2015.
A Collaborative Process
Our Environmental Compliance Audit is highly collaborative and proactive. We connect a team of attorneys and engineering consultants with a select group of representatives from the client’s staff in order to train staff members to assist in the audit — an approach that not only reduces costs by limiting the number of outside professionals necessary to conduct the audit, but also leaves the client with a staff trained and experienced to minimize potential noncompliance well into the future. Our commitment to teaching compliance at every step in the audit process sets us apart from others in the industry.
A Track Record of Success
Our experienced team has implemented Environmental Compliance Audits for hundreds of clients across the country. As an example, our compliance audits of more than 300 colleges and universities resulted in an average savings of approximately $750,000 in potential fines. One institution faced over $11 million in potential penalties that were waived by the EPA due to our involvement.
So far, our Environmental Compliance Audits have helped clients identify and properly manage more than 100 tons of hazardous waste, along with permanent changes in the routine management of these waste streams to keep them out of landfills and sanitary sewers. Clients have properly disposed of approximately 68 tons of legacy hazardous waste and 40 tons of legacy non-hazardous chemical waste at permitted licensed facilities, recycled approximately 42 tons of batteries and fluorescent lights, managed more than 2.5 million gallons of petroleum products, removed 62 underground storage tanks, and remediated at least 10 sources of groundwater and soil contamination — all without having to pay a penny in penalties or fines.
For more information on how your company may benefit from our Environmental Compliance Audits, please contact:
- John J. Jablonski (716.566.5469; firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Troy A. Bataille (860.760.3311; email@example.com)