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While inspections have decreased since 2010, the ratio of enforcement to inspections has increased.
In the 2019 Federal Fiscal Year (FFY 2019), there were 3,151 inspections performed by DEEP; an increase from the 2,784 inspections completed in FFY 2018. However, the number of DEEP inspections was approximately 30 percent less than the 10 year average of 4,493. The Council examined the relationship between inspection frequency and violations and discovered that while the number of inspections has dropped dramatically since FFY 2010, the ratio of enforcement actions to inspections has increased. In FFY 2019, approximately 45 percent of all inspections resulted in an some type of enforcement action, which could include “Informal Enforcement Actions”, consisting of Notices of Violation (NOV), Notice of Non-Compliance (NON), and warning letters; “Orders”; and “Referrals” to the EPA, Attorney General, and/or Chief State’s Attorney.
The Informal Enforcement Actions are enforcement tools, generally issued whenever DEEP detects one or more violations at a facility or permitted use. They can be issued for relatively minor or major violations; in cases of the latter type, the recipient might also receive an order, which might carry a financial penalty. In FFY 2019, Informal Enforcement Actions outnumbered Orders and Referrals combined by a factor of more than 10.
The Council's review of the NOVs issued in FFY 2011 found that the largest portion were related to violations of laws pertained to the storage or distribution of petroleum, and most of the NOVs were aimed at reducing the pollution from spills, discharges, leaks, etc.