DEEP: 1997 - Environmental Compliance in CT

Environmental Compliance in Connecticut

Prepared for: Connecticut General Assembly Committee on the Environment
by: Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection

Date: February 11, 1998

Executive Summary

It is the mission of the Department of Environmental Protection to conserve, improve, and protect the natural resources and environment of the State of Connecticut; to control air, land and water pollution in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of Connecticut; and to preserve and enhance the quality of life for present and future generations.

The Department of Environmental Protection strives to achieve the highest level of environmental protection for the citizens of Connecticut by use of traditional regulatory controls - a combination of establishing standards, authorizing activities and enforcing compliance with those standards and authorizations - together with financial, regulatory, and technical compliance assistance. The Department is committed to enforcing applicable law by means of administrative orders and lawsuits when serious violations or chronic or recalcitrant violators are involved, while at the same time promoting compliance assistance in its planning, permitting, and enforcement programs.

Success in achieving the Departmentís stated mission is not measured solely by the number of permits issued or enforcement actions taken. Evidence of real environmental gains can be found throughout the state, on land, in its rivers and waters and in the air:

  • through pollution prevention, source reduction and recycling, the amount of toxic chemicals released into the environment by manufacturing facilities in the state, as measured by Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) data, has been on a steady and sharp decline for all media (air, land and water) over the past ten years. In the past five years, 38 of the stateís 40 outdated municipal solid waste landfills stopped accepting garbage and many closed to all wastes. In 1996, Connecticutís recycling rate was over 23%, up more than double the rate only ten years earlier.
  • water quality in Connecticutís many rivers and streams is greatly improved. For example, levels of copper (a heavy metal that can be highly toxic to aquatic organisms at low concentrations) in the Naugatuck, Pequabuck and Hockanum Rivers have dropped up to 40% since just 1992. Nitrogen loading to Long Island Sound from sources in Connecticut has been significantly reduced, and over 1,500 acres of Connecticutís critical tidal wetlands have been restored.
  • levels of all six criteria air pollutants - particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, lead and carbon monoxide - have decreased dramatically since the mid 1970's. Lead levels have declined by more than 90% and carbon monoxide has dropped by over 50%. Despite a continuous rise in the number of vehicle miles traveled, from 1990 to 1996 efforts by the Department to reduce ozone-forming pollutants have resulted in a 51% reduction of volatile organic compounds and a 21% reduction of nitrogen oxide emissions from motor vehicles.

While recognizing that enforcement is only one method to assure compliance, review of statistical trends in enforcement activity is useful and informative. For the past five years, traditional enforcement activity has remained constant:

Enforcement Action

1997

Five-year average

Referrals

73

64

Administrative orders

115

116

Notices of violation

1247

982

To assure compliance with environmental standards and authorizations, highly skilled staff conduct thousands of facility inspections each year. In addition to on-site activity, the Department relies on various other compliance monitoring tools. For instance, air emissions at 33 major sources rely upon Continuous Emissions Monitoring systems to constantly measure, analyze, record and report emissions data to the Department. Based on 1997 data, these facilities were in compliance with their permits approximately 98% of the time. For water discharges, significant dischargers are required to submit to the Department a monthly discharge monitoring report. The report typically provides weekly water sampling results and provides an objective snapshot of permit compliance. For the most recent available federal reporting period, an average of 22 out of 115 major facilities (19%) were found to be in significant non-compliance at some time during the year. Of those, 12 facilities were in significant non-compliance for only one quarter, and of the rest, 7 were subject to enforcement action by the state.

More than at any other time in the Departmentís history, new and innovative approaches are needed to maximize environmental compliance. Today, unlike earlier in the agencyís history, the Department is rarely confronted by gross pollution from a limited number of large sources. With the support of the public and its lawmakers, the number and type of potential sources of pollution subject to environmental regulation has multiplied. In response, traditional strategies of ensuring environmental compliance have been augmented by dramatically greater assistance efforts by the Department. These assistance efforts share with enforcement the goal of assuring environmental compliance. They also draw upon the same staff and financial resources. The Department has channeled considerable energy and resources into cooperative efforts such as EPAís StarTrack Program, the Air Bureauís FAST Vs program and multimedia pollution prevention workshops for automobile repair and refinishing shops, lithographers, and metal finishers. Outreach and technical assistance has also been provided to industrial water pretreatment facilities, municipal officials dealing with household hazardous waste, small quantity waste generators, pesticide applicators, emergency responders and the general public, to name a few. In light of their success, the Department is committed to further supplementing traditional enforcement with financial, regulatory, and technical compliance assistance, including the facilitation and promotion of pollution prevention techniques to produce a comprehensive compliance assurance program.

Much of the success the Department has achieved is attributable to its excellent staff. In its June, 1997 multimedia review of the Departmentís enforcement programs, the Environmental Protection Agency found that "possibly the greatest strength of the DEPís enforcement programs is the quality of the inspection and enforcement staff. Across all programs, the EPA review team found dedicated professionals who perform their jobs well." The competency and professionalism of staff throughout the Departmentís many programs has allowed this agency to make steady and significant progress in protecting public health and the environment throughout Connecticut, and to modernize our approach to environmental management and regulation.

Please note: only the Executive Summary portion of this report is currently available on our website. To obtain a complete copy, please contact Bob Kaliszewski at (860) 424-3003.

Annual Environmental Reports

Content Last Updated on February 11, 1998