Overview

Developing proactive environmental, health and safety (EHS) management programs is a niche service provided by our Environmental practice. We help clients conduct internal audits and implement corrective action plans to identify risks and adopt remedies to prevent or minimize possible penalties and enforcement actions.

Even with a low environmental liability risk profile, companies may face criminal enforcement action and other penalties when employees make mistakes or accidents happen. Our work includes developing audit protocols, retaining and overseeing environmental consultants, and crafting strategies to address any potential occurrences of noncompliance, including the self-disclosure of audit findings to obtain penalty immunity under the U.S. EPA Self-Policing Policy and similar state laws, regulations and policies.

We assist companies with developing processes, subject to attorney-client privilege protection, that will significantly reduce our clients’ chances of receiving penalties when an agency conducts its own inspection of the relevant media. This proactive approach often results in significant savings for our clients.

Experience
Representative Experience

We have drafted plans and protocols and provided advice concerning:

  • EHS codes of conduct
  • EHS management system plans
  • Corporate compliance audit programs (internal and external)
  • Corporate assessment and remediation programs (e.g., closure, decommissioning, cleanup or sale)
  • Regulatory inspection and search protocols
  • EHS incident reporting and investigation protocols
  • EPCRA compliance programs
  • EHS cost and liability reporting systems
  • Training programs
  • Employee reporting mechanisms (e.g., hotlines)
  • Carbon management programs
EHS Compliance and Audits
  • Assisting with self-reporting under South Dakota’s Audit Immunity Law due to a failure by the client to obtain required air permits; as a consequence, the client was allowed to correct the deficiencies and no notices of violation were issued and no fines were levied.
  • Assisting with self-reporting several matters under Texas’ Audit Immunity Law due to discharges of oil and other substances onto pavement and gravel, as well as the failure to permit several air contaminant sources; as a consequence, the client was allowed to clean up the discharges and obtain the required permits without any notices of violation being issued or fines being levied.
  • Assisting with self-reporting under Indiana’s Audit Immunity Law due to failure to have a required stormwater permit, failure to have required air permits and failure to submit hazardous waste reports; as a consequence, the client was allowed to correct the deficiencies and no notices of violation were issued and no fines were levied.
  • Assisting with self-reporting of hazardous waste violations under Texas’ Audit Immunity Law with no penalty imposed.
  • Assisting with self-reporting violations for disposal of hazardous waste in a non-hazardous waste landfill to the Michigan DEQ with no penalty imposed.
  • Negotiating a substantially reduced penalty ($20,000 for alleged economic benefit) by self-reporting a company’s failure to submit EPCRA Section 313 reports for two facilities, each with 20 chemicals subject to reporting.
  • Assisting manufacturers in identifying and correcting past EPCRA Toxic Release Inventory noncompliance issues as well as securing penalty forgiveness through use of U.S. EPA’s and various states’ audit policy protections.
  • Providing voluntary audit disclosure submittals to U.S. EPA and several state agencies for various clients for failure to have proper air permits and/or failure to make various NESHAP filings that have resulted in complete forgiveness of gravity-based penalties.
Podcasts
Environmental L.A.W.S.: Learning from the Past and Planning for the Future
August 5, 2020

A discussion between Thompson Hine partners Devin Barry and Joel Eagle

In this podcast, Devin shares some observations on clients’ compliance challenges arising from COVID-19, and discusses with Joel how these challenges can be used to develop future COVID-19 compliance and enforcement defense strategies. Join us for this lively discussion that will be of interest to in-house counsel and EHS managers interested in proactively addressing compliance as the pandemic continues to create challenges throughout 2020.

Environmental L.A.W.S.: Manufacturing Plant Closures: Legal Compliance & Strategic Decision-Making for Investigation, Remediation & Sale
September 1, 2020

A discussion between Thompson Hine partners Andy Kolesar and Wray Blattner.

In this episode, Andy shares his insights on strategic considerations for companies closing former manufacturing plants (something happening more frequently as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic) that can lead to favorable outcomes in terms of complying with legal requirements, conducting cost-effective cleanups and maximizing the sale price. Andy and Wray discuss the pros and cons of mothballing former manufacturing properties, the risks and benefits of Phase II sampling to help quantify cleanup costs, long-term risk management considerations, and the key elements of effective corporate-wide plant closing and remediation programs. Join us for this lively discussion that will be of interest to in-house counsel, EHS managers and corporate real estate professionals who are facing (or will face) the challenges presented by plant closures.