US polluters paid over US$4 billion for control and cleanup in 2001

Last year polluters in the US spent a record US$4.3 billion on cleaning up the environment and on putting pollution controls in place, up from US$2.6 billion the previous year, says the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA also secured commitments for a reduction of an estimated 660 million pounds of pollutants, and the treatment and safe management of an estimated record 1.84 billion pounds of pollutants.

The EPA brought criminal cases against 372 defendants. Criminal violators of environmental laws faced total prison sentences of 256 years – an increase of more than 100 years from the year 2000, and paid nearly US$95 million in fines, although this was US$7 million less than in the previous year.

The EPA estimates that settlement enforcement cases during 2001 reduced sulphur dioxide emissions by 370 million pounds, emissions of oxides of nitrogen by 316 million pounds, petroleum refinery sludge by 103 million pounds, volatile organic chemicals by 61 million pounds, and particulate matter by 35 million pounds. Other pollution reductions include 720 million pounds of soil waste from illegally ditched and excavated wetlands, 541 million pounds of soil contaminated with toxins, and PCB waste by 17 million pounds.

Significant contributions to the effort included a civil enforcement settlement involving Shell, with an estimated annual reduction of 51,000 tonnes of sulphur dioxide and 19,500 tonnes of oxides of nitrogen through the use of upgraded technologies. A similar agreement was also reached with BP Amoco, in which an estimated 40,000 tonnes per year of NOx and SO2 were cut.

“With our state and local partners, we set a high priority on areas that posed serious threats to health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. “The administration is determined to actively pursue those who fail to comply with the law while working closely with the regulated community to find workable and flexible solutions.”

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