MDE expects regulated parties to remain in compliance with permit and regulatory requirements that directly protect human health and the environment. Throughout the violation review process, it should be remembered that any violation of a permit or of other requirements placed on a regulated facility is a violation for which the owner or operator is strictly liable, and for which MDE encourages some type of enforcement response. In all cases the Department seeks to develop a culture of compliance with permit holders even as we hold them accountable for transgressions.
The term “Violation” means a transgression of any statute, rule, order, license, permit or any part thereof and includes both acts and omissions. Since state permit standards are rigorous, it is not unusual for facilities to have “minor” violations which do not necessarily indicate a high risk to the environment. When a minor violation is found the Department will recommend corrective actions the entity should take to make sure they come back into, and remain in, full compliance. When violations show a worsening trend the Department will intervene with increased oversight.
When timely corrective action is implemented,and subsequently confirmed by MDE, without needing to escalate enforcement action this informal enforcement action is referred to as “Compliance Assistance”. If a facility does not return to compliance within established timeframes, MDE staff will escalate the enforcement action needed to attain compliance.
A violation that results in a spill or release of pollution that impacts the environment or public health, is flagrant, reckless or negligent, or is a violation MDE has agreed with EPA to take a formal action on upon discovery, is considered a significant non-compliance (SNC) or high priority violator (HPV) violation. A SNC/HPV determination often results in more serious outcomes that include issuance of notice of violations, legally binding cease/desist and corrective orders, and/or fines. To preserve the public’s trust in the enforcement process, MDE provides transparency on the status of documented significant violations within agency program areas.