Businesses and companies seeking to qualify for penalty mitigation and relief by submitting voluntary self-disclosures under EPA’s Audit Policy need to be aware of significant changes and modifications that took effect in December 2015.
As a result of the large number of self-disclosures received by EPA each year, primarily Tier II Reporting violations under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (“EPCRA”), the agency is now requiring companies to utilize a centralized web-based “eDisclosure” portal to process requests for penalty mitigation. While there are no substantive changes to EPA’s April 2000 Audit Policy and the nine conditions necessary for penalty mitigation, 80 Fed. Reg. at 76480, the new changes will require businesses to submit disclosures online and then certify compliance within 60 or 90 days, depending on the circumstances.
The eDisclosure Portal segregates EPA Audit Policy disclosures into two categories. Category 1 disclosures include EPCRA violations (excluding release reporting violations) that meet all Audit Policy conditions including systematic discovery, as well as all Small Business Compliance Policy conditions. Disclosures not falling within Category 1 must be submitted as Category 2 disclosures. Specific information concerning the online filing and implementation details may be found set in EPA’s December 9, 2015, notice at 80 Fed. Reg. 76476.
Businesses seeking to avail themselves of the penalty relief and other incentives associated with EPA’s Audit Policy should carefully consider the requirements and implementation details to ensure they qualify for penalty mitigation before self-disclosing violations to the agency.