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Toxic Substances Control Act enforcement and citizen suits, P.1

We looked briefly at some of the changes made to the Toxic Substances Control Act in our last post. As we noted, those who are harmed by violations of the law, whether well-established provisions or the new ones, should know of their right to hold responsible parties accountable, at least in some certain circumstances.

The Environmental Protection Agency is, of course, the primary party to enforce federal environmental laws. States are not allowed to enforce the law unless they have “look alike laws,” and no states have taken steps to enact such measures. The EPA generally relies on two different tools to enforce the law. These are the Notice of Non-Compliance or Notice of Violation and the Federal Facilities Compliance Agreement. Typically, these tools are used in conjunction to get facilities back into compliance with the law. 

The EPA does not typically assess civil penalties against federal agencies for violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act, except in cases where a facility violates lead-based paint requirements. Employees and contractor staff at federal facilities, however, can face criminal fines under the law for knowing or willful violations.

The Toxic Substances Control Act does allow citizens to file civil actions against federal agencies which violate the law or certain regulations issued under the law, including rules governing: testing of chemical substances and mixtures; manufacturing and processing notices; and regulation of hazardous chemical substances and mixtures. Civil actions may also be filed for violations of certain federal orders related to the law, and citizens may also file suit to compel the EPA Administrator to perform non-discretionary acts or duties under the law.

In our next post, we’ll continue looking at citizen suits under the Toxic Substances Control Act, and why it is important to work with an experienced attorney when pursuing a citizen suit. 

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