Get Your Act Together: Newspapers Warned They Had Better Make Sure They Are in Compliance with Environmental Regulations or Face Criminal Prosecution

Article excerpt

Get your act together

Newspapers had better begin to get their environmental houses in order or expect the government regulatory agencies to begin taking more serious steps toward criminal enforcement of the laws, an American Newspaper Publishers Association official warned attendees of ANPA/TEC 91.

Donald Hensel, manager/environmental assistance at ANPA, told conference attendees that there is a trend away from government agencies' cooperating with newspapers in order to achieve compliance and a move toward criminal enforcement to achieve compliance.

"Not long ago," he said, "companies relied on inspectors from regulatory agencies, as one would a consultant, to identify violations and assist the company in correcting the irregularities, thereby bringing the company into compliance," Hensel said.

"Recently, the procedure appears to be changing. Now the procedure may be to identify recent regulatory inspections where violations occurred and then schedule criminal prosecution."

Inspectors, Hensel said, may secure a search warrant, obtain a police escort and then come to the plant to secure evidence.

"Government regulators may not be interested in working with the industry to achieve compliance," Hensel warned. "They may use a lengthy jail sentence as a mechanism to force compliance."

Hensel said another trend of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is their plan to work together and cooperate on field and enforcement activities.

"In specific, the agencies will exchange information, data and training for agency personnel, referrals of possible violations of statutes and regulations, sharing of technical and professional assistance, and coordination of compliance and enforcement activities," Hensel said.

"In other words, if inspectors from one agency see a violation of the other agency's regulations, the information will be passed on to the other agency.

"The message is clear. In the near future, there will be an attempt to achieve cost-effective enforcement activities and greater cooperation between the regulatory agencies to achieve compliance," Hensel said. "The fines will be larger for violations and the emphasis will be on criminal prosecution of wrongdoing to achieve compliance rather than having the inspectors act as consultants to achieve compliance."

Hensel urged ANPA members to call on the association's industrial hygienists to conduct environmental audits at their newspaper plants to identify potential violations so management can correct the problems before the inspectors from the EPA and OSHA "knock at the door."

Among the services ANPA offers to member newspapers:

* Telephone consultation. ANPA industrial hygienists are available to assist member newspapers with questions that arise about compliance with various EPA and OSHA regulations, developments of individual programs, and employee inquiries.

* Environmental audits. ANPA industrial hygienists review the newspaper's environmental, health and safety records, programs, policies and procedures. Examples of programs include: hearing conservation; hazard communication; safety, lockout/tagout, waste management, emergency response and government liaison. …