What can happen to a business when it is in violation of state and/or federal environmental standards?
When starting a business, the regulatory impositions often seem overwhelming. From taxes to licensing to zoning, the number of state and federal requirements placed on the backs of a business owner can quickly lead to confusion and anxiety – particularly when facing an audit or inspection. However, among the various regulatory mandates imposed on business owners, environmental guidelines and laws can reap some of the highest penalties for the unsuspecting industrialist – and an ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure.
Take, for instance, a highly publicized (and embarrassing) story published about one of South Carolina’s most notorious polluters: Utilities, Inc., a national corporation maintaining several subsidiaries in South Carolina and surrounding states. According to an exposé of the company published in 2013, it has fielded over 55 environmental sanctions by South Carolina authorities alone – not to mention an untold number of violations against EPA standards.
Most notably, companies owned by Utilities, Inc. are named in dozens of sanctions involving improper sewage treatment, violations of the health code, and unlawful dumping of deadly chemicals into surrounding bodies of water. In 2013, the company was blamed for the elevated arsenic levels in local drinking water, levels that caused many area residents to experience bouts of severe illness.
The company has since paid $645,000 to South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control. However, dabbling in this sort of environmental laziness can lead to much higher penalties in the event individuals begin filing personal injury lawsuits stemming from their exposure to harmful toxins. What’s more, failing to properly address environmental concerns can lead to a costly public relations disaster, causing an offending company to go out of business altogether.