NHDES reviews referrals for potential air-related violations and determines if an enforcement action is warranted.
The NHDES Air Enforcement Program is committed to consistent, predictable and appropriate enforcement activities that are protective of public health and the environment, while creating a credible deterrent against future violations. NHDES focuses on violations by stationary sources, such as power plants and manufacturing facilities; improper management of asbestos; and open burning of nonconforming materials. NHDES encourages early identification and correction of environmental violations in order to minimize impacts to public health and the environment. Once a violation is referred to the Program, the Program reviews the circumstances of the violation and issues or recommends an appropriate enforcement response that will achieve compliance with applicable environmental laws and a lower incidence of repeat violations.
What are the most common air-related violations?
For stationary sources, the most common violations are failing to obtain a permit prior to installing or operating a device that requires a permit and failing to submit annual emission reports and annual emission fees or other required reports.
For asbestos-related activities, the most common violations are failing to provide for an inspection of a house or building for asbestos-containing building materials prior to renovation or demolition activities, and failing to notify NHDES prior to demolition activities.
For open-burning activities, the most common violation involves the open burning of anything except clean wood and brush that is five inches in diameter or less.
What is an enforcement action?
RSA 125-C:6, I authorizes NHDES to ensure that all persons comply with applicable air-related statutes and rules. An enforcement action is a written description of a failure to meet applicable air-related requirements and corrective action to taken to address the violation. The NHDES Air Enforcement Program may issue or recommend the following types of enforcement actions for an enforcement response:
- Notice of Past Violation.
- Letter of Deficiency.
- Notice of Findings.
- Administrative Order.
- Referral to the New Hampshire Department of Justice.
What factors does NHDES consider?
NHDES considers the following factors when determining an appropriate enforcement response to a violation:
- Degree of Cooperation.
- Economic Benefit.
- Extent of Deviation from the Requirement.
- Harm, or Threat of Harm.
- Compliance History.
- Knowledge of Requirement.
- Ongoing business activity.
- Policy considerations.
- Prompt Remediation/Correction.
- Unique Circumstances.
- Voluntary Self-Report.
Did you know?
Did you know?
In 2019, the NHDES Air Enforcement Program conducted enforcement actions for 57 stationary source violations, nine open burning violations and nine asbestos violations. Copies of enforcement actions can be found on the NHDES Enforcement Actions and Appeals, and for stationary sources, you may also go to OneStop.
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New Law Increases Fines and Penalties for Air Pollution Violations
On July 19, 2019, Governor Sununu signed House Bill 614 into law making several changes to the authority of NHDES to impose administrative fines and other penalties for air pollution violations. Fine amounts in most of the affected statutes have not changed in over 20 years. The new law increases the maximum administrative fine that NHDES can impose from $2,000 to $4,000 per violation, and increases the maximum civil penalty amount that can be ordered by a court from $25,000 to $50,000 per violation. The law went into effect on January 1, 2020.