Orders, Penalties, and settlements

We issue administrative enforcement orders requiring compliance whenever there has been a violation of any provision of the Hazardous Waste Management Act or the Dangerous Waste Regulations. We then determine the actions that must be taken to come into compliance. A list of some of the orders, penalties, settlements, and consent decrees issued are listed below.

Orders are administrative enforcement documents issued by Ecology that describe violations of the Hazardous Waste Management Act (chapter 70.105 RCW), and/or the Dangerous Waste Regulations (chapter 173-30), and the actions needed to come into compliance.

Chapter 70.105 RCW authorizes us to issue administrative enforcement orders requiring compliance whenever it determines there is a violation of any provision of either chapter of the Washington Administrative Code (see RCW 70.105.095; WAC 173-303-950). The order can be appealed to the Pollution Control Hearing Board.

We may issue monetary penalties as part of our enforcement actions for violations of any provision of Chapter 70.105 RCW or Chapter 173-303 WAC (see RCW 70.105.080; WAC 173-303-950). A person receiving a penalty can appeal it to the Pollution Control Hearing Board. Ecology penalties are a monetary incentive to change behavior to ensure compliance with state law. These penalties are aimed at correcting environmental violations and deterring future violations. We consider several factors when deciding the appropriate amount of the penalty, including:

The nature of the violation:

  • Severity of the violation (public health and/or environmental effect)
  • Magnitude of the violation (amount and type of pollution)
  • Whether the violation was due to negligence, recklessness, or was intentional
  • Precautions taken to prevent the violation

The prior behavior of the violator:

  • Record of similar violations or a pattern of violations
  • Multiple notices of the violation and applicable corrective actions

Actions taken by the violator to correct the problem:

  • Degree of cooperation in working toward compliance
  • Timeliness and appropriateness of corrective actions taken
  • Compensation paid or agreed to for damages to public resources
We may settle an enforcement action (order and/or penalty) with the person subject to that enforcement. A settlement is a contract between Ecology and the person subject to enforcement, which can reduce the amount of time and money spent by our staff, the Attorney General’s Office on appeals, and the person subject to the enforcement.

Some typical elements of a settlement include:
  • A statement that the person would not be able to seek administrative or judicial review of the facts giving rise to violations cited by us or the amount being offered to settle the violation
  • An agreement by the person to waive the right to appeal the settlement
  • a list of requirements
  • a schedule with which the person must comply
Consent decrees are judicial orders that contain a settlement agreement that is subject to continued judicial policing. In instances where we use consent decrees, Ecology and a person will agree on a proposed settlement and then petition a court to enter the decree.

Enforcement orders