The first step in the enforcement actions process is DEQ
being notified of a violation. The agency learns of violations through:
- Self-reporting by current permit holders
- Complaints from the public and other government agencies
- When a violation has been confirmed DEQ takes one or more of the enforcement actions described below.
The majority of violations DEQ addresses fall under Warning Letters or
Pre-Enforcement Notices. If a monetary penalty is assessed for repeated
or more serious violations, in most cases the fees collected go to the Oregon State
General Fund, not directly to DEQ.
Types of DEQ Enforcement Actions
DEQ issues a Warning Letter when it documents a violation. Warning Letters are issued:
- When no further enforcement is contemplated
- To inform the recipient that a violation has been documented
- Requesting steps be taken to either correct the violation or prevent another violation from occurring
A Pre-Enforcement Notice is similar to a Warning Letter. It informs
the recipient that the violation is being referred for further
DEQ assesses monetary civil penalties for repeated and/or more
serious violations. Oregon law authorizes the agency to assess penalties
of up to $25,000 for each day the violation exists.
DEQ calculates the amount of penalties using criteria set forth in Oregon Administrative Rules Chapter 340, Division 12
These rules are established by the Environmental Quality Commission.
There is an appeals process for monetary civil penalties. An appeal may
be resolved through discussion, negotiation or an evidentiary hearing.
This order directs the recipient to take specific actions to
correct an ongoing violation. It’s used to ensure any harm caused by the
violation is remedied and to prevent future occurrences.
Expedited Enforcement Orders
An Expedited Enforcement Order is an alternative to DEQ’s
traditional enforcement process. This order allows DEQ to resolve less
serious environmental law violations more quickly and with fewer
resources. DEQ may offer to settle a violation with an expedited
enforcement offer. Once this offer is received you have 30 days to
accept it by signing the offer and paying the reduced penalty.
Accepting this offer means waiving the right to appeal DEQ’s
action. However, it offers the benefit of a reduced penalty and
expedited process. If an expedited offer is not accepted then it is
referred for formal enforcement action.
Hazardous Waste Expedited Enforcement Offers
How it works
An EEO lists qualifying violations and requires correction. It identifies
violations DEQ determines from an inspection or report review. An entity
receiving the EEO has 30 days to accept or reject the offer. Acceptance of the
offer includes penalty payment and agreement to correct all alleged violations
within a specified timeframe determined by DEQ.
Once a company signs the EEO, the offer becomes a department order. It
includes required corrective actions and a compliance schedule listing the
timeline a company has to return to compliance with hazardous waste and used oil
If a company declines an EEO, DEQ will enforce through traditional means by
issuing a formal enforcement action with a higher civil penalty and allowing the
party the right to appeal. If a company accepts an EEO but then does not correct
identified violations, the company will then be in violation of a department
order and face additional penalties.
For more details on hazardous waste expedited enforcement officers, contact
DEQ’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement in Portland at 503-229-6927 or call
toll-free in Oregon at 800-452-4011, ext. 6927.
Environmental violations committed with criminal intent are subject
to criminal prosecution. DEQ works with law enforcement agencies,
including the Oregon State Police and the US EPA’s Criminal
Investigation Division, in identifying potential environmental crimes.
We assist as needed in these investigations.