June 01, 2014

Incident Response and EPA’s Audit Policy

Jeffrey C. Corey

Environmental managers and in-house environmental attorneys face a dilemma when conducting environmental audits of industrial facilities. Good corporate citizens should want to regularly evaluate their compliance (or lack thereof) with environmental standards. Many companies engage in routine internal reviews, commonly referred to as environmental audits, to assess whether they are in compliance with environmental laws. A prudent in-house counsel, however, should also be concerned about whether such audits could be used against the company. Audits can give the government or other outside parties a blueprint for taking action against the company. They can be subject to discovery in litigation and provide the basis for significant penalties. Audits that establish the company knew of environmental problems but failed to take corrective action could even be used to support criminal charges against corporate officers and employees.


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