What are Orders, Penalties, Settlements, and Consent Decrees?
Ecology has the discretion to 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. A settlement can reduce
the amount of time and money spent by Ecology 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 Ecology or the amount being offered to settle the violation, an
agreement by the person to waive the right to appeal the settlement, and a list
of requirements and often a schedule with which Ecology asks someone to comply.
Consent Decrees are judicial orders, which contain a settlement agreement
that is subject to continued judicial policing. In instances where Ecology utilizes
consent decrees, Ecology and a person will agree on a proposed settlement, and then
petition a court to enter the court decree.
Hanford Settlements and Decrees
Ecology has entered into settlements and decrees for the Hanford site.
Some of these settlements are listed below.
- Orders are administrative enforcement documents issued by the Washington State Department
of Ecology (Ecology) that describe violations of the Hazardous Waste Management Act,
chapter 70.105 RCW, and/or the Dangerous Waste Regulations, chapter 173-303 and the actions
a person* must take to come into compliance. Chapter 70.105 RCW authorizes Ecology to issue
administrative enforcement orders requiring compliance, whenever it determines that a person
has violated any provision of Chapter 70.105 RCW or Chapter 173-303 of the Washington
Administrative Code (WAC). See RCW 70.105.095; WAC 173-303-950. The person subject
to Ecology’s enforcement order can appeal the order to the Pollution Control
Hearing Board (PCHB).
- In addition to orders, Ecology may also issue monetary penalties as part of its 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. Like enforcement orders, a person receiving an Ecology
issued penalty can appeal it to the PCHB. 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. Ecology considers several factors
when deciding the appropriate amount of the penalty.
The nature of the violation:
The prior behavior of the violator:
- 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
- Precautions taken to prevent the violation
Actions taken by the violator to correct the problem:
- Record of similar violations or a pattern of violations
- Multiple notices of the violation and applicable corrective actions
- Degree of cooperation in working toward compliance
- Timeliness and appropriateness of corrective actions taken
- Compensation paid or agreed to for damages to public resources
Orders & Penalties
Washington state takes legal action against U.S. government after Hanford tunnel collapses
T Plant - 08/09/2016
Central Waste Complex -
Penalty for Failure to Meet M-32 Tank Waste Milestone -
Tank Waste Consent Decree
Amended Tank Waste Consent Decree
Amend 2010 Hanford cleanup agreement - 10/03/2014
Department of Energy’s proposal to amend tank waste consent decree - 04/18/2014
Original Tank Waste Settlement Agreement - 10/25/2010
AY-102 Settlement Agreement
Double-shell tank AY-102 -