TALLAHASSEE – In 2012, facilities considered in significant compliance with Florida Department of Environmental Protection rules and regulations rose to 94 percent, a five-year high and a four percent increase from 2011. This improvement comes after the Department held more than 600 workshops, compliance assistance meetings and outreach events for private businesses, government groups and the public last year.
The remaining six percent represents facilities that are out of compliance, which has historically been between 10 and 14 percent. Significant compliance is defined as facilities in full compliance — which represents 72 percent of facilities — and facilities that have violations that present no environmental harm, such as tardy paperwork – equaling 22 percent. The Department regulates roughly 75,000 facilities statewide.
By engaging high-risk operators and facilities proactively, the Department has implemented a strategy that highlights preventative action as the ideal means of environmental protection. The Department has increased its emphasis on community outreach and making sure Florida’s businesses are in compliance with environmental rules, regulations and statutes in order to avoid harm to the state’s ecosystems.
“We have focused our efforts on the small percentage of facilities that are significantly out of compliance and causing environmental harm and have seen a tremendous improvement in our compliance rates,” said DEP Deputy Secretary of Regulatory Programs Jeff Littlejohn. “In order to achieve full compliance, the Department will continue these efforts in 2013 in order to prevent damage to the environment.”
Year Significant Compliance Full compliance
2008 86.7% 62.8%
2009 87.8% 63.8%
2010 87.9% 64.9%
2011 90.1% 66.5%
2012 94% 72%
Events such as the training for surface water and groundwater sampling conducted by the Department’s Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration in Gainesville trained 100 water quality sampling staff from local and state governments, consulting firms and other businesses, have become commonplace for district and division offices.
The Department continued its effort towards total compliance by conducting site visits and meetings in order to address issues before they require enforcement of violations. Regulatory district offices played a major role in this improvement by investigating the primary causes of these major violations, and developing unique solutions to prevent future environmental harm.
One such example occurred in the Department’s Northeast District, where staff initiated a specific, local compliance assistance approach to target individual industries including concrete batch plant and non-metallic minerals.
“Since the implementation of the focused compliance assistance policy, the root causes of these violations are at an all-time low,” said Northeast District Air Program Administrator Khalid AlNahdy.
Following the 2012 compliance assistance efforts in the Northeast District, nearly 120 facilities that fell out of compliance during the last six years are now back in compliance with Department air quality rules. Compliance rates increased, on average, 25 percent among all targeted facilities.