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Environmental Compliance History Online (ECHO, US EPA)

 
 

By Michael J. Lynch, University of South Florida, FL

 
 

The Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) is a US Environmental Protection Agency database and website (ECHO LINK).

The ECHO webpage can be used to access data on hazardous waste, air and water violations and compliance information. This information allows the user to determine if a compliance/enforcement action was a formal or informal action, and the number of times such actions were taken both by company and by geographic areas. In additional to information on enforcement actions, the ECHO search also returns information on: number of quarters in which a facility has been out of compliance over the past three years; alleged current significant violations; type of violation (air, land, water), number of inspections at a facility in the past 5 years; and number of formal enforcement actions at a facility in the past five years.

The ECHO data may be search by facility or using community/geographic search criteria or facility search. The community and facility search allows the user may access a wide variety of data and search for: data related to all compliance responses across air, land and water or for one of these outcomes alone; search for civil case and criminal case information separately; and used the advanced search tools to narrow down a search to more specific field (data) targets, the case ID number (FRS ID) and geocoded information for facilities. Each facility can also be located using the map option in the first data column. In addition, under the “REPORTS” column, individual icons appear which allow the user to access case information data for specific violations. The “C” icon links to detail facility data; the “E” icon links to effluent (water) discharge data; the “L” icon links to the discharge monitoring report (DMR); the “I” icon is a quick link to civil case numbers.

The data may be downloaded as an excel spreadsheet using the “download data” button above the online data spread sheet toward the upper left of the data.

To the right hand side of the completed search, the user will also notice the following information: (1) a search summary listing the number of facilities in the selected area; (2) the number of facilities with a current violation; (3) number of facilities with a violation in the last three years; (4) number of facilities with a formal enforcement action in the past five years; (5) number of facilities with clean water act permits; (6) number of facilities with clean air act permits; (8) number of facilities with Resource Conservation Recovery Acts IDs and (9) the number of facilities reporting Toxic Release Inventory releases.

A complete online data description is available that described the data contents by clicking on the “Result Guide” link near the upper right hand corner of the online data (see also results guide).

The user may also create maps by clicking on the “Create Map” link.

The “Analyze Trends” link allows the user to create some simple charts and graphs. The first option is to create these charts for states using the “State Dashboard” after clicking on the “Analyze Trends” link.

After accessing the State Dashboard, the user has the following options: (1) in the upper left, you may select air, hazardous waste, or the water data set; (2) toward the middle, you may select to create these charts for the nation as a whole (“National”) or for an individual state; and (3) you may choose from the “Activity Dashboard” or the “Performance Dashboard”. The Activity Dashboard provides data on violations, and the Performance Dashboard provides data on compliance.

These data can be accessed from 2010 on, and the user may select any year from a drop down menu.

Selecting the “Activities Dashboard” option, produces the following charts: (1) number of federally reportable facilities; (2) compliance evaluation charts and graphs (there are seven available options in a drop down box under the compliance evaluation chart heading); (3) the violation graphs and charts (with four violation options in the drop down menu); (4) high priority violations (HPVs); (5) enforcement actions (5 drop down menu options); and (6) the penalty charts (2 drop down menu options).

Selecting the “Performance Dashboard” option produces the following charts: (1) number of federally reportable facilities; (2) compliance evaluation charts with eight drop down options; (3) the violations charts with six options; (4) the high priority violations charts with 7 options; (5) the enforcement actions report with 5 options; and (6) the penalty charts with 2 drop down options.
The charts and graphs may be printed or exported using links below each chart/graph.

These data have a large number of research uses but can also be used by members of the public to examine the types of known environmental hazards in the area in which they live. For public users, this data and many other data sets are accessible in more easily navigated forms on the website of the Right-To-Know Network (RTK NET).
 
 
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