The Law establishing the EPA provides for the imposition of penalty for violation of any provision of the Law or any regulation made thereunder as required. Section 56 of the Act provides that any violation for which no other penalty is specifically provided, is punishable, upon conviction, by a general penalty of not more than USD50, 000.00 and or an imprisonment of not more than 10 years.
Generally, as provided under the Environmental Protection and Management Law (EPML), penalty for violation of any provision is pre-set under such provision. Interestingly, each pre-set penalty is enclosed within a mandatory framework, above which the Agency lacks the authority to fine.
Additionally, Section 53.2(d) of the Act gives the Agency the authority to make regulation providing for fees and levies to be charged in the enforcement of the Act.
In fulfillment of this mandate, the Agency has established a procedural mechanism by which alleged violators are engaged. Response to each suspected or reported violation is done based on the immediate impact or potential impact of the violation. The response may range from warning letter to revocation of permit, penalty and imprisonment. All penalties must be within the statutory allowable range.
Upon notice or discovery of a violation or non-compliance, whether by the Agency, the community or through other medium, the Agency follows the established guideline which includes:
- Speedy dispatch of team of environmental inspectors to the incident site to ensure urgent commencement of remedial or mitigation response;
- If warranted, a citation is issued. Normally, citation or conference letter is issued not more than twice.
- Depending on the magnitude of the incident, a second fact finding team may be sent for thorough inspection or verification.
- If violation in subsequently established, again, depending on the magnitude of the violation or non-compliance, any or the combination of the below measures may be taken. They include:
a. Violation Warning Letter (VWL);
b. VWL with instructions for mitigation or remedial actions;
c. VWL with penalty imposed;
d. Reclamation or Restoration Order;
e. Closure of premises;
f. Prosecution (imprisonment)