You try as hard as you can to stay in compliance, but every once in a while things don’t work out. You get enforcement letters from the local or state environmental department and then they call you into a meeting to talk and they throw a consent order in front of you. What is a Consent Order, you may be asking. Consent Orders are issued by the Department as a means of achieving enforcement of a serious violation without going into litigation. A Consent Order is just that; both parties consent to certain terms and conditions. For instance the state or local agency consents not to press charges or fines for a period of time and to allow you to continue operating the facility until the terms of the Order are fulfilled and the facility is operating in compliance with the rules and regulations. On the other hand, the permittee consents to completing certain tasks or making certain upgrades within a time frame.
It is important to note that you are not totally powerless when this happens and you should not be intimidated by the process. Many times the terms proposed by the agency are very detrimental to the permittee and in some cases not even achievable. Therefore, it is important to have professionals that understand how to deal with these matters. Since a Consent Order is a legally binding document which may have significant ramifications, a team composed of an experienced and competent engineer and attorney will save you from giving away the farm.