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What is a Notice of Violation?

A notice of violation (NOV) informs a person or business that a District rule, state law, or permit condition has been violated. A NOV is issued when a violation is observed or discovered.

The purpose of a NOV is to initiate corrective action that will stop the violation and to reduce air pollution. To provide an incentive for continuing compliance, NOVs may result in monetary penalties up to $1,000,000 per day per violation, according to California Health & Safety Code, Section 42402. Serious or repeated violations that show blatant disregard for the law and for public health may lead to criminal prosecution.

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What Should I Do If I Receive a Notice of Violation?

The first thing to do is take immediate action is to stop the violation and to bring your operation back into compliance.

Send, within 10 days, a copy of the notice with a written description of the corrective action you have taken to prevent continued or recurrent violations. If you have questions, call the District Compliance Department
. Send the information to the attention of the inspector who issued the NOV or bring it to the regional office indicated on the NOV.

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What If I Cannot Correct the Problem?

If you must continue operations which will cause the violation to continue, you should consider immediately applying for a variance. A variance is an administrative order granting temporary relief from specific provisions of a District rule or permit condition. If approved, a variance allows you to continue operating while you take steps to come into compliance. If the violation is for creating a public nuisance or failure to obtain a permit, you are not eligible for a variance. For more information, call the Compliance Department
 at the regional office in your area.

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What Happens Next?

Notices of violation can be handled in two ways:

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Mutual Settlement Program

In most cases, violations can be resolved through the District's Mutual Settlement Program. This program offers both the District and you an opportunity to settle alleged violations without expensive and time-consuming litigation. When your violation is referred to the Mutual Settlement Program, you will receive a settlement offer which asks for the payment of a monetary penalty. It may also specify action to be taken by you to ensure continued compliance with the law. Alternatives to monetary settlements may also be considered on a case by case basis.

You should respond to the offer within the time indicated. If you wish to discuss your case, you may schedule a settlement conference; this can occur over the phone or in person. If you do not respond, or if the matter cannot be resolved, it will be referred to the District's legal counsel.

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Penalties

Mutual Settlement Program assess penalties based on California Health and Safety Code, Section 42403 which provides for up to $1,000,000 per day per violation based on the seriousness of the violation. Penalties are based on the following factors:

  • The extent of harm caused by the violation;

  • The nature and persistence of the violation;

  • The length of time over which the violation occurs;

  • The frequency of past violations;

  • The record of maintenance;

  • The unproven or innovative nature of the control equipment;

  • Any action taken to mitigate the violation;

  • The financial burden to the operator.

 

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Legal Action

Violations that the Mutual Settlement Program is unable to resolve will be handled by the District's legal counsel. The majority of the cases may are settled out of court, but may be pursued through the legal system.

Unusually serious violations that could have been prevented or demonstrates willful disregard for public health and air pollution control laws may be referred to the District Attorney for criminal prosecution. Penalties for such violations may be as high as $1,000,000 per day for each day of violation, or one year in jail, or both.

You may wish to retain an attorney to assist in matters referred to the District legal counsel.

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When Rules Change

Rule changes can affect your business. It is your responsibility to know the current rules. A copy of the District's Rules and Regulations can be purchased from the District. To be kept informed of rule changes, you can subscribe to the following individual services: rule updates, public notices of workshops and board hearings, copies of draft and proposed rules, and staff reports.

Also, be sure to familiarize yourself with all conditions of your District permit, especially if you receive a modified or re-evaluated permit.

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For More Information

This page provides answers to commonly asked questions about Notice of Violations and the Mutual Settlement Program. If you have specific questions about a NOV you received, contact the inspector who issued it. For further information, call the Central Region Compliance Department
 at (559) 230-5950.

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