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What is a violation versus an emergency?

Environmental Violation

An environmental violation occurs when an activity or an existing condition does not comply with an environmental law or regulation. Environmental violations can include (but are not limited to):

  • smoke or other emissions from local industrial facilities
  • improper treatment, storage, or disposal of hazardous wastes
  • exceedances of pollutant limits at publicly-owned wastewater treatment plants
  • any unpermitted industrial activity
  • late-night dumping or any criminal activity including falsifying reports or other documents

Environmental emergency

An environmental emergency is a sudden threat to the public health or the well-being of the environment, arising from the release or potential release of oil, radioactive materials, or hazardous chemicals into the air, land, or water.

Examples of environmental emergencies include:

  • oil and chemical spills
  • radiological and biological discharges
  • accidents causing releases of pollutants

These emergencies may occur from transportation accidents, events at chemical or other facilities using or manufacturing chemicals, or as a result of natural or man-made disaster events. If you are involved in or witness an environmental emergency that presents a sudden threat to public health, you must call the nearest DEC response team office or 800-478-9300 outside normal business hours. For federal reporting requirements see the National Response Center website.


Fax: 907-269-7648
Fax: 907-451-2362
Fax: 907-465-5245

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