Audit Privilege and Voluntary Disclosure Act
(View full text by visiting the following site: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t48c057.php)
The Legislative Purpose of this Act was to encourage the use of internal, voluntary self audits to improve compliance and to provide limited protection from penalties for disclosure of environmental violations or audit findings.
Voluntary Disclosure Criteria
A disclosure would be considered voluntary if it meets the following criteria:
- Disclosure is made within 14 days following a reasonable investigation
- Disclosure is made to an agency with regulatory authority over the violation being disclosed
- Action is initiated to resolve the violation in a diligent manner
- Person or entity cooperates in the investigation of issues identified in the disclosure
- Person or entity diligently pursues compliance and promptly corrects the deficiency within a reasonable period of time
A disclosure would not be considered voluntary if it meets any of the following criteria:
- Specific permit conditions require monitoring, sampling records, reports or assessment or management plans
- Specific permit conditions, orders or environmental laws require notification of releases to the environment
- Violation committed intentionally, willfully, or through criminal negligence
- Violation not corrected in a diligent manner
- Significant environmental harm or public health threat caused by violation
- Violation occurred within 1 year of similar prior violation at same facility and immunity was granted for prior violation
- Violation resulted in substantial economic benefit thus giving violator clear economic advantage over competitor
- Violation is of specific terms of judicial or administrative order
If the potential violations meet the criteria for a voluntary disclosure, then the person or entity could be immune from civil penalties. However, the final waiver of civil penalties is not granted until full compliance is met and is certified by the Department as occurring within a reasonable time.
To report a potential violation, it is necessary to call or submit written notification to the Department. Once the Department receives notification of the potential violation(s), it will be reviewed by the appropriate enforcement program to determine if it meets the criteria.