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EPA AND HAWAII DOH ANNOUNCE $1.7 MILLION DOLLAR SETTLEMENT WITH UNIVERSITY UH VIOLATED HAZARDOUS WASTE LAWS
Release Date: 12/18/2000
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano, U.S. EPA,(415) 744-1587
SAN FRANCISCO - The US Environmental Protection Agency and the Hawaii Department of Health today announced a $1.7 million settlement agreement with the University of Hawaii for hazardous waste violations. This is one of the largest settlement ever for hazardous waste violations in the Pacific Southwest.
The settlement includes a $505,000 penalty and requires the university to perform a $1.2 million supplemental environmental project within three years that will include identifying and implementing pollution prevention and waste minimization projects throughout the university system as well as performing an extensive compliance audit of its facilities.
"The University had significant violations of hazardous waste requirements for storing and disposing chemicals" said Jeff Scott, Director, hazardous waste division for the Pacific Southwest. "This clearly teaches the wrong lesson about hazardous waste and chemical safety."
EPA and DOH inspectors began investigating two facilities on the Manoa campus in October 1997. Inspectors found improperly stored and labeled chemicals including flammables, corrosives, poisons, mercury and hundreds of other unknown chemicals. Hawaii's Department of Health continued to inspect other facilities within the UH system and found similar violations at the Kauai Agricultural Research Center, and the Waiakea Agricultural Experiment Station in Hilo.
Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the EPA regulates the proper handling, storage and transportation of hazardous chemicals and the proper disposal of hazardous wastes.
"The University administration has taken this problem very seriously and they cooperated thoroughly with our Department throughout the investigation," said Bruce Anderson, Hawaii Director of Health. "This, however, does not excuse the past lack of attention to the problem. A system-wide audit and implementation of waste minimization programs will help to assure that hazardous materials are handled properly in the future."
The DOH filed a civil administrative action in June 1998, and the EPA also referred the matter to the US Department of Justice for civil action. The US DOJ filed this settlement today on behalf of the EPA. Under the terms of the settlement, $120,000 of the penalty will be paid to the US government and $385,000 will be paid to the state.