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EPA and U.S. Attorney Announce $3 Million Enforcement Settlement that will Improve Air Quality and the Environment in Boston

Release Date: 10/29/2002
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008 Samantha Martin, U.S. Attorney's Office, (617) 748-3139

BOSTON, MA - United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan and Robert W. Varney, Regional Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency's New England Office, today announced that the United States has reached a settlement with a Boston trash hauler, Allied Waste Systems, Inc. ("Allied") which resolves the government's claims that Allied violated the Clean Air Act. The proposed Consent Decree requires the company to pay a $782,550 civil penalty and spend $2.3 million on an environmental project that will improve Boston's air quality at Allied's Howard Transfer Station in Roxbury. A civil complaint was also filed simultaneously with the Consent Decree.

The settlement stems from violations of provisions of the Clean Air Act that are intended to protect the stratospheric ozone layer from the harmful effects of certain chemicals, known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These chemicals, commonly found in coolants, are known to cause the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer, which protects the earth's surface from harmful ultraviolet radiation. Under EPA regulations, waste haulers who dispose of household appliances which may contain CFCs or HCFCs, including refrigerators, freezers, and air conditioners, must take steps to ensure that these chemicals are not released to the atmosphere.

"Today's agreement is indicative of EPA's strong commitment to improve environmental conditions in urban areas, especially communities such as Roxbury which has among the highest asthma rates in the State," said Robert W. Varney, Regional Administrator of EPA's New England Office.

According to the civil complaint, between July 1997 and August 1998, Allied compacted or crushed discarded appliances collected under the trash pick-up contract with the City of Boston, without either recovering any remaining refrigerant from the appliances, or verifying that the refrigerant was previously evacuated from the appliances. Upon learning of EPA's inspections, Allied corrected the improper disposal practice.

U.S. Attorney Sullivan noted that a similar enforcement case against Waste Management of Massachusetts, Inc., also involving improper handling of CFCs and HCFCs, was settled and announced in April of this year.

"My office will continue aggressively to enforce the federal statutes that protect our environment," stated U.S. Attorney Sullivan. "The Earth's ozone layer protects us all from harmful solar rays that can cause skin cancer, and the Clean Air Act is an essential tool in protecting the ozone layer. Waste haulers across the country must strictly comply with the federal ozone protection requirements."

In addition to requiring payment of a substantial civil penalty, the Consent Decree requires Allied to spend at least $2.3 million on a Supplemental Environmental Project as described below; to comply with Section 608(c) of the Clean Air Act; to conduct appropriate training of employees who are engaged in activities concerning the collection and disposal of appliances; and to implement a tracking system for all appliances picked up by Allied in the City of Boston in order to ensure future compliance with the regulatory requirements.

The Supplemental Environmental Project involves the construction of a new building at Allied's Roxbury transfer station and installing state-of-the-art emissions control technology capable of reducing dust, odors, and volatile organic compounds. This will improve aesthetics and provide for more efficient waste transfer operations.

The case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney George Henderson in Sullivan's Civil Division and Thomas Olivier, EPA Regional Counsel.