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Maine Community College System Faces Fines for Hazardous Waste Violations

Release Date: 10/13/04
Contact Information:

For Immediate Release: October 13, 2004

Contact: David Deegan, 617-918-1017; Release # 04-10-14

BOSTON – The Maine Community College System is facing fines of more than $200,000, stemming from violations in the storage and handling of hazardous materials at two campuses. The fines are being sought by EPA, and are contained in an administrative complaint and a compliance order issued recently by the Agency.

The two campuses where EPA identified violations were at Southern Maine Technical College, in Portland, and at Eastern Maine Community College, in Bangor. EPA is seeking a total fine of $238,225 from the Maine Community College System for the violations.

The violations were identified in May, 2003 during compliance evaluation inspections conducted by EPA regional staff. EPA’s inspectors identified multiple violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Maine Hazardous Waste Management Rules, which govern the safe storage and handling of hazardous wastes.

The most significant concern identified by EPA was the storage of several containers of waste picric acid at Eastern Maine Community College. Inspectors found these containers near a teaching classroom, accessible to faculty and students. The waste picric acid had formed crystals, making the material unstable and highly explosive. EPA inspectors secured the area and contacted Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection’s Emergency Response Unit. A specialized company operated by a former member of the Maine State Police Bomb Squad Unit was contacted and safely detonated these chemicals on-site.

“It is very important that all facilities, including colleges and universities, that use or generate hazardous materials comply with the law,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England regional office. “Carefully adhering to the correct storage and disposal procedures helps ensure that people and property are not harmed due to inadvertent exposure to dangerous substances.”

More than 5,000 students and faculty use the two campuses.

EPA’s order requires the Maine Community College System to comply with RCRA regulations and to correct all violations cited in the complaint. Also, they will be required to submit documentation to the Agency demonstrating compliance.

Related Information:
EPA New England College and University Web site
RCRA/Hazardous Waste