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EPA Issues Complaint Against City of Bangor for Violating Hazardous Waste Laws

Release Date: 10/10/2003
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

BOSTON - As part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's effort to increase compliance with federal hazardous waste laws, EPA New England today announced that it has issued a complaint against the city of Bangor, Maine for violations of federal and state hazardous waste laws at the city's DPW, motor pool and airport facilities.

The administrative complaint is based on an inspection of four city facilities: the Department of Public Works, 530 Maine Ave.; the Motor Pool, 481 Maine Ave.; the Bangor International Airport, 287 Godfrey Blvd.; and the Aviation Fuel Facility on Maine Avenue. The complaint alleges 37 violations of hazardous waste standards at the four facilities.

"All facilities, including those owned by public agencies, should be in compliance with federal hazardous waste laws to protect public health and the environment," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "We look forward to working with the City of Bangor to ensure that the violations have been corrected."

In early 2001, after partnering with the New England Chapter of the American Public Works Association, EPA New England sent letters to town managers and mayors in nearly 1,000 towns and cities in New England warning them that public agencies are responsible for complying with the same environmental standards as private companies and offering them assistance in complying with environmental laws. Cities and towns were encouraged to conduct environmental compliance audits and disclose and correct violations in accordance with EPA's Audit Policy. In return, if violations were discovered, disclosed and corrected in a timely fashion, the penalties for the violations are either eliminated or substantially reduced. The City of Bangor did not participate in this program.

During the inspection in Bangor, EPA found the city generates hazardous wastes, including: aerosol wastes, solvent and heavy-metal based waste paints, waste thinners, waste fuels and fuel filters, lead and silver solders, electronic wastes, waste solvents, waste oils, ignitable rags, waste antifreeze, and waste sandblast grit. Specifically, EPA alleges that among other violations, Bangor:

    • Treated hazardous wastes without a license and improperly treated the waste by evaporation;
    • Failed to notify and obtain hazardous waste identification numbers for the DPW and the airport;
    • Failed to conduct hazardous waste training of employees with hazardous waste responsibilities between 1999 and 2001;
    • Failed to maintain employee training programs;
    • Failed to maintain contingency plans for chemical emergencies;
    • Failed to make waste determinations to identify which city wastes are hazardous; and
    • Failed to operate its facilities in a manner that minimized the potential for a release of hazardous wastes into the environment.
EPA's complaint orders Bangor to: halt treatment of wastes by evaporation; properly train employees; identify all hazardous wastes generated at the four facilities; establish contingency plans; and properly handle, store, and manage hazardous wastes. The city did apply for and receive the required ID numbers for its DPW and airport in 2001 after the EPA inspections occurred.

EPA will be seeking the assessment of an administrative penalty against Bangor for these violations. EPA is authorized under federal law to assess up to $27,500 for each day of violation. The exact amount of the penalty assessment will reflect a full consideration of the seriousness of the violations and any mitigating factors that the city may present, including its willingness to complete supplemental environmental projects.