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EPA Signs Environmental Self-Audit Agreement with Health and Hospital Corp of New York City

Release Date: 07/08/2004
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(#04110) New York, N.Y. -- Under an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) Exit EPA disclaimerof New York City will conduct comprehensive environmental audits of all its facilities: 11 acute-care hospitals, four long-term care facilities, six diagnostic and treatment centers and over 100 community-health centers throughout the five boroughs.

This agreement, signed by EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny and HHC President Dr. Benjamin K. Chu Exit EPA disclaimer, was reached through EPA's Healthcare Compliance Initiative, an innovative environmental program that helps hospitals and healthcare facilities comply with EPA regulations by doing self-audits to assess compliance. If participants report and correct violations and take action to prevent recurrences, they may be eligible to receive relief from penalties for voluntarily disclosed violations.

"With the addition of the HHC facilities, EPA has now signed self-audit agreements with about more than half of the 84 larger healthcare facilities operating in New York City," said Jane Kenny. "Our objective is to have every healthcare institution in New York City in compliance with EPA's regulations. The self-audit program is a great way to enable the area's hospitals to effectively meet their environmental obligations to the communities they serve."

"HHC stresses regulatory compliance as an important part of our organizational culture and responsibility. Our commitment to the intensive self-audit process under this agreement furthers our efforts to protect our patients, staff and community from any threats posed by the substances that are part of today's complex healthcare environment," said Dr. Chu.

If healthcare institutions correct all violations and abide by the other terms of their individual agreements, EPA will waive "gravity-based penalties," which are penalties based on the seriousness of the violations. The agreements cover all major federal environmental programs including air, water, pesticides, solid and hazardous wastes, hazardous substances and chemicals, environmental response, emergency planning, community right-to-know requirements and toxic substances control.

EPA established the self-audit program to encourage all regulated facilities to conduct their own audits, to promptly disclose and correct environmental violations and safeguard people and the environment. Many hospitals were not aware of their responsibilities under various environmental laws or had failed to implement effective compliance strategies. As part of the Healthcare Compliance Initiative, EPA's regional office contacted all the hospitals in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and provided free workshops and an informational web site to alert them to their duties under the law. The Agency also warned them that inspections of their facilities with the risk of financial penalties were imminent. Hospitals were urged to join the Agency's voluntary self-disclosure program.

For a complete list of the participating HHC facilities contact Rich Cahill at (212) 637-3666.