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EPA LAUNCHES COMPLIANCE INITIATIVE AT 18 ARIZONA COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES FOR HAZARDOUS WASTE
Release Date: 8/17/1999
Contact Information: Paula Bruin, U.S. EPA, (415) 744-1587
ADEQ and EPA Will Sponsor Workshop on Hazardous Waste Management
SAN FRANCISCO--The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced an initiative designed to bring all Arizona colleges and universities into compliance with federal environmental laws. The effort includes extensive compliance assistance activities, including a workshop sponsored jointly by EPA and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, and stepped up inspections and audits of universities.
In letters to the presidents of 18 colleges and universities in Arizona, EPA announced that the agency's university strategy will have two key elements:
- An all-day workshop in Phoenix at ADEQ's offices, Room 1710, 3033 North Central Ave, on August 18, 1999.
- A special invitation to self-audit and disclose violations under EPA's audit plan before EPA increases inspections at colleges and universities. Disclosures that meet the conditions of EPA's audit policy are eligible for greatly reduced or zero penalties.
Recent EPA experience with universities and colleges has documented a serious level of environmental noncompliance, especially with the hazardous waste management laws. Across the country, EPA has offered workshops, training materials, technical assistance and other tools to help universities and colleges improve their environmental performance. Outside of Arizona, a recent state/federal investigation of a state university resulted in a complaint seeking $1.8 million in penalties, and an EPA inspection of another university resulted in an EPA complaint seeking $300,000 in penalties.
Many of the facilities on university campuses, including labs, power plants and vehicle maintenance facilities, have the potential to cause serious environmental and public health problems if they are not properly managed.
"We all agree that the health of students and others living on or near campuses is very important," said Julie Anderson EPA's western regional hazardous waste director. "EPA is committed to helping colleges and universities come into compliance with state and federal environmental laws by providing regulatory and technical help. The savings realized in sound environmental management can actually help hold down facility operation costs and help create an image for higher education institutions that applicants find desirable."
"Nine Arizona colleges and universities have signed up for the compliance workshop so far," said Jean Calhoun ADEQ'S waste programs division director, who will be speaking at the workshop. "We believe the workshop is a good opportunity to work with state and federal regulators to come into compliance with environmental requirements."
The workshop will address compliance issues universities face with the day-to-day handling of hazardous materials, such as laboratory chemicals, paints, cleaning solvents, adhesives or glues, lubricants or oils, coolants and photographic solutions. EPA and ADEQ compliance staff will review the types of RCRA compliance problems commonly found at universities and colleges, and will be available to answer specific questions. Environmental and safety officials from colleges and universities will offer their perspectives on environmental compliance.
EPA is encouraging universities to conduct voluntary environmental audits. Those that voluntarily discover, disclose and quickly correct violations of environmental laws may see the penalizes substantially reduced or eliminated as a result.
"Universities and colleges that voluntarily conduct legitimate environmental audits and that disclose and expeditiously correct the detected violations will be in a much better position than entities that chose to lay in the weeds and wait for the inspector", said Nancy J. Marvel, Regional Counsel for EPA's regional region.
Two other EPA regions on the East Coast have also initiated compliance programs at universities. Any expansion of the western region's program into other states will follow an assessment of the experience in Arizona.