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Judge’s Ruling Confirms EPA Fine for Lead Paint Violations by Two Rhode Island Companies
Release Date: 05/05/2006
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017
(Boston, Mass. – May 5, 2006) – Following a three day hearing, an Administrative Law Judge recently found that two Rhode Island companies violated federal lead paint disclosure requirements and assessed a total of $222,200 in fines.
The judge’s ruling confirmed a 2004 EPA enforcement case against Topik Enterprises and Lead and Asbestos Encasement Designs (LAED), both of Rhode Island. For the violations, a civil penalty of $79,200 was assessed against Topik Enterprises, and a civil penalty of $143,000 was assessed against LAED. Roy S. Topik, now of Florida, was the president of both companies.
In its 2004 Complaint, EPA had sought approximately $240,000 in penalties against Topik Enterprises and LAED for violations of the Lead Paint Disclosure Rule during the years 2001 and 2002, regarding pre-1978 housing the companies owned in Woonsocket, R.I. This federal rule requires landlords to notify prospective tenants about any known or potential lead paint hazard in the housing prior to the leasing of a dwelling.
In the investigation of Topik and LAED, EPA worked with the R.I. Dept. of Health after it learned that four children had been lead poisoned at properties owned by the two companies. The state health agency had issued four abatement orders regarding the subject properties, and both companies failed to comply with these orders.
The judge’s ruling found liability in all counts brought by EPA. The purpose of the Disclosure Rule is to provide residential renters and purchasers of pre-1978 housing with enough information about lead-based paint in general and known lead-based paint hazards in specific housing, so that they can make an informed decision about whether to lease or purchase the housing.
"Lead poisoning is a serious health threat for children in New England, because so much of our housing is older and may contain lead paint," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England office. "It is critically important that renters and buyers get the information they need to protect themselves and their children from potential exposure to lead paint. This case demonstrates that EPA will aggressively enforce the lead paint laws.”
Enforcement of lead paint disclosure laws continues to be an important focus for EPA in New England. During the past several years, EPA has pursued dozens of lead-related civil and criminal cases since launching a region-wide initiative to make sure landlords, property owners and managers are complying with federal lead disclosure laws. Federal law banned lead in paint in 1978.
Topik Enterprises formerly owned 11 multi-unit residential properties, containing approximately 71 rental units. LAED formerly owned 6 multi-unit residential properties, containing approximately 42 rental units; both companies’ residential rental properties were located in Woonsocket, R.I.
For more information on the federal lead-based paint disclosure rule, see: https://www.epa.gov/ne/enforcement/leadpaint/index.html
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