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EPA and Seton Hall University Sign Comprehensive Environmental Self-Audit Agreement

Release Date: 10/01/2003
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(#03115) New York, N.Y. -- Seton Hall University, with campuses in South Orange and Newark, New Jersey, has signed an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to conduct a comprehensive environmental audit of its two campuses. The agreement continues EPA's initiative to help institutions of higher learning comply with environmental regulations. EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny and Seton Hall University President Monsignor Robert Sheeran signed the agreement today at Seton Hall's Presidents Hall at its South Orange campus.

"Colleges, universities and EPA all reap positive results from environmental self audit agreements," said EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny. "Seton Hall will put procedures in place to protect students, faculty, staff and the environment. The agreement reduces or eliminates financial penalties if violations are disclosed and corrected and, as a result, EPA resources are used more effectively."

"We often talk about being responsible stewards of the environment, " said Monsignor Sheeran, President of Seton Hall University. " Today's partnership with the E.P.A. is a great way for us, as an institution of higher education, to put our stewardship into practice. Seton Hall is delighted and honored to be among the first universities in the country to sign this self-audit agreement. It is my hope that many others do the same."

Seton Hall University, with an enrollment of more than 10,000 students, has agreed to undertake comprehensive environmental audits, self report any violations, correct deficiencies in its environmental management, and take steps to prevent recurrence of violations. EPA has agreed to waive gravity-based penalties for self-disclosed violations.

The agreement covers 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 and toxic substances control. The audit agreement includes all of Seton Hall's buildings on its main campus and the university's off campus properties in South Orange and the Law School in Newark.

Seton Hall has agreed to begin the audit procedures by January 1, 2004 and submit its disclosure report to EPA by April 1, 2004.

This is EPA's 11 self-audit agreement with a university in the region. Agreements have been signed with the Rutgers University system in New Jersey, the State University of New York (SUNY), Syracuse University, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, The City University of New York (CUNY), Clarkson University, Canisius College, Pace University, Saint John's University and Hofstra University.

The agreement with Seton Hall is part of EPA's Colleges and Universities Initiative, which has been in place since 1999. EPA established the initiative because many institutions of higher learning were not aware of their responsibilities under various environmental laws or had failed to implement strategies to comply with them. As part of the initiative, EPA sent letters to 365 colleges and universities in New Jersey, New York, and Puerto Rico, held free workshops to help colleges and universities comply, established a Web site that provides information about their duties under the law, and warned colleges and universities that EPA inspections of their facilities with the risk of financial penalties were imminent. EPA attempted to make the institutions aware of the agency's Voluntary Audit Policy through which institutions can investigate and disclose environmental violations to the Agency and, as a compliance incentive, if the necessary conditions are met, receive a partial or complete reduction in financial penalties.

EPA continues to encourage colleges and universities to participate in the Colleges and Universities Initiative. To date, 27 colleges and universities in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico have come forward to disclose more than 50 violations to EPA. Most of them have been granted a 100% waiver of certain penalties totaling more than $2.4 million.

Previous complaints and settlements with penalties totaling approximately $1.6 million have been filed over the past eighteen months against ten colleges and universities in New Jersey and New York. The Colleges and Universities Initiative is an ongoing program with additional investigations anticipated.