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Braintree Company Gets Reduced Penalty After Self Audit

Release Date: 10/14/2003
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

BOSTON -In an agreement signed last week with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Clean Harbors of Braintree Inc. will pay $5,512.50 in penalties to resolve hazardous waste air emissions violations the company itself discovered at its facility.

Clean Harbors, which manages, transports and disposes of hazardous waste, has already corrected the violations, which were found last year as a result of a self-audit at its Quincy Avenue facility.

When Clean Harbors first learned of its violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the company wrote EPA to inform the agency the company had violated RCRA’s air emission standards for equipment leaks. Specifically, Clean Harbors discovered it had not monitored its valves and pumps for air emissions since 1999, as required by a section of RCRA. The section of the law is aimed at reducing volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from equipment containing hazardous waste. VOCs contribute to ground level ozone and respiratory illnesses.

“Clean Harbors deserves credit for finding its own violations through a systematic internal auditing program,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “This kind of self-disclosure helps the environment at the same time it can save a company what it has to pay in penalties.”

The only penalty Clean Harbors had to pay was an amount equal to the economic benefit that the company realized from not complying with RCRA on time. This was substantially lower than what the penalty normally would have been. Under EPA’s Audit Policy, penalties may be substantially reduced, or in some cases eliminated, if a company discovers violations through systematic facility audits and quickly corrects the violations. A company must take certain actions to be considered under the Audit Policy, including: prompt disclosure of violations; quick corrective action; action to prevent recurring violations; and repairing harm that occurred as a result of violations. The policy does not cover criminal violations or violations that resulted in actual significant harm to public health or the environment.

EPA encourages other companies to systematically audit their facilities and report any discovered violations to EPA using the Audit Policy.

Editor's note: More information on EPA's Audit Policy can be found on the Internet at