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Waste settlement boosts "hazmat" truck for Sterling

Release Date: 7/24/2001
Contact Information:
303 312 6912,

Release Date: 7/24/2001
Contact Information:
303 312 6890,

Release Date: 7/24/2001
Contact Information:
303 312 6780,

Release Date: 7/24/2001
Contact Information:
800 227 8917 + EXT.

      STERLING, Co –The City of Sterling may have a new fire truck/hazmat vehicle 18 months sooner than planned, thanks to a settlement filed Monday between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and four subsidiary companies of Clean Harbors, Inc.

      Clean Harbors, one of the nation’s largest waste-handling firms, will pay $150,000 into an escrow fund Sterling can use to start the purchase this year rather than in 2002. The $325,000 specialized trucks take six months to a year to build. The city had budgeted $175,000 to replace a 26-year-old truck in 2002 probably with a used one. The settlement money allows them to buy a newer and better unit, a pumper/tanker with hazmat capability.

      Enter EPA and the Clean Harbors companies. They had been working to settle alleged violations of hazardous waste laws in the Sterling area. The parties agreed that helping the city qualified as a “supplemental environmental project.” The truck will strengthen city response to hazardous materials events. EPA often accepts SEPs as part of settlements to perform work that benefits the environment near the site of violations. The companies will also pay a combined $50,000 fine to the U.S. Treasury.

      According to EPA, the companies stored spent solvents and related wastes too long in rail tank cars at an off-loading facility in the Sterling railyard in late 1997 and early 1998. Wastes were periodically loaded into tanker trucks for the rest of the trip to a disposal facility in Kimball, Nebraska. Shipped wastes must reach their destination in 45 days. If stored longer, handlers must inform EPA and locate the wastes. The firms failed to notify EPA in a timely way in some 137 instances, tied to 32 shipments, the Agency said.

      Backlogs at the Kimball facility kept wastes sitting in tank cars in Sterling and elsewhere. The firms now have a tracking system that avoids such problems, said EPA inspector John Works in Denver.

      The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) – the nation’s basic hazardous waste law – limits the time wastes can be stored for a number of reasons. “The aim is to get these materials to a final treatment or disposal point in a timely way. The longer that takes, the more can go wrong,” said Carol Rushin, enforcement chief in EPA’s Regional Office in Denver.

      “Sterling’s fire department will soon be much better equipped to handle incidents in the railyard, along I-76 and at local firms that manage hazardous chemicals,” Rushin said. “We think this is a great result. The companies stepped up to their environmental responsibilities and the community benefits.”

      Firms that shipped wastes to Kimball included in the settlement are Spring Grove (OH) Resource Recovery, Inc.; Clean Harbors of Braintree (MA), Inc.; Clean Harbors Services, Inc. of Chicago, Clean Harbors of Baltimore, Inc. The parent company is not a named respondent.

      Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment runs the State’s hazardous waste program. CDPHE referred this case to EPA because firms in several states were involved.

      Editor’s note:
      Other contacts for this story:
      City of Sterling, Fire Chief , Gary A. Brown, Sr. (970) 522-3823
      Clean Harbors, Inc., General Counsel, William Geary (781) 849-1800 ext 4453