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Release Date: 09/17/1996
Contact Information: Alice Kaufman, EPA Press Office, (617) 918-1064

BOSTON -- The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) of the Department of the Navy has agreed to pay a $80,625 penalty to settle a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency complaint alleging violations of federal and state hazardous waste management laws at three of its Connecticut locations--two in New London and one in East Lyme. NUWC researches and develops acoustic sensing devices for the Navy.

"Americans justifiably expect that facilities owned and operated by the U.S. government will follow applicable environmental laws. And when the U.S. government doesn't comply, Americans expect the EPA to take action. That's exactly what we're doing," said John P. DeVillars, administrator of the US EPA's New England office. "To their credit, the Navy has been up-front and cooperative in response to EPA's findings at NUWC. From our discussions, I believe that sound environmental practices will be given high priority by the Navy."

The New England office of EPA and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection jointly inspected the three NUWC facilities and discovered violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

According to EPA, NUWC failed to have a complete contingency plan for responding to an accidental hazardous waste spill, failed to properly train personnel, failed to determine if wastes were hazardous and therefore subject to federal management and handling laws, and failed to properly label hazardous waste containers at the facility.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act governs the proper management of hazardous wastes and requires cradle-to-grave management of all these wastes. Under the law, federal facilities must comply with strict standards for managing wastes on site. EPA's concern is that improper management of wastes can pose a risk to public health or the environment through accidental spills or other releases.