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EPA Proposes $112,000 Fine Against Portland, Maine Lead Abatement Company

Release Date: 09/26/2003
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

BOSTON – In one of the first actions of its kind, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced it is proposing to fine a Portland, Maine lead abatement contractor $111,997 for allegedly violating state regulations regarding lead paint removal work. EPA's complaint alleges that Abatement Professionals Inc. failed to follow required procedures for lead removal projects at nine residences in Portland, Lewiston and Livermore Falls.

"Lead paint exposure is still a serious public health concern in Maine and the rest of New England," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England Office. "Given that lead poisoning can cause a lifetime of problems for children, it's especially important that procedures for lead abatement work be followed."

EPA's complaint against Abatement Professionals alleges that on several occasions between March 1, 1999 and March 1, 2002, the contractor failed to meet state notification requirements for lead abatement activities, failed to develop occupant protection plans and failed to prepare and maintain lead abatement reports. The complaint also alleges that the company failed to ensure that a final cleanup on one project was properly performed.

By failing to comply with required work practices, harmful levels of lead paint dust or residues may be left behind that could subject any young children re-occupying a residence to numerous health consequences which can result from lead poisoning. Failure of a lead abatement contractor to follow notification requirements also prevents the EPA or the state of an opportunity to monitor projects and ensure that they are properly done.

This is believed to be the first penalty action nationwide by EPA for failure to comply with lead abatement rules for professionals.

Abatement professionals can dispute the allegations contained in the complaint and can attempt to negotiate a settlement with EPA.

EPA's New England Office has initiated a dozen other lead-related criminal and civil cases since launching a region-wide initiative to make sure landlords and property owners and managers are complying with federal lead disclosure laws. The initiative has included nearly 200 inspections around New England, as well as compliance assistance workshops.

Federal laws and regulations set requirements for lead abatement professionals, including notifying federal or state officials of lead abatement projects, developing occupant protection plans, ensuring that lead dust levels are below required limits and preparing lead abatement reports at the conclusion of the project. In Maine, lead abatement requirements have been delegated to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, which allows the EPA to enforce state lead regulations that substitute for federal requirements.

Lead poisoning is a significant problem in New England since the region has some of the oldest housing stock in the country. Low-level lead poisoning is widespread among American children, affecting as many as three million children under the age of six, with lead paint the primary cause. Children are especially susceptible to lead poisoning since they are more likely to ingest lead paint and are more sensitive to the effects of lead. Elevated blood lead levels in young children can trigger learning disabilities, decreased growth, hyperactivity, impaired hearing, and even brain damage.