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EPA Issues Complaint Against C.W. Post College for Hazardous Waste Violations; Fine Totals $112,310

Release Date: 04/17/2003
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(#03037) New York, N.Y. -- C.W. Post College of Long Island University Exit EPA disclaimer, located in Brookville, New York, faces $112,310 in penalties for alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its ongoing effort to ensure the protection of those working at and attending institutions of higher learning, is taking action against the college alleging past violations of federal and state laws that provide for the safe handling and storage of hazardous wastes.

"EPA's action at C.W. Post continues our efforts to protect the students, faculty and staff at colleges, " said EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny. "Other colleges and universities may have the same violations found at C.W. Post in their labs, art studios or print shops. We continue to encourage them to work with EPA to develop environmental self audit programs rather than wait for us to do an inspection and face the possibility of fines and penalties."

The complaint charges C.W. Post College with violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which ensures that hazardous waste is managed in an environmentally sound manner from "cradle to grave." The complaint includes an order requiring C.W. Post to promptly address the alleged deficiencies if it has not already done so and to comply with all appropriate federal and state hazardous waste laws.

The inspection of C.W. Post revealed that the college generated waste chemicals, waste solvents, and other hazardous wastes from its laboratories, art departments, and maintenance facilities. According to the complaint, C.W. Post failed to determine whether various solid wastes it generated were hazardous wastes. The complaint also cites the college for failing to obtain a permit since it did not meet the conditions for a permit exemption. Among the conditions the college was found not to have met included proper marking and labeling of hazardous waste containers, ensuring that containers of hazardous waste are kept closed except when adding or removing hazardous wastes, notifying local police, fire departments, and hospitals regarding the types of hazardous wastes the college generates, and ensuring that its faculty, students, and staff are familiar with proper hazardous waste handling and emergency procedures.

EPA encourages participation in its Colleges and Universities Initiative, which has been in place since 1999. EPA established the initiative because it found that many such institutions were not aware of their responsibilities under various environmental laws. 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; set up a Web site that provides information about their duties under the law; and warned them that EPA inspections of their facilities with the risk of financial penalties were imminent. EPA encouraged the institutions to avail themselves of the agency's Voluntary Audit Policy through which institutions can investigate and disclose violations to the agency and, if the necessary conditions are met, receive a partial or complete reduction in financial penalties.

To date, 48 colleges and universities in the region have come forward to disclose violations to EPA. Thirty- eight (38) of them have been granted a 100% waiver of certain penalties totaling approximately $2.4 million. The remaining ten are still under review.

EPA has signed self-audit agreements with Rutgers University, the State University of New York ( SUNY), Syracuse University, the City University of New York, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and Clarkson University, in which those schools have committed to audit, disclosure and remediation schedules in exchange for the benefits of the Voluntary Audit Policy. Previous complaints with penalties totaling more than $1.5 million have been filed over the past fifteen months against Pratt Institute, Manhattan College, Princeton University, Columbia University, Long Island University's Brooklyn campus, New Jersey City University and Raritan Valley Community College. The Colleges and Universities Initiative is an ongoing program with additional investigations anticipated.

More information on EPA's Voluntary Audit Policy and the Colleges and Universities Initiative are available online .