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EPA Cites U.S. Mint For Clean Air Act Violations

January 26, 1998
Contact: Bonnie Lomax, (215) 566-5542

PHILADELPHIA - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it has cited the U. S. Treasury for Clean Air Act violations at the United States Mint in Philadelphia.

In the administrative complaint issued January 23, 1998, EPA charges the Mint violated regulations governing the emission of chromium compounds and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). EPA seeks a $129,400 penalty for these violations.

An EPA inspection revealed that the Mint failed to comply with regulations which reduce pollution from chromium compounds. EPA alleged that the coin-making site violated testing, monitoring, and operation and maintenance requirements for chromium electroplating since January 1997. An EPA inspection revealed that the Mint failed to comply with regulations which reduce pollution from chromium compounds. EPA alleged that the coin-making site violated testing, monitoring, and operation and maintenance requirements for chromium electroplating since January 1997.

Chromium compounds are regulated as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act. Hexavalent chromium, one such chromium compound, is a known carcinogen causing lung cancer and other non-carcinogenic, toxic effects. Another chromium compound, trivalent chromium is not a proven carcinogen, however it can cause non-carcinogenic toxic effects such as reduced lung capacity or allergic reactions in the skin. Human exposure to chromium happens mostly from breathing workplace air, or ingesting water or food from soil near waste sites.

The October 23 inspection also uncovered violations of Clean Air Act regulations on the repair and servicing of equipment containing CFC-based refrigerants. Specifically, EPA alleged that Mint employees serviced air conditioners and water coolers without using required CFC recovery and recycling equipment and that the Mint used an uncertified technician. The complaint also alleged that the Mint failed to evacuate CFCs to required levels before servicing refrigerant containing equipment.

Scientists worldwide believe that CFCs contribute to the destruction of the earth's stratospheric ozone layer, which protects the planet from harmful ultraviolet radiation. Ozone loss in the atmosphere is likely to lead to an increase in skin cancer in humans and damage to plant and animal life.

The U.S. Treasury has a right to request a hearing to contest the alleged violations and the proposed penalty.


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