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EPA: Hazardous Waste Handling Agreement Reached with Bureau of Reclamation at Grand Coulee Dam

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Mark MacIntyre (

(Seattle) The Bureau of Reclamation has settled federal hazardous waste handling violations with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at Grand Coulee Dam in Northeastern Washington.

According to Chris Hladick, EPA Regional Administrator in Seattle, today’s action was undertaken at the request of the State of Washington’s Department of Ecology.

“We conducted this inspection at the Dam at the Department of Ecology’s request and found some areas of non-compliance,” said EPA’s Hladick. “Proper handling and management of hazardous waste is a serious responsibility that protects both workers and the public. All types of facilities must comply with the rules to protect people’s health and our environment.”

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) violations discovered during EPA’s 2017 inspection included:

  • Failure to conduct weekly inspections of hazardous waste accumulation areas;
  • Improper container management and failure to follow waste labeling requirements;
  • Improper hazardous waste storage (beyond 180 days) without a permit;
  • Violations of used oil and universal waste management requirements;
  • Failure to make a hazardous waste determination.

The waste in question included ignitable and corrosive compounds, used oil, mercury light ballasts and lithium batteries. As part of the Consent Agreement and Final Order with EPA, a $115,500 penalty was assessed. None of the violations outlined above occurred in publicly accessible areas.

The Grand Coulee Dam remains one of America’s most impressive engineering marvels, spanning almost a mile (5,223 ft.) across the majestic Columbia River. The Dam also sits astride the ancient, ancestral homeland of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation. Grand Coulee Dam is one of most popular tourist attractions in Northeastern Washington, attracting up to 300,000 visitors a year for tours and laser light shows.

For more about EPA’s RCRA enforcement program: