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News Releases from Region 01

Hazardous Waste Settlement Leads to Purchase of Emergency Response Equipment in Kennebec County, Maine

Contact Information: 
David Deegan (deegan.dave@epa.gov)

BOSTON – A state-run laboratory in Maine has agreed to pay a fine of $27,000 and spend $73,000 to buy equipment for emergency responders in surrounding communities to settle claims by the US Environmental Protection Agency that it violated state and federal hazardous waste laws at its facility in Augusta.

The Maine Health & Environmental Testing Laboratory will buy emergency preparedness and response equipment for emergency responders at the Augusta and Waterville fire departments and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The new equipment includes: more than $25,000 for 24 individual self-contained breathing apparatus bottles, used to protect emergency responders from dangerous air emissions; $15,000 for propane heating systems, used to provide hot air and hot water inside decontamination tents; and $9,000 to buy and install storage for bulky equipment needed on an emergency response vehicle.

EPA alleged that the Maine state lab violated the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and state hazardous waste laws by, among other things, failing to properly identify hazardous wastes and failing to segregate incompatible hazardous wastes, so that they are not stored next to one another creating a potential for fire or explosions. The laboratory also failed to follow its own procedures for the treatment of certain corrosive laboratory wastes. In response to EPA's complaint, the laboratory thoroughly reviewed its practices and procedures and came into compliance after the alleged violations were identified.

"Laboratories that generate or manage a wide-variety of hazardous wastes must comply with environmental requirements to prevent releases to the environment and potential harm to workers and communities," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office.

In addition to paying the fine and completing the environmental project, the state laboratory agreed to make sure it remains in compliance with federal and state hazardous waste management regulations.

The Maine Health & Environmental Testing Laboratory performs analyses on a variety of substances, including food, water, wastewater, biological and hazardous waste. The laboratory generates various hazardous wastes including wastes containing sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid, mercury, acetone, methylene chloride and hexane. Hazardous and non-hazardous wastes are received, stored and or consolidated and then shipped off site for treatment or disposal. Hazardous wastes that are hazardous solely due to being corrosive are neutralized and disposed of with public sewage at the local treatment center.

More information on hazardous waste management (www.epa.gov/enforcement/waste-chemical-and-cleanup-enforcement#waste)