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Paterson Company Faces $186,000 EPA Penalty for Improperly Disposing of Lead-Contaminated Soil from Shooting Range

Release Date: 08/17/2001
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(#01101) New York, N.Y. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has charged Paterson, New Jersey-based Betal Environmental Corporation with improperly disposing of a 20-ton pile of lead - contaminated soil on its property at 250 Vreeland Avenue. Betal was hired to remove the soil from a Bergen County-owned shooting range, at which years of accumulated lead bullets exposed to the elements caused the contamination. Betal brought the 20-ton pile of lead-contaminated soil back to its Paterson facility and illegally stored it outside on the ground for over seven months. No attempt was made to recycle the lead. Paterson Public School 20 is located next door to the Betal facility, and EPA was concerned that children might gain access to and play in the pile of hazardous waste. EPA has charged Betal with three counts of violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the federal hazardous waste law, and is seeking a penalty of $186,800.

"A company doing business in the environmental field should know better than to leave a large quantity of lead- contaminated soil outdoors without protection," said William J. Muszynski, EPA Acting Regional Administrator. "Lead is one of our nation's most serious environmental health threats to children. The company failed to follow the law for the safe and proper management of this material and apparently failed to consider the well-being of the environment and its young neighbors."

EPA first inspected the Betal Environmental facility in September 2000 after receiving an anonymous tip that hazardous waste was being stored there improperly. Inspectors found an eight foot high and twenty foot long lead bullet-contaminated soil pile in a back lot behind Betal's office building. EPA took samples of the soil and found that it was indeed hazardous waste due to its lead content. Betal Environmental has been charged with storing hazardous waste for approximately 217 days without a permit and without proper containers, and with transporting hazardous waste from the Bergen County shooting range to Paterson without a required hazardous waste manifest. EPA also charged the company with failing to follow federal and state requirements that facilities storing hazardous waste make every attempt to minimize the possibility of unplanned releases of hazardous waste. Betal's storage of the contaminated soil directly on the ground, uncovered and exposed to the elements, increased the possibility of a release of the contaminants into the environment by wind and water. After EPA's inspection, Betal properly removed the pile to a permitted hazardous waste disposal facility.

EPA encourages shooting ranges to reclaim and recycle lead shot on their property before it must be disposed of as hazardous waste. A free copy of EPA's new manual, "Best Practices for Lead at Outdoor Shooting Ranges," can be obtained by calling (212) 637-4145. 

In addition to seeking a financial penalty, EPA has ordered Betal to demonstrate that it has removed any visible remaining contamination from the soil pile, and to submit a plan to the agency for how it intends to maintain future compliance with RCRA hazardous waste management regulations.

Betal Environmental Corporation has responded to EPA's complaint and order, denying the allegations.