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In Settlement with EPA, New Jersey City University Agrees to Waste Reduction Program

Release Date: 10/27/2003
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(#03112) New York, N.Y. -- In a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on charges it did not properly manage hazardous waste, New Jersey City University (NJCU) has corrected improper waste management practices and agreed to implement a program to reduce the amount of hazardous waste it generates. The program is aimed at ensuring the health and safety of students and staff through the use of smaller amounts of chemicals in the general and organic chemistry laboratories, and improvements in the management of its waste chemicals. The university has also paid a monetary penalty of $23,000.

"The students of New Jersey City University are the real beneficiaries of this pollution prevention program," said EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny. "New Jersey City University's agreement with EPA also sends a clear message that colleges and universities can reduce the amount of hazardous waste they generate and maintain the high quality of their science departments."

EPA charged NJCU with several violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the federal hazardous waste law. Specifically, EPA found that NJCU did not train its employees in proper hazardous waste management and emergency procedures, failed to determine whether certain of its solid wastes were hazardous, did not minimize the possibility of a fire or other release of toxic substances, and did not keep records showing that it tested two underground storage tanks on its property for leaks for at least a year. The June 25, 2003 agreement between EPA and the university settled the federal civil enforcement action. In addition to the monetary penalty, the university agreed to undertake a supplemental environmental project that provides a benefit to the local community in lieu of paying additional penalties. Through the supplemental environmental project, the school will require the use of "mini scale" techniques in its chemistry laboratories, which serve approximately 300 students each year. By utilizing mini scale techniques, students will be using no more than two grams of each chemical in an experiment. Previously, students could use up to hundreds of grams of each chemical in an experiment. By using smaller quantities of chemicals, the laboratories will be generating substantially less waste.

EPA continues to encourage 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 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 attempted to make the institutions aware of the Agency's Voluntary Audit Policy through which institutions can investigate and disclose hazardous waste violations to the Agency and, if the necessary conditions are met, receive a partial or complete reduction in financial penalties.

The Colleges and Universities Initiative is an ongoing program with additional investigations anticipated. More information on EPA's Voluntary Audit Policy is available at The Web site for the Colleges and Universities Initiative is