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City of Hartford Will Pay $36,138 in Penalties and Spend $108,000 on Downtown Clean-up

Release Date: 07/30/1999
Contact Information: Amy Miller, EPA Press Office (617-918-1042)

BOSTON - As a result of a settlement signed this week with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the City of Hartford has agreed to pay $36,138 in penalties and invest at least $108,000 to clean nearly an acre of contaminated property downtown and prepare it for use as a recreation, garden and wildlife area.

The agreement is the result of an enforcement action EPA-New England took against the city for violations at its Department of Public Works last year. In a September 1998 complaint, EPA said the city violated hazardous waste management laws and failed to prepare and use an oil spill control plan at its Central Public Works Yard on Jennings Road. The agency recommended a total penalty of $169,575 against the city.

In addition to paying a $36,138 penalty, the city has agreed to remove contaminated soil from a Brownfields site located between Edwards and Chestnut Streets across from the Quirk Middle School and adjacent to a homeless shelter. The city also agreed to create a natural wildlife habitat and open recreation space and to allow a portion of the property to be used as a community garden by the Knox Park Foundation, a non-profit organization that maintains gardens in and around Hartford.

The city will retain ownership of the property and ensure its use for the benefit of the public for at least 10 years, according to the consent agreement and order.

Several years ago, the City of Hartford used EPA funds to conduct a Brownfields risk assessment of the property and learned the soil was contaminated with lead and semi-organic volatile compounds beyond state standards for residential direct exposure. The city had no immediate plans to clean the site, however, because of the lack of funding.

"This agreement serves the community and the environment and achieves a just resolution of this enforcement matter," said John P. DeVillars, EPA's New England Administrator. "The people of Hartford will gain a new park, an improved public garden and an additional wildlife area at the same time the city learns it does not pay to break laws that protect the environment."

Among the specific hazardous waste violations inspectors found at the DPW yard were the following:

    • Hazardous waste paint-related material like thinners and stains were stored in open, unlabeled containers, exposing workers to toxic fumes.
    • At least 15 55-gallon drums of unidentified material were stored in an uncontrolled manner. At least nine of the drums were later found to contain hazardous waste gasoline.

      About 120 five-gallon pails of traffic paint containing lead and volatile organic compounds had been stored in a garage for several years.

The DPW also did not have an oil spill prevention plan, as required by the Clean Water Act, but stored more than 48,000 gallons of oil at the yard. This quantity significantly surpasses the regulatory limits. An oil spill prevention plan is required if an oil spill from the facility could reach a waterway. The DPW yard is located at 40 Jennings Road, about 500 yards west of the Connecticut River.