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Braintree, Mass. Waste Facility Ordered to Correct Hazardous Conditions / Joint Inspections by EPA and Mass DEP Reveal Multiple Issues

Release Date: 07/11/2007
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. - July 11, 2007) – A Massachusetts company that provides environmental and hazardous waste management services to customers throughout North America is the subject of EPA and MassDEP investigations and has been ordered to immediately correct hazardous conditions.

The company, Clean Harbors, Inc., is headquartered in Norwell, Mass. During recent inspections of a Clean Harbors facility in Braintree, Mass., representatives from both EPA and the Mass. Dept. of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), working closely together, discovered several potentially serious concerns regarding the facility’s handling and storage of solid wastes and hazardous wastes.

“It is critical that companies and individuals who handle hazardous materials carefully follow established methods for handling, storing and tracking these substances,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England region. “These procedures help reduce the chance of a potentially dangerous accident. Preventing an accident is the best remedy.”

“Those in the environmental cleanup industry must be held to the same standards as everyone else,” said MassDEP Acting Commissioner Arleen O’Donnell. “We rely on firms like Clean Harbors to assist in cleaning up the environment, and their own compliance is critical to that mission. MassDEP will continue to work with EPA to ensure that the company has adequate waste management systems in place.”

EPA has issued an administrative order against Clean Harbors, Inc., detailing conditions that could pose a danger to health or the environment. The order is issued under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the federal statute that governs safe handling, transport and disposal of hazardous wastes. Inspections that occurred in late June documented:
Improper storage of acidic, alkaline and organic hazardous wastes;
Use of storage tanks exhibiting evidence of deterioration which compromised their structural integrity;
Use of storage tanks in which internal monitors/alarms were not operating properly;
Use of storage tanks with evidence of air emission leaks;
Secondary containment systems surrounding numerous hazardous waste storage areas were found to have cracks and other conditions which compromised the reliability of such systems;
Inadequate waste tracking system to accurately monitor type and location of hazardous wastes stored at the facility.

EPA’s order requires Clean Harbors Inc. to take immediate action (within three days of receipt of the order) to abate the immediate dangers posed. These steps include separating hazardous wastes in the drum storage areas and preparing revised building diagrams that show each separate containment area and list each type of waste to be allowed to be stored in those areas.

Clean Harbors also is required to have an independent third party test and repair all high level alarms, test and verify that such tanks are vapor tight and have an independent registered professional engineer test the structural integrity of the tanks and provide a written report attesting to the structural integrity of such tanks. Secondary containment systems must also be cleaned, assessed and have necessary repairs made to ensure they are in full operational order. Lastly, Clean Harbors is required to make modifications to the waste tracking system to ensure it is capable of accurately tracking the type and location of all hazardous wastes present at the facility.

If the company should fail or refuses to comply with any requirement of this Order, EPA may begin a civil action in the U.S. District Court to require compliance and to assess a possible penalty of up to $6,500 for each day during which failure or refusal occurs.

More Information: EPA Hazardous Waste Enforcement in New England (

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    Contacts: EPA, David Deegan, (617) 918-1017
    Massachusetts DEP: Ed Coletta, (617) 292-5737