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EPA Files Complaint Against Clarkson University for Hazardous Waste Violations

Release Date: 10/30/2003
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(#03121) New York, N.Y. -- Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York faces a penalty of $60,500 for alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of its ongoing efforts to ensure the protection of those working at and attending institutions of higher learning, has issued a civil enforcement action against the university, alleging violations of federal and state hazardous waste laws.

"Colleges and universities have an obligation to properly manage the hazardous wastes they generate," said EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny. "Through EPA's enforcement action, Clarkson University must now face the consequences of not living up to that obligation."

EPA charged Clarkson University with several violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), as well as violations of state laws. Specifically, EPA found that Clarkson: failed to determine whether the wastes generated in two of its buildings were hazardous wastes; failed to comply with requirements for separating or protecting wastes which are incompatible with each other; stored hazardous waste without a permit; and failed to qualify for an exemption from permitting requirements. EPA's complaint is based upon its November 2002 inspection of the university and upon information which Clarkson provided in response to an EPA request for information. As part of its enforcement action, EPA ordered Clarkson to promptly address the alleged deficiencies to the extent that the university had not already done so. Clarkson has the right to a hearing on the order.

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. Clarkson did participate in the Voluntary Audit Policy program, but only decided to do so after EPA conducted its inspection.

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 .