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North Shore Pays Fines for Violating Federal Hazardous Waste Handling Rules

Release Date: 06/12/2003
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(#03066) NEW YORK, N.Y. North Shore University Hospital on Community Drive in Manhasset has agreed to pay $40,000 in penalties to the federal government for violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) hazardous waste regulations, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today.

EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny explained. “The only way hospitals and other health care facilities can ensure that wastes that have the potential to harm people and the environment are properly handled is to strictly adhere to federal hazardous waste rules.”

As part of a region-wide initiative to bring hospitals into compliance with federal rules, EPA is inspecting health care facilities in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The discovery of the violations at North Shore Hospital grew out of EPA inspections of the facility in April and May of 2002.

EPA issued a complaint last year against North Shore hospital alleging it failed to determine if spent fluorescent bulbs and chemotherapy waste were hazardous prior to disposal, and had improperly documented the transport of hazardous waste. The Agency also cited North Shore for failing to properly label storage drums containing hazardous waste and to minimize the risk of explosion, fire and release that could have affected people’s health and the environment. As part of the settlement between the facility and EPA, the facility agreed to take corrective actions that would prevent any recurrence of the violations in the future.

EPA operates a Voluntary Audit Policy, through which the Agency can substantially reduce civil penalties for those that voluntarily disclose and promptly correct violations that are identified through self-policing and meet certain other specified conditions, except in cases involving serious harm to public health or the environment. In most cases, the punitive component of the penalty may be fully eliminated, but EPA would still be able to collect any economic benefit as a result of non-compliance.