EPA levies penalties against SoCal renovation firms for lead-related violations in L.A. schools
LOS ANGELES – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced six lead-based paint enforcement actions against renovation firms doing work in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) elementary schools that serve historically marginalized communities. EPA under the Biden Administration is prioritizing the use of enforcement tools to advance environmental justice. The renovation firms in this case failed to comply with the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which requires them to protect workers, the public, and children from exposure to lead. They will pay a combined total of over $55,000 in penalties.
“Reducing childhood lead exposure is a top priority for EPA,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Director Amy Miller. “It is critical that contractors get certified and follow lead-safe work practices while renovating schools and residences. If they don’t do so, they will face penalties.”
EPA settled with Buena Park-based Bitech Construction Company Inc., Whittier-based Kemp Brothers Construction Inc. and MIK Construction in Santa Fe Springs for violations of the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP) under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). All firms performed renovation work on schools without EPA certification and did not retain proper records, including documentation ensuring that a certified renovator was assigned to the project, that on-the job training was conducted for workers, and that workers performing renovation were certified or trained by a certified renovator. Several of the firms failed to ensure that a certified renovator performed the post-renovation cleaning verification at the schools, and to confirm that the property owners received the required “Renovate Right” pamphlet. The firms will pay the following penalties:
- Bitech: $18,982
- Kemp: $16,691
- MIK: $16,814
Three Expedited Settlement Agreements (ESA) were also reached with AMG & Associates, Inc. in Santa Clarita, CA, and Woodcliff Corporation and Mackone Development, Inc., both in Los Angeles, CA. Each firm will pay $1,000 for bidding on a RRP job without first obtaining an EPA Firm Certification.
Under the terms of the settlements, the companies agreed to pay the civil penalties and to certify that they are in compliance with the RRP Rule, which requires the use of lead-safe work practices during renovations. The RRP was created to protect the public from lead-based paint hazards that occur during repair or remodeling in homes and child-occupied facilities, such as schools, that were built before 1978. The schools impacted in this case all serve majority lower-income communities where most residents are people of color. These communities experience high cumulative pollution exposure.
Though harmful at any age, lead exposure is most dangerous to children under the age of six. Lead exposure can cause behavioral and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems and diminished IQ. LAUSD is the second largest school district in the United States, and between 2018 and 2021 94% of firms inspected by EPA and used by LAUSD to perform renovations in elementary schools were not in compliance with EPA’s certification requirements. Since then, 87% of the firms have returned to compliance with the RRP Rule.
Learn about the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule and program: https://www.epa.gov/lead/renovation-repair-and-painting-program.
Report a lead-based paint violation: https://www.epa.gov/lead/pacific-southwest-lead-based-paint-tips-complaints.