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U.S. EPA enforcement prompts VA medical center to make changes Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Medical Center corrects federal environmental violations

Release Date: 09/09/2008
Contact Information: Mary Simms, 415-947-4270, simms.mary@epa.gov

(SAN FRANCISCO -- 9/9/2008) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System has agreed to pay a $32,544 penalty for violations of federal environmental regulations at its Palo Alto, Calif., teaching hospital.

The VA medical center violated five requirements of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which governs the storage and handling of hazardous materials.

"It’s especially important that institutions, especially hospitals, follow hazardous waste regulations in order to prevent human exposures and environmental damage," said Jeff Scott, director of the Waste Division for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region.

The environmental violations were discovered during a routine inspection conducted jointly by the U.S. EPA and Santa Clara’s Department of Environmental Health. The inspection was to determine whether the facility was in compliance with federal and state regulations concerning the proper management of hazardous waste.

The facility was inspected on March 21, 2007 and charged with the following counts:

Storage of hazardous waste without a permit,
Open containers,
Inadequate facility maintenance,
Ignitable waste within 50’ of property line,
Failure to make a hazardous waste determination.

Shortly after the EPA’s inspection, the hospital addressed all of its violations -- coming into compliance with RCRA regulations. To ensure they remain compliant, the VA medical center has instituted a new tracking system for managing pharmaceutical waste.

The Veterans Affairs medical center in Palo Alto, California, is a teaching hospital providing patient care services as well as education and research. With nearly 3,000 employees, the facility is affiliated with Stanford University’s School of Medicine, which provides medical training for physicians.

For more information about the EPA's compliance and enforcement programs, visit: www.epa.gov/ebtpages/complianceenforcement.html

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