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EPA Signs Environmental Self-Audit Agreements with Two New Jersey Healthcare Institutions

Release Date: 02/24/2004
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(#04028) New York, N.Y. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has entered intoagreements with Saint Barnabas Health Care System Exit EPA disclaimerand Saint Clare's Hospital Exit EPA disclaimerto conductcomprehensive environmental audits of their facilities. These agreements were reached through EPA's Healthcare Compliance Initiative, an innovative environmental program that helps hospitals and healthcare facilities comply with environmental regulations through a self-audit, under which they assess their facilities for compliance under all major environmental programs, report and correct violations, and subsequently receive relief from penalties.

"I hope that other New Jersey healthcare institutions follow the lead of Saint Barnabas and Saint Clare's, and consider entering into self-audit agreements with EPA," said EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny. "Every institution that audits its environmental practices is working to safeguard the environment as well as its workers, patients and visitors. Saint Barnabas and Saint Clare's are ensuring that they are good environmental stewards and good neighbors to the communities they serve."

The Saint Barnabas Health Care System is New Jersey's largest healthcare delivery system, and second largest private employer. Under the agreement with Saint Barnabas, signed by EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny and Saint Barnabas' Vice President William Cuthill, Saint Barnabas will audit its environmental practices at

    1. Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville
    2. Community Medical Center in Toms River
    3. Kimball Medical Center in Lakewood
    4. Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch
    5. Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston
    6. Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, Irvington General Hospital
    7. Union Hospital

as well as numerous other smaller medical service facilities. Saint Barnabas will identify and report any violations, correct any deficiencies in its environmental compliance and take steps to prevent further recurrence of violations.

"We are excited to be part of this voluntary effort to ensure our compliance with EPA requirements and look forward to beneficial and successful completion of this program," said William J. Cuthill, Vice President, Facilities Management/Construction, Saint Barnabas Health Care System.

Administrator Kenny and Saint Clare's Chief Operating Officer/CEO David Lundquist signed a similar agreement, under which Saint Clare's agrees to audit its environmental practices throughout its four main campuses in Boonton Township, Denville, Dover and Sussex, as well as at all other off-site facilities.

"Saint Clare's is pleased to be working with the EPA on this healthcare compliance agreement," said David Lundquist, chief operating officer of Saint Clare's Health System and chief executive officer of Saint Clare's Hospitals. "We are committed to creating the safest possible environment for our patients, staff and visitors. As a healthcare leader in our region, Saint Clare's views this process as yet another way of caring for our community and providing the best medical care possible."

If hospitals doing self-audits correct violations and abide by their individual agreements, EPA has agreed to waive "gravity-based penalties," which are penalties normally based on the seriousness of the violations. The agreements cover all major federal environmental programs including

    • air
    • water
    • pesticides
    • solid and hazardous wastes
    • hazardous substances and chemicals
    • environmental response
    • emergency planning
    • community right-to-know
    • toxic substances control.
EPA established the self-audit policy for healthcare providers to encourage prompt disclosure and correction of environmental violations, safeguarding people and the environment. Many hospitals were not aware of their responsibilities under various environmental laws or had failed to implement effective compliance strategies. As part of the initiative, EPA contacted all the hospitals in New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands and provided free workshops and an informational Web site to alert them to their duties under the law. The Agency also warned them that inspections of their facilities with the risk of financial penalties were imminent. Hospitals can join the Agency's voluntary self-audit program, through which they can investigate and disclose environmental violations to EPA and, as a compliance incentive, receive a partial or complete reduction in financial penalties.

To date, EPA has signed 18 self-audit agreements with hospitals in New York and New Jersey. In addition, 14 self-audit agreements have been signed under a similar program for colleges and universities. Additional agreements are being developed and more are expected.