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EPA settles with Wisconsin mercury handler on hazardous waste violations

Release Date: 11/10/2009
Contact Information: Karen Thompson, 312-353-8547, thompson.karen@epa.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 09-OPA224

(CHICAGO - Nov. 10, 2009) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has reached an agreement with Mercury Waste Solutions LLC, Union Grove, Wis., resolving alleged violations of federal rules on hazardous waste and toxic substances. The company, which recovers and recycles metallic mercury, has agreed to pay a penalty of $54,000 to settle the violations.

Mercury Waste Solutions, located at 21211 Durand Ave., was the site of an equipment malfunction in 2003 and again in 2006. Under the company's Resource Recovery and Conservation Act permit the facility must be maintained in a manner that minimizes the possibility of a fire, explosion or release of a hazardous waste. EPA inspectors found that the company failed to do so.

The compliance order also resolves allegations that the company has completed several projects to address the violations and minimize potential risk including installation of an air scrubber, a mercury monitoring system and an air breathing system that would supply air to employees in case of an incident. Mercury Waste Solutions has also upgraded its control system, sealed facility floors and built a training room.

The compliance order also resolves allegations that the company violated federal rules on PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) including failure to document PCB storage, prepare spill prevention and control plans, and properly mark the PCB storage area.

EPA regulates the proper cleanup, disposal, marking, record-keeping, storage and limited use of PCBs under the Toxic Substances Control Act. PCBs are a group of toxic chemicals, once used widely in industry as coolants and lubricants. EPA banned the manufacture of PCBs in 1979 because of evidence that they accumulate in the environment and present health hazards for people.

Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, EPA regulates hazardous waste from production to final disposal.


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