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Plymouth State in NH Settles EPA Charges of Hazardous Waste Violations

Release Date: 12/13/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: David Deegan, 617-918-1017

(Boston) - Plymouth State University, in Plymouth, N.H. recently agreed to pay $25,993 and to do $74,000 in environmental projects to settle EPA claims that it violated hazardous waste laws.

The agreement calls for Plymouth State to provide comprehensive regional hazardous material/waste management training to employees of secondary schools across New Hampshire who use and manage hazardous materials and waste. It will also provide services for some 12 to 20 of these schools to safely dispose of unusable and/or dangerous chemicals and other hazardous wastes that may be identified as a result of the training.

"This enforcement action should substantially improve the management of hazardous wastes at Plymouth State University as well as at other high schools in New Hampshire,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "To help improve the safety of students and employees, colleges and secondary schools need to comply with hazardous waste management requirements in the law."

According to a complaint issued in February, the university violated both state and federal hazardous waste requirements. Specifically, EPA claimed that the University failed to:
- make hazardous waste determinations;
- properly store hazardous waste;
- maintain spill and fire control equipment;
- post “no smoking” signs;
- post emergency telephone numbers and locations of emergency equipment;
- keep hazardous waste containers closed;
- mark hazardous waste containers with accumulation dates and other important information; and
- conduct inspections of hazardous waste storage areas.

This action was taken as part of EPA New England’s College and University Initiative. Launched in 1999, the initiative has also included enforcement actions against Boston University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, as well as other colleges and universities in the region.

The initiative was launched after EPA inspectors noticed generally poor compliance during their visits to universities, which typically have large numbers of laboratories and other operations generating a large array of toxic chemicals. In addition to enforcement activities, the initiative includes extensive compliance assistance, including workshops geared for university environmental compliance personnel and a university compliance web page at: http://www.epa.gov/region01/assistance/univ/ .

EPA New England also recently conducted a College and University Audit Initiative, in which colleges and universities voluntarily disclosed and promptly corrected violations before an EPA inspection occurred. By making such disclosures, participants became eligible for significant penalty reductions or even penalty elimination. More than 175 university facilities in New England participated in this program and more than 175 self-disclosures were received and reviewed by EPA. Plymouth State University did not participate in this project.

To find out more about environmental audits visit: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/incentives/auditing/index.html .