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Skidmore College and EPA Reach Agreement on Hazardous Waste Management

Release Date: 02/01/2005
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For Release: Tuesday, February 1, 2005

(#05008) NEW YORK -- Skidmore College Exit EPA disclaimer, in Saratoga Springs, New York, has agreed to pay a $50,000 penalty and comply with hazardous waste management regulations Exit EPA disclaimerto settle a complaint brought by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As part of EPA's ongoing Colleges and Universities Initiative, to protect the health of those working at and attending institutions of higher learning, the agency had taken action against Skidmore for past violations of federal and state laws that provide for the safe handling and storage of hazardous wastes.

"Skidmore, and other colleges and universities, can avoid penalties for environmental violations by taking action on their own to protect people's health and the environment," said EPA Acting Regional Administrator Kathleen Callahan. "EPA continues to provide incentives to encourage colleges and universities to take advantage of this initiative and come into regulatory compliance."

In addition to paying the $50,000 penalty, Skidmore has agreed to follow hazardous waste regulations. The college will, if it has not already done so, put practices into place to determine if the wastes it generates are hazardous, comply with the required regulations and procedures for accumulating hazardous waste without a permit, and operate or maintain its facility to minimize the possibility of fire, explosion, or any unplanned release of hazardous wastes or hazardous waste constituents into the environment. Alleged violations of these practices were part of a complaint EPA issued against Skidmore in March 2004.

EPA established its Colleges and Universities Initiative in 1999 because it found that many such institutions were not aware of their responsibilities under various environmental laws. As part of the initiative:

    • EPA sent letters to colleges and universities in New Jersey, New York, and Puerto Rico
    • held free workshops to help colleges and universities comply
    • set up a Web site that provides information about their duties under the law;
    • and warned them that EPA inspections of their facilities with the risk of financial penalties were imminent.
EPA encouraged the institutions to avail themselves of the agency's Voluntary Audit Policy through which institutions can investigate and disclose violations to the agency and, if the necessary conditions are met, receive a partial or complete reduction in financial penalties.

EPA continues to encourage colleges and universities to participate in the Colleges and Universities Initiative. To date, 93 colleges and universities in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico have come forward to disclose more than one thousand violations to EPA. Most of them have been granted a 100% waiver of certain penalties totaling more than $10 million.

EPA has inspected 48 colleges and universities and has issued administrative complaints with penalties totaling more than $2.1 million over the past four years against 14 colleges and universities in New Jersey and New York and Puerto Rico. The Colleges and Universities Initiative is an ongoing program with additional investigations anticipated.