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EPA Settlement with the UVI to Benefit All Schools

Release Date: 03/27/2007
Contact Information: Rich Cahill (212) 637-3666, cahill.richard@epa.gov; Jim Casey (340) 714-2333, casey.jim@epa.gov

(St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.) A unique agreement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) promises a safer environment for students, faculty and workers not only at the university's campuses but at all the schools in the Territory. EPA has cited the university for multiple violations of rules under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act that govern how to handle hazardous waste. The settlement announced today goes beyond requiring the university to correct these violations, by requiring them to spend at least $99,000 to help all U.S. Virgin Islands' schools to comply with environmental rules. The university must also pay a penalty of $20,000.

"The UVI will help ensure good environmental stewardship throughout the entire VI educational community," said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. "This settlement is a true win-win for the Territory."

Under the terms of the agreement, UVI has committed to train its staff and faculty from both campuses and conduct a series of assessments, reports, mentoring and seminars to help other school facilities better handle their own environmental obligations.

The settlement being announced today requires the university to correct all of the alleged violations that EPA observed during its inspections to the extent that it has not already done so. The violations included failing to store incompatible waste chemicals separately, failing to determine which of the wastes that it generate are hazardous wastes, and failing to minimize the risk of fires, explosions, and the release of hazardous wastes and hazardous waste constituents. EPA also found that the university had not properly labeled containers of hazardous waste, had not regularly inspected the chemical waste storage areas, and had not provided proper training to employees.

Over the past four years, EPA inspected 58 colleges and universities and issued administrative complaints with penalties totaling more than $2.6 million against 20 colleges and universities in New Jersey, New York and Puerto Rico. This is the first such action in the Virgin Islands. The Colleges and Universities Initiative is an ongoing program with additional investigations anticipated. Educational institutions can self report violations and get relief from a portion of the penalties in exchange. For more information http://www.epa.gov/region02/capp/cip/; about EPA’s Colleges and Universities Initiative, visit http://www.epa.gov/region02/p2/college.

07-035