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Portsmouth Regional Hospital Voluntarily Corrects Environmental Violations

Release Date: 02/14/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: Sheryl Rosner, EPA Office of Public Affairs, (617) 918-1865

For Immediate Release: February 14, 2005; Release # sr050203

BOSTON – Portsmouth Regional Hospital in New Hampshire voluntarily discovered and corrected environmental violations at its facility by doing the kind of environmental self-audit being promoted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The hospital was one of the first in New England to voluntarily audit, disclose and correct the violations.

The EPA encourages companies to systematically audit their facilities and report any discovered violations to EPA using the Audit Policy. EPA’s New England office launched an effort last spring aimed at increased compliance with environmental laws by New England hospitals.

The agency has focused on the healthcare industry due to concerns that many hospitals may not be in full compliance with environmental laws. In a statement last April that was sent to more than 250 hospitals in New England, EPA Regional Administrator Robert W. Varney said, “Many hospital functions such as laboratories, power plants, and vehicle maintenance facilities, have the potential to cause environmental violations if not properly managed. I strongly encourage you to identify and correct any such violations.”

The agency’s decision to focus on the healthcare industry was also influenced by the experience of the EPA’s New York/New Jersey regional office, which took enforcement actions against several hospitals after significant violations were found during inspections of hospital facilities.

Portsmouth Regional Hospital wrote to EPA New England last spring to report it had discovered problems at the hospital related to its hazardous waste management and oil spill prevention practices. Portsmouth Regional Hospital’s self-disclosure reported violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Clean Water Act. The hospital contacted the EPA within 21 days of learning of these violations, making it eligible for a reduced penalty under EPA’s Self-Disclosure policy.

“Portsmouth Regional Hospital deserves credit for finding its own violations and then promptly reporting and correcting them,” said Varney. “This kind of self-disclosure helps the environment and can save an institution from the embarrassment and expense of an enforcement action.” The policy does not cover criminal violations or violations that result in actual harm to public health or the environment.

Because Portsmouth Regional Hospital satisfied the terms of EPA’s Audit Policy and did not realize any economic gain from the violations, EPA officials said there would be no penalty. Hospital Vice President of Engineering and Facility Management, Bill Duffy is hopeful that other institutions will see the benefit of self-auditing.

For more information on EPA’s audit policy go to: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/incentives/auditing/index.html

For more information on environmental compliance in Healthcare go to: http://www.epa.gov/ne/healthcare/