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Donna Heron, 215-814-5113
PHILADELPHIA – The Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) has settled a multi-facility enforcement action, which EPA initiated after finding significant violations during a multi-media inspection at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt, Greensville County, Virginia in May, 2003.
EPA conducted 14 follow-up inspections at various VADOC-operated prisons throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia, and discovered non-compliance with environmental regulations at many of the facilities.
The settlement with VADOC involves all 15 of these facilities. The VADOC will pay a $77,000 cash penalty and will also complete a comprehensive Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) that is estimated to cost $547,305. Under the SEP VADOC will completely re-organize its environmental compliance unit, which will include hiring new staff, promoting environmental compliance at its prisons statewide, and instituting a pollution-prevention program.
This settlement is part of an ongoing effort by the Office of Enforcement, Compliance and Environmental Justice (OECEJ) within EPA=s Mid-Atlantic region to ensure that prisons and jails comply with applicable federal and state environmental regulations.
“Just like any private facility, prisons have an obligation to obey all the environmental laws and protect public health,” said Donald S. Welsh, EPA=s mid-Atlantic regional administrator, who noted that VADOC worked closely with EPA in investigating and resolving this matter.
In its prison initiative, EPA has worked with state environmental agencies to inspect prisons with a major focus on those facilities with industrial operations, and within large, over-crowded prisons throughout the region. Most prisons utilize a civilian and inmate workforce to manufacture commercial products, such as wood furniture, highway signs or license plates, and generate significant quantities of hazardous waste.
When appropriate, EPA has taken legal measures to address environmental violations by initiating multi-media enforcement actions against inspected prisons. The recent agreement with VADOC is is the third multi-media settlement involving a state prison in the last year and the seventh settlement with a prison during this initiative. Recent settlements with Delaware=s Department of Correction and with Maryland=s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services have also resulted in cash penalties and substantial SEPs..
As part of the settlement, the Virginia Department of Corrections neither admitted nor denied liability for the alleged violations, but has certified that it is now in compliance with the cited environmental regulations.