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UMDNJ Takes on Environmentally Beneficial Projects Under Agreement With EPA Projects are Part of Consent Order to Settle Past Hazardous Waste Violations

Release Date: 05/03/2005
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FOR RELEASE: Tuesday, May 3, 2005

(#05044) NEW YORK -- As part of an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in Newark will become even more environmentally friendly at its campus on Bergen Street. The school will spend at least $150,000 on the effort to reduce the impacts of metals and chemicals used at its facility.

EPA had cited UMDNJ in June 2003 for violations of federal and state laws governing the proper management of hazardous wastes. In addition to correcting its violations and paying a $35,000 fine, the university will undertake initiatives that constitute a supplemental environmental project (SEP) an environmentally beneficial project that goes beyond compliance with the law that improves conditions at the school.

"Supplemental environmental projects are effective tools for settling violations because they support projects that produce additional environmental benefits," said Kathleen C. Callahan, Acting EPA Regional Administrator. "In this case, the university will reduce the amount of mercury and silver it uses in medical and dental areas, recycle solvents used at the facility and create a chemical inventory, removal and retention program."

EPA inspected UMDNJ in March 2003 and found that the school had failed to identify laboratory chemical wastes as hazardous and to store wastes properly to minimize the risk of releases that could threaten human health and the environment. In addition, UMDNJ failed to ship certain hazardous wastes to an authorized treatment, storage or disposal facility. When EPA alerted the school about the violations, the university promptly took steps to correct the problems.

Over the past two years, EPA has inspected more than 55 colleges and universities and issued administrative complaints alleging hazardous waste violations at 15 colleges and universities in New Jersey and New York with proposed penalties totaling more than $2.5 million. The Colleges and Universities Initiative is an ongoing program with additional investigations anticipated.

EPA developed a program in 1999 to assist colleges and universities after it found that many were not aware of their responsibilities under various environmental laws. EPA encourages institutions to use 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.