EPA Cracks Down on Campuses
Taking action against campuses in New York and New Jersey, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) continues to to teach educational institutions tough lessons in compliance with environmental laws. The EPA filed a complaint against Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y., in October and Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in November for violating waste management laws and regulations. The EPA and New Jersey City University (NJCU) also reached a settlement for accusations against the university.
The complaints come as a result of an EPA program designed to uncover regulatory compliance violations at colleges and universities. Since the program’s launch in 1998, the EPA’s inspection efforts on campuses have intensified and additional investigations are anticipated.
The EPA alleges that Clarkson University violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and state laws. The university is facing a $60,500 fine for alleged failure to determine whether the wastes generated in two of its buildings were hazardous wastes, and to comply with requirements for separating or protecting wastes that are incompatible with each other.
Vassar College faces $97,581 in penalties for improper disposal of waste and chemicals and failure to determine that they were hazardous wastes. The EPA claims the college did not have a permit to store hazardous waste and did not meet the protective management requirements needed to be exempt from a permit. Allegedly, the college didn’t close or identify hazardous waste containers with the required markings; didn’t notify emergency response agencies of hazardous waste stored at the facility; and didn’t minimize the possibility of fire, explosion or unplanned release of hazardous substances into the environment. The EPA also claims no records were kept to document the effectiveness of leak-detection systems in underground fuel storage tanks, and none of the personnel responsible for hazardous waste management were trained in how to handle it.
Seton Hall University, with campuses in South Orange and Newark, N.J., has agreed to take part in EPA's self-audit program. Under the program, institutions agree to undertake comprehensive environmental audits, self-report violations, correct deficiencies in environmental management, and take steps to prevent further violations. In return, the EPA agrees to waive gravity-based penalties.
The EPA and NJCU reached a settlement. The university corrected its improper waste management practices and agreed to implement a program to reduce the amount of hazardous waste it generates. In addition to paying a $23,000 penalty, the school will require the use of “mini scale” techniques in its chemistry laboratories to generate substantially less waste.
OSHA Guide Tackles Mold
Maintenance managers concerned about mold in their facilities should read the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) new bulletin, A Brief Guide to Mold in the Workplace. The bulletin provides recommendations on ways to prevent mold growth and clean up damage caused by moisture and mold.
The bulletin’s release comes at a time of growing concern about indoor exposure to mold and its adverse health effects. Some molds can cause asthma attacks in people who are allergic.
While no federal standards or recommendations exist for airborne concentrations of mold or mold spores, the OSHA bulletin released in October provides checklists on mold prevention tips to determine if a mold problem exists, as well as mold remediation guidelines. Additional sections address personal-protective equipment, sampling methods, and remediation equipment.
Moisture control is the key to mold control, according to the bulletin. Since mold requires water to grow, it is important to prevent excessive moisture in buildings. The guideline provides advice on controlling indoor moisture and humidity.
To obtain a free copy of OSHA’s bulletin A Brief Guide to Mold in the Workplace, visit OSHA’s Web site.