Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Baylor University, Texas A&M University and Texas Christian University agreed to correct hazardous waste violations and pay $200K civil penalty

Texas Universities Address Hazardous Waste Violations in EPA Settlement
Baylor, TCU, Texas A&M all correct violations
Contact Information:
Jennah Durant or Joe Hubbard (R6Press@epa.gov)
214 665-2200

DALLAS – (Nov. 28, 2016) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced settlements with three Texas universities over hazardous waste violations at university facilities. Under the settlements, Baylor University, Texas A&M University and Texas Christian University all agreed to correct violations and pay a civil penalty. EPA discovered the violations by analyzing data the facilities are required to submit under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), as well as analysis of additional records that the universities voluntarily provided.

Under RCRA, facilities producing hazardous waste are regulated as small- or large-quantity generators. From 2011 to 2014, while Baylor claimed to be a small-quantity generator, at times it generated more hazardous waste than is allowed under this criteria. The reason this is important is that large-quantity generators have much more stringent employee training requirements, and need to prepare detailed contingency plans for first responders. Baylor also at times generated hazardous wastes without identifying them as such. In addition to paying a civil penalty of $11,330, Baylor corrected existing violations and will revise its standard operating procedures to ensure the lab will comply with RCRA. Baylor will also purchase and donate equipment to the Waco Fire Department to aid in identifying explosives, narcotics, and toxic chemicals during emergency responses.

Similar violations were found at Texas Christian University (TCU) facilities in Fort Worth, Texas. TCU improperly operated as a large-quantity generator because it produced more than a kilogram per month of acutely hazardous waste, which are certain wastes that are more toxic in smaller quantities. During these incidents, TCU did not notify the state of Texas as required of large-quantity generators. Also, between 2011 to 2015, TCU did not make adequate or accurate hazardous waste determinations of its waste streams. TCU agreed to correct violations and pay a civil penalty of $30,591.

EPA discovered violations at four Texas A&M University campuses: Commerce; Kingsville Citrus Center in Weslaco, Texas; Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory in Amarillo, Texas; and the Geochemical and Environmental Research Group in College Station, Texas. Violations included generating enough hazardous waste to qualify as a large-quantity generator but not registering as one, generating acutely hazardous waste without proper notification, and not filing required paperwork. Under four separate settlements, Texas A&M agreed to correct all violations and pay a combined penalty of $141,912.

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, passed by Congress in 1976 gives EPA the authority to control hazardous waste from "cradle-to-grave." RCRA sets national goals for protecting human health and the environment from the potential hazards of waste disposal, conserving energy and natural resources, reducing the amount of waste generated, and ensuring wastes are managed in an environmentally sound manner.

Learn more about RCRA: https://www.epa.gov/rcra

Learn more about EPA’s work in Texas: https://www.epa.gov/tx

J.C. Stucco and Stone ordered to pay nearly $345K in fines after OSHA finds company continued to expose workers to scaffolding hazards

November 23, 2016

J.C. Stucco and Stone ordered to pay nearly $345K in fines after OSHA finds
company continued to expose workers to scaffolding hazards
'Severe violator' cited 41 times since 2011 for federal violation

LANSDOWNE, Pa. - An administrative law judge recently affirmed nine cited federal safety and health violations and assessed $344,960 in fines against Lansdowne masonry contractor, J.C. Stucco and Stone. This follows a March 2016, hearing regarding six willful and three repeat citations issued after two 2014 inspections by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission adjudicates disputes between the U.S. Secretary of Labor and employers that contest OSHA violations. These disputes are heard in the first instance by an Administrative Law Judge ("ALJ") whose decisions are reviewable by the full Commission.

The company - which OSHA has cited 41 times since 2011 for exposing workers to life-threatening scaffolding hazards - sought and was given a hearing by the commission in March 2016. The parties entered into a partial settlement agreement prior to the hearing, whereby J.C. Stucco agreed to accept the willful and repeat citation items as issued. As such, the only issue before the ALJ was the appropriateness of the penalties proposed by OSHA in 2014.

"J.C. Stucco has a long history of leaving workers unprotected from incidents that can cause injuries and possible death and result from falls and unsafe scaffolding," said Theresa Downs, OSHA area director in Philadelphia. "Workers should not have to risk their lives for the sake of a paycheck."

In 2011, OSHA placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program for multiple instances of repeated, high-gravity violations.

"This action demonstrates our commitment to take aggressive action when an employer repeatedly ignores its responsibilities regarding the health and safety of its workers," said Oscar L. Hampton III, regional solicitor in Philadelphia.

The parties have until Nov. 27, 2016, to appeal the ALJ's decision, and the commission has until Dec. 7, 2016, to determine whether to review the judge's order.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Philadelphia Area Office at 215-597-4955.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

# # #