Environmental Protection

Legacy AT&T Wireless Sites’ Violations Sting New Cingular Wireless

The EPA has reached an administrative settlement with New Cingular Wireless, which will require the company to pay a civil penalty of $750,000 and spend $625,000 on environmental projects to resolve the alleged reporting, planning, and permitting violations at 332 legacy AT&T Wireless (AWS) sites now owned by NCW.

THE NCW violations, which occurred at AWS sites in 43 states, such as cellular towers, transmitter sites, switching stations and warehouses, included failure to comply with Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) reporting requirements related to the presence of sulfuric acid and diesel fuel at sites, inadequate or no Clean Water Act (CWA) Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plans, and Clean Air Act (CAA) minor source permitting requirements.

The EPCRA requirements help communities plan for emergencies involving hazardous substances, the CWA’s SPCC rule requires facilities to have oil spill prevention, preparedness, and response plans to help prevent oil discharges to navigable waters and adjoining shorelines, and the minor source permitting requirements under the CAA ensure that air emissions limits are met.

Under the settlement, NCW will provide a certification of EPCRA compliance at 1,356 sites and conduct comprehensive compliance audits of CAA and CWA/SPCC requirements at 1,361 and 41 legacy-AWS facilities, respectively. NCW has also agreed to pay stipulated penalties for all disclosed and corrected violations discovered through these audits.

NCW has also agreed to conduct environmental projects, which will provide hazardous materials awareness and health/safety training to building inspectors and fire fighters. The projects will also support the procurement of emergency response equipment such as fire-fighting equipment, gas meters, hazmat identification equipment, satellite phones and other emergency communications equipment. The seven entities, located in four states that will benefit from the projects are: Palm Beach County Fire Rescue and Georges Lake Volunteer Fire Department, Putnam County, Fla., New York City Fire Department, N.Y., Yancey, Texas Volunteer Fire Department, Texas, and San Diego, County California Office of Emergency Services, Bodega Bay, California Fire Protection District, and Los Angeles, California Police Department.

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