Hazardous Waste News

News Item 1: Parties Could Contribute Up To $1.2 Million Under Terms Of Settlement

Federal and New Hampshire officials announced on Aug. 29 they have reached an agreement with Chester Realty Trust, the owner of the Mohawk Tannery site in Nashua, and Warren Kean to contribute to the cleanup of the site.

All funds received by EPA from this settlement will be put into an account earmarked for use at the Mohawk Tannery site. In return, Warren Kean and Chester Realty Trust will be released from any further EPA or state of New Hampshire costs associated with the site, and will receive protection from potential contribution lawsuits by other liable parties.

The agreement will generate at least $500,000 towards the cleanup of the site. Included in the agreement, which was subject to a 30-day public comment period in the early summer, are the following details:

  • The parties will contribute at least approximately $418,000, and possibly up to $1.2 million, of recovered insurance proceeds to the cleanup of the site.
  • Kean will make three annual payments of $25,000 to EPA and the N.H. Department of Environmental Services (DES).
  • Chester Realty Trust will transfer the Mohawk Tannery property as well as three additional parcels of land to a government designated entity or market the three properties and transfer all proceeds from the sales to EPA and DES.
  • Chester Realty Trust will provide access to the property and record an easement with the land records office granting access to EPA and DES and the right to enforce use restrictions on the property.
  • Within 30 days of the effective date of the settlement, Kean and Chester Realty Trust will stop leasing the Mohawk Tannery Property to tenants or otherwise allowing others to use the property for any reason.

According to EPA, past disposal practices at the site included the direct discharge of wastewater containing such hazardous substances as chromium, zinc and phenol into the Nashua River, and the disposal of sludge containing such hazardous substances as chromium, pentachlorophenol and phenol into a number of unlined disposal areas at the site. Additional information on the site can be found at http://www.epa.gov/region01/cleanup/index.html.

News Item 2: Virgin Islands Government Cited For Widespread Hazardous Waste Violations

On Aug. 30, EPA announced it cited the U.S. Virgin Islands (V.I.) for widespread violations of federal rules for the proper management of certain hazardous wastes at many government facilities on all three islands.

According to an administrative consent order issued by the federal agency, government operations as diverse as schools, office buildings and motor pools, as well as the Virgin Islands Department of Public Works, repeatedly failed to separate out hazardous waste from regular garbage items.

"While fluorescent bulbs and old computer monitors may seem innocuous, they contain substances such as mercury and lead that could be harmful to people and the environment," said EPA Region 2 Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. "These items are hazardous waste and should be handled with care so they don't leak dangerous substances into the environment and endanger people's health."

If improperly disposed, mercury can repeatedly cycle through the land, water and air. When airborne, it can be deposited on soil and water bodies, settle in sediments and, ultimately, be consumed by and stored in the fat reserves of living organisms. An unfortunate example of this problem is the prevalence of fish advisories resulting from mercury contamination, agency officials said. Televisions and color computer models contain an average of 4 pounds of lead (the exact amount depends on size and make). Lead is a toxic metal that can cause delayed neurological development in children and other adverse health effects in adults, including increased blood pressure, nephritis and cerebrovascular disease. Lead is at the top of the agency's list of substances that need to be eliminated from the environment as much as possible, EPA officials said. Both computer monitors and fluorescent bulbs can be recycled or disposed of in a manner that lowers the risk of release into the environment.

EPA found these and other violations during a series of inspections in April 2005. The other violations involved failing to immediately clean up used oil spills and properly label containers of used oil at V.I. Department of Public Works facilities. EPA is seeking penalties of $146,933 for all the violations cited in its complaint and order. The V.I. government can request a hearing to contest the allegations in the complaint or enter into settlement discussions.

For more information, contact EPA Region 2 at http://www.epa.gov/region02.

This article originally appeared in the 08/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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