Veterans Medical Center to Pay Civil Penalty to Settle Hazardous Waste Issues

The Robert J. Dole Veterans Administration Medical Center in Wichita, Kan., has agreed to pay a $17,979 civil penalty to the United States to settle a series of hazardous waste violations on its campus.

In addition to the civil penalty, the Veterans Administration has agreed to spend an estimated $61,900 on a supplemental environmental project to erect a hazardous waste accumulation building at the Wichita hospital. The Medical Center will safely accumulate hazardous wastes in the building prior to timely shipping the wastes to permitted facilities for proper treatment and disposal.

EPA inspectors conducted an inspection of the Medical Center in April 2010 and noted a number of violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Kansas Administrative Regulations, which regulate the management and disposal of hazardous wastes.

The violations noted during the inspection included failures to make hazardous waste determinations, failures to inspect, label, date and close hazardous waste containers; failures to make arrangements with emergency responders, failures to label used oil containers, and disposal of hazardous waste through the biological waste system.

According to an administrative consent agreement filed by EPA Region 7 in Kansas City, Kan., the violations involved used oil filters, used oil, spent anti-freeze and other liquid wastes in maintenance areas; unknown materials in a waste storage area; waste pharmaceuticals disposed in biomedical waste collection throughout the facility; and chemotherapy waste disposed with biomedical waste from the Medical Center’s Oncology Clinic.

As part of the settlement, the Veterans Administration must submit to EPA documentation of all hazardous waste determinations performed at the Wichita facility since April 2010, along with a standard operating procedure for assuring that all solid wastes at its facility receive a hazardous waste determination. On a quarterly basis for a year, the Medical Center must also provide photographic evidence of proper closing, labeling and dating of its hazardous waste accumulation containers, and of proper management of its used oil containers and tanks. It must also provide EPA with copies of shipping manifests for hazardous wastes that are sent off-site.