Waste Facility Agrees to $1.7M Settlement for Alleged Hazardous Waste Violations

In a settlement valued at more than $1.7 million, Clean Harbors of Braintree Inc. has agreed to pay a significant penalty and perform additional projects, to settle a complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of EPA, regarding numerous violations of hazardous waste management and emergency planning laws at the company’s Braintree, Mass., facility.

Under the settlement, Clean Harbors will pay a $650,000 penalty and will spend $1,062,500 on a supplemental environmental project (SEP) consisting of planting approximately 1,400 trees in low-income and historically disadvantaged environmental justice areas in Boston. It is expected that Clean Harbors will work with Boston’s Parks and Recreation Department to implement the project over a two-year period.

Clean Harbors also will comply with an enhanced waste analysis plan that goes beyond what is currently required in its hazardous waste permit. This plan will help ensure that the hazardous waste Clean Harbors receives and generates will be properly characterized and managed. Further, Clean Harbors has installed and will maintain a vapor collection system for its tanks that will collect and treat volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions, which contribute to smog.

“This settlement underscores how important it is that companies and individuals handling and managing hazardous wastes carefully adhere to the protective requirements EPA and MassDEP have established for these substances,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Complying with these standards helps reduce the possibility of a chemical release that could put the community and the environment at risk. I am also pleased that under this settlement a large number of trees will be planted, which will improve air quality and the quality of life for Boston citizens.”

EPA identified nearly 30 violations of both the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA) at a site inspection of the Braintree Clean Harbors facility that took place in June 2007. Those violations included inadequate waste characterization, the failure to properly maintain its hazardous waste tanks, inadequate secondary containment and improper storage of incompatible wastes. At the time of the inspection, many of the company’s hazardous waste tanks were deteriorating and in poor condition. EPA monitoring VOC emissions from some of the tanks.

In July 2007, EPA issued an administrative order directing Clean Harbors to immediately address numerous conditions identified during the inspection that could have posed a danger to human health or the environment. Clean Harbors came into compliance soon after the 2007 order. Inspectors from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) participated in the June 2007 inspection and provided support to EPA during the settlement process. In a separate consent order, MassDEP required Clean Harbors to replace all of the old storage tanks, as well as implement numerous other needed infrastructure upgrades at the facility. Clean Harbors has purchased and installed new hazardous waste tanks.

“This agreement illustrates the commitment by the U.S. Department of Justice and EPA to protecting communities from the potential dangers of hazardous waste and to fulfilling important environmental justice goals,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Under the settlement, Clean Harbors will take additional steps to ensure it properly characterizes and manages hazardous waste.”

“This project will assist the City of Boston's tree planting program, providing hundreds of additional street trees in the neighborhoods. Increasing the tree canopy will result in endless environmental benefits for our residents and is a priority,” said Mayor Thomas M. Menino.

The facility performs hazardous materials management and disposal services including drummed and bulk waste processing and consolidation, transformer decommissioning, PCB storage and processing, blending of waste used as supplemental fuel by cement kilns or industrial furnaces, and pretreatment of waste to stabilize it before it is sent to permitted landfills.

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