EPA Upholds Penalty for Hazardous Waste Violations

The United States EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) upheld the results of a hazardous waste storage EPA enforcement action initiated in 2011. EPA’s original complaint cited violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) – the federal law governing the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste – by Chem-Solv Inc., the operator of a chemical distribution facility in Roanoke, Va., and Austin Holdings-VA L.L.C., the facility owner. Chem-Solv and Austin Holdings-VA handle and distribute various chemicals, including alcohols, acids, caustics, mineral oils, surfactants, glycols and solvents. “EPA takes seriously our obligation to protect people’s health and safeguard communities by assuring compliance with the nation’s environmental laws,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “This final decision and order affirms the due diligence we took in pursuing an enforcement action to address hazardous waste violations that put the public’s health and environment at risk.” The EAB in a 26 January Final Decision and Order upheld the 2014 Initial Decision made by a EPA Chief Administrative Law Judge, and ordered those cited to pay the full $612,338.78 civil penalty. In a 2014 appeal, Chem-Solv questioned the ALJ’s determination that: the company had impermissibly operated a hazardous waste storage tank regulated under RCRA; a leaking chemical drum contained a solid waste rather than a useful product; the company had failed to make required hazardous waste determinations for materials in the storage tank and for certain aerosol paint cans; and whether the ALJ demonstrated bias against the Chem-Solv in the underlying decision. However, the EAB said the ALJ’s Initial Decision was “supported by a preponderance of the evidence” and that allegations of bias were “without merit.” The EAB ordered full payment of the penalty within 30 days and maintained that the company comply with applicable RCRA hazardous waste tank closure requirements.

EHS Today, 20 February 2015 ;http://www.ehstoday.com ;