Drew University has agreed to pay $145,000 to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failing to properly manage hazardous waste at its Madison, N.J. campus. In 2007, the university had self-reported violations to EPA and and reported that it had corrected the violations.
But, during its 2009 investigation of the campus, EPA discovered that the University had haphazardly stored dozens of containers of paint, wood stains, enamels and adhesives in a manner that failed to minimize releases to the environment. According to EPA’s complaint, the containers were being stored outside and on the ground, some of which were in close proximity to residential housing and a pond. Many containers were open and could have easily spilled their contents or leaked into the ground.
According to EPA, the university also failed to properly identify discarded materials such as mercury, sulfuric acid, phosphoric acid, formic acid, and nitric acid as hazardous wastes. The complaint also alleges that Drew University stored hazardous waste without a permit authorizing and regulating such storage.
After EPA issued a complaint to Drew, the university agreed to pay a $145,000 fine for the violations, and comply with applicable federal and state laws and regulations governing the management of hazardous waste.
According to EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck, “EPA’s self-audit policy is intended to help institutions recognize violations of federal environmental laws and take action to correct them,” she said in a statement.
EPA’s policy is to substantially reduce civil penalties for regulated entities that voluntarily disclose and promptly correct violations which are identified through self-policing and meet certain other specified conditions, except in cases involving serious harm to public health or the environment.