U.S. Announces Clean Air Agreement with Nation's Largest Hazardous Waste Treatment and Disposal Operator
Washington The Justice Department and theEnvironmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a settlement withClean Harbors Environmental Services that is expected to enhancecalculating and reporting on benzene emissions from North America'slargest operator of hazardous waste treatment and disposal facilities.This settlement involves ten facilities in eight states. It confirmsthe proper industry standard for compliance with the Clean Air Actregulation that limits benzene emissions from facilities that treat,store, and dispose of hazardous waste.
The affected facilities are located in Chicago, Ill.; Cincinnati, Ohio;Braintree, Mass.; Bristol, Conn.; Baton Rouge, La.; Plaquemine, La.; LaPorte, Texas; Deer Park, Texas; Kimball, Neb.; and Aragonite, Utah.
The agreement with Clean Harbors is part of EPA's efforts to enhancecompliance with benzene regulations among hazardous waste treatment,storage, and disposal facilities. Benzene is a hazardous air pollutantand a known carcinogen.
"By enforcing proper methods to calculate benzene emissions, we movecloser to ensuring that this hazardous air pollutant is not unlawfullyemitted into our environment," said Acting Assistant Attorney GeneralKelly A. Johnson. "Today's settlement with the country's largestoperator of hazardous waste treatment and disposal facilities should setthe standard for the rest of this industry."
A consent decree, filed today in U.S. District Court for the NorthernDistrict of Illinois, will require Clean Harbors to properly determinethe benzene quantities in waste shipments received from its customers.Clean Harbors will not be allowed to estimate the benzene received byusing the middle number in a range of possible benzene concentrationsthat a customer supplies. Instead, Clean Harbors will have to measurethe actual benzene concentration or use the high end of the range inorder to ensure that benzene is not underreported. Underreportingbenzene can result in failing to install pollution controls on tanks andother equipment that handle benzene.
The states of Illinois and Louisiana are joining the settlement.
"This settlement underscores EPA's commitment to enforcing the Clean AirAct. Companies that treat, store, or dispose hazardous waste arerequired to properly quantify the amount of benzene received at theirsites," said Granta Nakayama, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Officeof Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "It is particularly importantfor facilities that have the potential to release benzene, a knowncarcinogen, into the air."
To meet its obligations under the consent decree, Clean Harbors willrevise its nationwide "Waste Material Profile Sheet" to ensure that allcustomers that are covered by the benzene waste regulation properlyevaluate and certify the amount of benzene in their waste shipments.Clean Harbors will institute a program to sample these wastes to ensureproper reporting and will train its employees on compliance with thebenzene regulations. Clean Harbors will also pay a $300,000 penalty.
The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public commentperiod. A copy of the consent decree lodged today is available from DOJat: http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/open.html and EPA at:http://www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/cleanharbors.html