Clarification on Settlement from 2012 EPA Inspection
Columbia, Missouri – 02/12/15 Late yesterday afternoon, ABC received notification of the EPA’s intent to issue a news release concerning the settlement of a $19,040 penalty that resulted from a 2012 EPA inspection of ABC’s facilities.
While facts stated in local news reports are not inaccurate, the violations related to the penalty warrant clarification. It is important to note that there was no spill or improper or illegal release of hazardous materials into the environment. ABC wants to be very clear on its commitment to regulatory compliance, as well as safeguarding our employees and the environment.
Modern laboratories such as ABC utilize instrumentation for sample extraction that requires the use of various solvents. (An example of such solvents is acetone, a common household chemical used as nail polish remover.) Used solvents, which are categorized as “hazardous waste” in a regulated laboratory environment, are carried from each instrument through tubing to a collection container (typically a one-to-three-gallon, state-of-the-art waste collection containment vessel with a tightly fitting lid). At any given time, ABC will have approximately 250 of these instrument/collection container pairs in use, causing the company to be categorized as a “large generator” of hazardous waste. The 2012 violations cited irregularities with two (less than 1%) of such containers on ABC’s premises.
The 2012 inspection found one partially filled, 2.5-gallon container that was not completely sealed (lid or tubing did not fit tightly) and one minimally filled container that had been in use for greater than one year. By regulation, a special Treatment, Storage, and Disposal Facility (TSDF) permit is required to hold waste for longer than one year, and so ABC was found to have “operated as a TSDF without proper permit.” Upon notification of those findings, ABC immediately brought the two containers into compliance with regulations. As a matter of ongoing practice, ABC utilizes the services of a permitted TSDF for disposal of these materials within the one-year timeframe required by regulations.
All other issues cited were administrative in nature, and also were immediately corrected; however, they serve as a reminder of the importance of proper documentation in our highly regulated environment. ABC was cited for not conducting weekly hazardous waste inspections routinely; while these inspections are conducted by highly qualified personnel, documentation was insufficient. Similarly, although training in hazardous waste management procedures had been completed, ABC was not able to produce recorded written documentation of that training. Cell phone numbers for ABC’s three emergency coordinators were, in fact, provided in the contingency plan; however, the plan did not list the individuals’ home addresses. Although these issues may seem minor, they illustrate how critically important attention to detail can be.
As accurately stated in the report, ABC has certified it is in compliance with all requirements of RCRA by implementing these changes.
ABC management shared information about the observations with employees in January, and details have been discussed during internal safety presentations since that time. It is important to note that ABC is regularly inspected by multiple governmental agencies, including the FDA, EPA, NRC, FAA and DEA. In addition, our clients regularly review the company’s regulatory compliance practices. ABC has an excellent regulatory record and reputation for regulatory compliance.
As part of our media response, ABC issued the following written statement:
“ABC has world-class hazardous waste handling facilities,” said John Bucksath, President & CEO. “It is important to note that there was no spill or improper or illegal release of hazardous materials into the environment. In fact, the end result of much of the work ABC performs is to protect the environment. We are very proud of our role in safeguarding the environmental, animal and human health.”
For additional information, contact Kristein King at 573-777-6209.