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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Composting, public transportation

November 2010 Newsletter

U.S. Ecology to Pay Nearly $500,000 for Hazardous Waste Violations

EPA recently fined US Ecology $497,982 for 18 counts of hazardous waste violations.

US Ecology operates a commercial hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facility in Nye County, Nev., on the outskirts of Beatty.

EPA inspectors found numerous violations at a hazardous waste unit designed to thermally treat contaminated materials, like soils, to remove the hazardous components. On two occasions, US Ecology reports showed that the unit was “smoking,” releasing hazardous components to the air. The treatment unit has been permanently shut down by US Ecology.

“We impose strict environmental controls to make sure hazardous waste is actually treated and not simply released into the air,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Our goal is to safeguard worker health and nearby communities, so it’s imperative for facilities like US Ecology to properly manage their waste.”

In addition, EPA inspectors found PCBs were improperly labeled, stored and handled. EPA sampling results detected PCBs at elevated levels both in and outside the PCB storage building (43,500 ppm and 900 ppm, respectively). Inspectors determined that between 2006 and 2008 six spills, leaks or other uncontrolled PCB discharges occurred and were not reported as required by law.

The EPA’s Resource Conservation and Recovery Act program oversees the safe management and disposal of hazardous waste. Concerns about human health and the extensive presence and lengthy persistence of PCBs in the environment led Congress to enact the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1976.

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