By Naomi Klouda
Three years after the fact, the Environmental Protection Agency clamped down on the Kenai Peninsula Borough for not properly handling hazardous wastes at its maintenance shop and fined it $12,800.
“It took a while to work through the process,” said Borough Mayor Mike Navarre. “During an inspection in September of 2009, the EPA said the borough may be in violation and then notified us of a violation in May 2011.”
The EPA states that “the facility failed to determine if waste it was managing was hazardous waste, and failed to label containers of hazardous waste and used oil waste.
The substances included paint thinners, kerosene and a mix of solvent and anti-freeze. The improperly labeled containers ranged in size from two-gallon containers to a 300-gallon tank.”
Navarre said the fine and the agreement to construct a special building is In lieu of litigation and saves the borough additional legal fees that would have been incurred to fight the EPA’s finding. In the intervening years since the EPA first found the unlabeled waste and hazardous materials, the borough changed how it was accumulating the substances and properly labeled it all.
It will cost $30,000 for the new building, but Navarre said the borough needed the facility anyway and it has been budgeted for construction.
The borough now has to determine if solid waste at the facility is hazardous waste, as required. Each needs to be marked with signage indicating “hazardous waste” or “universal waste” and with an accumulation start date.
The maintenance building in Soldotna is the site that oversees the borough’s $1 billion in building assets. “Things could have been better handled. In identifying those, the EPA could have given us huge fines. We worked out a mutually agreeable position. We do generate some hazardous wastes and we have to make sure we identify and label it and keep good records on it. I think EPA is satisfied,” Navarre said.
In a press release announcing the settlement, Scott Downey, Manager of the Hazardous Waste Compliance Unit in EPA’s Seattle office, said proper hazardous waste management prevents costly, dangerous spills and keeps communities safe. “We’re glad that the shop will soon have a building where it can manage hazardous waste more effectively,” he said.
In the notice of violation, the EPA lists all the containers specifically:
Paint-related waste totaling 2,839 pounds, consisting of paint thinner in a
two- gallon container and numerous five-gallon containers of kerosene, solvent, “325” solvent, printing solution, gear lubricant, plastic cement, and other unlabeled, unknown paint-related waste determined to be inflamable.
They found unknown waste in several 55-gallon containers and two Clorox containers totaling 30 pounds. The borough determined that this waste stream was a corrosive hazardous waste.
They also found waste antifreeze/solvent mix in three 55-gallon containers totaling 1,800 pounds and an unknown waste in a 10-gallon container totaling eight pounds. The site contained found waste fuels and solvents in several 55-gallon containers totaling 2,900
pounds. Waste sludge was located in a 55-gallon container that was later determined not a hazardous waste.
The reason why the determination was so long coming was to complete the investigation, said EPA spokesperson Hanady Kader.
“After we identified the potential violations in the September 2009 inspection, we did further analysis and requested additional information from the facility, which can take time to collect. We held several discussions with the facility and reached the final settlement this month,” she said.
The borough admits to no wrong doing, but has agreed to build a new facility for accumulating the necessary containers of fluids it needs to use to maintain buildings.
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