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North Slope Borough Settles With EPA for Hazardous Waste Violations

North Slope Borough Settles With EPA for Hazardous Waste Violations

The Bullet:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the North Slope Borough, Alaska have reached a settlement that resolves alleged violations of hazardous waste requirements under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.

North Slope Borough Settles With EPA for Hazardous Waste Violations

Who:

The North Slope Borough – the equivalent of most other state’s “county” – in the U.S. state of Alaska.

USEPA Region 10 with its headquarters in Seattle, WA.

USEPA contact: Judy Smith, 503-326-6994, smith.judy@epa.gov

What:

USEPA alleges the following violations by the North Slope Borough:

  • Failure to complete the hazardous waste determination on at least five separate wastestreams.
  • Stored more than 45,000 pounds of hazardous waste for greater than 90 days without the required permit.

EPA and the North Slope Borough have signed a Consent Agreement and Final Order.  As part of this agreement, the North Slope Borough will pay a $445,336 penalty.

The drums and containers of hazardous waste have been removed from the site.

When:

Violations occurred from 2012 – 2014

Announced by USEPA July 30, 2015

Where:

North Slope Borough is located largely in the North Slope region of Alaska.  The subject hazardous waste was generated at the South Pad facility located on Nunavaaq Street in Barrow, Alaska.

Why:

Ed Kowalski, Director of EPA Region 10’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement:

Performing timely and accurate hazardous waste determinations is a keystone of the RCRA program.  Waste must be evaluated by the generator so that it can be safely managed and to prevent releases that endanger human health and the environment.

Obtaining a RCRA permit prior to operating a storage facility is a critical requirement of the RCRA program. The permitting process insures that hazardous waste storage facilities are operated to prevent harm to the environment or human health. Circumventing that process can lead to dangerously poor waste management.

How:

Since Alaska lacks an authorized hazardous waste program, the Federal hazardous waste regulations apply in that state as they do in Iowa and Puerto Rico.

A Borough, just like a county, city, state, or even Federal government or division of government is subject to the hazardous waste regulations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and to the fines or penalties that may be imposed if violations of the regulations are found or alleged.

Summary:

A huge penalty – not a fine – was paid by this relatively small local government.  I can only imagine that this represented a significant hit to their budget, perhaps for years to come.  Though lack of Hazardous Waste Personnel Training was not cited as an issue here, I can’t help but believe that good training – my training – would have identified these issues and given the administrators of the North Slope Borough the information and the tools they would need to fix the problem.

Daniels Training Services

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Please don’t hesitate to contact me, whatever your question, regarding the cradle-to-grave management of hazardous waste.  I’ll travel anywhere in the country to provide Onsite Training or we can make it easy with a Webinar.