EPA settles hazardous waste case against Leed Foundry
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
announced that Leed Foundry Inc. has agreed to pay a $25,000 penalty
to settle alleged violations related to hazardous waste management and
storm water discharges at its foundry in St. Clair, Pennsylvania. This
settlement follows a precedent-setting ruling by EPA’s Environmental
Appeals Board that the foundry’s “baghouse dust” is subject to federal
hazardous waste regulations.
In a September 2004 complaint, EPA cited the company for improper storage
of its baghouse dust, which contained toxic concentrations of lead and
cadmium. This dust was generated by furnace operations at the foundry,
which manufactures grey iron castings such as storm sewer gratings and
manhole covers. Approximately 514 tons of the dust removed from the baghouse
-an air pollution control device - was stored in a pile, resulting in
some dust releases to the surrounding environment.
EPA’s complaint alleged violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery
Act (RCRA), which governs the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous
waste. RCRA is designed to protect public health and the environment,
and avoid costly cleanups, by requiring the safe, environmentally-sound
storage and disposal of hazardous waste. In the same case, the EPA administrative
law judge had previously assessed a penalty against the company for Clean
Water Act violations related to storm water discharges from the facility.
That decision was not appealed and the penalty is included in the settlement
referred to above.
The company challenged EPA’s authority to regulate grey iron foundry
waste, arguing that this substance is covered by the “Bevill Amendment,”
a RCRA provision which exempts certain fossil fuel combustion wastes
from hazardous waste regulation. On February 20, 2008, EPA’s Environmental
Appeals Board (EAB) reversed an administrative law judge ruling in favor
of the company. The EAB agreed with federal court decisions interpreting
the Bevill Exclusion to be limited to high volume and low toxicity waste.
The board deferred to EPA’s determination that grey iron foundry waste
is sufficiently toxic to warrant regulation under RCRA, noting that Leed
Foundry’s waste exceeded regulatory standards by 10 times for cadmium
and 185 times for lead.
After the EAB ruling, Leed Foundry cooperated with EPA in negotiating
a settlement of this lengthy litigation. The company has signed a consent
agreement, which will become effective on June 23, 2008. This agreement
requires the company to submit a cleanup plan to the Pennsylvania Department
of Environmental Protection for the former storage area of the toxic
baghouse dust; and submit a revised Preparedness, Prevention, and Contingency
plan including the monitoring of flow and constituents related to the
facility’s storm water discharge permit. Leed Foundry is also treating
the baghouse dust to prevent it from exceeding RCRA’s toxicity standards.
As part of the settlement agreement, the company has neither admitted
nor denied liability for the alleged violations, but committed to comply
with applicable requirements.