VA Hospitals in Kansas pays penalty and implements better
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs Eastern
Kansas Health Care System (DVA) has agreed to pay a $51,501
civil penalty and spend nearly a half-million dollars
on a plan to manage pharmaceutical and chemical wastes,
all in an agreement to settle alleged violations of hazardous
waste laws at its hospitals in Leavenworth and Topeka,
The agreement, filed in Kansas City, Kansas, resolves
a series of violations noted during inspections of the
Dwight D. Eisenhower Veterans Medical Center in Leavenworth
in January 2006, and the Colmery O’Neil Veterans Medical
Center in Topeka in April 2006.
A three-count complaint accused DVA of one count of failure
to perform hazardous waste determinations; one count
of operation of a hazardous waste treatment, storage
or disposal facility without a permit; and one count
of offering hazardous waste for shipment to a transporter
without a manifest and offering hazardous waste to an
The complaint alleged that the 2006 inspections by EPA
Region 7 staff found multiple violations of the Resource
Conservation and Recovery Act, including:
Failure to perform proper hazardous waste determinations
at Leavenworth and Topeka.
Failure to properly manage hazardous waste satellite
accumulation containers in the Histology Lab and
Lab Storage Room at Leavenworth.
Failure to properly mark hazardous waste containers
in the Histology Lab storage room, a paint waste
storage room and one other room at Leavenworth.
Failure to document all weekly inspections of hazardous
waste storage areas at Leavenworth.
Failure to conduct weekly inspections of an area
storing large quantities of acute hazardous waste
Failure to store incompatible wastes without proper
segregation at Leavenworth.
Unpermitted on-site incineration of some hazardous
wastes at both facilities.
Unlawful shipping of hazardous waste between the
two facilities without proper manifests, including
the transportation of hazardous waste by an unauthorized
Besides paying a $51,501 civil penalty, the Department
of Veterans Affairs Eastern Kansas Health System must
spend at least $482,069 on a supplemental environmental
project to develop and implement a program to properly
identify, segregate and manage its pharmaceutical and
chemical wastes at the Leavenworth and Topeka hospitals.
The supplemental environmental project will have at least
three phases, including analysis of waste streams present
at the facilities, development of current reference material
including the implementation of pharmaceutical waste
software, and risk assessment to define processes and
DVA plans to develop software and hire additional personnel
to track all chemicals and pharmaceuticals at both hospitals.
This in turn will identify areas where product substitution,
employee training and recycling can be implemented, potentially
eliminating the disposal of hundreds of pounds of hazardous
waste annually at each facility.