EPA and New York City establish audit program

In a move that will ensure the proper handling of many thousands of bulbs that contain toxic mercury and computer monitors that contain lead in New York City, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached an agreement requiring the city to pay $50,000 in penalties and launch a comprehensive program to properly manage such wastes.

Inspections of several buildings managed by the Department of Citywide Administrative services (DCAS), an agency of the city, revealed improper disposal of mercury-containing light bulbs as well as used computer monitors. The city agreed not only to comply with requirements, but also to surpass them by spending at least $300,000 on a multi-facility, self-audit program to assess compliance with hazardous waste management requirements.

The comprehensive audit program will cover more than 800 buildings owned or operated by the City of New York. The program will play a critical role in protecting human health and the environment by identifying, correcting and preventing violations of environmental regulations. Under the agreement the city has also committed to attempt to increase the recycling of spent bulbs and used computer monitors at their facilities.

Violations of hazardous waste disposal regulations were discovered from 2003-2005 during inspections of seven facilities managed by DCAS. Based on observations EPA made during the inspections and subsequent responses to requests for information, EPA concluded that DCAS had failed to make a hazardous waste determination with regard to spent fluorescent lamps or used computer monitors at the inspected facilities. Additionally, EPA observed that DCAS had failed to meet labeling requirements and had failed to package the waste properly.