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Settlement leads to school clean ups

A commercial waste handler in Rhode Island has agreed to pay a fine of $58,278 and to spend $252,152 to clean hazardous chemicals out of approximately 60 schools in Rhode Island and Massachusetts in order to settle EPA claims that the company violated state and federal hazardous waste laws at a facility in Providence, Rhode Island.

Northland Environmental and its owner, PSC Environmental Services, will remove chemicals from 60 high schools and middle schools within a 50 mile radius of their Providence facility at 275 Allens Ave. where the violations occurred. The companies have agreed to pack up and properly dispose of both hazardous and non-hazardous wastes stored at the schools; to do hazardous waste training for science and art teachers; and to purchase safety equipment such as storage cabinets for flammable chemicals, eye washes and deluge showers for classrooms where hazardous chemicals are used. This project will be done over 18 months during times when the schools are closed.

EPA alleged that Northland/PSC Environmental Services violated the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and state hazardous waste laws by failing to properly identify certain hazardous wastes and failing to properly maintain hazardous waste tanks and containers. These alleged violations could have resulted in the release of hazardous wastes to the environment. The company also stored incompatible hazardous wastes next to one another, creating a potential for fire or explosions. The company quickly came into compliance after the violations were identified.

The school clean ups will involve removing outdated and unwanted chemicals from schools at no cost to the participating schools. Chemical management is often a low priority for schools and it is not uncommon for school science departments to have outdated and unneeded stock chemicals present.

In addition to paying the fine and completing the environmental project, Northland/PSC has agreed to make sure the Providence facility remains in compliance with federal and state hazardous waste management regulations.