OSHA Compliance

EPA Environmental Appeals Board Upholds $600,000 RCRA Penalty


  2/24/2015
  Christopher Bryant | Bergeson & Campbell, P.C

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) has upheld the results of an EPA Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) enforcement action involving hazardous waste storage that was initiated in 2011 against Chem-Solv, Inc. and Austin Holdings-VA, L.L.C., the operator and owner of a chemical blending and distribution facility in Roanoke, Virginia. In a January 26, 2015 Final Decision and Order (order), available online, the EAB upheld in its entirety the 2014 Initial Decision made by the EPA Chief Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), and ordered respondents to pay the full, original $612,338.78 civil penalty.

Chem-Solv, Inc., the operator of a chemical distribution facility located in Roanoke, and Austin Holdings-VA, L.L.C., the facility owner, handle and distribute various chemicals, including alcohols, acids, caustics, mineral oils, surfactants, glycols and solvents. EPA’s complaint cited violations of RCRA. In its 2014 appeal, Chem-Solv raised four issues questioning the ALJ’s determination that: (1) the company had impermissibly operated a hazardous waste storage tank regulated under RCRA; (2) a leaking chemical drum contained a solid waste rather than a useful product; (3) the company had failed to make required hazardous waste determinations for materials in the storage tank and for certain aerosol paint cans; and (4) whether the ALJ demonstrated bias against the Chem-Solv in the underlying decision.

In its January 26, 2015, order, the EAB found that the ALJ’s Initial Decision was “supported by a preponderance of the evidence” and that Chem-Solv’s allegations that the ALJ exhibited bias were “without merit.” The EAB found “no evidence of bias in the record” and noted how the ALJ’s Initial Decision “thoroughly explain[ed] why she found each witness’ testimony credible or not, and cited to other facts in the record upon which she relied in reaching her decision.” The EAB ordered full payment of the civil penalty within 30 days and let stand the ALJ’s original compliance order requiring the company to comply with applicable RCRA hazardous waste tank closure requirements. Respondents have the right to appeal the EAB’s Final Decision and Order to federal district court.

Source: JD Supra, LLC