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Agency Of Natural Resources Admits Violations At Environmental Laboratory
CONTACT: Robert F. McDougall, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-3186
November 9, 2011
The Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Department of Environmental Conservation (the Agency) has agreed to pay $85,000 in civil penalties and $30,000 to fund a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) under a Consent Order entered into with the Vermont Attorney General’s Office to settle claims that the Agency’s Department of Environmental Conservation R.A. LaRosa Environmental Laboratory (the lab) violated Vermont’s environmental laws and regulations concerning the handling, storage and disposal of hazardous waste.
“No different than any other laboratory in the state, the Agency is accountable for its failure to follow and comply with Vermont’s environmental laws,” said Attorney General William H. Sorrell. “However, to its credit, as soon as the Agency suspected that violations had occurred, it contacted my Office and cooperated fully with our investigation.”
In the proposed Consent Order filed in Superior Court Washington Unit, the Agency admits to 24 different violations of Vermont’s hazardous waste management rules and state law. The violations were documented during inspections in early January 2011 by staff reporting directly to the Attorney General’s Office.
If approved by the Court, the Consent Order will require the Agency to create a comprehensive Compliance Plan for the lab to include, among other things, procedures for the handling, identification, and storage of hazardous waste. Agency staff will be required to be trained on management practices. The Agency also agreed to hire an independent contractor to review the lab’s practices and perform bi-annual reviews of the lab for two years. The lab, currently displaced by the flooding of Tropical Storm Irene and operating temporarily at the University of Vermont, is required to follow the University’s laboratory management practices and procedures while at that location.
“The flooding of Tropical Storm Irene closed the Waterbury lab for at least the time being,” said Attorney General Sorrell. “This settlement requires that when a new permanent home for the lab is chosen, the Agency will have a comprehensive Compliance Plan in place to ensure that the lab avoids future violations.”
The SEP payment is intended to create a contingency fund managed by the Vermont Solid Waste District Managers Association to be utilized to provide services to stabilize highly hazardous wastes that might be brought to local solid waste centers during collection events.
Pleadings by Agreement, a Stipulation for the Entry of Consent Order and a proposed Consent Order and Final Judgment Order have been filed with the Superior Court Washington Unit and the settlement is subject to approval by the Superior Court.
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