November 3, 2017

UConn settles EPA claim involving PCB disposal

UConn has agreed to pay a $28,125 federal penalty for improperly shipping contaminated waste to a disposal site.

UConn has settled the potential claim with the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after environmental regulators said the university could have violated federal law in how it disposed PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls, a probable human carcinogen and contaminant that surfaced during a four-year-old campus renovation.

The 2013 renovations included replacing windows at the Lester E. Shippee dormitory and dining hall on the Storrs campus.

According to the EPA, the university disposed of window caulking mixed in with soil after the renovation in violation of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act. When the waste was shipped to a disposal site, it was not labeled as containing the PCBs, so it went to a facility not licensed for this disposal, EPA said.

EPA notified UConn of the potential violation earlier this year.

"This action demonstrates how important it is that all parties involved with PCB waste ensure that every step in the handling and disposal of the PCBs is done consistent with the regulations," said Deb Szaro, acting regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "EPA appreciates the steps UConn has taken to minimize future violations."

Once in the environment, PCBs do not readily break down and therefore may remain for long periods of time, cycling between air, water, and soil.

UConn said in a statement: "In order to assure compliance with environmental regulations, UConn hired an outside environmental consultant who was monitoring activity on site.

"We are disappointed that the error occurred, but UConn is the property owner and is ultimately responsible. By agreeing to the order, UConn accepted responsibility and paid a small fine. We are pleased that EPA recognizes UConn's efforts to prevent a recurrence in the future."

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