The U.S. EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) has upheld the results of an EPA 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, Va.
In a January 26, 2015 Final Decision and Order, the EAB upheld in its entirety the 2014 Initial Decision made by a 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 and Austin Holdings-VA, L.L.C., the facility owner, handles and distributes various chemicals, including alcohols, acids, caustics, mineral oils, surfactants, glycols and solvents.
“EPA takes seriously our obligation to protect people’s health and safeguard communities by assuring compliance with the nation’s environmental laws,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “This final decision and order affirms the due diligence we took in pursuing an enforcement action to address hazardous waste violations that put the public’s health and environment at risk.”
EPA’s complaint cited violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the federal law governing the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. RCRA is designed to protect public health and the environment, and avoid costly cleanups, by requiring the safe, environmentally-sound storage and disposal of hazardous waste. The RCRA requirements mandate the use of safe practices which greatly reduce the chances that hazardous waste will be released into the environment.
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 Final Decision and 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.