DTSC Fines Pilkington North America over $200,000 to settle charges that it endangered the environment and public safety.
The California Attorney General's Office filed a Stipulation for Entry of Final judgment on Consent, on behalf of the DTSC, that requires that PNA pay a total of $207,723 including $187,975 in civil penalties and $19,748 in DTSC reimbursement costs.
A complaint was filed in Sacramento that contained fifteen causes of action, including illegal storage of hazardous waste, illegal disposal of hazardous waste, failure to have a legally mandated contingency plan to deal with spills or other planned releases, and inadequately trained staff who handle hazardous waste at the facility.
The PNA Lathrop facility, where the violations occurred, has had a history of hazardous violations dating back to 2007. Some of the more serious violations that the DTSC identified during its December 2010 inspection were illegally disposal of hazardous waste and extremely hazardous waste onto the floors of the facility. Inspectors found acid spills in the battery recharging area, selenium powder in the raw materials section and used oil on the ground throughout the facility.
"This settlement signifies the department's continuing efforts to uphold both environmental safety and compliance with existing law," said Paul Kerwin, Division Chief for DTSC's Enforcement and Emergency Response Program. This recent settlement and previous actions taken by the DTSC against Wamart, Rite Aid and others, signifies the DTSC's continuing enforcement efforts of protecting the environment and the health risks to workers and the community.
Hazardous waste generators must ensure they are in full compliance with the laws of their state, or run the risk of being hit with substantial fines. The cost of implementing the appropriate programs and training the necessary staff to handle hazardous waste, is a lot more cost effective that trying to beat the system. Sooner or later the DTSC will discover what you are doing and will step in.
As we have discovered in many of these fines by the DTSC, inadequate training of employees to handle hazardous waste has been one of the main contributors. Establishing a training program and ensuring everyone has the appropriate certifications, is not as difficult as it may sound.
Thinking about establishing such a program does nothing for you or your company. You have to act!