Even the smallest details matter when working with hazardous materials.
A construction company recently found that out the hard way when it settled with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency after facing allegations of violating the Toxic Substances Control Act in California. The company, ResiPro, LLC, agreed to a fine of more than $100,000.
While many companies often focus on ensuring any toxic waste they generate doesn’t seep into waterways or soil, it’s easy to forget that the process of managing hazardous waste is much more expansive and includes many detail-oriented steps that help to ensure the safety of the public and environment.
The Case Against ResiPro
On June 13, 2023, the EPA announced that it had reached a settlement with a renovation company that had primarily provided renovation services using local contractors at California homes, as well as at residential properties in other states.
The company, ResiPro LLC, agreed to pay a penalty of $101,443.
Under the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule, general contractors or subcontractors must assign one person to a project who is properly trained in lead-based paint management. Lead-based paint is a significant environmental and health issue. Soil contamination can occur when products like exterior lead-based paint seep into the ground.
At times, owning a piece of property near a roadway or in urban areas may also cause lead contamination in soil. That’s because automobiles that use leaded gasoline can release particles into the air that then settle into the soil.
In the complaint against ResiPro, the EPA alleged that the renovation company, which regularly dealt with lead-based paint during renovations and repairs, didn’t meet the law under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Most of these violations centered around how the company hadn’t assigned a Certified Renovator (CR) to oversee the project so that the individual could train others and ensure that paint was properly managed or disposed of.
Under the law, firms are required to keep records of their compliance with the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule for at least three years from the time the renovation is completed.
The claims against ResiPro applied to the work performed on six properties and involved eight violations. The EPA alleged that ResiPro did not:
- Provide property owners with the EPA’s “Renovate Right” pamphlet
- Assign a Certified Renovator to each renovation
- Keep records that a CR was assigned to the renovations
- Keep records that a CR provided on-the-job training for the workers
- Keep records that a CR performed work or directed workers
- Keep records that a CR performed post-cleaning verification
- Contain the work area to ensure that no dust or debris left the work area during renovations
- Post signs warning the owners or the public about the presence or danger of lead-based paint
A representative for the EPA stated in a news release that “holding companies accountable is a critical element of protecting public health, especially for children under the age of 6 who are particularly vulnerable to lead.”
How This Case Impacts Your Business
The ResiPro case is an example of how even the smallest details matter when working on a project that may include the presence of hazardous materials. Especially for small to midsize companies, a similar fine of just over $100,000 can make a huge dent into profits … possibly even causing financial strain, or worse, closure.
For companies that renovate, repair or perform painting projects in California, it’s important to know that any home or building built prior to 1978 may contain lead-based paint. During these renovations, dangerous lead dust can be released into the air. Even if your business is working on commercial or government spaces, it’s important to work with lead-safe certified contractors, especially when your project is in childcare facilities, preschools and other areas where young children are located.
Studies have shown that exposure to lead in children can lead to health issues, including damage to the brain and nervous system. Keep in mind that lead-based paint isn’t the only source of exposure, either. Children can come in contact with lead through soil pollution when playing outside, by drinking water that moves through lead-based pipes and even through some consumer products like old toys.
This case also shows that even if your business has the right personnel in place to handle a hazardous substance and you safely remove the material from a property during the hazardous waste disposal process, if you don’t ensure every T is crossed and every I is dotted, you could face serious repercussions.
When hazardous substances are discovered, whether they are known about prior to a project beginning or discovered accidentally, your company must follow strict guidelines to ensure that these toxic materials are safely removed and disposed of. In the ResiPro case, the EPA claimed that failing to perform simple actions like providing property owners with the required pamphlets, posting warning signs and assigning a Certified Renovator to the project led to costly fines.
How A Hazardous Waste Disposal Company Can Help
Experienced hazardous waste disposal companies know that proper waste removal goes beyond the disposal itself. Safe and effective waste disposal involves a comprehensive process that includes careful packaging, labeling, transportation and documentation to ensure regulatory compliance.
The entire process begins as soon as waste is generated until it is properly disposed of, known as cradle to grave. In other words, whether you’re excavating a property, renovating a home, replacing your office electronics, generating biological waste at your healthcare facility, or producing hazardous waste as a byproduct of your industrial operations, you’re responsible for managing any hazardous waste you generate from start to finish.
So how do you tell the difference between a standard and high-quality hazardous waste disposal company? The best hazardous waste disposal company will offer a hazardous waste walk-through program that evaluates your hazardous waste procedures either at your facility or at a job site. During the walk-through, which is consultative in nature, potential issues can be caught in areas including:
- Waste manifesting
- Hazardous waste procedures
- Waste storage evaluation
- Proper labeling procedures
- Emergency readiness
- Employee training
- Other regulatory requirements
The best waste disposal services will also help you:
- Develop a customized transportation plan
- Complete regulatory paperwork
- Provide you with proof that your contaminated products have been properly disposed of
- Stay on top of changing regulations so that you have updated knowledge of rules that apply to your company
Only work with disposal companies that are registered with the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), and avoid hazardous waste brokers that will act as unqualified middlemen. They will drive up the costs, and worse, you may not know who is actually disposing of your waste.
As state and federal regulations continue to evolve, an experienced hazardous waste disposal company will help to ensure your company doesn’t find itself on the wrong end of the law and facing significant fines.