DOE Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 9, 1998

DOE Media Contacts: Carol Morrison, 630/252-2014; Jayne Brady, 202/586-5806

 

Energy Department Response to Environmental Violations

Actions Taken Since May, 1997

 

The U.S. Department of Energy has taken aggressive corrective actions responding to the recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region II enforcement action and fine resulting from an independent EPA Multi-Media Compliance Inspection conducted last year. The investigation was announced May 1, 1997 by Secretary of Energy Federico Peña when he terminated the contract with then laboratory management, Associated Universities, Inc., and announced his action plan to improve environment, safety and health practices at Brookhaven National Laboratory and build community trust.

"When Secretary Pen~a invited EPA to conduct this investigation, we knew they would identify violations, and the department takes them seriously. The lab and the department corrected a number of these concerns when we first learned of EPA's findings last summer. We initiated actions to resolve all remaining concerns as soon as we were notified by EPA," said DOE Brookhaven Group Executive Manager Dean Helms.

EPA cited DOE in four environmental program areas: Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA); the Toxic Substances and Control Act-Polychlorinated Biphenyls (TSCA-PCB); Underground Injection Control (UIC); and the Clean Air Act. Associated Universities, Inc., former management and operating contractor for Brookhaven National Laboratory, was also cited for RCRA and Clean Air Act violations. EPA has proposed a RCRA fine of approximately $80,000 against DOE and AUI.

During the May 1997 EPA inspection, DOE and AUI immediately corrected RCRA deficiencies as noted. Since then, DOE and AUI corrected all RCRA deficiencies identified in the EPA enforcement action through improved management of hazardous waste at points of waste generation in those facilities cited, including improved labeling and storage procedures.

TSCA violations were addressed through removal of improperly stored wastes. In addition, DOE plans to discuss remedies for improper use of PCB material with EPA. DOE and the laboratory are characterizing existing unpermitted UIC wells (including sumps, cesspools, storm drains, etc.) and are working with EPA to reach agreement on appropriate corrective actions. Clean Air Act findings are being addressed through improved operating and reporting procedures for asbestos projects, boilers and monitoring equipment, and labeling of service station gasoline pumps to warn against overfilling tanks.

"As Brookhaven Science Associates (BSA) assumes its role as the new management and operating contractor for Brookhaven National Laboratory, they are more than aware that Secretary Peña expects vigorous protection of public health, safety and the environment, along with scientific excellence. And we will work closely with EPA and our other regulators to continually improve the lab's environmental performance," said Helms.

-- DOE --