Vermont Press Releases

Two environmental violations result in state action

For immediate release
May 1, 2012

Attorney John Zaikowski
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 802-654-8980

Waitsfield, VT – The Department of Environmental Conservation’s Compliance and Enforcement Division today announced that it formally settled two environmental violations involving the University of Vermont and the City of Burlington.

Violations of Hazardous Waste Management Regulation at the University of Vermont:

The University has approximately 500 laboratories on its Burlington and satellite campuses. It generates a wide assortment of laboratory waste and is regulated under the Vermont Hazardous Waste Management Regulations. The waste is managed pursuant to the New England University Laboratories XL Project specified in the regulations, which requires implementation and compliance with an Environmental Management Plan (EMP). The settlement includes a $19,660.00 penalty.

On August 24, 25, and 26, 2010, a DEC Hazardous Waste Program inspector conducted inspections of a sampling of main campus and XL labs. The inspections revealed that a mix of lab consultations and audits were being used to assess compliance, rather than strictly audits as required by the EMP. In addition insufficient corrective actions were taken for labs receiving audit scores requiring corrective action, and records of lab self-inspections were not consistently maintained. The inspector also observed several container storage and labeling violations. Shortly after the inspections UVM conducted self-inspections and audits, and implemented corrective actions for all labs involved in the DEC inspection. It also implemented a new health and safety policy and compliance oversight procedure.

After the inspections were completed, the University was notified of the violations and agreed to resolve the matter. The settlement was reduced to an Assurance of Discontinuance, adopted as an order by the Environmental Court. In it, the University of Vermont agreed to submit a list identifying all laboratory rooms at all campuses currently being managed pursuant to the XL Project along with a proposed auditing plan. It was also agreed that the University of Vermont will pay a civil penalty of $19,660.00 to the State of Vermont.

Permit Violation by the City of Burlington

The City owns and operates the Burlington Main Wastewater Treatment Facility which is subject to an Agency discharge permit. The settlement includes a $15,000.00 penalty.

On April 20, 2011, the facility experienced increased flows from a rain event. When this occurs, the facility treats normal influent flows through a dry weather system, and the increased flows in a separate wet weather system. Disinfection of the flow in the wet weather system is accomplished by supplying sodium hypochlorite and sodium bromide through two separate pump systems to form bromine. During the event, approximately 2.41 to 2.5 million gallons of effluent, consisting of stormwater and wastewater, discharged from the wet weather system into Lake Champlain without the required addition of sodium hypochlorite for disinfection. The disinfection system failure lasted for approximately 1 hour and was caused by operator error, when a valve controlling the sodium hypochlorite feed was not re-opened following a routine maintenance check. The dry weather system’s flow had full chlorination. Following the incident the City updated its routine daily inspection and checklist and its Standard Operating Procedures for the servicing of valves. It also installed and placed into operation, a flow verification and alarm system that monitors sodium hypochlorite flow within the wet weather system.

The matter came to light as a result of the City self-reporting the incident and through follow-up inspections by the Environmental Enforcement Office and the ANR’s Watershed Management Division. After the inspections were completed, the City was notified of the violation and agreed to settle the matter.

The settlement was reduced to an Assurance of Discontinuance, adopted as an order by the Environmental Court. In it, the City agreed to submit written reports detailing operation of the flow verification system. It was also agreed that the City will pay a civil penalty of $15,000.00 to the State of Vermont.

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