New York, N.Y. -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a legal complaint against SUNY Downstate Medical Center for violating federal hazardous waste law. The hospital must come into compliance with hazardous waste requirements and faces fines up to $156,710 for the improper management and storage of hazardous wastes in two buildings in its Brooklyn, New York campus. EPA inspections revealed the hospital had generated and stored chemical wastes in corroded and leaking containers, many of which were not properly labeled.
“Hospitals and research facilities should take steps to reduce the generation of hazardous waste, and ensure wastes are properly stored and handled,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “When not properly handled, hazardous wastes can pose a danger to employees and those living in the surrounding community.”
Under federal hazardous waste law, hazardous wastes must be stored, handled and disposed of properly to safeguard public health and the environment. Facilities must also have properly trained staff, as improperly stored hazardous waste can spill and pose a risk to people and the environment.
In June 2013, the EPA conducted inspections of SUNY Downstate Medical Center’s campus. Among the violations of federal hazardous waste law discovered during these inspections were:
- The failure to determine which substances should be considered hazardous waste to ensure that they are managed properly.
- The storage of hazardous waste without a permit. Owners or operators of facilities used for the treatment, storage or disposal of hazardous waste must first obtain a permit or qualify for interim status, unless they meet certain conditions for short term storage of waste without a permit.
- The failure to maintain and operate its facilities in a manner that minimized the possibility of a fire, explosion or accidental release of chemicals.
- The failure to ship hazardous waste to an authorized facility.
- The failure to use hazardous waste manifests for the transportation of hazardous wastes from its facility. Generators of hazardous waste must prepare a manifest before shipping hazardous waste for transport off-site.