Hazardous waste fines upheld against two Virginia companies

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Appeals Board upheld more than $612,000 in fines against two companies for hazardous waste violations at a Roanoke facility. 

The EPA proposed the penalties against Chem-Solv, Inc. and Austin Holdings-VA L.L.C. in 2011, following an enforcement action initiated in the same year. Chem-Solv handles and distributes a number of chemicals, including alcohols, acids, caustics, mineral oils, surfactants, glycols and solvents. The EPA cited the facility for violating portions of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), which is a federal law governing the treatment, storage and disposal of hazardous waste. 

Chem-Solv was found storing toxic waste in an open tank that did not have an engineering assessment or air emission controls, storing waste for longer than 90 days without a permit and failing to perform daily inspections. The EPA also discovered that the business had neglected to conduct hazardous waste determinations on material kept in the tank, produced by aerosols, and generated by the rest of the facility.

The EPA's Chief Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Susan Biro ruled in favor of the protective agency in 2014. Shortly thereafter Chem-Solv filed an appeal, questioning the decision and the judge's impartiality. This month, the EPA's Environmental Appeals Board stated that the ALJ's Initial Decision was "supported by a preponderance of the evidence" and that Chem-Solv's allegations that the ALJ exhibited bias were "without merit."

Chem-Solv will now be required to pay a $612,338.78 civil penalty within 30 days. The company must also work to comply with applicable RCRA hazardous waste tank closure requirements as soon as possible. It is still, however, possible for the facility to file another appeal, this time in federal district court. 

Environmental consultants can help businesses in a variety of industries ensure they are following all federal regulations regarding environmental protection.