The Environmental Protection Agency fined Oregon State University over $200,000 for improper storage and labeling of hazardous materials.
This was the largest regional penalty settled with the federal agency this year.
This fine came after a 2013 inspection, and resulted in a settlement with the university. The school was penalized under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, or RCRA. It creates guidelines for the proper management of hazardous and non-hazardous wastes.
One requirement is having a special permit, which OSU lacks.
Kevin Schanilec, an RCRA specialist with the EPA, says OSU was charged with four counts.
Three of the counts deal with failure to label the waste. The final violation is for improper storage.
“We also found instances of storage at Oregon State where two incompatible wastes were stored side-by-side, such that if one would have leaked it would have created an increased hazard because of contacting the container next door,” said Schanilec.
Schanilec says the primary offender was the chemistry department.
OSU settled with the EPA for $275,000. That’s almost 46 times more than any other fine issued this year.
Steve Clark, with OSU communications, says the university has paid its penalty and expanded its staff responsible for safety and inspections.
"We began to change procedures and implemented in February 2014 required and ongoing safety and hazardous material assessments and reporting systems for all labs,” said Steve Clark.
The training plan is one stipulation the EPA and OSU worked out in their settlement. The fine is another.
OSU must take the corrective actions or face further penalties.