University of Rhode Island Fined by EPA

The University of Rhode Island said yesterday it agreed to\r\npay $800,000 in penalties and improvements after EPA\r\nfound a raft of environmental violations on its campus.

The University of Rhode Island (URI) said yesterday it agreed to pay $800,000 in penalties and improvements after EPA found a raft of environmental violations on its campus.

EPA caught URI as part of a nationwide crackdown on the way higher education institutions handle hazardous materials.

The settlement is the largest of its kind for a New England university, EPA said.

During a two-day visit in 1997, EPA cited the Kingston, R.I.-based university for 19 violations, which included allowing chemicals to seep into a well and improperly storing transformers that contained toxic chemicals.

The University of Rhode Island said it will pay $250,000 in civil penalties and apply $550,000 toward a new hazardous waste holding facility and a wastewater treatment program.

University officials, however, said tests showed no contamination of ground water or any adverse health effects to any people.

URI is the fifth school to be fined by EPA in an enforcement action during the past five years.

EPA''s New England office also has taken action against Brown University, the University of New Hampshire, Yale University and Boston University for violations of hazardous waste management laws and the Clean Water Act.

Last November, the EPA proposed fines of up to $550,000 against Brown for 15 violations of environmental laws.

Boston University reached a settlement with the EPA in 1997 and agreed to pay $753,000 in cash penalties and environmental improvement costs.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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