Feds Announce $3 Million Enforcement Settlement with Boston Trash Hauler

The federal government has reached a settlement with Allied Waste Systems Inc., a Boston trash hauler. The company must pay a $782,550 fine and spend $2.3 million on an environmental air project.

United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan and Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency's New England Office, said the environmental project that will improve Boston's air quality at Allied's Howard Transfer Station in Roxbury, Mass. A civil complaint was also filed simultaneously with the consent decree.

The settlement stems from violations of provisions of the Clean Air Act that are intended to protect the stratospheric ozone layer from the harmful effects of certain chemicals, known as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and hydro chlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). These chemicals, commonly found in coolants, are known to cause the depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer, which protects the earth's surface from harmful ultraviolet radiation. Under EPA regulations, waste haulers who dispose of household appliances that may contain CFCs or HCFCs, including refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners, must take steps to ensure that these chemicals are not released to the atmosphere.

"[This] agreement is indicative of EPA's strong commitment to improve environmental conditions in urban areas, especially communities such as Roxbury which has among the highest asthma rates in the state," said Varney.

According to the civil complaint, between July 1997 and August 1998, Allied compacted or crushed discarded appliances collected under the trash pick-up contract with the city of Boston, without either recovering any remaining refrigerant from the appliances, or verifying that the refrigerant was previously evacuated from the appliances. Upon learning of EPA's inspections, Allied corrected the improper disposal practice.

Sullivan noted that a similar enforcement case against Waste Management of Massachusetts Inc. also involving improper handling of CFCs and HCFCs, was settled and announced in April of this year.

"My office will continue aggressively to enforce the federal statutes that protect our environment," Sullivan said.

In addition to requiring payment of a substantial civil penalty, the consent decree requires Allied to spend at least $2.3 million on a Supplemental Environmental Project; comply with Section 608(c) of the Clean Air Act; conduct appropriate training of employees who are engaged in activities concerning the collection and disposal of appliances; and implement a tracking system for all appliances picked up by Allied in Boston in order to ensure future compliance with the regulatory requirements.

The Supplemental Environmental Project involves the construction of a new building at Allied's Roxbury transfer station and installing state-of-the-art emissions control technology capable of reducing dust, odors and volatile organic compounds. This will improve aesthetics and provide for more efficient waste transfer operations.

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