The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it has fined a Kern County steel fabrication company for violating hazardous waste management regulations. As a result of an investigation begun in 2012, Kern Steel Fabrication, Inc. was fined $57,100 for improperly managing hazardous waste.
The waste was generated at Kern Steel’s 627 Williams Street facility in Bakersfield, California. The facility is located in a commercial and industrial area of Bakersfield, however, residential neighborhoods are within three blocks. Kern Steel fabricates aircraft ground support maintenance platforms, work stands, and docking stations, among other products.
According to EPA, the violations involved improper labeling, containerization, characterization of waste as hazardous or non-hazardous, and failures to submit required reports. All of these requirements are spelled out in the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). Under RCRA, EPA has the authority to regulate the generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. RCRA was designed to protect public health and the environment by requiring the safe storage, handling, and disposal of hazardous waste.
EPA investigators discovered that about 30 containers – which held hazardous wastes such as waste paint, fluorescent light lamps, used oil, and batteries – were improperly labeled and many were not properly closed. The labeling and closure of such containers is required for several reasons, including minimizing the possibility of fires, a sudden, accidental release of hazardous materials, and providing first responders correct information as to what is being stored.
Kern Steel also failed to determine whether some of the waste generated onsite was hazardous or non-hazardous. It also did not have an adequate contingency plan in place that was designed to protect human health and the environment in the event of an emergency.
Finally, EPA cited the company for not submitting required hazardous waste generation reports in 2011 and 2013. These Biennial Reports must be submitted by facilities that generate at least 2,200 pounds of hazardous waste per month.
According to EPA’s press release, the fine was “… part of the EPA Region 9’s efforts to work together with our federal, state, and local partners to reduce pollution from facilities that manage, store, or handle large volumes of hazardous waste. The Agency’s goal is to reduce the risk to human health and the environment for the four million residents living in the San Joaquin Valley by ensuring wastes from these types of facilities are properly managed.”
For more information about hazardous waste regulation and management: RCRA Enforcement