The enforcement action stems from 2013 EPA inspections, which identified almost 2,000 containers of hazardous wastes that were in violation of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and found that OSU did not have an RCRA permit. The materials, such as solvents, acids, toxic and reactive chemicals and used oil, were spread across six laboratories and other buildings, and violated the federal regulations through their identification, management and storage.
“Strict accountability for hazardous waste is vital to protecting people and the environment at every step of the way,” EPA Pacific Northwest Office of Compliance and Enforcement Director Ed Kowalski said. “Without knowing what its hazardous wastes were from the very beginning, it was impossible for Oregon State University to ensure its chemicals were handled safely, which could have put students, faculty, and first responders at significant risk.”
Because the materials were not properly identified, they presented a risk of release, fire or explosion on the campus, and made it impossible for transport and disposal companies to ensure their staff’s and the public's health.