The Maine Health & Environmental Testing Laboratory will spend $100,000 fulfilling the stipulations of a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) following alleged violations of federal and state regulations on hazardous waste.
"Laboratories that generate or manage a wide-variety of hazardous wastes must comply with environmental requirements to prevent releases to the environment and potential harm to workers and communities," EPA Regional Administrator for New England Curt Spalding said.
According to the EPA, the lab failed to identify hazardous wastes and did not segregate incompatible hazardous wastes, which potentially could have caused fires or explosions. It also failed to properly treat corrosive laboratory wastes. Hazardous waste produced by the laboratory, which tests substances like food, water and wastewater, include sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, mercury, acetone, methylene chloride and hexane.
These oversights put the lab in violation of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), but it has since reviewed its practices and brought them back into compliance.
The laboratory will contribute $73,000 toward equipment for emergency responders in the Augusta and Waterville fire departments and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The funding will cover self-contained breathing apparatus bottles, propane heating systems and storage for equipment needed in emergency response vehicles. The state-run laboratory will also pay a fine of $27,000.