A commercial-scale environmental testing laboratory based in Marlborough, Massachusetts has been fined $100,000 for violating the terms of a prior settlement that required it to obtain state permits and control hazardous air pollutant (HAP) emissions. In May of 2014, Accutest Laboratories of New England, Inc. (Accutest) and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) entered into a consent judgment under which Accutest agreed to pay a fine of $350,000 for failing to obtain the required state permits before emitting HAPs into the atmosphere in violation of Massachusetts’ hazardous waste and air pollution laws. Specifically, MassDEP found that Accutest had violated the Massachusetts Hazardous Waste Management Act (HWMA), MA Gen L ch 21C § 1 et seq., and its implementing regulations by underreporting the amount of hazardous waste it was emitting and failing to obtain permits for such emissions. Under the consent judgment, Accutest agreed to obtain a new air quality permit and to install emission control equipment to reduce HAP emissions by 95 percent.

However, during routine inspections beginning in October of 2014, MassDEP found that Accutest was taking appropriate steps to comply with air permitting requirements, but had done nothing to bring its facility into compliance with the HWMA. MassDEP found that Accutest was improperly storing hazardous waste; overcrowding the storage area; violating container labeling and storage requirements, meant to prevent and contain leaks; inadequately addressing emergency prevention; and failing to train personnel regarding hazardous waste management.

To settle these new allegations, Accutest recently entered into an amendment to the May 2014 consent agreement. The amendment added a new requirement to the prior consent agreement- that Accutest must retain a qualified Environmental, Health and Safety Officer (EHS), whose primary function will be to advise the company how to comply with the state’s environmental laws for at least the three-and-a-half-year period remaining on the consent judgment.

Massachusetts Environmental Compliance Lawyers at Michelman & Bricker, P.C. Help Businesses Comply With the Terms of Settlement Agreements

After reaching a settlement with a state agency, businesses must ensure that they understand and are compliant with terms of the settlement in order to avoid further penalties, particularly because settlement agreements often included stipulated penalty provisions. Compliance requires careful monitoring to prevent further enforcement actions and penalties. The experienced Massachusetts environmental compliance lawyers at Michelman & Bricker, P.C. can help your business negotiate an agreement on enforcement actions and analyze whether proposed future activities comply with any consent agreements already in place.

For example, we previously assisted a client with obtaining a Clean Air Act New Source Review plan approval for emissions from installation of a new press at a Rotogravure Printing facility; resolved civil penalties action for construction of the New Source prior to issuance of permit; and obtained administrative permit amendment for a plan approval for emissions from a parts washing unit (which was part of a Title V permit).

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