Friday, November 2, 2018

EPA Announces 141 Enforcements, $1.2M in Penalties Last Year

EPA enforcement actions
Last year, the EPA collected $1.2 million in penalties from 141
federal enforcement actions. Many of these fines were from
violations of federal lead paint laws.

Last week, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it completed 141 federal enforcement actions over the past year. These enforcement actions were against entities such as contractors, landlords, property managers, and other industry experts who failed to comply with federal lead paint laws. From October 2017 to September 2018, these cases totaled more than $1.2 million in penalties against businesses working with lead paint.

Violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act (LHRA) accounted for virtually all of these federal enforcement actions. Under the TSCA, the government has established strict rules about housing and child-occupied facilities built before 1978. One such rule, the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule governs lead-safe work practices and the disclosure of information about lead-based paint to tenants. Companies working with or around lead paint must know these rules or else face legal consequences.

One notable enforcement action of this past year was the case against Magnolia Waco Properties, involving television stars Chip and Joanna Gaines. The Magnolia Homes company agreed to pay a $40,000 fine on top of spending $160,000 to abate lead-based paint hazards in homes across Waco, Texas.

Another notable enforcement action was the against the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), where the nation's largest public housing authority affected at least 400,000 residents through violations of lead-based paint laws. At least 19 children in NYCHA housing were diagnosed with elevated blood-lead levels.

At least one company faced jail time; Stephen Craig of Environmental Training and Assessment in Connecticut was sentenced to six months of imprisonment on top of a $20,000 fine for falsely certifying the completion of a lead abatement course.

These enforcement actions are designed to protect the public from lead paint exposure. Although lead-based paint was banned from residential use in 1978, these properties can expose lead paint through peeling walls, chipped doors, and aging window frames. Lead paint dust can also be generated during the repair or renovation of these old homes if workers do not adopt appropriate lead-safe work practices.

Many of the cases originated from complaints and tips from local authorities including referrals related to children with elevated blood-lead levels.

"EPA's work to enforce federal lead paint laws helps protect communities across the country. These cases also hold violators accountable for their actions and help maintain a level playing field for companies that follow the rules," Susan Bodine, EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Assistant Administrator, said in a recent press release.

Lead paint violations can result in serious fines. To learn more about common EPA fines, read our last blog post. To learn more about EPA's enforcement action announcement, visit the EPA website. To learn more about lead paint certification and how to get involved in this field, visit Zack Academy.

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