2006-09-14 / News

Island business responds to EPA complaint

By Sam Bari

Late this summer, the federal Environmental Protection Agency announced five enforcement actions against marina and boatyard facilities in New England for environmental violations. The actions included the filing of an administrative complaint against a Rhode Island marina and boat yard and four settlements with facilities in Rhode Island and Connecticut. The actions came after EPA New England promoted a five-year initiative that focused on assistance to the marina sector on compliance and pollution and prevention techniques.

The complaint involving the RI marina and boat yard was against Conanicut Marine Services of Jamestown. According to EPA representative Sheryl Rosner and EPA environmental scientist Richard Piligian, who worked on the case, the EPA filed an administrative complaint seeking penalties against Conanicut Marine Services, which operates five marine-related facilities in Jamestown, as stated in their press release. CMS facilities include a marina, boat repair and maintenance yards, and a paint and glass shop.

EPA based its claims on information that it found during three inspections over three years from 2003 to 2006. The agency allegedly found that the company failed to make adequate hazardous waste determinations and properly maintain and operate one of its facilities in a way that minimizes the possibility of a release of hazardous wastes. The firm also failed to have an adequate hazardous waste training program, transported hazardous waste without a permit, and discharged storm water without a permit.

EPA samples from the paint and glass shop showed elevated levels of barium, chromium, and cadmium as well as hazardous levels of lead. The complaint did not specify a penalty amount, but cited the EPA's authority to penalize CMS up to the statutory maximum allowed under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Clean Water Act up to $32,500 per day for each RCRA violation and a maximum penalty of $157,500 for the CWA violations.

The Clean Water Act violations were taken from information gathered over a five-year period between July of 2001 and January 2006.

During a telephone conversation with the EPA's Rosner and Piligian, they said that CMS owner Bill Munger responded to the complaint by asking for an extension on the time allotted for a comprehensive response so he could consult legal counsel and assure that CMS was in compliance with EPA regulations. The request was granted.

They also said that Munger was co-operative and would be given every opportunity to present his views on the allegations and demonstrate that CMS was in compliance with regulations or has made efforts to become so.

According to Rosner and Piligian, the settlement was negotiable depending on the seriousness of the infractions and the response of the company cited.

Rosner said that no fine has been levied against CMS at this time, and that they probably would not be burdened with the maximum penalty. "An appropriate settlement, if any, will be reached when we meet and agree on a fair resolution," she said. A meeting with Munger is scheduled to take place on an undisclosed date.

Munger said, "Without going into too much detail because the matter is being discussed with the EPA and legal issues are involved, the EPA and CMS have differences in the way the company is perceived. They (the EPA) are treating us as if we are five separate companies acting independently of one another, when we are actually one company with five interactive divisions, especially in the area of hazardous waste disposal. We have hazardous waste facilities and personnel trained to deal with them. But every division doesn't have a truck with appropriate containers to handle small amounts of hazardous waste. We send someone from the boat yard with a vehicle that is properly equipped when it is needed.

"I'm sure we can work this out," Munger continued. "The regulations are open to interpretation for different situations and applications. When they understand that we are an interactive company, I think they'll realize that we are in compliance with the regulations. Environmental issues are one of our top priorities. We live here, and the environment is as much of a concern to us as it is to anybody else. We're going to talk to them in the next few days to resolve these issues. We have made every effort and will continue to make every effort to be in compliance with all regulatory agencies," Munger said.

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