In re Aguakem Caribe, Inc.
An EPA administrative law judge (ALJ) found that a facility had generated and mishandled hazardous waste, and must pay a civil penalty. The case regards an allegation by the EPA that Aguakem Caribe, Inc. violated regulations governing the management of hazardous waste and used oil set forth in 40 C.F.R. parts 260 through 279 at its chemical plant in Ponce, P.R. Though the judge found that the complainant had failed to demonstrate that the contents of containers, drums, and tanks at the facility constituted solid waste by virtue of being abandoned, but also found that spilled and leaking materials did constitute solid waste. In addition, the judge found that the respondent failed to perform a hazardous waste determination for solid waste generated at the facility, and that corrossive materials leaking from containers constituted hazardous waste. Thus, the respondent was a generator of hazardous waste, and failed to maintain the facility so as to minimize the possibility of a fire, explosion, or release of hazardous waste, and to label or clearly mark "used oil" on containers used to store oil. The complainant appropriately calculated the the proposed penalties, but the civil penalty was reduced due to the respondent's inability to pay. The respondent was ordered to pay $32,500.