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In re Chemtron Corp.

12/02/2002

ELR Citation:33 ELR 47826

An administrative law judge (ALJ) holds that the owner and operator of a facility is liable under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) for violating the emission standards for equipment leaks and for failing to label equipment, but denies the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) motion for an accelerated decision as to claims that the facility failed to keep closure devices secured in the closed position when hazardous waste was present in a tank. The violations EPA complained of were discovered during an inspection of the facility for compliance with the applicable requirements of RCRA and the facility’s hazardous waste permit. The ALJ first holds that the facility violated RCRA regulations governing the air emission standards for pumps and valves “in light liquid service.” There are no genuine issues of material fact with regard to this count and EPA is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The facility admitted it is a facility that treats, stores, or disposes of hazardous waste, and that it manages hazardous waste, with the requisite organic concentration of 10 percent by weight, in a unit subject to the permitting requirements. Moreover, EPA established that the facility's pumps and valves were “in light liquid service” as that term is defined in the applicable regulations. The ALJ next holds that the facility's motion for accelarated decision as to count 2, concerning tank violations, was not procedurally defective. EPA argued that the facility failed to properly file its motion with the Regional Hearing Clerk, and, therefore, its motion is violative of the Prehearing Order, which established a filing deadline for all substantive motions. Due to the de minimis nature of the facility's procedural error and because EPA has suffered no real prejudice as a result, the ALJ refuses to dismiss the facility's motion on this ground. The ALJ next denies EPA's motion for accelerated decision as to the facility's liability for tank violations. During the walk-through inspection of the facility, an EPA inspector observed an open manhole lid on top of a tank that contained a low level of liquids. EPA maintains that because the facility was neither performing routine inspection or maintenance, nor removing accumulated sludge or residue, the facility violated RCRA by failing to keep the closure devices secured in the closed position when hazardous waste was present in the tank. EPA, however, failed to demonstrate that a hazardous waste was in the tank. Because neither party has presented sufficient evidence regarding the presence of hazardous waste in the tank, the ALJ denies the facility's motion to dismiss count 2 as well. Additionally, the ALJ rejects the facility’s contention that the tank was not subject to regulation. Neither the regulations regarding “empty containers” nor EPA guidance regarding the 90-day accumulation of hazardous waste in tanks can absolve the facility of its alleged liability for count 2. Lastly, the ALJ holds that the facility violated RCRA regulations by failing to label equipment properly. The facility admitted to the allegations set forth in EPA's complaint.