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Chemical Waste Management, Inc. v. EPA

Citation: 17 ELR 20521
No. No. 84-3433, 649 F. Supp. 347/25 ERC 1377/(D.D.C., 10/29/1986)

The court holds that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) correctly applied its regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) in finding violations of the recordkeeping and groundwater monitoring requirements. The court first holds that EPA properly applied its regulations in finding that plaintiff violated 40 C.F.R. § 265.15(d), which requires an inspection log noting observations made when a hazardous waste facility operator inspects the facility. The court holds that the observations required to be recorded are not limited to those that indicate a malfunction or deterioration that may lead to release of hazardous substances. Thus, the plaintiff violated the recordkeeping requirement when it failed to record 200 gallons of unidentified liquid in the leachate collection system designed to capture leaks through the first layer of containment before they escaped out of the second layer of containment, recording this information instead in a separate log not made available to regulators.

Turning to the requirement for groundwater monitoring, the court holds that the requirement of 40 C.F.R. § 265.91(a)(2) for at least three monitoring wells at the facility's downgradient perimeter applies even where a consultant advises the facility that other monitoring well placement would be more effective. In such circumstances, the court observes, the facility should install the three monitoring wells required by the regulation and also any additional wells it believes necessary to fully monitor the affected groundwater.

Finally, the court affirms EPA's administratively assessed fine of $40,000, observing that RCRA permits fines of $25,000 per day and there is one and one-half years of noncompliance at issue, and also awards prejudgment interest, postjudgment interest, and court costs to EPA.

[EPA's final administrative law judge decision in this case is digested at ELR ADMIN. MAT. 30059.]

Counsel for Plaintiff
Angus Macbeth, Samuel I. Gutter
Sidley & Austin
1722 I St. NW, Washington DC 20006
(202) 429-4000

Counsel for Defendants
Dean K. Dunsmore
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 633-2216