North Denver waste solvent facility among several in proposed national settlement resolving alleged hazardous waste violations  | US EPA

EPA and DOJ settlement with Heritage-Crystal Clean resolves Resource Conservation and Recovery Act claims and ensures safe management of solvents

DENVER (December 7, 2023) -- Today, EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice announced an agreement with Heritage-Crystal Clean, LLC (HCC) to resolve pending U.S. claims on behalf of the EPA. US Environmental Protection (EPA). the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) and the State of Indiana for violations of requirements governing hazardous waste management, as well as a violation of used oil management requirements, at current or former HCC facilities located in Indianapolis, Indiana; Shreveport, Louisiana; Atlanta Georgia; Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania; and Denver, Colorado.

Under the agreement, HCC agrees to pay civil penalties totaling $1,162,500 and to implement various measures to ensure that HCC facilities do not treat, store or dispose of parts washing solvents that qualify as hazardous waste unless and until HCC receives a hazardous waste permit authorizing it. to manage hazardous waste. The plaintiffs estimate that the compliance measures required under the agreement will cost at least $1,628,502.

"This agreement reflects our commitment to protecting communities, including north Denver, from the potential risk of exposure to hazardous chemicals." said Suzanne Bohan, director of EPA's Region 8 Compliance and Compliance Assurance Division. “HCC enforcement actions will ensure the safe handling of solvents and reduce potential harm to people and the environment.”

"While federal law encourages responsible recycling of hazardous waste, recyclers must still comply with legal requirements designed to ensure the health and safety of our communities." said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Department of Justice's Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD). "This agreement reflects our commitment to ensuring that hazardous waste recycling operations are conducted in accordance with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and its regulations."

In January 2022, a twenty-one count complaint was filed against HCC in the federal district court for the Northern District of Illinois under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and applicable state law. The lawsuit claims that in the course of providing parts washing services to customers throughout the United States, HCC accepted some used solvents that qualified as hazardous waste, but HCC failed to transport or manage those solvents in accordance with applicable requirements. of hazardous waste management.

Heritage-Crystal Clean, Denver Facility

The proposed settlement includes resolution of alleged violations and remedies associated with the Denver Heritage Crystal Clean (HCC) facility at 5221 Monroe Street, located in the northern Denver-Commerce City area, a historically overburdened neighborhood. HCC delivers solvent products to area customers from this facility that are used for parts washing. HCC's Denver facility then returns its customers' used solvent to the facility for transfer to other HCC facilities for recovery. The primary solvent (142 mineral spirits) handled at the facility is an organic solvent with a stated flash point of 142 degrees. An EPA inspection found that containers with 142 mineral spirits used at the site exceeded the regulatory limit for tetrachlorethylene, making the solvent a distinctive hazardous waste subject to specific RCRA requirements.

EPA has determined that the Denver HCC facility does not handle hazardous spent solvents in accordance with RCRA requirements. Specifically, EPA found that HCC transported hazardous spent 142 Mineral Spirits solvent without RCRA-required documentation and stored the hazardous waste solvent at the Denver facility without first obtaining a permit. The agreement includes a sampling program to ensure that hazardous waste is properly identified and requires HCC to promptly remove all 142 solvent drums and consolidation containers with hazardous waste characteristics. The facility will manage such waste in accordance with applicable hazardous waste requirements in the future.

National agreement details

The EPA/DOJ complaint states that HCC (1) transported hazardous waste without required hazardous waste manifests, (2) stored hazardous waste at various HCC facilities without required permits, (3) failed to make required waste determinations hazardous after mixing used solvents from different parts washing customers, (4) failed to meet certain requirements to reduce air emissions from certain hazardous waste tanks and equipment, and (5) failed to maintain adequate secondary containment to certain hazardous waste tanks. The proposed agreement includes many other provisions specific to each facility, as well as provisions requiring HCC to distribute educational materials to parts washing customers under specific circumstances, and provisions for HCC to hire a third party to conduct audits at designated HCC facilities. to ensure future compliance.

EPA recognizes that the five HCC facilities included in this agreement are located within communities with potential environmental justice concerns. Nearby communities will benefit from the enhanced controls and new work practices that will be implemented at HCC facilities as required by the consent decree. These new controls and practices will reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) to surrounding communities and reduce the risk of exposure by ensuring lower volumes of hazardous waste are managed at these facilities.

The proposed consent decree, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, is subject to a 30-day federal public comment period and federal court approval. The consent decree can be viewed at Department of Justice Consent Decrees Website.

For more information about this agreement, visit Heritage-Crystal Clean, LLC RCRA Agreement Fact Sheet.

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