EPA Sanctions More Than 100 for Lead Paint Violations in FY 2016

December 20th, 2016 by Editor

From October 2015 through September 2016, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that it entered into 123 settlements for alleged violations of three lead-based paint rules –the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule; the Lead Disclosure Rule; and the Lead-based Paint Activities Rule for abatements. Collectively, the settlements require violators to pay $1,046,655 in penalties.

“Renovation companies and their contractors must protect children and other vulnerable people from lead-based paint exposure, especially in minority and low-income communities where housing with lead-based paint is more common,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, in a statement. “These enforcement actions show that EPA will hold companies accountable when they put public health at risk, and they promote a level playing field for businesses that follow the rules.”

The three rules are part of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act and the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act. They apply to housing built before 1978 and homes with children in them.

In September 2016, EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice announced a settlement with Sears Home Improvement Products Inc. that resolves alleged violations of the Lead RRP Rule for work performed by Sears contractors during home renovation projects across the country. Under the settlement, Sears will pay a $400,000 civil penalty and implement a comprehensive program to ensure that the contractors it hires minimize lead dust during home renovations.

In three of the settlements, entities agreed to fund voluntary environmental projects collectively valued at up to $409,429 to address lead risks and poisoning. Every project requires lead-based paint abatement, including post-construction clearance testing to ensure that no hazards remain. The complaints propose penalties of up to $197,743 for alleged violations of the RRP Rule and/or Lead Disclosure Rule.

Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule Enforcement

Of the total settlements reported during fiscal year 2016, 116 cited alleged RRP Rule violations involving repair, renovation or painting projects where lead-based paint is disturbed. About 63 percent of this year’s cases alleged failure to obtain EPA certification and almost half cited non-compliance with requirements to ensure lead-safe work practices.

The following are highlights from settlements involving significant penalties and/or supplemental environmental projects:

  • Hammer and Hand Inc., located in Oregon, paid a $69,398 penalty for alleged RRP Rule work practice and recordkeeping violations;
  • Clearview Home Improvements, located in California, paid a $58,450 fine for alleged noncompliance with RRP Rule requirements for certification, pre-renovation education, firm responsibility, and recordkeeping, and;
  • Zidan Management Group Inc. of Indiana agreed to perform an abatement project valued at up to $41,500 and paid a $3,675 fine to settle alleged violation of RRP Rule work practice and certification requirements.

The RRP Rule requires that individuals performing renovations are properly trained and certified, give owners and occupants EPA’s Renovate Right lead hazard information pamphlet before beginning work and follow specific lead-safe work practices during renovations.

Lead Disclosure Rule Enforcement Actions

Five of the settlements reported in fiscal year 2016 alleged Lead Disclosure Rule violations.  The rule requires landlords and sellers to disclose to prospective tenants and purchasers specific information about lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards.

In one case, a landlord in Illinois will perform a $308,000 lead abatement project and pay a $5,000 cash penalty to settle alleged Lead Disclosure Rule infractions. This case was a joint enforcement action by EPA and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that was prosecuted by the U.S. Department of Justice.

In another case, Carrington Real Estate Services, LLC and Carrington Mortgage Services, LLC, both in California, agreed to spend at least $59,929 to donate blood-lead test equipment to non-profit community health clinics, and pay a $19,976 penalty to settle alleged Lead Disclosure Rule infractions.

 

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