‘Fixer Upper’ Team Settles with EPA Over Lead Paint Violations

June 8th, 2018 by Editor

Magnolia Waco Properties, the home-renovation company owned by Chip and Joanna Gaines, the popular husband-and-wife team from HGTV’s smash hit Fixer Upper, has agreed to pay a $40,000 fine to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to settle alleged violations of the  Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP Rule).

The alleged violations are related to home renovations conducted without adequate lead paint protections. Many of these were shown on Fixer Upper and reached an audience of 3 million viewers.

Under the terms of the settlement, Magnolia will take steps to ensure that it follows lead-based paint regulations in future renovation projects, spend $160,000 to abate lead-based paint hazards at high-risk homes in Waco, Texas, and educate the public about lead-based paint hazards and appropriate renovation procedures.

Magnolia also is getting the message out about lead-based paint to a national audience. In Season 5, Episode 16 of Fixer Upper, which aired on HGTV on March 20, 2018, Magnolia’s Chip Gaines talked about testing an old home for lead-based paint. Accompanying depicted some of the precautions required by EPA’s RRP Rule. Additionally, Magnolia is producing a brief video for its large video audience about renovating homes that contain lead-based paint, and it will post that video to social media and to Magnolia’s website within 90 days.

The settlement stems from allegations that Magnolia did not comply with all of the requirements of the RRP Rule for renovations it performed in 33 properties in Waco, Texas.

Video footage of Magnolia’s renovations of older homes from several seasons of Fixer Upper that the EPA reviewed did not show the lead-safe work practices required by the RRP Rule. After EPA contacted Magnolia with concerns about the company’s compliance in November 2017, Magnolia took immediate steps to ensure compliance with the RRP Rule, including obtaining RRP certification and training for the firm and its staff and ensuring active compliance across all ongoing renovation projects.

“It’s important that consumers and contractors understand that improper home renovation can expose residents and workers to hazardous lead dust,” said EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine. “Through this settlement, Magnolia is putting in place safeguards to ensure the safety of its renovation work and making meaningful contributions toward the protection of children and vulnerable communities from exposure to lead-based paint.”

The EPA has been busy enforcing the lead paint rule since the EPA declared in April that there will be no changes to the lead paint regulation  following a federally mandated two-year review of the economic impacts of the rule.

For example, in late May the agency announced that it had reached settlement agreements with three companies from Maryland and Virginia over alleged violations of the RRP rule that occurred during renovation work in October 2015 at the University Towers condominium development in Silver Spring, Md.

HBW Properties Inc., of Rockville, Md.; T.S.G. Construction LLC of Springfield, Va.; and Hunt & Walsh Inc. of Manassas, Va. will pay a total of $80,000 in penalties. HBW Properties will pay $40,000,T.S.G. Construction will pay $25,000, and Hunt & Walsh will pay $15,000. The companies have also certified that they are now in compliance with all RRP regulations.

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