Safety-Kleen fined $210K by EPA

November 10, 2010 Updated Nov 10, 2010 at 7:47 AM EDT

November 10, 2010 Updated Nov 10, 2010 at 7:47 AM EDT

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached two separate settlements with Safety-Kleen, one of the nation's largest oil recycling companies, for its operations including Buffalo and Lackawanna.

The action, announced Nov. 4, involved violations of federal toxic substance regulations at the company's facilities in New York and several New England states.

Safety-Kleen Systems Inc., based in Texas, will pay a total of $210,000 in penalties and improve its procedures for sampling and handling polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, which are potentially cancer-causing chemicals and can affect the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems.

Federal authorities said that regulations prohibit the shipping of materials that contain PCBs above 50 parts per million (ppm) without proper documentation and require waste oil containing PCBs to be handled as hazardous waste.

EPA inspections at seven Safety-Kleen facilities in New York, Maine, Vermont and Connecticut revealed that the company had received used oil containing PCBs above 50 ppm and then shipped the oil without preparing the documents required for the transport of hazardous substances.

"PCBs can cause very serious health problems, and Safety-Kleen did not fulfill its obligation to handle this dangerous chemical properly," said a statement from Judith Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. "The changes that the company has agreed to make will improve its own practices, and has the potential to be a model for the oil recycling industry."

One of the settlements, totaling $130,000, covers violations at facilities in Buffalo, Lackawanna, Syracuse and West Nyack and for operational improvements at Safety-Kleen facilities in New York and New Jersey. The company will pay an additional $80,000 to settle toxic substance violations at facilities in several New England states.

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