Kansas University will have to pay more than $80,000 after being cited for violations related to improper handling of hazardous waste, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The punishment, made public today following a legal settlement between the university and the EPA, has two parts.
The university will pay a $39,431 civil penalty for the violations and will have to spend $41,585 on a new program involving data collection, evaluation and additional training for those who work in all 301 labs at the university that handle hazardous waste, Chris Whitley, an EPA spokesman, said today.
"Obviously, the price of not following the regulatory requirements is not cheap," Whitley said.
Whitley said the violations occurred campuswide, although some labs had no violations, while others had multiple violations.
KU spokesman Jack Martin said no final decisions had been made on how the university would pay the civil penalty.
He referred questions seeking a response from the university on the matter to a news release.
In the release, Don Steeples, senior vice provost for scholarly support, said that as part of the remedy to the situation, the university would find ways to reduce the use of chemicals and hazardous waste in its labs.
"We're pleased the EPA has worked with us to make such a project possible, because we believe it will result in improved laboratory waste handling procedures," Steeples said in the release.
Mike Russell, director of environmental health and safety for the university, said his department would likely pay the $41,585 cost to institute the program.
He said three or four staff members could be tapped to incorporate the new program over the next two years.
They will add the program to their duties, he said, which mostly involve hazardous waste reduction efforts now.
"The priority things will still have to get done," Russell said. "It (the new program) will become a second priority for us for the next two years on a daily basis."
Russell said the university didn't agree with every violation cited by the EPA, and that the agency removed some violations in the new settlement.
Potential violations, discovered across the Lawrence campus during an inspection on Dec. 12, 2007, include:
¢ Failing to determine whether some waste produced by the school was hazardous.
¢ Allowing incompatible chemicals to be stored on the same shelf.
¢ Operating as a hazardous waste treatment facility without a permit.
In particular, problems were identified in Malott Hall, Haworth Hall and the Pharmaceutical Chemistry Lab on West Campus.
In 2005, KU was also cited for failing to determine whether some university-produced waste was hazardous. In its response to the EPA, KU officials tested the waste, and everything was proven to be nonhazardous. The university was cited for the same problem in 2000 and 1994.