The state’s Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory in Augusta will pay $100,000 in fines and equipment purchases to settle a claim that it violated state and federal hazardous waste laws.

The settlement was announced Monday by the New England Regional Office of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

An EPA news release said the Maine laboratory will pay a $27,000 fine and buy $73,000 worth of equipment for emergency responders in Augusta and Waterville, including the fire departments in both cities, and the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The equipment includes $25,000 worth of self-contained breathing apparatus bottles, $15,000 for propane heating systems and $9,000 for bulky equipment storage.

The federal agency said the state lab violated the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and state hazardous waste laws by “failing to properly identify hazardous wastes, failing to segregate incompatible hazardous wastes so that they are not stored next to one another, creating a potential for fire or explosions. The laboratory also failed to follow its own procedures for the treatment of certain corrosive laboratory wastes.”

Following the complaint, the state laboratory reviewed and complied with practices and procedures, the news release said.

Several people who serve as spokesmen for the state Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory, were unavailable to respond to questions about the settlement on Monday.

The Maine Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory analyzes food, water, wastewater and biological and hazardous waste. It also generates various hazardous wastes, including those containing “sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid, mercury, acetone, methylene chloride and hexane.”

The news release said the chemicals are received, stored and/or consolidated and then shipped off site for treatment or disposal.

Augusta Fire Chief Roger Audette said Monday that Battalion Chief John Bennett, who is in charge of the city’s hazardous materials response team, has been working with the state to generate a list of materials that would be purchased with the money. It also must be accepted by the Augusta City Council, Audette said.

Emergency responders from Augusta, Waterville, Skowhegan and Sappi Fine Paper Co. form Strike Team 5, one of the state-funded regional hazardous materials decontamination teams.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


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