MIT Commits to Three Environmental Projects and $150,000 Civil Penalty to Settle EPA Violations, Reports U.S. Attorney

Apr 18, 2001, 01:00 ET from U.S. Attorney's Office

    BOSTON, April 18 /PRNewswire/ --The Massachusetts Institute of Technology
 today settled an enforcement case with the U.S. Environmental Protection
 Agency and the U.S. Attorney's Office by agreeing to fund more than $400,000
 of innovative environmental projects and pay a civil penalty of $150,000.
     "This settlement will lead to significant environmental benefits that
 extend far beyond MIT's campus," said Ira Leighton, acting regional
 administrator of EPA's New England Office. "Cambridge and the Charles River
 will see improvements, as will universities and colleges all across the
 country."
     The settlement stems from widespread environmental violations discovered
 during an EPA inspection at MIT's Cambridge campus in 1998. The university was
 specifically cited for 18 violations of federal hazardous waste laws, the
 Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.
     The case highlights EPA's focused efforts to bring New England colleges
 and universities, as well as facilities along the Charles River, into
 compliance with environmental laws.
     Under the terms of the settlement, MIT will develop a computer-based
 'virtual campus' compliance assistance tool to help universities and colleges
 all over the country comply with environmental laws. The virtual campus will
 address compliance with several environmental laws in eight featured areas,
 including a laboratory, an auto and grounds maintenance department and a 90-
 day hazardous waste storage area. When it is completed by 2004, the virtual
 campus will be posted on the Campus Consortium for Environmental Excellence
 web site.
     MIT has also agreed to install at the campus's new Stata Center, a major
 research facility situated in an area of Cambridge prone to flooding, a state-
 of-the-art stormwater control and treatment system utilizing biofiltration.
 The project will reduce the rate of stormwater runoff from the area into the
 Charles River by 50 percent and reduce the amount of solids in stormwater
 runoff by 80 percent.
     MIT also agreed to develop and implement three different environmental
 education projects with the Cambridge public school system. The projects,
 which will be implemented over the next two years as part of a program called
 the MIT-Cambridge Schools Collaboration on Education for the Environment, will
 focus on water quality, pollution prevention, site cleanups or energy use -
 all with an urban theme. Each of the projects also will include a field
 activity to help improve the urban environment.
     And, lastly, the settlement requires MIT to implement an Environmental
 Management System. As part of this effort, MIT must, among other things,
 identify key personnel at MIT responsible for environmental compliance issues,
 develop an inventory of materials used in laboratories, create a system of
 self inspection, improve its environmental training programs, and create a
 program for preventing, reducing, recycling and reusing wastes.
 
     EPA inspectors went to MIT in May 1998. They found the university:
 
     --Violated federal hazardous waste emergency, storage, handling and
       labeling regulations. Violations were found in 56 of 114 laboratories
       inspected.
 
     --Failed to keep an opacity monitor on its medical waste incinerator in
       working order and violated several reporting requirements relating to
       the use of fuels in MIT's power plant.
 
     --Did not have an adequate and fully implemented oil spill prevention
       plan.
 
     "It is clear that the violations stem from institutional problems - too
 much decentralization of responsibility, lack of clear lines for environmental
 compliance, deficiencies in training programs and lack of resources dedicated
 to environmental compliance," said EPA's Leighton.
     Leighton said that although EPA found no damage to the environment because
 of these violations, the reason hazardous waste regulations are in place is to
 prevent environmental damage.
     "We commend MIT for the aggressive steps it has taken to correct the
 environmental deficiencies at issue in today's settlement, and for the
 innovative environmental projects it has agreed to undertake," stated U.S.
 Attorney Stern.
     Leighton also applauded MIT for its cooperation with EPA, pointing out the
 university went above and beyond what the agency required.
     "MIT has used this enforcement action to spur environmental initiatives
 above and beyond what is required by the consent decree," he said. "For
 example, MIT reports that it has greatly expanded its recycling program,
 started a 'green buildings' task force to develop and implement guidelines for
 the construction of more environmentally sustainable buildings on campus, and
 instituted a 'green goods' procurement program."
     "I am delighted that MIT and EPA are making it possible for our schools to
 participate in the Education for the Environment program," said Bobbie
 D'Alessandro, superintendent of the Cambridge Public Schools.  "The Education
 for the Environment Program will enhance the opportunities for students to
 learn about urban environmental protection through hands-on field activities."
     MIT is the sixth university in New England fined by the EPA in two years.
 After finding widespread non-compliance with environmental laws at
 universities and colleges, EPA New England in 1999 launched its university
 initiative in an effort to improve environmental compliance at college
 campuses. The initiative includes a stepped up inspection presence at college
 campuses across New England and extensive compliance assistance activities,
 including workshops geared for university environmental compliance personnel.
     In launching the effort, EPA sent letters to the presidents of all 282
 colleges and universities in New England, including the president of MIT. The
 letter outlined the agency's overall initiative, including a heightened
 enforcement presence at college campuses and a compliance assistance program
 specifically geared for universities.
     EPA New England has conducted or participated in a dozen workshops and
 conferences to help universities come into compliance. Additional workshops
 will be held this spring. The agency has also created a university compliance
 web page, which can be visited at www.epa.gov/region01/steward/univ/
     "The fact of the matter is that colleges and universities are often the
 size of a town or even a small city. And like a municipality - even more so
 because of the nature of their business - they use hazardous materials in
 research and generate hazardous waste," Leighton said. "And it doesn't matter
 that they are an educational institution. Their hazardous material and
 hazardous waste can do just as much damage to the environment."
     Among the campuses where EPA has levied fines or proposed fines are the
 University of Rhode Island, Brown University, the University of New Hampshire,
 Boston University and Yale University.
     The case against MIT was handled by Catherine Smith, EPA senior
 enforcement counsel, First Assistant U.S. Attorney David S. Mackey in Stern's
 Office, and Assistant U.S. Attorney George B. Henderson in Stern's Civil
 Division.
 
 

SOURCE U.S. Attorney's Office
    BOSTON, April 18 /PRNewswire/ --The Massachusetts Institute of Technology
 today settled an enforcement case with the U.S. Environmental Protection
 Agency and the U.S. Attorney's Office by agreeing to fund more than $400,000
 of innovative environmental projects and pay a civil penalty of $150,000.
     "This settlement will lead to significant environmental benefits that
 extend far beyond MIT's campus," said Ira Leighton, acting regional
 administrator of EPA's New England Office. "Cambridge and the Charles River
 will see improvements, as will universities and colleges all across the
 country."
     The settlement stems from widespread environmental violations discovered
 during an EPA inspection at MIT's Cambridge campus in 1998. The university was
 specifically cited for 18 violations of federal hazardous waste laws, the
 Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.
     The case highlights EPA's focused efforts to bring New England colleges
 and universities, as well as facilities along the Charles River, into
 compliance with environmental laws.
     Under the terms of the settlement, MIT will develop a computer-based
 'virtual campus' compliance assistance tool to help universities and colleges
 all over the country comply with environmental laws. The virtual campus will
 address compliance with several environmental laws in eight featured areas,
 including a laboratory, an auto and grounds maintenance department and a 90-
 day hazardous waste storage area. When it is completed by 2004, the virtual
 campus will be posted on the Campus Consortium for Environmental Excellence
 web site.
     MIT has also agreed to install at the campus's new Stata Center, a major
 research facility situated in an area of Cambridge prone to flooding, a state-
 of-the-art stormwater control and treatment system utilizing biofiltration.
 The project will reduce the rate of stormwater runoff from the area into the
 Charles River by 50 percent and reduce the amount of solids in stormwater
 runoff by 80 percent.
     MIT also agreed to develop and implement three different environmental
 education projects with the Cambridge public school system. The projects,
 which will be implemented over the next two years as part of a program called
 the MIT-Cambridge Schools Collaboration on Education for the Environment, will
 focus on water quality, pollution prevention, site cleanups or energy use -
 all with an urban theme. Each of the projects also will include a field
 activity to help improve the urban environment.
     And, lastly, the settlement requires MIT to implement an Environmental
 Management System. As part of this effort, MIT must, among other things,
 identify key personnel at MIT responsible for environmental compliance issues,
 develop an inventory of materials used in laboratories, create a system of
 self inspection, improve its environmental training programs, and create a
 program for preventing, reducing, recycling and reusing wastes.
 
     EPA inspectors went to MIT in May 1998. They found the university:
 
     --Violated federal hazardous waste emergency, storage, handling and
       labeling regulations. Violations were found in 56 of 114 laboratories
       inspected.
 
     --Failed to keep an opacity monitor on its medical waste incinerator in
       working order and violated several reporting requirements relating to
       the use of fuels in MIT's power plant.
 
     --Did not have an adequate and fully implemented oil spill prevention
       plan.
 
     "It is clear that the violations stem from institutional problems - too
 much decentralization of responsibility, lack of clear lines for environmental
 compliance, deficiencies in training programs and lack of resources dedicated
 to environmental compliance," said EPA's Leighton.
     Leighton said that although EPA found no damage to the environment because
 of these violations, the reason hazardous waste regulations are in place is to
 prevent environmental damage.
     "We commend MIT for the aggressive steps it has taken to correct the
 environmental deficiencies at issue in today's settlement, and for the
 innovative environmental projects it has agreed to undertake," stated U.S.
 Attorney Stern.
     Leighton also applauded MIT for its cooperation with EPA, pointing out the
 university went above and beyond what the agency required.
     "MIT has used this enforcement action to spur environmental initiatives
 above and beyond what is required by the consent decree," he said. "For
 example, MIT reports that it has greatly expanded its recycling program,
 started a 'green buildings' task force to develop and implement guidelines for
 the construction of more environmentally sustainable buildings on campus, and
 instituted a 'green goods' procurement program."
     "I am delighted that MIT and EPA are making it possible for our schools to
 participate in the Education for the Environment program," said Bobbie
 D'Alessandro, superintendent of the Cambridge Public Schools.  "The Education
 for the Environment Program will enhance the opportunities for students to
 learn about urban environmental protection through hands-on field activities."
     MIT is the sixth university in New England fined by the EPA in two years.
 After finding widespread non-compliance with environmental laws at
 universities and colleges, EPA New England in 1999 launched its university
 initiative in an effort to improve environmental compliance at college
 campuses. The initiative includes a stepped up inspection presence at college
 campuses across New England and extensive compliance assistance activities,
 including workshops geared for university environmental compliance personnel.
     In launching the effort, EPA sent letters to the presidents of all 282
 colleges and universities in New England, including the president of MIT. The
 letter outlined the agency's overall initiative, including a heightened
 enforcement presence at college campuses and a compliance assistance program
 specifically geared for universities.
     EPA New England has conducted or participated in a dozen workshops and
 conferences to help universities come into compliance. Additional workshops
 will be held this spring. The agency has also created a university compliance
 web page, which can be visited at www.epa.gov/region01/steward/univ/
     "The fact of the matter is that colleges and universities are often the
 size of a town or even a small city. And like a municipality - even more so
 because of the nature of their business - they use hazardous materials in
 research and generate hazardous waste," Leighton said. "And it doesn't matter
 that they are an educational institution. Their hazardous material and
 hazardous waste can do just as much damage to the environment."
     Among the campuses where EPA has levied fines or proposed fines are the
 University of Rhode Island, Brown University, the University of New Hampshire,
 Boston University and Yale University.
     The case against MIT was handled by Catherine Smith, EPA senior
 enforcement counsel, First Assistant U.S. Attorney David S. Mackey in Stern's
 Office, and Assistant U.S. Attorney George B. Henderson in Stern's Civil
 Division.
 
 SOURCE  U.S. Attorney's Office