The Maine Health & Environmental Testing Laboratory will buy emergency preparedness and response equipment for emergency responders at the Augusta and Waterville fire departments and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection.
Equipment includes more than $25,000 for 24 individual self-contained breathing apparatus bottles, used to protect emergency responders from dangerous air emissions and $15,000 for propane heating systems and used to provide hot air and hot water inside decontamination tents.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alleged that the lab violated the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and state hazardous waste laws by failing to properly identify hazardous wastes and failing to segregate incompatible hazardous wastes, so 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 treatment of corrosive laboratory wastes.
In response to EPA’s complaint, the laboratory reviewed its practices and came into compliance after the alleged violations were identified.
The Maine Health & Environmental Testing Laboratory performs analyses on substances, including food, water and wastewater.
It generates hazardous wastes including those containing sulfuric acid, nitric acid, hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acid, mercury, acetone, methylene chloride and hexane.
“Laboratories that generate or manage a wide-variety of hazardous wastes must comply with environmental requirements to prevent releases to the environment and potential harm to workers and communities,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.