EPA fines still possible despite renovator reprieve
BY JIM MYERS World Washington Bureau
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
6/22/10 at 2:49 PM
Related story: Contractors given lead-paint reprieve
WASHINGTON -- Renovators and others given a reprieve on getting certified to work on older homes with lead paint could still be fined if they fail to follow lead-safe work practices, a federal agency said Tuesday.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also confirmed those fines could be as high as $37,500 per day.
"The guidance states that EPA will continue to pursue enforcement action to ensure that all contractors follow the lead-safe work practices outlined in the rule,'' the agency stated in comments provided to the press.
"They include best practices such as dust control, site cleanup and work area containment.''
According to EPA, no one has been fined so far for violating the rule, which became effective on April 22.
Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, referenced the lead-safe work practices in a memorandum she wrote to delay enforcement of the portion of the rule requiring renovators and others working on homes with lead paint to become trained and certified.
No one with EPA was made available to respond to questions when a group of senators announced the Giles memo last week to the press.
Targeting homes built before 1978, the rule was first proposed in 2006 and was made final in 2008 with a 2010 effective date.
Still, many contractors and others who work on homes say they were caught by surprise by the rule and were left scrambling to become certified.
EPA drew fire for what critics saw as a botched job in implementing the rule.
Specifically, the agency was criticized for not ensuring enough trainers and classes were available to handle the demand for certification.
After initialing standing by its effective date, EPA agreed to delay the enforcement of the certification portion of rules until Oct. 1. Enforcement also will be put off for those who have applied or enrolled in a class by Sept. 30 and complete that training by Dec. 31.
U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., who helped lead the charge for the enforcement delay, released a letter Tuesday calling on EPA to extend its public comment period on a proposal to apply lead-safe work practices to renovations on public and commercial buildings as well.
In a letter to Steve Owens, assistant administrator in EPA's Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, Inhofe said public and commercial buildings will present an array of different issues.
In order to gain a full understanding of the proposal's potential effects, he said, EPA needs a robust public comment period.
He called on the agency to extend the public comment period, which now ends July 6, another 60 days.