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EPA and SU sign comprehensive environmental self-audit agreement
EPA and SU sign comprehensive environmental self-audit agreementNovember 20, 2002Kevin Morrowkdmorrow@syr.edu
Syracuse University has taken advantage of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) innovative self-audit program with an agreement to conduct a comprehensive environmental audit of its main campus and two smaller facilities. The agreement, the first of its kind with a private college or university, continues EPA’s national initiative to help institutions of higher learning comply with environmental regulations. EPA Regional Administrator Jane M. Kenny and SU Chancellor Kenneth A. Shaw signed the agreement Nov. 19 at a ceremony in SU’s Eggers Hall.
This is EPA’s third self-audit agreement with a university in the region. The first was with the Rutgers University system in New Jersey, and the second with the State University of New York (SUNY). The most recent agreement with Syracuse University covers the main campus in Syracuse and two smaller facilities-Joseph I. Lubin House in New York City and the Minnowbrook Conference Center in Blue Mountain Lake, N.Y.
“Both EPA and Syracuse get something very positive out of this agreement,” said the EPA’s Kenny. “This agreement helps the University protect human health and the environment. It helps it to more effectively discover and fix violations. It reduces or eliminates financial penalties, and it conserves EPA resources.”
“This agreement allows both EPA and Syracuse University to better do their jobs,” said Shaw.
Syracuse University, with an enrollment of more that 18,000 students, has agreed to undertake comprehensive environmental audits, self report any violations, correct deficiencies in its environmental management, and take steps to prevent recurrence of violations. EPA has agreed to waive gravity-based penalties for self-disclosed violations. The agreement covers all major federal environmental programs including air, water, pesticides, solid and hazardous wastes, hazardous substances and chemicals, environmental response, emergency planning, Community Right-to-Know and toxic substances control.
The agreement with SU is part of EPA’s Colleges and Universities Initiative, which has been in place since 1999. EPA established the initiative because many institutions of higher learning were not aware of their responsibilities under various environmental laws or had failed to implement strategies to comply with them. As part of the initiative, EPA sent letters to 365 colleges and universities in New Jersey, New York and Puerto Rico, held free workshops to help colleges and universities comply, established a Web site that provides information about their duties under the law, and warned colleges and universities that EPA inspections of their facilities-with the risk of financial penalties-were imminent. EPA attempted to make the institutions aware of the agency’s Voluntary Audit Policy through which institutions can investigate and disclose hazardous waste violations to the Agency and, as a compliance incentive, if the necessary conditions are met, receive a partial or complete reduction in financial penalties.
EPA continues to encourage colleges and universities to participate in the Colleges and Universities Initiative. To date, 48 colleges and universities in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico have come forward to disclose violations to EPA. More than half of those schools have been granted a 100 percent waiver of certain penalties while the other cases are still under review. In 2002, EPA has filed complaints with penalties totaling more than $1.5 million against Columbia University, Long Island University, New Jersey City University, Pratt Institute, Manhattan College and Princeton University. The Colleges and Universities Initiative is an ongoing program with additional investigations anticipated.
More information on EPA’s Voluntary Audit Policy is available at http://www.epa.gov/region02/capp/cip/. The Web site for the Colleges and Universities Initiative is http://www.epa.gov/region02/p2/college/