Alaska’s transportation agency will pay nearly $118,000 to settle allegations that it improperly disposed of paint, federal officials announced.
Along with the fine, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities agreed to comply with hazardous-waste requirements under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced July 30.
According to the EPA settlement, the violations stem from improper management of highway paint in Soldotna, AK, in 2009. The EPA also accused the agency of failing to label a used oil tank and 55-gallon drums containing hazardous waste.
In signing the agreement, ADOT&PF neither admits nor denies the claims. A copy of the settlement agreement was not immediately available.
According to the EPA, ADOT&PF employees failed to identify that a 250-gallon batch of unusable yellow highway paint was hazardous waste and placed it in a shallow pit lined with plastic.
The EPA alleged employees of Alaska's Department of Transportation and Public Facilities improperly discarded 250 gallons of unusable yellow highway paint.
EPA spokesperson Hanady Kader told local KTUU-TV that the paint left in the pit contained ignitable solvents, chromium and lead.
There was an issue with the paint's binding agents, causing the pigments to settle out instead of staying suspended, Kader told PaintSquare News in an email Thursday (Aug. 7).
"They did not try to send the paint back, but instead attempted to dispose of it as outlined in this settlement, resulting in the violations and a fine," Kader explained.
"Highway paint contains chemicals that can be a danger to people and the environment if mismanaged, especially when you're working with large quantities," said Scott Downey, Manager of the Hazardous Waste Compliance Unit at the EPA's Seattle office.
Hazardous not 'Malicious'
The paint was left to sit for over a year to solidify in the open air. The solids were later disposed in a landfill, according to the EPA.
However Kader said that the EPA did not believe the act was "malicious" and that storing paint in the pit appeared to be "a one-time event."
"Placing waste paint in pits did not appear to be a regular practice at the facility and was used, in this case, to deal with the unique occasion of the receipt of an unusable batch of paint that was large in volume," Kader told KTUU-TV.
The state said it had taken steps to ensure compliance with the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
"It was determined to be in the best interests of the State and EPA to negotiate a settlement and save the expense of involving courts," the transportation department stated.
Editor's Note: This article was updated at 1:25 p.m. ET Aug. 7 to include information about the paint from the EPA and a copy of the settlement.