Renovator Faces $90K RRP Fine
Federal authorities have hit a New Hampshire-based renovator with a $90,750 fine for allegedly violating lead-based paint regulations while performing work at a child-occupied facility in Maine.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alleges that New Hampshire Plate Glass Corp., of Portsmouth, NH, violated EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule in February 2012 while removing old windows at the former Frisbee School in Kittery, ME. The project involved converting a former school into a community center.
New Hampshire Plate Glass, which provides automotive, residential and commercial glass products and services throughout northern New England, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The company was hired by the Salem, MA-based general contractor James J. Welch & Company (JJ Welch) to remove and replace windows at the facility, which housed child-care programs, according to EPA's 13-page complaint. JJ Welch did not immediately return a request for comment.
Anonymous Tip Spurs Investigation
After receiving an anonymous tip about the possible presence of lead-based paint at the facility, EPA initiated its investigation into the project and facility, the agency said in its enforcement announcement Monday (Feb. 25).
A report from April 2011 documented that paint surfaces in the former Frisbee School building, including windows, contained lead-based paint above 1.0 milligrams per square centimeter, according to the EPA. EPA's investigator also determined that lead-based paint existed at the facility on Feb. 14, 2012.
EPA and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection found that New Hampshire Plate Glass did not follow provisions of the RRP Rule at the site when it performed work between September 2011 and Febraury 2012, the EPA alleges.
EPA’s RRP Rule is designed to prevent exposure to lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards.
Specifically, the company did not assign a certified renovator to the work site, cover the ground with plastic sheeting to catch fallen paint debris, or contain waste from the renovation activity, EPA alleges.
Complaint Highlights Interviews
During interviews, a New Hampshire Plate Glass foreman told the EPA that he had been told by an employee of JJ Welch that no lead was present in the building, according to EPA's complaint.
"He also stated that he did not follow any of the RRP Rule requriements during the window replacement project," the complaint said.
However, the project manager from JJ Welch told investigators he had received a copy of the April 2011 report confirming the presence of lead-based paint and that he had sent a copy over to the glass company, the complaint said.
The manager said he halted the window renovations after observing the company "removing window trim without containment," the complaint said. At that time, New Hampshire Plate Glass was alleged to have replaced 70 windows at the facility, EPA said.
EPA noted that the Kittery site was, at the time of the renovation, a child-occupied facility subject to the RRP Rule. The facility is now operating as a community center, which houses preschool and after-school programs, according to local news reports.
Those reports also indicate that there is no lead paint currently in the building.
The RRP Rule
EPA’s RRP Rule is designed to prevent exposure to lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards. The rule requires individuals performing renovations for compensation at most pre-1978 housing and child-occupied facilities to be properly trained.
The rule's certification and training requirements for individual renovators and companies performing renovations are designed to ensure that safe work practices are followed, EPA says.
The rule, which became effective on April 22, 2010, allows for the assessment of penalties that may reach up to a maximum of $37,500 per violation per day.