Distributed November 30, 2000
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Mark Nickel

University Statement

Brown University addresses compliance issues raised in EPA report

Brown University is addressing charges made in a report released today by the New England Region of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The report, based on an inspection conducted in May 1999, charges Brown with 15 violations of environmental regulations.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The New England Region of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today (Thursday, Nov. 30, 2000) released its final report of an inspection conducted at Brown University in May 1999. The report cites Brown for 13 violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and two violations of the Clean Water Act. In its news release, the EPA said the penalty for all 15 counts could total as much as $500,000.

Interim President Sheila E. Blumstein made the following statement in response to today’s announcement by the EPA:

Brown University is fully committed to protecting the environment and maintaining a safe and healthy campus and workplace. I wish to assure members of the campus community and our neighbors on the East Side of Providence that none of the charges outlined in the EPA’s report posed an immediate or long-term threat to anyone’s health or safety.

I do not, however, intend to minimize the seriousness of the EPA’s report. The University began to address concerns raised by the inspection team immediately after the EPA’s campus visit in May 1999. Staff from our Office of Risk Management (ORM) began a series of special meetings with more than 100 faculty in chemistry, physics, engineering, biology, psychology and geology. They discussed the EPA’s visit and reviewed the faculty and staff’s pivotal role in compliance and training. Since May 1999, ORM has provided training for more than a thousand faculty, students and staff.

For several months after the EPA’s visit, risk management staff conducted additional assessments of campus areas noted during the inspection, including photographic darkrooms, art studios, theater production shops, maintenance facilities, oil tanks and hazardous waste storage sites in addition to research laboratories. Regular inspections will continue. In addition, the University intends to review and modify as necessary its compliance procedures to assure that full compliance continues.

Brown University has more than 300 laboratories, studios and other worksites which use materials that require special handling and disposal. In nearly all cases, the amounts involved are small, but the number of sites poses a significant management challenge. I commend the work of our Office of Risk Management and its efforts to support and work with the faculty, students and staff who are ultimately responsible for compliance with most of the EPA’s regulations.

The University is addressing all the compliance and training issues raised by the EPA’s report. Brown has rededicated itself to ongoing annual training programs for faculty, students and staff and to aggressive enforcement of waste management policies. We seek a productive partnership with the EPA which will assure Brown’s continued compliance with all environmental regulations.