Distributed November 27, 2001
For Immediate Release
News Service Contact: Mark Nickel

EPA Consent Agreement and Order

Providence public schools are beneficiaries of Brown’s EPA settlement

As part of a consent agreement and final order announced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Brown University will spend $285,596 on a Supplemental Environmental Project much of which will directly benefit Providence public high schools. The SEP will include microscaled chemistry labs in four high schools, a computerized chemical management system for Providence public high schools, and summer workshops for high school chemistry teachers. Brown will also pay $79,858 in penalties levied by the EPA.

PROVIDENCE — Public high schools in Providence will be significant beneficiaries of a $285,596 Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) funded by Brown University, according to a consent agreement and final order announced today (Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2001) by the New England Regional Office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

SEPs allow institutions to satisfy a portion of a federal penalty by undertaking one or more projects that will address environmental concerns but will not necessarily directly benefit the institution itself. In Brown’s case, the SEP accounts for more than three-quarters of a $365,454 penalty imposed on the University by the EPA for 15 alleged violations of federal environmental law. (Under terms of the consent agreement, Brown does not admit the allegations in the original complaint, but waives its right to a hearing or appeal and agrees to the terms without adjudication.)

One significant element of the SEP will involve “microscaling” the general chemistry labs at four Providence public high schools (Hope, Central, Classical and Mount Pleasant) and inorganic chemistry labs at Brown. The microscaling approach dramatically reduces quantities of chemicals used in common laboratory demonstrations while preserving or improving the level of learning that occurs. Brown will help modify high school curricula, provide laboratory equipment and instruments necessary for microscaled procedures, and will conduct summer workshops (2001 and 2002) on microscale techniques and environmental compliance for chemistry teachers in Providence public high schools.

“The EPA’s approval of Brown’s investment in Providence public high schools indicates the cooperation between the University and the federal agency,” said Brown President Ruth J. Simmons. “I am pleased that these funds will be put to such a creative and thoughtful educational purpose in the public schools.”

Other elements of the SEP include:

  • subsidizing a one-time removal and disposal of chemicals, hazardous materials and certain other non-hazardous materials currently stored in the high schools;

  • purchasing a computerized password-protected chemical environmental management system for use by up to 10 Providence public schools;

  • implementing a chemical inventory and management system at Brown, as well as management system training;

  • providing access to ongoing environmental compliance training for Providence public high school chemistry teachers through Brown’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety.

“Brown University’s decision to support environmental programs and training at the Providence Public High Schools as a part of its Supplemental Environmental Project with the EPA provides a major and most welcome benefit for our school system,” said Diana Lam, superintendent of Providence schools. “[Brown’s] presence and support of these initiatives in the area of environmental safety and training will serve to expand learning opportunities for both teachers and students and will greatly advance our efforts to sustain an improved and safe learning environment in our science programs. I want to commend and personally thank Brown University for its assistance.”

Under terms of the consent agreement, Brown will also pay cash penalties of $34,858 to the EPA and $45,000 to the National Pollution Funds Center of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Brown has addressed all the compliance and training issues raised by the EPA’s December 2000 report and has provided ongoing annual training programs for faculty, students and staff while aggressively enforcing waste management policies.