$750,000 fine leveled against Nebraska waste disposal operator


The operator of a hazardous waste disposal operation in the Nebraska panhandle agreed to pay a $790,000 fine to end allegations it violated federal and state environmental laws.

The case involves alleged violations dating back years at the Clean Harbors Environmental Services incinerator and hazardous waste storage site at Kimball, one of 13 such facilities in North America reported the Omaha World-Herald.

In a lawsuit that was settled Monday, state and federal environmental regulators say Clean Harbors allowed improper mixing and handling of wastes, deteriorating storage containers, inadequate record-keeping and the release of hazardous air emissions. The agencies also say that Clean Harbors incinerated some hazardous chemicals, such as PCBs and mercury, in greater amounts than the facility is licensed to do.

Regulators say some of these practices resulted in fires, ranging in frequency from less than five per year to 20 in a year in one building, said Jonathan Meyer, an attorney for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

According to the EPA, this is the fourth settlement with Clean Harbors since it began running the incinerator in the Nebraska Panhandle in 1995, and the size of fine is in response to that recurrence. Previous settlements were in 1997, 2004 and 2010.

The settlement “addresses the repeat violations observed through numerous state and federal inspections at Clean Harbors’ Kimball facility,” EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford said in a statement. “We are encouraged by the positive steps taken by the company to protect its workers and those living in the Kimball community and downwind from the facility.”

Because this is a settlement of a lawsuit and not a verdict, there has been no finding or admission of wrongdoing. Settlements such as these are a common way that allegations of error or wrongdoing are resolved.

Source: Omaha World Herald

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