The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has penalized the Minnesota State Colleges and University System (MnSCU) for hazardous waste violations at St. Cloud Technical & Community College in St. Cloud and Central Lakes College in Brainerd.
According to MPCA staff inspection reports from 2010, various violations occurred at each site, but among the more serious was MnSCU’s failure to provide proper staff training in hazardous waste handling and emergency procedures relevant to job duties at both locations. This was a repeat violation from past inspections.
In St. Cloud, pharmaceutical waste from area hazardous waste generators was accepted and stored without being properly evaluated. Also contaminated waste, chemicals and stains from the surgical, dental, chemistry and microbiology labs were disposed of in the trash and/or down drains.
In Brainerd, the marine and small engine repair departments failed to evaluate waste rags to determine whether they needed to be handled as hazardous waste.
These kinds of violations could have been avoided if the staff at both locations had received required hazardous waste training. As a result, MnSCU has paid a $25,700 penalty, corrected violations, and is assessing all of its campuses statewide to ensure staff are properly trained in hazardous waste management.
When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it is a first-time or repeat violation, and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. It also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.
A complete list of penalties issued by the M-P-C-A is available on its website at www.pca.state.mn.us.