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EPA Settle $280K in CA, AZ Lead Cases

Thursday, March 15, 2018

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Earlier this week the Environmental Protection Agency announced six enforcement actions related to lead paint in the states of California and Arizona.

The EPA reports that it has issued a combined total of $287,000 in fines over the past year to companies that allegedly failed to comply to regulations regarding the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule.

© iStock.com / XiFoto

Earlier this week the Environmental Protection Agency announced six enforcement actions related to leads paint in the states of California and Arizona.

“Lead paint is one of the most common sources of lead poisoning in children. EPA’s diligent enforcement of federal lead paint laws is not only necessary to protect communities across the country, but also ensures those who break the law are held accountable,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest.

The fines included:

  • Best Value Home Improvements (Oakland, California) — $38,990 penalty;
  • Holland and Harley Construction (Berkeley, California) — $14,210 penalty;
  • K Kittle LLC, known as Rebath and 5 Day Kitchens (Phoenix) — $19,810 penalty;
  • Renovation Realty (San Diego, California) — $41,633 penalty; and
  • Simply Building (Daly City, California) — $24,105 penalty.

In addition to the monetary penalties, each company made corrections to their operations, including becoming EPA-certified if they hadn’t been already.

The EPA says that these actions “reinforce EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s commitment to prioritize action to address childhood lead exposure.”

Other State Cases

California is in the middle of a larger debate around the remediation of lead paint and who should be responsible. Last month, the state’s high court rejected requests from paint companies (ConAgra, NL Industries and Sherwin-Williams) to review the lawsuit in which they were ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to remove lead paint from old homes.

The lawsuit was originally filed in 2000, and intended to hold several gas, paint and chemical companies accountable for what was deemed a massive public health crisis brought on by the presence of lead paint in a number of California homes and buildings.

© iStock.com / Marilyn Nieves

Last month, the California's high court rejected requests from paint companies (ConAgra, NL Industries and Sherwin-Williams) to review the lawsuit in which they were ordered to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to remove lead paint from old homes.

During the 2013 trial, Judge Kleinberg dismissed Atlantic Richfield and DuPont, subsequently ordering Sherwin-Williams, ConAgra and NL Industries to pay $1.1 billion into a fund that would be distributed to the 10 cities and counties affected, as needed. At the time, the court also denied Sherwin-Williams' cross-claim, which argued that intact lead-based paint was not a hazard under state law, and that property owners were responsible for the abatement of the associated hazards.

In 2014, the judge increased the liability to $1.15 billion. That same year, after being denied the vacation of an amended judgement and the granting of a new trial, the three defendants filed notices of appeal, which effected an automatic stay of the judgement.

In an August 2017 hearing, the companies appealed, requesting a full reversal of the 2013 ruling. In the appeal ruling, which came in November 2017, the Sixth District Court of Appeals in San Jose dropped the amount of cleanup that the companies are responsible for to homes build before 1951, instead of 1978. This took the $1.15 billion tag down to $400 million.

Andre Pauka, a lawyer for NL Industries has said that the companies are planning to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

They are also behind a push for the Healthy Homes and Schools Act, which calls for a $2 billion bond that would go toward the remediation of lead paint, mold, asbestos and other dangers in homes. Those opposed to this measure say the companies are only behind the proposed legislation because it would essentially get them off the $400 million hook.

   

Tagged categories: Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Lead; Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (LRRP)

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