Central Vermont Medical Center has been fined $20,250 for multiple hazardous waste violations, according to the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation.
During a routine inspection of the hospital in July, the DEC found storage, labeling and management violations, and hazardous waste stored outside the hospital’s designated waste collection stations. The facility also lacked arrangements with emergency response personnel about the locations and types of hazardous materials on site, and certain areas lacked emergency information postings.
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A follow-up visit in September found several continuing storage and waste management violations. Following negotiations, CVMC, which is part of the UVM Health Network, agreed to pay the fine and submit a plan to correct its violations and return to compliance.
The hazardous materials were largely found in the hospital’s laboratory and pharmaceutical departments, where chemicals like barium and xylene were not being properly managed as hazardous waste, according to the court docket.
“They certainly aren’t going to pose an acute toxic risk for folks,” said John Zaikowski, the Agency of Natural Resources enforcement and litigation section chief. “But any facility that deals with hazardous waste, regardless of what that waste is, still has to comply with these regulations.”
Zaikowski said it’s hard for him to say exactly how common violations like these are, but that it’s “typically a pretty small number” that are serious enough for enforcement action to be taken. But in the CVMC case, he said, there happened to be enough violations, observed on multiple occasions, that made the violations warrant this action.
The Berlin facility is registered as a “Small Quantity Generator,” meaning it generates between 220 and 2,200 pounds of hazardous waste a month.
“It’s important for hazardous waste to be properly labeled, stored, and managed at a facility. These facilities also need to make sure they’re prepared to handle a hazardous waste emergency. Establishing these essential practices helps track and properly manage hazardous waste throughout its lifecycle in a facility,” said DEC Commissioner Emily Boedecker in a press release. “These practices help prevent accidental exposure to the harmful effects of hazardous materials, and protect the facility’s employees and its clients as well as the public, emergency responders, and the environment.”
The settlement agreement was incorporated into a court order on Feb. 4 by the Vermont Superior Court, Environmental Division.