BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached a settlement with American Wire, LLC, a Rhode Island corporation, for alleged violations of the Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule during 2020 renovation and construction activities at a Pawtucket, R.I. property known as American Wire Residential Lofts.
As the result of an investigation that included an on-site inspection coordinated with the Rhode Island Department of Health, EPA determined that among other alleged violations, American Wire was not a Rhode Island Lead Hazard Control licensed firm (the equivalent of an EPA-certified firm). This licensing is required for companies that perform renovations that disturb painted surfaces in housing built before 1978 presumed to contain lead. EPA also alleged that the company failed to ensure that a certified Lead Renovator was designated as the person responsible for oversight of each renovation project in a building being renovated for residential occupancy. Pursuant to the settlement, American Wire has paid a fine of $25,000 and has come into compliance with lead paint laws.
“Protecting childrens’ health by reducing lead exposure is a major priority for EPA under the Biden Administration,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash. “Ensuring that renovation projects of homes and facilities where children can be exposed to lead are conducted safely is imperative. Lead poisoning can cause lifelong health, learning and behavior problems, and is entirely avoidable by employing safe work practices during renovation projects. This is even more important considering that many historically overburdened communities suffer from higher rates of childhood lead poisoning.”
Contractors working on residential properties and facilities that house children are required to follow safe work practices outlined in the Toxic Substances Control Act’s lead paint Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule to ensure that children are not exposed to lead dust and debris. Due to the high amounts of older residences and buildings in Rhode Island and throughout New England, it is important to ensure that lead paint found in these properties is safely addressed during renovation activities to reduce the risk of childhood lead poisoning.
This action is the second mill conversion project for which EPA has pursued enforcement and reached a settlement related to alleged lead paint law violations against Brady Sullivan Properties LLC or one of its associated companies. A 2017 settlement involved a mill restoration project in Manchester, N.H. For this latest project, EPA also issued a non-penalty administrative order to Brady Sullivan for its alleged failure to provide EPA with prior, written notification before work began, as required by Clean Air Act demolition and renovation standards known as the “Asbestos NESHAP” regulations.
EPA’s RRP Rule is designed to prevent children’s exposure to lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards resulting from renovation, repair and painting projects in pre-1978 residences, schools and other buildings where children are present. If lead painted surfaces are to be disturbed at a job site, the RRP Rule requires individual renovators to complete an initial 8-hour accredited training course and the company or firm that they work for to be certified by EPA or an authorized state. These baseline requirements are critical to ensuring that companies take responsibility for their employees following proper lead-safe work practices by containing and managing lead dust and chips created during such projects. Further, the RRP Rule requires that specific records be created and maintained to document compliance with the law. In Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of Health has been delegated the authority to implement this program.
Enforcing lead paint certification and worksite standards helps to level the playing field for companies who are doing the right thing by complying with the law, as well as helping to provide a safer and healthier environment for all residents as well as the workers themselves.
As a result of the past and continuing efforts to reduce lead exposure, EPA has educated thousands of individuals either engaged in this type of work or impacted by it, settled numerous formal and informal enforcement actions, and levied fines against the most serious violators. An important outcome of the compliance assistance provided is that many renovators have stepped forward to become newly certified and have sent their workers to be trained.
Infants and children are especially vulnerable to lead exposure, which can cause lifelong impacts including developmental impairment, learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity, and behavioral problems. Lead exposures to pregnant woman can impact their unborn children’s health as well.
Federal lead paint information:
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Author: Region 01