EPA Lead RRP Rule Enforcement is Affecting Contractors Nationally–A Chronological List of Fines
16 May 2011 (updated)
By Scott von Gonten, CGA, CGP, SHA, CR, CDST
Will the EPA ever really seriously enforce the Residential Lead-Based Paint Regulations?
This question has prompted thousands of contractors and sub-contractors to unwisely postpone their Certified Renovator training and Certified Firm applications, which are required by the EPA’s Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule (RRP Rule). Well, for those contractors who have been waiting for the EPA to begin fining companies for lead-related violations, it has finally happened! These recent fines have caused a huge panic in the building industry because it is now crystal clear that the EPA will enforce residential lead-based paint regulations.
The EPA has begun Enforcing the RRP Rule on a Steady Basis….
Most recently, on May 16, 2011, the EPA announced that a Rockland, Maine renovator is facing penalties related to alleged violations, which occurred in October 2010. As per the EPA’s investigation, the contractor, who had personally completed the required RRP Rule eight-hour training class, failed to: 1) obtain firm certification from the EPA, 2) post warning signs, 3) contain the work area, 4) contain waste from the renovation activities, 5) properly train his co-workers, 6) prohibit the use of high-speed paint removal machines without HEPA exhaust control, and 7) establish and maintain records necessary to demonstrate compliance with the RRP Rule. Remember, the maximum penalty for the alleged violations is up to $37,500.00 per violation per day! Do you know how he was discovered? The EPA received a tip, from someone across the street from the renovation, who took a video and posted it on the internet! The EPA promises to follow through on tips, such as this example, to identify if violations have jeopardized public health.
In review of EPA’s enforcement actions earlier this year, on March 23, 2011, a Connecticut window and siding company was fined, and has agreed to pay, $30,702.00 for failing to distribute the required Renovate Right pamphlets to homeowners and residents prior to renovations. This settlement stemmed from an EPA inspection and the subsequent documentation the company submitted to the EPA.
In addition, on March 31, 2011, a major St. Louis window company was fined, and has agreed to pay, $19,529.00 in civil penalty, plus the company will perform a supplemental environmental project worth $20,048.00. These fines stemmed from a failure to distribute the Renovate Right pamphlets, which is required by the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act.
Also, on April 6, 2011, a California painting company was fined, and has agreed to pay, $32,508.00 for violating the federal Pre-Renovation Rule by failing to distribute the Renovate Right pamphlets. The EPA further stipulated that the company “failed to establish and maintain records necessary to demonstrate compliance with the Toxic Substances Control Act regulations.”
Furthermore, on April 12, 2011, a Maine property management company, which operates in 13 states, was fined, and has agreed to pay, $3,542.00 and will perform an abatement project valued at $31,884.00 to settle EPA claims that it violated both the federal lead-based paint disclosure requirements as well as the federal Pre-Renovation Rule. The property management company failed to distribute the Renovate Right pamphlets prior to renovations.
Continuing on the perpetual pursuit of violators, the EPA announced, on April 21, 2011, that a major Omaha, Nebraska window company was fined, and has agreed to pay, $3,976.00 in civil penalty, and will perform a supplemental environmental project worth $11,928.00, for violating the federal Pre-Renovation Rule by failing to distribute the Renovate Right pamphlets prior to working on pre-1978 residential properties.
And now, just to show you how far the EPA will go to enforce the RRP Rule…..
Even as recently as early May 2011, the EPA’s Region 6, which covers, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana, has sent letters, to contractors, confirming visits to the contractors’ offices to review the overall level of compliance with the Lead-Based Paint Regulations. That’s right; the EPA will be physically reviewing the contractors’ paperwork for ALL of their renovations or modifications performed on pre-1978 properties over the last three years. The EPA will obtain copies of certain documents so that compliance with the RRP Rule (or lack of compliance) can be evaluated. You know what that means. How many of these contractors are going to have the proper records? In fact, how many of these contractors are going to have NO records at all? Do YOU know what records to keep? Do YOU know how to properly document your renovations? By the way, some of the contractors who received letters were randomly selected by what is called a “Neutral Inspection Scheme,” which could be as easy as a simple internet search for renovators or contractors!
This is just the beginning of EPA’s enforcement of lead-related issues within the residential construction industry. More reports of violations are being released constantly. Remember, the Toxic Substances Control Act Section 402(a)(3) directs the Environmental Protection Agency to establish and implement a fee program to recover, for the U.S. Treasury, the cost of administering and enforcing the lead-based paint activities requirements. The EPA is highly motivated to find violators and is actively doing so.
Exactly Who does the RRP Rule Affect?
Since long before the RRP Rule was enforced, I have been keeping general contractors, sub-contractors, remodelers, builders, property managers, painters, mechanical contractors, maintenance workers, and many others, informed and educated about the RRP Rule to keep them out of trouble. These federal regulations affect ALL contractors and ALL sub-contractors, and even individuals, who get paid to do renovations. If you scrape, sand, abrade, cut a hole in, puncture, remove, or demolish any painted or surface-coated component, you have “disturbed” that surface, and the RRP Rule may apply.
Since the confusing RRP Rule is so specific and has such tiny minimums, virtually 100% of renovations on pre-1978 target housing and child-occupied facilities are affected by this legislation in some way. That’s why you need a friend, like the “Lead Paint Professor,” who knows the regulations inside and out and can help you wade through the murkiness and better protect your business and reduce your liability. Far too many contractors have taken the “wait and see” approach to verify if the EPA was actually going to enforce the RRP Rule. Well, as the recent flurry of fines demonstrates, they are enforcing the RRP Rule!
Three-Year Window of Liability
I earnestly and respectfully request that all contractors and sub-contractors take the Certified Renovator training as soon as humanly possible. Far too many contractors have delayed taking the Certified Renovator training and have continued to add new illegally-completed jobs to their risk burden, all with 3-year windows of liability from the time of completion. Remember, the EPA can simply “randomly” search for contractors or can specifically research renovation jobs, at anytime within 36 months after the jobs were finished, and contact the contractor to audit his or her required paperwork. When the EPA asks for the proper documentation, how many contractors will say, “What paperwork?” Well, you can imagine the devastating chain of events that would follow that statement! Those contractors will definitely be in deep distress (among other things).
The Right Training at the Right Time
With the Lead Paint Professor, you will learn all of the required information presented in a fun, enjoyable way that helps you truly learn the RRP Rule and remember the lead safe work practices on your renovation projects, even many years from now. Furthermore, in our training classes, you will learn what paperwork you need and how to complete that paperwork to reduce your liability. Let us provide you with the right information. We have the required training classes available on a regular basis and even have an approved Online Training option for you, available 24-hours per day, to better fit your schedule.
You can also access all of the required RRP Rule Documents, D-Lead and LeadCheck Test Kits, Personal Protective Equipment, HEPA Vacuums, and other services, Consulting, and more Articles, at www.LeadPaintProfessor.com.
Sign up for the Certified Renovator training right away. Time is of the essence. Do it today. Call (713) 213-1205 or go to www.LeadPaintProfessor.com to sign up for a class or to request training in your area. Your business depends on it.
About the Author
Scott von Gonten, CGA, CGP, CR, CDST, provides Consulting Services as well as the most accurate, effective, and memorable Certified Renovator Training and Certified Dust Sampling Technician Training available. ConserveIQ is partnering with the National Center for Healthy Housing, an EPA-accredited training provider, to present Certified Renovator and Certified Dust Sampling Technician training Nationwide. Scott is a Principal Instructor for NCHH, a Certified Renovator, a Certified Dust Sampling Technician, a Certified Graduate Associate, and a Certified Green Professional. He is also a member of the NAHB Society of Honored Associates, the Faculty of the NAHB University of Housing, the Boards of Directors for the National Association of Home Builders and the Texas Association of Builders, as well as many other boards, councils, and committees at the national, state, and local levels. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (713) 213-1205. Take the "ConserveIQ Quiz" at www.ConserveIQ.com.