Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a settlement with Macy’s Retail Holdings, Inc., (Macy’s) over violations of hazardous waste regulations. In addition to correcting violations, Macy’s will also develop a program with the capacity to train 400 retailers in Oklahoma and Texas, and conduct third-party audits at 11 of its largest facilities within Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico, among other required actions. The company will also pay a $375,000 civil penalty within 30 days of the effective date of the settlement, and must comply with all other requirements within one year.
“EPA takes hazardous waste regulations seriously, and we appreciate companies taking responsibility to correct violations,” said Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Appropriately managing hazardous waste from ‘cradle-to-grave’ is vital to protecting people’s health and the environment.”
“We appreciate EPA’s willingness to use our suggestion and offer Macy’s the opportunity for a supplemental environmental project involving compliance training instead of simply a penalty,” said Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality Executive Director Scott Thompson. “The Macy’s settlement highlights the importance of states and EPA working together on common-sense approaches that respect the needs of businesses, while still protecting public health.”
EPA enforcement staff found Macy’s had violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the federal law that regulates hazardous and solid wastes, for several periods during 2012-2015. During these times, each Macy’s store identified in the settlement generated thousands of pounds of hazardous waste to qualify as a small-quantity generator but failed to notify EPA and state authorities. Macy’s also failed to meet the conditions for small-quantity generator status and did not complete appropriate manifests. Overall, Macy’s generated more than 269,168 pounds of hazardous waste from 2012-2015 for the 44 locations identified in the settlement.
As part of the settlement, Macy’s will develop a program to train an estimated 400 retailers in Oklahoma and Texas on how to comply with hazardous waste requirements. Live training events held in Oklahoma and Texas and will also be recorded to create a webinar version that can be shared to Macy’s locations nationwide. After completing the 11 third-party audits, Macy’s will share results with all of its other facilities (more than 620 locations outside EPA Region 6) with instructions to review the issues and address noncompliance. Macy’s will also promote the training webinars and recorded sessions to appropriate personnel nationwide. Based on the average rate of hazardous-waste generation at the 44 stores involved in the settlement, EPA estimates that Macy’s may manage about 1.2 million pounds of hazardous waste nationwide per year.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, passed by Congress in 1976 gives EPA the authority to control hazardous waste from “cradle-to-grave.” RCRA sets national goals for protecting human health and the environment from the potential hazards of waste disposal, conserving energy and natural resources, reducing the amount of waste generated, and ensuring wastes are managed in an environmentally sound manner.