EPA delays fines for lead-paint removal

Home Inside FCNews EPA delays fines for lead-paint removal

HICKSVILLE, N.Y.—When the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) RRP (Renovation, Repair and Painting) Rule took effect April 22 (FCNews, May 3/10), it signaled a sea of change across the industry regarding the issue of lead-paint removal.

Since that time, concerns have been raised by industry professionals regarding difficulties in obtaining the required firm certification and renovation worker training necessary to avoid fines that would have been levied on those not meeting the new requirements. As it turns out, industry professionals and renovators will not have to worry for the time being as the agency has decided to delay enforcement of its rule targeting work on homes built before 1978 until later in the year.

According to EPA assistant administrator Cynthia Giles, the agency “will not take enforcement action for violations of the certification until Oct. 1.” Enforcement will also be put off for renovation workers who have applied or enrolled in a class by Sept. 30 and complete that training by Dec. 31. Fines for not complying could be as high as $37,500 per day.

“In view of the paramount importance of ensuring that all contractors follow the lead-safe work practices in the RRP rule,” she added, “EPA will continue to enforce the work practice requirements in the rule, which protect children and reduce lead exposure.”

According to a report in Tulsa World, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine stated, “I appreciate that the EPA recognizes it must boost the number of certified trainers in each state, and small contractors need more time to comply with its rule.”

However, Collins also noted how efforts to rid lead-based paint from homes must continue. “Maine children are at particularly high risk for lead poisoning because more than 60% of our state’s homes were built before lead-based paint was banned in 1978.”

Gerry Swift, executive vice president of Potomac Floor Covering in Chantilly, Va., believes if the EPA measure had not been delayed, there would have been delays in some projects. “There were just too many projects that would have been put on hold as a result of not having enough contractors certified. And with the fines at $37,500 a day, the rule had to be delayed.

“The delay will now certainly allow most of my fellow contractors to get the certification, which is costly and time-consuming,” he explained. “We just didn’t have enough time. The delay was necessary.”

Chris Davis, president and CEO of the World Floor Covering Association (WFCA), believes it’s a good idea that the EPA postpone this until it gets a better chance to educate the public as to how this is going to be interpreted and what the impact will be. “In the short term, it’s fine, but the EPA is not talking about relaxing the rules. It is just postponing their implementation. It’s still going to go through; hopefully the public will be a little more educated as to what it really means before it has to be enforced.

“One of the things we’ve been trying to tell our members is the fines for non-compliance are significant,” he concluded. “If you are going to do this type of work, make sure you are certified. And if you are not already doing this type of work, it’s probably not a good idea [to start].”

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