The case study highlights the scenario whereby a facility’s owner denies the presence of hazardous waste in his premises to avoid paying the fees for hazardous waste. An inspector comes to the site bearing a search warrant after an employee complains concerning waste management issues and the possibility of safety and health issues. The inspector intends to establish the likelihood of health and safety issues such as the presence of hazardous fumes in the premises and plating tank with two parts, acid baths, and cyanides solution. The owner tries to defend the workstation by stating that the remaining materials were to be used and there was no hazardous waste. However, the facility is shut down to eliminate the possibility of the two solutions emitting fumes in the building. After the closure, the federal government establishes the presence of speculative accumulation and terms the building a site for hazardous waste cleanup and the exercise costs over $ 2 million.
Many organizations fail to consider the characteristics that revolve around hazardous waste, resulting in pollution of the facility and the surrounding environment. In the case study, the owner does not factor the toxicity of the fumes and the stored chemicals and the degree of pollution they can cause. A large portion of business owners is aware that the products used in the manufacturing process result in hazardous waste that is reactive or toxic but evades the costs of handling such materials (Albert, 2018). As such, there is a need to stress to business owners that toxic wastes qualify as poisons and are dangerous to the wellbeing of the people and the surrounding. Organizations that go against the set safety rules and regulations risks the lives of the people living in their proximity and this can be avoided by intensifying the inspections. States should ensure that the inspection agencies deliver reports of organizations operating in their areas after a short time frame to identify companies where safety rules are not followed.
An example of a similar severe situation is the scenario at the Exide Battery Plant, an organization that was dealing with recycling lead from industrial and automotive batteries located in Los Angeles. The California Department of Toxic Substances Control established in 2015 that the organization treated and stored contaminated waste in tanks that did not have a system to prevent accidental spillage (Barboza, 2020). Other violations found in the organization include poor labeling of containers with hazardous waste and the presence of holes in the roof and walls. Moreover, the organization had been previously been in the spotlight for violations involving the discharge of arsenic with the possibility of causing cancer in the air, an action that affected over one hundred thousand people residing in Los Angeles.
In March 2015, the company chose closure instead of facing various federal charges. Los Angeles state decided to use around $ 176 million in 2016 towards decontaminating areas affected. The environmental regulators in the state were aware of the violation from the organization for a long time before the report in October 2015 that unearthed the release of toxic lead. This case is a perfect example of the results when regulators of hazardous waste do not perform their jobs. They allowed DTSC to operate for thirty years using a temporary permit and were aware of the pollution. Just like the case study, there should be robust inspection agencies that establish the safety of companies dealing with hazardous materials to avoid the high cost of cleanups.
Barboza, T. (2020). Court allows Exide to abandon a toxic site in Vernon. Taxpayers will fund the cleanup. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-10-16/exide-bankrtuptcy-decision-vernon-cleanup.
Albert, M. (2018). 5 consequences of mismanaging hazardous waste. Triumvirate Environmental. Retrieved from https://www.triumvirate.com/blog/consequences-of-mismanaging-hazardous-waste.