The EPA & U

“EPA Cites Central Connecticut State University for Water and Waste Violations” (EPA New England, 2002)

“EPA Proposes $358,000 Penalty Against Fitchburg State College for Waste Violations” (EPA New England, 2003)

“University of Washington to Spend $135,769 for CFCs Violations” US EPA Region 10: The Pacific Northwest (2003)

These headlines are about a college and two universities, but make no mistake, they could be about your camp! Generally, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) mission is to “protect human health and to safeguard the natural environment — air, water and land — upon which life depends” (US EPA1, 2003).

The EPA is the federal agency most concerned with organizational compliance regarding violations of environmental laws and regulations, like the improper handling and storage of hazardous waste that was generated at the university (Central Connecticut State University); the storage of hazardous waste adjacent to active classrooms (Fitchburg State College); and the release of Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from a leak in a refrigeration system (University of Washington).

Though each of these seem more likely to occur in a larger organization, without proper information about and attention to EPA laws and regulations, any organization might be found in serious violation.

What’s Next

The EPA is a federal agency that is invested in environmental science, research, education and assessment efforts. The EPA develops and enforces environmental laws and regulations, offers financial assistance through state environmental programs, performs environmental research, sponsors voluntary partnerships and programs and furthers environmental education.

EPA-regulated entities include industry, academia, government agencies and other organizations. In recent years the EPA has started to take a hard look at academia (as demonstrated in the headlines above).

It is not unrealistic that the EPA will continue to meet its mission through education and regulatory compliance, continuing their efforts with larger and smaller organizations, whether profit or not-for-profit.

So, more to your point as a camp owner or director, how do EPA regulations affect camps? Camps must meet federal regulations regarding the environment designed to make a cleaner environment a reality, and any organization can be held accountable for not meeting EPA regulations.

As the EPA looks toward 2008 its 2003-2008 Draft Strategic Plan makes clear the five goals of the agency:

Goal 1: Clean Air — Protect and improve the air so it is healthy to breathe and free of levels of pollutants that harm human health or the environment.

Goal 2: Clean and Safe Water — Ensure drinking water is safe. Restore and maintain oceans, watersheds and their aquatic ecosystems to protect human health, support economic and recreational activities and provide healthy habitat for fish, plants and wildlife.

Goal 3: Preserve and restore the land by reducing and controlling risks posed by releases of harmful substances; promoting waste diversion, recycling and innovative waste management practices; and cleaning up contaminated properties to levels appropriate for their beneficial reuse.

Goal 4: Healthy Communities and Ecosystems — Protect, sustain or restore the health of people, communities and ecosystems using integrated and comprehensive approaches and partnerships.

Goal 5: Compliance and Environmental Stewardship — Improve environmental performance through compliance with environmental requirements, preventing pollution and promoting environmental stewardship. Protect human health and the environment by encouraging innovation and providing incentives for governments, businesses and the public that promote environmental stewardship.

Compliance Concepts

Camp owners/managers should have no problem recognizing aspects of the EPA Goals 1-5 that will affect the operational management of their environments.

The management of anything hazardous that might be released into the air, water or on land (fuels, chemicals, wastewater and so on); the handling and maintenance of hazardous waste producing equipment and materials (refrigeration units, maintenance shops, etc.); waste production and the recycling of non-hazardous materials (paper, cardboard, food); and other potential hazards as defined by the EPA.

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