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The EPA fines the University of Florida $175,000

December 29, 2009
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GAINESVILLE, FL — The University of Florida has agreed to pay a $175,000 fine to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for alleged environmental violations that include illegally disposing of hundreds of gallons of a toxic chemical on campus for nearly two decades, according to the Gainesville Sun.

Tetrachloroethylene, or PCE, which the University of Florida has ceased using, is a solvent used to clean lawn mowers and weed eaters, the story stated.

According to the story, although concentrations of the chemical 25 times above the level allowed by the EPA were found in the surrounding soil and groundwater, EPA officials say the level of contamination is low and the risk of human exposure is minimal.

During an unannounced EPA inspection in March 2008, inspectors found that University of Florida employees were spraying lawn equipment with a degreasing agent that was allowed to dry and then washed off with a hose, releasing some potentially harmful contaminants into the local environment, the story noted.

Bill Properzio, director of the University of Florida''s Environmental Health and Safety Department, said: "I guess the assumption had been made that if you followed the manufacturer''s instructions, you were OK."

According to the article, the University of Florida used between 275 and 412.5 gallons of the chemical over an 18-year period dating back to 1990.

Since the inspection, the University of Florida has spent roughly $67,000 determining the level of contamination, and once testing is complete and a cleanup plan is in place, the university will be required to pay for its implementation, the story added.

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