Telecom companies disclose environmental violations

Ten telecommunications companies have voluntarily disclosed and corrected 1,300 environmental violations that occurred at more than 400 of their facilities.

The final settlements total $128,772 in penalties, which is equal to the amount the companies saved for delayed compliance.

The proposed settlements were reached under the US EPA’s Audit Policy, which reduces or eliminates penalties for companies that voluntarily audit, disclose and correct violations.

Final settlements have been reached with Cincinnati Bell Telephone Co., Cincinnati Bell Long Distance, Convergys Customer Management Group, Dallas MTA L.P., Houston MTA L.P., PrimeCo Personal Communications, San Antonio MTA L.P., and proposed settlements with Cellco Partnership and its affiliates doing business as Bell Atlantic Mobile or Cellular One, Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., and United States Cellular Corp.

The EPA has proposed to waive more than $4.2 million in potential penalties that otherwise would have been assessed.

Remedial actions for violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and/or the Clean Water Act’s (CWA) Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) requirements include properly notifying local emergency planning committees of the presence of hazardous chemicals and preparing spill prevention plans to reduce the risk of environmental accidents, as well as protect the safety of the personnel who respond if an accident occurs.

Facilities that have hazardous chemicals and meet reporting thresholds must submit reports to the appropriate agencies by March 1 each year. Notice of the SPCC claims against United States Cellular Corp., and Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., were published in the Federal Register on February 1, and Cellco Partnership on February 10, for 30-day public comment periods. The Environmental Appeals Board must approve these consent agreements.

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