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RRPedia has been created by Shawn McCadden to help remodelers and others affected by the New EPA Renovation Repair and Painting Rule. 

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EPA Announces More Lead Paint Fines; This Time Against Landlords

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, Apr 11, 2012 @ 02:16 PM

EPA Announces More Lead Paint Violation Fines; This Time Against Landlords

 

EPA Starts RRP Enforcement

 

 

Seems EPA has started their publicity campaign regarding enforcement of RRP and other lead related regulations.  This one is not RRP specific, but as the second violation announcement this week it certainly seems to demonstrate that EPA is using enforcement and press releases to get their message out about compliance with lead paint requirements.


News Release
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
New England Regional Office

April 11, 2012

Contact: Paula Ballentine, 617-918-1027

 

Conn. And Mass. Based Landlords Face Fines for Failing to Notify Tenants about Lead Paint

 

(Boston, Mass. – April 11, 2012) The owners of rental properties in Bridgeport, Conn. as well as South Boston, Roxbury, and Dorchester, Mass., face EPA penalties for violating federal lead paint disclosure rules. In both cases, these violations potentially put tenants at risk of exposure to lead hazards.

According to a complaint filed by EPA’s New England office, Juan Hernandez allegedly violated lead-based paint disclosure requirements seven times when he rented apartment units in Bridgeport, Conn. between 2008 and 2010.  Mr. Hernandez faces an EPA penalty of up to $127,150 for violating federal lead paint disclosure rules. During the time period relevant to EPA’s investigation, all of the apartment buildings owned by Mr. Hernandez were located in potential environmental justice areas. 

In a separate EPA complaint, Edward Franco, owner of El Paso Management, and its affiliates allegedly violated lead-based paint disclosure requirements when they rented apartment units three times in South Boston, Roxbury, and Dorchester in 2009.  Most of the tenants involved in this case live in low income and/or minority areas.

Both parties are charged with failing to give tenants required lead hazard information pamphlets, failing to include lead warning statements in leases, failing to disclose any known lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards, and/or failing to provide records or reports pertaining to lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards.

Federal lead disclosure rules are meant to give tenants adequate information about the risks associated with lead paint so that they can make informed decisions before signing a lease contract. Property owners leasing housing built before 1978 are required to provide the following information to tenants: the EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet, Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home; a lead warning statement; statements disclosing any known lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards; and copies of all available records or reports regarding lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards.  This information must be provided to tenants before they enter into leases.

Infants and young children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure, which can cause developmental impairment, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity and behavioral problems.  Adults with high lead levels can suffer difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, nerve disorders, memory problems and muscle and joint pain.

More information:
Lead-based paint health hazards (www.epa.gov/ne/eco/ne_lead/index.html)
Lead-based paint disclosure rule (www.epa.gov/ne/enforcement/leadpaint/index.html


Click here for more RRPedia blog posts for landlords.

Shawn is available to help landlords with the RRP Rule.  If you are a landlord or belong to a landlord association that is seeking assistance with the RRP rule, contact Shawn today to discuss how he can help.


Topics: Notification Considerations, Violation Reports, EPA Announcements

EPA Publishes Their First List of RRP Violations and Fines

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Fri, Apr 06, 2012 @ 12:03 PM

EPA Fines Violators of the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule

EPA RRP Press release about RRP Violations and fines

 

 

 

The following press release was sent out via email by EPA on Thursday April 5, 2012.  Click here to subscribe to and receive RRP rule specific information and updates from EPA.

 

Release Date: 04/05/2012
Contact Information: Stacy Kika, Kika.stacy@epa.gov, 202-564-0906, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced three enforcement actions for violations of the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP) and other lead rules. The RRP rule requires the use of lead-safe work practices to ensure that common renovation activities like sanding, cutting and demolition, which can create hazardous lead dust, are conducted properly by trained and certified contractors or individuals. EPA finalized the RRP rule in 2008 and the rule took effect on April 22, 2010.

“Exposure to lead can cause serious health problems and affects our most vulnerable population, our children,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “By taking action to enforce lead rules we are protecting people’s health and ensuring that businesses that follow the rules have a level playing field.”

On March 21, 2012, Colin Wentworth, a rental property owner who was responsible for building operation and maintenance, agreed to pay $10,000 to resolve violations of the RRP rule. The complaint alleged that Mr. Wentworth’s workers violated the rule by improperly using power equipment to remove paint from the exterior surface of an 1850’s apartment building he owns in Rockland, Maine. The complaint also alleged that the workers had not received any training under the rule and that Mr. Wentworth had failed to apply for firm certification with the EPA. Because the lead dust had not been properly contained, residents were potentially exposed and the dust could have also contaminated the ground surrounding the apartment building. Two of the four units in the building were rented to recipients of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Section 8 vouchers and there were at least four children under the age of 18, including one under the age of six, living in the units. The Maine Department of Environmental Protection and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also responded to the alleged violations.

On March 20, 2012, Valiant Home Remodelers, a New Jersey window and siding company, agreed to pay $1,500 to resolve violations from failing to follow the RRP rule during a window and siding replacement project at a home in Edison, N.J. Valiant Home Remodelers failed to contain renovation dust, contain waste, and train workers on lead-safe work practices.

On February 21, 2012, Johnson Sash and Door, a home repair company located in Omaha, Neb., agreed to pay a $5,558 penalty for failing to provide the owners or occupants of housing built prior to 1978 with an EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet or to obtain a written acknowledgment prior to commencement of renovation activities at five homes. The complaint also alleged that Johnson failed to obtain initial certification prior to performing renovations at these residences.

As required by the law, a company or individual’s ability to pay a penalty is evaluated and penalties are adjusted accordingly.

These recent actions are part of EPA’s effort to ensure that contractors and individuals follow the RRP requirements and other lead rules to protect people’s health from exposure to lead. Lead exposure can cause a range of health effects, from behavioral problems and learning disabilities to seizures and death, putting young children at the greatest risk because their nervous systems are still developing.

More on the settlement: http://www.epa.gov/compliance/civil/tsca/tscaenfstatreq.html

More about lead: http://www.epa.gov/lead

Doreen Cantor Paster
Associate Chief, Lead, Heavy Metals, & Inorganics Branch
Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (7404T)
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460
Phone: 202-566-0486


Topics: Enforcement and Inspections, Violation Reports, EPA Announcements

EPA Report Card: How well are they doing with the RRP Rule?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Apr 01, 2012 @ 05:00 AM

EPA Report Card:  How well are they doing with the RRP Rule?

Effectiveness of RRP Rule

 

Many news outlets and politicians have been using report card scores to express how well they think people, government policies and regulations are performing.   Several politicians, government employees and even our president have provided their own self assessment scores as well.  It is almost two years now since the EPA RRP Rule went into effect.   I thought I would offer my own report card on how I think the EPA has performed so far in four areas regarding the RRP Rule.  EPA is welcome to offer their own self assessment score.

 

Subject: Outreach about the rule

EPA has claimed to have done extensive outreach to consumers and the regulated community.  They list a variety of methods used and places where ads and announcements were placed.  

Report Card Score: D-

EPA RRP outreach resultsIn reality what they have done has not been effective.  Either the message is not effective, the placement is not effective or both.  According to a survey done by Professional Remodeler magazine 65% of remodelers surveyed estimated that less than 10% of their potential clients are aware of the rule.  Only 5 percent think more than half of homeowners know about it.

On a recent webinar with EPA Officials Regarding RRP Public Awareness and Enforcement Efforts hosted by NCHH, I asked EPA officials if they were doing any tracking to check the actual effectiveness of their outreach efforts.  They are not.  Essentially the answer was that EPA is not a professional marketing organization and has no way of tracking results.   But they said they will be doing more outreach…

 

Subject: Getting Firms Certified

EPA requires all firms doing renovation, repair and painting work on homes built prior to 1978 become EPA Certified Firms before performing or offering to perform such work.

Report Card Score: F

Number of EPA certified firms

Before the rule rule came into effect EPA stated; "There are approximately 211,000 firms estimated to become certified to engage in renovation, repair, or painting activities." As of posting this blog EPA’s web site claims that EPA has certified 97,746 firms (118,885 firms including those approved by authorized states).  According to a report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, the most recent government census showed more than 650,000 businesses received a majority of their revenue by providing remodeling services in 2007 and that number does not include the large number of part-time, semi-retired, and “moonlighting” contractors reporting gross revenues of less than $25,000.   I think we also know there are many illegally operating contractors as well that did not make it into the census count. 

Number of remodeling contractors

Admittedly not all remodeling companies work on pre-1978 homes.  However, there are many other business types other than remodelers who disturb lead paint.  One example is exterminators.  According to Exterminator.com there are over 20,000 extermination companies in the US.  Others who would need to become certified include landlords, property management firms, banks that own foreclosed properties, housing authorities, cities/towns and municipalities. (According to Google answers there are 18,443 cities, towns, villages, and other such governing groups in the United States, not including any island areas other than Puerto Rico) I am sure you could list other business and entity types that would fall under the rule.  My best guess is that EPA has only certified about 10% of the firms that should be certified and has completely misjudge the number of firms affected by this rule.

As a side note, I contacted EPA to find out how many workers have become Certified Renovators so far.  I was told they are still trying to decide how to count them…

 

Subject: Enforcement

There are 12 states that have taken over the rule so far.  That leaves 38 states plus American Samoa, District of Columbia, Guam, US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico under administration and enforcement by EPA. 

Report Card Score: F

RRP ViolationsSo far EPA has only published one violation since the rule came into effect in April of 2010.  On the other hand the state of Massachusetts took over the rule in July of 2012 and has published over 20 violation enforcements to date.

Though not confirmable facts, one commenter on a LinkedIn discussion claimed “there are only 37 Certified Firms in Maui County when there are 1,500+ Licensed Contractors and double to triple unlicensed contractors”.

Industry insiders report EPA has been doing RRP investigations.  EPA claims we will hear more about violations and enforcement very soon.

 

Subject: Protecting children and others from lead poisoning due to renovations

 “The purpose of the Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule is to minimize exposure from lead-based paint dust during renovation, repair, or painting activities. This is a key effort in reducing the prevalence of childhood lead poisoning, particularly lead poisoning caused by housing contaminated by renovation activities. This will also minimize exposure to older children and adults who are also adversely impacted by lead-based paint dust exposure.”  (From EPA Web site)  

Report Card Score: Incomplete

Is RRP effective, is RRP workingIt is a fact that lead is poisonous and RRP activities can cause poisoning. However, EPA does not know how many children were actually poisoned by RRP activities before the rule came into effect.  If you check any of the data it refers to RRP activities as the “likely source” of lead poisoning, not “the cause”.   That being the case, EPA has no way to know if the RRP rule is making a difference or not.  It is ‘likely” that it is helping.  But, without knowing where EPA started and where we are now that the rule has been in place for almost a year, EPA has no idea if what they have been doing is effective enough and or if or where it can improve effectiveness within the rule. 

Unfortunately, the rule may also be causing more children to be poisoned than before the rule came into effect, because of EPA's inability to adequately enforce it.  As reported in this press release, to keep costs down, consumers are hiring non-certified firms to work on their homes and the required lead safe-practices are not being used.  Also, contractors are reporting that some realtors and insurance adjusters are falsely telling consumers that the rule does not apply at their homes based on location and or for the work they are having done.  All of this has fostered an underground economy of contractors taking advantage of purposely ignoring the rule to keep prices down and improve their ability to sell jobs.

 

How do you think EPA has been doing with the RRP Rule so far?  Consider using the comment area below to offer your own subjects and report card scores.


Topics: Enforcement and Inspections, Firm Certification, Health Effects of Lead, Authorized States, Violation Reports, Effects of the RRP Rule, Statistics, Opinions from Renovators

Another Example of the Government Not Following Its Own Lead Rules

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Feb 26, 2012 @ 05:00 AM

Another Example of the Government Not Following Its Own Lead Paint Rules

Did you know that our government has created its own exceptions to the rules and punishments it imposes on the rest of us?   Think insider trading rules for Congress.  One more example of this is that Federal agencies are required to comply with the same OSHA health and safety standards as private sector employers, but OSHA can’t propose monetary penalties against them for failure to comply with its standards.

National Park Service Violates Lead In Construction StandardsA recent example of this related to lead in construction is discussed in an OSHA News Release dated May 10, 2011.  According to the release OSHA had issued 16 notices of unhealthful and unsafe working conditions to the National Park Service-San Juan National Historic Site for violations of workplace health and safety standards, including exposing workers to lead and other hazards during lead paint encapsulation work in a building at the site. 

According to the release, The National Park Service was cited with violations related to lead hazards and included; not training employees on the recognition and avoidance of lead hazards, not conducting an initial lead exposure assessment, allowing lead to accumulate on floors, not providing clean change areas, not providing for laundering of protective clothing, allowing employees to leave the work area wearing protective clothing, inadequate hand-washing facilities and not notifying workers of their blood lead levels.

To make matters worse, OSHA considered these violations “willful”.  According to OSHA a willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Also according to OSHA, a serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Fit testing a respiratorAt the San Juan National Historic Site project eight alleged serious violations resulted from a lack of medical evaluations and fit-testing for employees using respirators, improper storage of compressed gas cylinders, no eye-wash stations where employees worked with corrosive products, an uncovered electrical receptacle, a lack of hazard communication training and material data sheets of the products used, and not implementing hazard communication and written respiratory protection programs.

Hilda Solis“There is a new sheriff in town. Make no mistake about it; the Department of Labor is back in the enforcement business…  Under my watch, enforcement of labor laws will be intensified to provide an effective deterrent to employers who put their workers’ lives at risk.”
-Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, (March 2009)

Under Executive Order 12196 and Section 19 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, the head of each federal agency is responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for employees. However, like many government jobs, there is typically no punishment if they don’t.  What would it have cost your business if it had committed the same violations?  According to Puerto Rico area director Jose A. Carpena, the identified hazards would have resulted in fines of $115,000 for a private sector employer. “The National Park Service must take effective action to correct these hazards and prevent them from occurring again,” he added.

Topics: OSHA Considerations, Enforcement and Inspections, Violation Reports, Non-RRP Lead Topics

EPA Publishes First RRP Enforcement of Lead Safe Work Practices

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Mon, May 16, 2011 @ 01:18 PM

EPA Publishes First RRP Enforcement of Lead Safe Work Practices

Today the EPA announced it's first enforcement actions against a renovator for violations of the lead-safe work practices required under the RRP Rule.  

RRP EnforcementThe press release below explains how the violator was investigated after a YouTube video of the the renovator's workers in action was posted showing the total lack of lead-safe work practices in place as the workers used power equipment to remove paint on a rental property on Rockland ME.  

EPA’s investigation found that Mr. Wentworth failed to: obtain required certification as a renovation firm from EPA; post warning signs in the work area; cover the ground in the work area with plastic sheeting to collect falling lead paint debris; contain waste from the renovation activities to prevent releases of dust and debris before the waste is removed from the work area for storage or disposal; prohibit use of machines that remove lead-based paint through high speed operation without HEPA exhaust controls; and establish and maintain records necessary to demonstrate compliance with the Renovation Rule.  

Click here to watch the video which provided all the evidence the EPA needed.

RRP Inspections and auditsWill this be the first of many press releases by EPA regarding enforcement?   Many contractors who have complied with the RRP rule hope so.  According to Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office: "Enforcement of these rules is important to protecting children and the business interests of those contractors who are following the rules.” 

Time will tell if anyone else at EPA other Curt Spalding recognizes the importance of enforcement. 


RRP enforcment in Maine

 

News Release
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
New England Regional Office
May 16, 2011

Contact: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

Maine Renovator Faces Penalty for Violations of Lead Renovation Rule

(Boston, Mass. – May 16, 2011) – A Rockland, Maine renovator is facing penalties for allegedly violating requirements designed to protect children from exposure to lead-based paint during painting and other renovation activities.

According to information gathered by inspectors from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration and EPA, two workers employed by Colin Wentworth of Rockland failed to contain dust and debris generated by lead paint removal activities during a repainting project in October 2010.  Although Mr. Wentworth had completed the eight-hour course required by the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule, he did not provide the required training or supervision to his employees to ensure that they followed the required work practices prior to their use of high-speed dust-generating power tools to remove lead paint from the building.  Mr. Wentworth also failed to take steps to obtain the mandatory lead-safe certification for his firm. 

The violations were brought to EPA’s attention via an anonymous tip linking to a video of the violations, posted on YouTube and taken in October 2010.  The video documented workers using power equipment to remove lead paint from an exterior wall of a residential building without using any containment for lead-containing dust and debris. 

At least six children, one of whom was under six years old, lived in the four-unit building at the time of the project.  Infants and young children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure, which can cause developmental impairment, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity and behavioral problems.  Adults with high lead levels can suffer difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, nerve disorders, memory problems and muscle and joint pain.

EPA’s investigation found that Mr. Wentworth failed to: obtain required certification as a renovation firm from EPA; post warning signs in the work area; cover the ground in the work area with plastic sheeting to collect falling lead paint debris; contain waste from the renovation activities to prevent releases of dust and debris before the waste is removed from the work area for storage or disposal; prohibit use of machines that remove lead-based paint through high speed operation without HEPA exhaust controls; and establish and maintain records necessary to demonstrate compliance with the Renovation Rule. 

“In New England we have a high proportion of older houses where lead paint can still be present.  It is critically important that all tradespeople understand and follow the RRP requirements so that during renovations, children are not exposed to lead and face serious, life-long health consequences,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Many renovation firms have done the right thing by becoming certified, sending their employees to training and following the appropriate, health-protective work practices.  Enforcement of these rules is important to protecting children and the business interests of those contractors who are following the rules.”

EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule is designed to prevent exposure to lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards.  The rule requires individuals performing renovations for compensation at most pre-1978 housing to be properly trained.  There are certification and training requirements for individual renovators and firms performing renovations to ensure that safe work practices are followed during renovations.

This is the first action EPA has brought against a company or individual for lead safe work-practice violations, under the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule which became effective on April 22, 2010. The maximum penalty for the alleged violations is $37,500 per violation per day.

This case highlights the importance of high-quality tips that include the name, address, and phone number of the person who allegedly violated the rule, and contain details about the violations observed.  While every such tip doesn’t always result in a formal enforcement action, EPA follows through on tips to identify if violations have occurred and if public or environmental health has been jeopardized. 

- Report environmental violation tips anywhere in the USA (http://www.epa.gov/compliance/complaints/index.html)

- Report lead hazard tips in New England: (http://www.epa.gov/region1/enforcement/leadpaint/RenovationRepairPaintComplaintForm.html)

More information:

- Lead paint RRP rule (http://epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm)

- Why lead is a health hazard (http://epa.gov/lead/pubs/leadinfo.htm#health)

#  #  #

 

If you are looking for forms and signage to help you with comply with the EPA RRP rule, I recommend you check out what The Lead Paint Forms Store has to offer.  They offer a complete assortment of multi-part carbon forms, signage and checklists to assist you and your employees with RRP compliance

Topics: Enforcement and Inspections, Violation Reports, Videos, EPA Announcements

Now, RRP Renovators Can Keep An Eye On Big Brother!

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Wed, Apr 06, 2011 @ 09:43 AM

Now, RRP Renovators Can Keep An Eye On Big Brother!

Many renovators have expressed concerns about what the EPA is and/or will be doing regarding enforcement of the RRP Rule.  Those who are operating illegally are concerned that EPA may find them and inspect, those who are abiding by the rule are wondering when EPA will do inspections and catch their illegal completion.  Now, thanks to the folks at Check4Lead, renovators have an on-line tool to report and view EPA RRP Inspections across the country. Essentially, the tool allows renovators to keep an eye on “Big Brother”.

The new tool, called EPA Audit Tracker, allows visitors to view the locations of EPA and OSHA inspections related to RRP on a Google Map.  Pin drops appear on the map to mark the location of audits and a variety of different pin drops are used to distinguish between the government agencies doing the audits.  The tool has just been released, so there are not a lot of pin drops yet.   I suspect that will change quickly as renovators become aware of the tool and contribute.

 

EPA Audit Map

 

The tool is very easy to use. To report an audit, users can click on the report icon to open a reporting screen.  When the reporting screen opens there is a text box call “your Story” where visitors can report the audit, share details of the audit and express their opinions.   A zip code field is used to locate the pin drops on the map and a valid e-mail address for the person posting the report is required. 

Scott Turman, an owner and product manager at Check for Lead LLC tells me that reports will be manually reviewed for validity and appropriate langauge before being posted to the map.  He also told me, using the required e-mail address; his staff may actually contact the person reporting the audit to verify the report.  After the pin drop is added, visitors can click on the pin drop to view the report.

RRP Inspection reportIn my opinion this tool will be helpful for those renovators following RRP requirements for a variety of reasons.  For example, it will help level the playing field for legally operating businesses if the awareness of audits persuades illegal businesses to change their ways. Because the tool allows those reporting audits to include details about the audit, renovators will learn what to expect and how to better handle an audit if one happens to them. Also, for those who like to help their peers, being able to submit a report that is informative and shares constructive advice becomes a win-win for both the reporter and those who read the reports.

RRP DocumentationOn the other hand, the tool will not likely be helpful to those who knowingly and willfully violate the rule. Knowing where EPA, OSHA and/or states agencies are doing inspections or audits won’t be much help in hiding from an inspector.   As we have seen, job site inspections are not likely.  Removing magnetic signs or parking their trucks out of view won’t protect violators from an audit.  The required documentation gives the authorities the ability to retroactively inspect work practices as well as compliance with owner and occupant pre-notification requirements.  Because the EPA rule dictates that all required documentation be kept for three years, one visit to a renovator’s office by EPA can uncover enough violations and justify enough fines to put an illegal business out of business.  The Massachusetts requirement for storing documents is 10 years, giving illegal businesses in that state much more to be worried about.

Check4Lead

I commend the folks at Check4Lead for providing this tool.   In addition to the tools, supplies and compliance colateral they offer at their web site, the EPA Audit Tracker Tool will definitely ultimately help renovators comply with the rule, improve their ability to prove compliance and give them insight on handling an audit.

Topics: Enforcement and Inspections, Shawn's Predictions, Violation Reports, Opinions from Renovators

Former Detroit Lead Inspector Sentenced for Fraud

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Mon, Feb 14, 2011 @ 05:51 PM

Former Detroit Lead Inspector Sentenced for Fraud

Donald PattersonAccording to an article in the Detroit Free Press, Donald Patterson, a former lead inspector for the City of Detroit, was indicted last year on charges of soliciting bribes, wire fraud and making false statements about lead inspections. Among the allegations were that he allowed a 2-year-old child with high blood-lead levels to return to a home with lead-based paint hazards, falsely declaring it safe and making the child sicker.

 

RRP Enforsement InformationThe following is News Release from EPA, published on February 8, 2011.  Though not specific to the RRP Rule, this action by both EPA and the FBI shows that willfull violators of lead related regulations are currently a major focus for EPA and they are serious about prosecuting violators. 

EPA uses news releases and press releases like the one below to make the public aware of LBP related violations.   The use and purposes of the releases as tools is clearly explained in footnote #10 included inside the Consolidated Enforcement Response and Penalty Policy for the RRP Rule:

 

"EPA may, at its discretion, issue a press release or advisory to notify the public of the filing of an enforcement action, settlement, or adjudication concerning a person’s violation of TSCA. A press release can be a useful tool to notify the public of Agency actions for TSCA noncompliance and specifically, to educate the public on the requirements of LBP Program. The issuance of a press release or advisory as well as the nature of their contents are within the sole discretion of the Agency and shall not be subject to negotiation with the violator."


News Release as Follows:

CONTACT:
Stacy Kika
kika.stacy@epa.gov
202-564-0906
202-564-4355

WASHINGTON — Former city of Detroit Health Department lead inspector Donald Patterson was sentenced today to three years and 10 months in prison and 24 months of supervised release on wire fraud charges stemming from an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) investigation. In July 2010, Patterson pleaded guilty and admitted he accepted cash to provide a clean bill of health to homes in which he had either done no inspection or provided fraudulent lead removal training. Lead is a serious public health issue causing a range of health effects from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to seizures and death. Children six years old and under are most at risk.

“The actions of this public official put the health and lives of children at risk,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “In this case, the local government inspector failed to do his job by submitting false reports for personal gain. Today’s sentencing shows that those who knowingly put the public at risk, particularly our most vulnerable citizens, our children, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Patterson, 50, was employed by the city of Detroit as a lead paint inspector. His job was to ensure that all paint-based lead hazards were safely removed from the homes he inspected. Instead, Patterson used his position to obtain cash from the owners or renters of these homes in exchange for falsely certifying that the homes were free of lead or for providing fraudulent lead removal training. Patterson admitted that between October 2008 and August 2009 he had accepted cash totaling $1,350 in connection with fraudulent abatement of lead hazards to which children were being exposed at four separate properties.

The Patterson case was investigated by EPA and the FBI, with assistance from the city of Detroit and the state of Michigan.


Michigan residents who have concerns about possible lead hazards in their homes should call the Michigan Department of Community Health Hotline at 800-648-6942. 

Topics: Enforcement and Inspections, Legal Considerations, Violation Reports

Blatant Violation of RRP Rule in Maine displayed on YouTube

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Mon, Oct 18, 2010 @ 11:43 AM

RRP Violations in Maine Captured on Video:

Blatant and Dangerous Violation of RRP Rule in Rockland Maine displayed on YouTube

The following Video was posted to YouTube on October 11th, 2010 by “reallyrural”.   The video shows RRP violations in ME at a jobsite.  It’s probably only a matter of time before we see more of these videos.  

 

 

The following information was posted to YouTube along with the video above.


83 Park Street, Rockland Maine, October 11 2010
Project started within the last week.
No EPA or HUD Lead Safe Practices slowing these guys down.
Section 8 Housing, Children under 6
There are strollers and children’s toys in the backyard covered in Lead Dust,
No steps were taken to contain the chips or dust that extends out onto the public sidewalk that is a favorite place to walk with strollers and toddlers...

No attempts of any sort of cleanup at the end of the day.

Once the Tenants start testing positive for lead poisoning this should get interesting...

RRP Violations and EPA RRP InspectionOSHA RRP Violations

Update: This is a Landlord project using his handymen.
OSHA and the Maine EPA have visited and the project is in cleanup mode. Maine EPA used emergency powers to get this going in the right direction.

They are now cleaning up using a HEPA vac.

 

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Topics: Personal Protection, Enforcement and Inspections, Violation Reports, OSHA - EPA Challenges, Videos

CT NARI Chapter Advises Membership How To Report RRP Violations

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sat, Sep 25, 2010 @ 07:30 AM

CT NARI Chapter Advises Membership How To Report RRP Violations


While at the Remodeling Show last week in Baltimore a CT remodeler shared with me that his local NARI Chapter, The Remodeling Contractors Association of Connecticut, had e-mailed out information to its membership about how to report violations of the RRP Rule to the EPA.   The e-mail included a PDF form created by the Region One EPA office as well as a link on the EPA site that could be used to report violations.

 

Tool beltAlthough every “legal” remodeler I have spoken to expresses concerns about illegal competition doing their work in violation of the RRP rule, these remodelers are split about whether to report their illegal completion or not.  At the Opening Session I presented on Thursday morning at the Remodeling Show I offered my point of view on this.   I suggested that illegal contractors and the home owners who hire them are stealing business and money away from legal remodelers and their employees.  I gave the example that if you or I steal a TV from someone and get caught, we must return the TV and suffer any consequences.   If an illegal contractor or home owner steals a deck job from a legal contractor little or nothing is ever done and the home owner gets to keep the deck.   How long will our industry and the trade associations that represent us tolerate this?   Just like with illegal immigration, because our government does not enforce existing rules and laws on a consistent basis, illegal contractors operate with little fear of being caught and even if caught, have little fear of any consequences.

The reporting of illegal contractors is every contractor’s choice.  In a recent survey I created for Remodeling magazine the following question was asked.  

 Survey Results

The survey was first sent out to the magazine’s reader panel.  157 people responded to the survey results shown above.  The numbers in the pie chart tell an interesting story.   Only 16% of those who responded indicated they would not report a contractor operating in violation of the RRP rule.   Just over half are still trying to decide.  

 

RRPedia logoAs we all wait to see what happens with the economy and how long a real recovery will take, I predict that their ability to pay their mortgage and put food on the family table will persuade many remodeling business owners to take action and defend their ability to run honest businesses.

If you would like more information about reporting violations and violators, check out this blog by Mark Paskell of the Contractor Coaching Partnership.   Mark even offers to do the reporting for you without divulging your identity.

Topics: Sales Considerations, Enforcement and Inspections, Legal Considerations, Shawn's Predictions, Violation Reports

City Officials Drop The Ball On RRP Rule. Will City Be Fined?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Sep 23, 2010 @ 09:22 AM

City Officials Drop The Ball On RRP Rule.  Will City of Racine WI Be Fined?

In a September 20, 2010 article by the Racine Post in Wisconsin, the on-line news web site provides a very in-depth report about RRP violations on city financed and managed renovation projects.   The article serves to demonstrate and validate the challenges law abiding and conscientious businesses have when trying to work within the RRP rule.  A combination of illegally operating contractor competition as well as ineffective, under-funded and or non-existent enforcement has made earning a living challenging for legitimate business owners as well as the employees who work for these businesses.

Wisconsin is one of the states that has assumed administration and enforcement of the EPA RRP Rule.  The article reports that Bill Bielefeldt alerted the Wisconsin State Department of Health Services about unsafe lead practices on city-owned homes.  Racine's Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) is designed to renovate and sell rundown homes in foreclosure. The article includes a photo gallery of pictures showing a variety of violations at the projects being managed by the city.

Bill Bielefeldt
Bill Bielefeldt is a housing technician for the city of Racine. He received an award from the Wisconsin Rental Housing Legislative Council for his work on lead-safe practices. (Photo by Racine Post)

Bielefeldt claims the city program meant to improve neighborhoods may be endangering children.  "It's embarrassing that the city isn't following its own rules and concerns", Bielefeldt said.  "I would be just as much at fault as they are if I didn't report that," he said. "I didn't just go blindside them. I told them about this, and they chose not to do anything."

Now, the city is facing major violations for creating potentially hazardous conditions. The city's response to Bielefeldt?  The Racine Post reports the city sent two uniformed police officers to Bielefeldt's Mount Pleasant home just before midnight on Sept. 17 to deliver a letter saying Bielefeldt was prohibited from all of the city's NSP sites.

Here's the letter the city delivered to Bielefeldt just before midnight:

Mr. Bielefeldt;                                               
It has come to my attention that you have been on city-owned property without authorization.  Pursuant to your suspension of employment beginning September 10, 2010, you have been relieved of your duties as a Housing Technician as of that date.  Be advised that You are not to enter any city-owned property under the control of this department, including but certainly not limited to any homes that are now or are in the future in the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

Further, you are not to contact any property owners participating in the city's loan program or any related programs, such as downpayment assistance, and you shall not represent yourself as a current City of Racine employee during the course of your suspension and/or upon termination.  As was said to you on September 10, 2010, any requests for information from this department must be made directly to me for response.

 Failure to comply will result in the city seeking all civil and criminal remedies available to it.
                                                                                                                                            
 Signed,
    
 Brian F. O'Connell
 Director of City Development

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I predict we will hear many more stories similar to this one as more contractors become frustrated with illegal completion and the public becomes aware of the dangers of lead paint as well as how the RRP rule will affect them and renovations at their homes.
 

Topics: Enforcement and Inspections, Shawn's Predictions, Authorized States, Violation Reports