Widespread Environmental Violations Found at Colleges

Colleges and universities are normally thought of as hotbeds of environmental activism — but now, it turns out that some of them are hot with hazardous waste. Twelve colleges in New York and New Jersey have been hit with a total of $2 million in fines for violating environmental regulations; an earlier sweep of New England colleges, in 1999, resulted in almost as many enforcement actions and caused 175 schools to enroll in self-audits in acknowledgment of widespread noncompliance with hazardous-waste procedures. The culprits tend to be science labs, art studios, printing areas, and maintenance facilities, said EPA Region 2 spokesperson Terry Ippolito, who likened college campuses to small cities. Betsy Eismeier, vice president for finance and administration at Vassar, which was hit with $97,581 in penalties, said, “Painful as it is to lose [money] in fines, in a way the process has re-energized the community. This is a college where environmental-protection measures matter.”