Jackson Laboratory to pay $161,680 EPA fine

Posted April 02, 2009, at 8:58 p.m.

BAR HARBOR, Maine — The Jackson Laboratory has agreed to pay a $161,680 fine for improperly handling and storing hazardous materials.

The fine comes after an announcement last October by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that the lab faced a possible fine of more than $210,000 for the violations.

In a press release issued Thursday, EPA officials indicated that Jackson Lab allegedly failed to store potentially explosive chemicals and wastes properly. The lab also failed to provide annual hazardous waste training to appropriate employees and did not notify local and state emergency response officials about the presence of such materials at its Route 3 campus, according to the statement.

EPA officials have said the chemical that was improperly stored at Jackson Lab was ether.

In a separate statement, lab officials said the fine stems from an EPA inspection in November 2006.

“The laboratory quickly addressed the issues identified during that inspection, most of which involved minor record keeping, and none of which represented any real threat to the environment or public safety,” lab officials said in the statement. “The laboratory provided data that conclusively demonstrated that chemicals stored on its site did not pose a risk of explosion as originally alleged by EPA.”

Last October, lab officials indicated that the substances that came to EPA’s attention amount to “five pint-sized containers” that were not proved to be dangerous and were removed safely immediately after the inspection. The materials state and local emergency response officials did not know were at the lab include rock salt, fuel oil and other “everyday materials,” they have said.

Lab officials indicated Thursday that they are “pleased” that the EPA violations have been resolved.

“The Jackson Laboratory considers environmental health and safety to be of the utmost importance,” they wrote in the statement.

Jackson Lab, which employs more than 1,200 people in Bar Harbor, is known worldwide as a leader in biomedical research. It uses mice to study human diseases and medical conditions and breeds millions of mice each year that are used in similar biomedical studies around the globe.

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