Karyn Sinunu, Chief Assistant District Attorney

CONTACT PERSON: Kenneth Rosenblatt, Deputy District Attorney
Environmental Protection Unit
(408) 792-2572

For release on July 22, 2005


Today the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office settled a civil lawsuit against Foothill-De Anza Community College District. The judgment requires the District to pay $101,109 in civil penalties and investigative costs. The judgment also requires the District to underwrite and present a conference for high school and college administrators on compliance with hazardous waste and hazardous materials laws and regulations.

The Foothill-De Anza Community College District Defendant Foothill-De Anza District is a community college district with two campuses: Foothill College and De Anza College. Both campuses are located within Santa Clara County. Each campus uses and stores hazardous materials and generates hazardous waste as part of teaching (e.g., chemistry, photography, auto repair) and facility maintenance operations at each campus. As a generator of hazardous waste the District must comply with California hazardous waste laws.

Between April 17, 2003 and August 18, 2003, the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health, Hazardous Materials Compliance Division (HMCD), conducted inspections at Foothill College and De Anza College. Those inspections revealed 230 violations of hazardous waste rules and regulations, including failure to determine whether various wastes were hazardous, inadequate labeling of hazardous waste containers, and failure to train personnel in the proper management of hazardous waste. The District also failed to address some of those violations promptly after notification by HMCD. The District suffered a similar breakdown in compliance in 1992.

The District has been cooperative in this investigation. It has admitted to one violation of California Health and Safety Code Section 25189.2(b) (failure to comply with state hazardous waste regulations) and agreed to take important steps to ensure future compliance. The District will provide a comprehensive training program for District staff designed to ensure compliance at District facilities with state and local environmental statutes and regulations related to hazardous materials and hazardous waste management. It has hired a senior environmental safety professional to oversee compliance. The District will hire outside auditors to monitor that compliance for the next ten years.

The District will pay civil penalties of $80,000 and investigative and court costs of $21,109. It will sponsor and present later this year a conference for high school and college administrators to assist and train other educational institutions in best practices for environmental compliance.

This case was investigated by HMCD. The Environmental Protection Unit of the District Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case.

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