Government Fleet Top News

Onondaga County to Tune Up its Vehicle Maintenance Facilities

January 9, 2008

NEW YORK – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)recently signed an agreement with Onondaga County’s Departments of Transportation and Water Environment Protection, that will thoroughly review environmental practices at vehicle maintenance facilities at East Molloy Road, Warners, Jamesville, and Marcellus, as well as its wastewater treatment plant in Syracuse, and take action to correct any deficiencies it finds. This voluntary environmental compliance audit program is scheduled to take about three months, according to http://yosemite.epa.gov/.

County Executive Joanie Mahoney said the county places a high priority on environmental compliance, and made the decision to participate in EPA’s voluntary environmental compliance audit program to demonstrate to regulators that compliance is a county priority, to reinforce with county employees that compliance remains a priority, and, by its actions, convey to the rest of the community that being responsible stewards of the environment is a necessary and important responsibility.

After performing self-audits, the county will report to EPA any violations of environmental regulations that it finds and take action to correct them. In return, EPA will provide either full or partial relief from monetary penalties but, if the agency determines that any economic benefit was gained by not complying with its regulations, it can pursue recovery of that money. EPA audit agreements cover all major federal environmental programs including air, water, pesticides, underground storage tanks, solid and hazardous wastes, hazardous substances and chemicals, environmental response, emergency planning, community right-to-know requirements, and toxic substances control.

When the regional self-audit program was established in 2000, the agency reached out to educational institutions and healthcare facilities throughout New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Because of the success of the program and the improved environmental performance of the participants, EPA expanded its outreach to include organizations that run and maintain a large number of vehicles, or “fleets.”

As part of this effort, EPA has contacted all the transportation authorities and departments of public works in its jurisdiction and is providing free workshops and an informational Web site to alert them to their duties under the law. The Onondaga County Department of Transportation is the third transportation authority to join the Region 2 Fleet Initiative. The transportation authorities were also urged to develop environmental management systems to keep them in compliance.

To date, more than 5,500 violations have been identified and corrected by facilities that have participated in EPA’s voluntary self-audit initiative. EPA estimates that nearly 1.5 million pounds of hazardous waste and 5 million gallons of oil are now being handled properly as a direct result of the self-audit policy in Region 2.

For information about EPA’s Fleet Initiative, visit http://www.epa.gov/region02/compliance/fleet/.

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