Following Action from Senator Baldwin, EPA Launches Investigation into Hazardous Materials at Wisconsin Barrel Recycling Plants

Milwaukee facility never notified authorities of hazardous waste handling according to EPA letter to Senator Baldwin

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin’s calls for action, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has launched an investigation into whistleblower accounts of mishandled  hazardous materials at barrel recycling plants that may have endangered workers and communities in Wisconsin. The EPA also reported that the Milwaukee Mid-America Steel Drum facility do not notify the EPA or Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources that is was treating, storing, or generating hazardous waste.

"After working with a whistleblower, I called for an investigation last month and I am pleased that the EPA has inspected these facilities and has launched an investigation into potential violations,” said Senator Baldwin. “The Milwaukee community deserves answers as to why the facility in the central city never notified anyone that it was processing, storing or disposing hazardous waste. It's important that both the EPA and Wisconsin DNR get to the bottom of this and I will keep pressing to make sure they do."

In a letter to Senator Baldwin, the EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator reported that the “EPA, in coordination with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, is investigating these facilities for potential violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, and will follow up as appropriate.”

The letter continued, “EPA conducts inspections of facilities that report hazardous chemical or substance storage, and uses a variety of enforcement tools to locate non-reporter or under-reporting facilities. The Milwaukee facility never notified EPA or the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources that it was treating, storing, or disposing hazardous waste, or generating hazardous waste under RCRA.”

Senator Baldwin sent a letter to the EPA on February 15 calling for an investigation into the apparent violation of federal environmental protections and asking the agency to determine if there are federal resources available to help workers and the surrounding communities that may have been harmed by hazardous chemicals. Senator Baldwin also sent letters regarding the whistleblower accounts to the Department of Justice, DOT, SEC and OSHA