In recent years, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ramped up its efforts to fine and enforce civil violations against sub-contractors and demolition businesses which remodel or renovate homes constructed prior to 1978. Specifically, the EPA cites renovators for failing to obtain firm certification and failing to comply with work practice standards under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, and the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP Rule), 40 C.F.R. Part 745, Subpart E.
However, a renovator or subcontractor may not be liable for civil fines imposed by the EPA if the contractor conducted a “minor repair or maintenance.” A renovator is allowed to disrupt six (6) square feet or less of painted surface within the interior of the home or twenty (20) square feet or less of painted surface for the exterior of a residence without incurring civil violations. (40 C.F.R. § 745.83.)
Moreover, the EPA will not enforce civil penalties against a contractor or renovator for abating a residence. (40 C.F.R. § 745.83). A renovator may apply a substance that forms a barrier between the existing lead-based paint and the environment because the renovator is not disturbing the lead-based paint. Furthermore, the renovator’s abatement activities act as a coating or bonded covering material which protects individuals from the potential side-effects of lead-based paint.
If the EPA is investigating your business related to lead-based paint activities, one or more of the exceptions described above may apply. Our firm has assisted sub-contractors, general contractors, and renovators understand the federal regulations that might apply to their business operations. Recently, Caufield & James, LLP reduced the civil penalties imposed by the EPA on a single client by over $100,000.00. Familiarization with the EPA’s regulations and guidelines may allow a renovator to avoid costly civil penalties related to the removal of lead-based paint.