PHILADELPHIA (Oct. 2, 2008) – – Maryland transportation agencies are kicking it up a notch as they signed an agreement today to have 168 of their transportation facilities, including the airport, highways and port in the state, undergo thorough environmental checks. Under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agreement, the state agencies will conduct their own environmental assessments and disclose violations they may find.
The six agencies that signed the agreement are the Maryland: State Highway Administration, Port Administration, Aviation Administration, Motor Vehicle Administration, Transportation Authority, and the Secretary’s Office in the Department of Transportation.
"This agreement solidifies Maryland’s approach for optimizing its resources so that all its transportation facilities state-wide achieve full environmental compliance," said Donald S. Welsh, EPA’s mid-Atlantic regional administrator.
"Companies, manufacturers and other facilities have significantly improved their environmental management thanks to these self-audit agreements. We’re pleased that Maryland is the first state to sign on to this approach," said Welsh.
Maryland’s transportation agencies will assess their compliance with seven federal environmental statutes, with the obligation of identifying problems and disclosing violations to EPA. The agencies can train their own staff to perform the audits or work with third-party professional auditors whose credentials must be verified by EPA. The agencies must correct all violations.
“Governor Martin O’Malley has made it clear that he wants Maryland to be a national leader in the area of environmental protection,” said Maryland Transportation Secretary John D. Porcari. “Working with EPA through this ‘self audit’ program will help us identify issues that may exist and allow us to work aggressively to address them. Additionally, MDOT has committed to implementing an agency-wide Environmental Management System to ensure continuous improvement in environmental performance.”
The 168 compliance audits are expected to be completed by 2011. This includes inspecting the operations, maintenance, fueling and boilers at large terminals at the port and airport. Highway maintenance facilities for road repair and salting will be audited. Auditors will look at hazardous waste to make sure it is stored, labeled and managed properly. If there are boilers or incinerators, auditors will see if the air emissions meet state permit limits. Oil spill prevention plans for hazardous materials will be reviewed. Leak detection systems for underground storage tanks will be checked, and auditors will look at pesticide use and storage, and overall reporting under the Community Right-to-Know Act.
Since establishing the self-audit policy in 2000, EPA has helped small and large companies, college campuses, and hospitals improve their environmental compliance through self-policing. By ‘coming clean’ about violations and correcting them, companies have paid reduced penalties by EPA. In addition, the audit policy allows new owners of recently acquired facilities to disclose environmental problems and get a clean start at fixing them.