Manhattan U.S. Attorney Announces Consent Decree With Accolade Construction Group Inc. For Violating Lead Paint Safety Rules
Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Catherine R. McCabe, Acting Regional Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”), Region 2, announced today that the United States entered into a Consent Decree settling a civil lawsuit against Accolade Construction Group Inc. (“Accolade”) for violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”) and EPA’s Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule (“RRP Rule”). The provisions of TSCA and the RRP Rule that Accolade violated are designed to protect public health by minimizing the risk of lead exposure during renovations of residential buildings.
Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim stated: “Accolade repeatedly ignored rules designed to protect children and others from lead poisoning. By requiring Accolade to turn over profits it made by evading these requirements, this Consent Decree ensures that Accolade will not benefit from its misdeeds. And because Accolade’s future work will be subject to court oversight, the public health will be protected.”
EPA Acting Regional Administrator McCabe stated: “Lead paint is very dangerous when it is being stripped or sanded during renovations. By not complying with EPA rules designed to ensure that the paint dust is properly handled by properly trained workers, Accolade put people, including its own workers, at risk. This Consent Decree protects the public by requiring company officials to get training to ensure that the company follows the rules in all future renovations.”
The Consent Decree, which is subject to public comment and approval by the court, will resolve a lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court in 2015, which alleged that Accolade repeatedly violated TSCA and the RRP Rule in the course of renovating six different Manhattan apartment buildings. The lawsuit also alleged that Accolade violated TSCA and the RRP Rule by failing to provide EPA with records necessary to enable EPA to monitor Accolade’s compliance. Accolade committed these violations despite a prior administrative settlement with the EPA for violations of the RRP Rule.
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In the Consent Decree entered today, Accolade admits, acknowledges, and accepts responsibility for the fact that it “violated the RRP Rule and, consequently, TSCA” as a result of the following conduct at each of the six buildings at issue:
- Failing to have a certified renovator direct the renovations and to ensure that all other persons performing the renovations received training on lead-safe work practices;
- Failing to post warning signs defining the work areas and cautioning occupants and other persons to keep out;
- Failing to provide the owner of the units being renovated with an EPA pamphlet on lead hazards, The Lead-Safe Certified Guide to Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools;
- Failing to contain the renovation work areas to minimize the risk of lead exposure;
- Failing to clean the work areas after the renovations were completed to ensure that no dust, debris, or residue remained in those areas; and
- Failing to make available to EPA the records necessary to demonstrate Accolade’s compliance with the RRP Rule.
Pursuant to the Consent Decree, Accolade will disgorge $58,000 in profits obtained from the conduct alleged in the lawsuit. Further, the Consent Decree requires Accolade’s principal to receive training before Accolade conducts future RRP Rule-covered work and requires Accolade to comply with safe work practices and other RRP Rule requirements in the future. Failure to comply with the Consent Decree will give rise to significant penalties.
To provide public notice and to afford members of the public the opportunity to comment on the Consent Decree, the Consent Decree will be lodged with the District Court for a period of at least 30 days before it is submitted for the Court’s approval.
Acting U.S. Attorney Kim thanked the attorneys and enforcement staff at EPA Region 2 for their critical work in this matter.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Environmental Protection Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Mónica P. Folch and Sharanya Mohan are in charge of the case.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
Southern District of New York