EPA Settles Three Lead Paint Disclosure Law Violations

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorManchester, N.H., New Haven, Conn., Boston–The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has settled three enforcement actions regarding violation of lead paint disclosure laws in Manchester, N.H., New Haven, Conn. and in the Greater Boston area and Rhode Island.Juliet Ermitano, a landlord in Manchester, N.H. will pay a penalty and take action to reduce the risk of lead poisoning at apartment buildings in Manchester and Antrim, N.H. EPA claims that Ermitano violated lead paint disclosure laws at certain rental properties in Manchester.Under the settlement, Ermitano will pay a $5,121 penalty and complete interior and exterior abatement work to address known or presumed lead-based paint hazards at properties she owns.The exterior lead abatement work is at a combined apartment building and inn in Antrim, while the interior work is at an apartment building in Manchester.“Lead poisoning is a serious health threat for children in New England, because so much of our housing is older and may contain lead paint,” says Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA’s New England office.The violations were identified through an EPA investigation that began in August 2006 and they were alleged in a complaint EPA filed in June 2007.In the second settlement, three New Haven, Conn.-based non-profit housing corporations—Edgewood Village Inc., F.O.H. Inc., and Yedidei Hagan Inc.—have agreed to a $182,000 settlement of EPA claims that the they violated lead paint disclosure laws at their New Haven rental properties.The violations were identified during the course of an investigation that EPA began in July 2005 and were cited in a complaint filed in April 2007. The three entities will pay a $20,000 fine, replace 214 old windows, and perform other projects to remove lead-based paint hazards associated with over 15 of their apartments.  The purpose of the Lead Disclosure Rule is to provide residential renters and purchasers of pre-1978 housing with enough information about lead-based paint in general and known lead-based paint hazards in specific housing, so that they can make informed decisions about whether to lease or purchase the housing.“It is critically important that renters and buyers get the information they need to protect themselves and their children from potential exposure to lead paint. This is especially important for pregnant women and families with young children,” says Varney. In the third resolution, a property management company based in the Boston area, Chestnut Hill Realty Corp., and associated property owners, will pay nearly $320,000 to settle EPA allegations that the company violated lead paint disclosure laws at rental properties in the Greater Boston area and Rhode Island.Chestnut Hill Realty and the property owners will pay a penalty of $28,538, and will perform a window replacement “Supplemental Environmental Project” (SEP) worth $289,500. Between June 2003 and Sept. 2004, EPA conducted five on-site inspections at a number of properties managed by Chestnut Hill Realty.These cases are among dozens of lead-related civil and criminal cases EPA New England has taken as part of a collaborative effort between federal, state and municipal agencies and grassroots organizations to make sure property owners, managers and real estate agents are complying with federal lead disclosure laws.