Environmental Strike Force Investigation Finds Illegal Discharge of Amalgam Waste to Septic Systems from Lynnfield Dental Facilities
BOSTON - The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has penalized two dental facilities in Lynnfield and the building owner for violations involving the discharge of dental amalgam wastewater to a septic system.
State regulations specify that an Industrial Wastewater Holding Tank (IWHT) is necessary to prevent dental amalgam, a composite which may contain mercury, from being discharged to a septic system. The specific violations involved the discharge from amalgam separators, which are used in dental offices to capture and recycle the mercury contained within amalgam.
"Any regulated facility, whether medical, industrial or commercial, must use common sense and caution before discharging anything into a wastewater disposal system," said Pamela Talbot, head of MassDEP's Environmental Strike Force. "Septic systems are not designed to handle or treat medical, industrial or commercial wastes, and should not be used in any manner for which they are not intended."
The Environmental Strike Force (ESF) is a joint investigative effort of MassDEP, the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office and the State Police. In April of 2012, ESF inspectors visited the office of Jeffrey D. Corbett, DDS, LLC, and, Brian F. Dalton, P.C., both of whom have practices located at 1 Post Office Square in Lynnfield. Further, the ESF determined this building is owned by Lynnfield Medical Building, LLC, located at 79 Walnut Street in Peabody.
Following the investigation and a conference with the responsible parties, the two dental practices and the building owner have agreed to cease the illegal discharge, obtain a temporary IWHT and to install a permanent IWHT in a very short turn-around time. Each party has also agreed to pay a $2,000 penalty. There are also suspended penalties that would become due should any of the parties fail to make the required upgrades or corrections within the established timeframe.
The violations involving Dr. Corbett's practice included: the discharge of amalgam-containing industrial waste water from the dental activities, including the discharge from amalgam separators to the on-site septic system; improper storage, handling and disposal of amalgam waste, resulting in the disposal of amalgam waste into a medical waste container; failure to keep records of amalgam waste handling and recycling; and submittal of inaccurate information as part of MassDEP's Environmental Results Program (ERP) dental certification. The ERP is a self-certification process that allows certain facilities to certify that the facility is operating in compliance. Dr. Corbett's practice was penalized $12,000, with $2,000 payable and $10,000 suspended pending compliance.
The violations involving Dr. Dalton's practice included: the discharge of amalgam-containing industrial wastewater from the dental activities, including the discharge from amalgam separators to a wastewater disposal system; submittal of inaccurate information as part of the ERP dental certification; and failure to register as a very small quantity generator of hazardous waste. Dr. Dalton's practice was penalized $12,000, with $2,000 payable and $10,000 suspended pending compliance.
Lynnfield Medical Building, LLC, owns the facility where the violations occurred. For allowing the discharge of amalgam-containing industrial wastewater from dental activities, including the discharge from amalgam separators to a septic system under its control, the Lynnfield Medical Building was penalized $7,000, with $2,000 payable and $5,000 suspended pending compliance.
MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills, and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.