Hotel group fined for improper hazardous waste disposal

Operator allegedly dumped its corrosive swimming pool chemicals into ordinary dumpsters

Hotel group fined for improper hazardous waste disposal


By Lyle Adriano

Solvang Hotel Group (SHG), operator of Holiday Inn Express in Solvang, California, has been fined for the illegal disposal of caustic swimming pool chemicals in ordinary trash dumpsters.

As part of a settlement, the hotel operator was fined $31,000, on top of being ordered by the Santa Barbara County Superior Court to create and facilitate a five-year program to train hotel personnel on the proper methods of emptying and disposing of hazardous material containers.

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The environmental-protection action was filed against SHG in Santa Barbara County Superior Court in Santa Maria, reported Noozhawk. The court document alleged that the hotel illegally disposed its hazardous pool cleaning waste without following standard safety and environmental procedures.

The violations were discovered when fumes were spotted emitting from the dumpster in which the chemicals had been disposed.

Hotel management contacted the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, which in turn contacted the Santa Barbara County Certified Unified Program Agency (CUPA).

Agency investigators discovered that the dumpster had two containers of muriatic acid – a corrosive chemical used to regulate the pH levels of swimming pools. The investigators came to the conclusion that the fumes were probably caused by the muriatic acid leaking and reacting with other substances in the dumpster.

The local Fire Department later established a perimeter around the area. Personnel wore protective equipment as they packaged the hazardous waste in specialized containers for proper disposal.

Afterwards, CUPA referred the matter to the District Attorney’s Office for further investigation and possible prosecution.

SHG agreed to cooperate with the authorities, and the action was settled shortly after it was filed. The hotel group also took “corrective action” to ensure that the incident never happens again.

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