A Missouri company will pay a $30,000 civil penalty to settle allegations it violated federal lead-paint rules while restoring an 1891 home, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  announced.

Ritchie Enterprises, based in Sullivan, Mo., and doing business as PuroClean Emergency Restoration Services, will pay fines related to failure to follow safe practices in conjunction with the EPA's Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) rule. RRP requires that contractors working on buildings built before 1978 (the year lead paint was banned) and in child-occupied facilities must be trained and certified to use lead-safe work practices. (See REMODELING's  RRP page for more.)

According to an EPA news release issued Oct. 23, Ritchie Enterprises was cited for work it did on a house in New Haven, Mo., 75 miles west of St. Louis. Among its violations:

  • Ritchie failed to provide owners and occupants of the properties with an EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet, known as the "Renovate Right" pamphlet, before starting work.
  • Ritchie didn't maintain records of work practices for this and at least two other renovations.
  • A company employee used a high-speed belt sander without a HEPA exhaust attachment.
  • The company was not a certified RRP contractor at the time of the work.

The EPA got involved when the homeowner turned in a complaint, the agency said.

Federal lead-based paint regulations exempt emergency repair work in some cases, but Ritchie Enterprises continued working on the house long after the emergency had passed without complying with RRP, the EPA said.

Remodelers have extensively criticized the RRP rule since it was issued in 2008 and became effective in April 2010. Among other complaints, critics say that the EPA has tended to issue more fines related to paperwork errors than it has to actual instances in which people could be exposed to unsafe work practices. — Craig Webb is editor-in-chief of REMODELING. On Twitter, follow him at @craiglwebb and  REMODELING at @remodelingmag.