The Environmental Protection Agency settled with retail giant Sears over the company's violations of the EPA’s Lead Renovation, Repair, and Painting (RRP) Rule. Under the settlement, Sears will have to pay a $400,000 civil penalty and implement a company-wide program to ensure the RRP rule is followed by contractors the company hires to perform work. The settlements was issued on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016.
The EPA contends that Sears failed to provide adequate documentation for home renovation projects between 2013 and 2016.
Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administration for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance said,
"Today’s settlement will have a widespread impact across the home improvement industry, significantly reducing exposure to lead paint dust among children and other vulnerable people."
In a press release, the EPA said that Sears lacked records to document that Sears contractors were adequately certified in best lead-safe practices:
EPA discovered the alleged violations through a review of Sears’ records from projects performed by the company’s renovation contractors at numerous projects in cities across California and in Georgia, Minnesota, Nevada, New York and Wisconsin.
The government also alleged that Sears failed to establish, retain, or provide compliance documentation showing that specific contractors had been certified by EPA, had been properly trained, had used lead-safe work practices, or had performed required post-renovation cleaning.
Lead-based paint was banned in 1978, yet still remains in many U.S. homes and apartments nationwide. Lead dust can be caused by home renovation disruptions and lead paint chipping. Lead exposure can cause behavioral and cognitive disorders and disabilities, seizures, death, and puts young children at risk.
Back in 2014, the EPA reached a similar settlement with home improvement store Lowe's. Then, the EPA required the Lowe's to create a company-wide comprehensive program in all of it's 1,700 stores to ensure that contractors ensured they minimized lead dust from home improvement projects. It was ordered to pay more than $500,000 fine, the largest RRP-related fine ever imposed by the agency.