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Home Depot Fined $20.75 Mln To Settle Failure To Follow Lead Paint Rules

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Home improvement retailer Home Depot has agreed to pay $20.75 million penalty in a proposed nationwide settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or EPA and the Department of Justice.

The settlement resolves alleged violations of the EPA's Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting or RRP Rule for conducting home renovations involving lead paint performed by Home Depot's contractors across the country. The settlement is expected to significantly reduce children's exposure to lead paint hazards.

The states of Utah, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island, which have EPA-authorized RRP programs, also joined in the settlement.

Home Depot's fine of $20.75 million is the highest civil penalty obtained to date for a settlement under the Toxic Substances Control Act. Of this, $750,000 will be paid to Utah, $732,000 to Massachusetts, and $50,000 to Rhode Island.

Under the settlement, Home Depot is required to implement a comprehensive, corporate-wide program to ensure that the firms and contractors it hires for work are certified and trained to use lead-safe work practices. This is to avoid spreading lead dust and paint chips during home renovation activities.

EPA discovered the alleged violations when investigating five customer complaints about Home Depot renovations in Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.

It was found that the company subcontracted work to firms that in some cases did not use lead-safe work practices, perform required post-renovation cleaning, provide the EPA-required lead-based paint pamphlets to occupants, or maintain records of compliance with the law.

For the most serious violations, Home Depot offered inspections using certified professionals and, if dust lead hazards were found, it performed specialized cleaning and verification.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Brightbill of the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division said, "These were serious violations. The stiff penalty Home Depot will pay reflects the importance of using certified firms and contractors in older home renovations. Contractors hired for most work in homes built prior to 1978, when lead based paint was in widespread use, must be certified."

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