The United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Macy's department store chain reached a settlement regarding the improper disposal of fluorescent light bulbs that contained mercury.
Macy's has agreed to a $49,725 fine for improper handling of the bulbs at stores at Crossgates Mall and in Garden City, according to information provided by the EPA.
John Senn, an EPA spokesman, said the violations were discovered during a routine inspection.
The Macy's store manager told us they did not have a program in place to identify or handle those bulbs. They were handled as regular garbage, he said.
Senn said the destination of the hazardous bulbs was never determined.
Macy's has taken steps to prevent the matter from happening again.
"We have adopted a nationwide bulb recycling program," said Jim Sluzewski, a spokesman for Macy's. "We want to make sure we are not only compliant with the EPA, but also doing what's best for the environment."
The EPA cited Macy's in December 2007 for violations of state regulation, according to information provided by the EPA.
The inspection was in March 2007, Senn said.
"The proper management of hazardous wastes, especially mercury in fluorescent light bulbs, is a serious issue," said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. "EPA is pleased that Macy's will take major steps to improve its hazardous waste management in the region."
Mercury in spent lamps can lead to a classification as hazardous waste.
Mercury has been known to cause health problems in children and adults, according to a written statement from the EPA.
Representatives from the state Department of Environmental Conservation declined comment, saying the EPA is handling all press matters.""