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Half-Million Dollar Penalty for Imported Composite Wood Products

Wednesday, August 28, 2019
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

The Environmental Protection Agency reported recently its first enforcement action for violations of regulations that limit how much formaldehyde can be released from composite wood products.

A December 2016 final rule established national formaldehyde emission standards and a third-party certification system for regulated composite wood products (i.e., panels), including hardwood plywood, particleboard, and medium-density fiberboard, to ensure those panels are compliant before being sold to end users or fabricated into component parts or finished goods (furniture, cabinets, picture frames, toys, etc.). Under this rule, such goods that are imported into or manufactured in the U.S. must be (a) certified as compliant with Title VI of the Toxic Substances Control Act by a third-party certifier recognized by the EPA and (b) labeled as compliant. In addition, importers are responsible for providing a TSCA Section 13 import certification for articles containing regulated composite wood products, component parts, or finished goods imported into the U.S. customs territory.

According to the EPA, a U.S. construction company has agreed to pay a $544,064 penalty to resolve violations associated with the importation of noncompliant composite wood products. The company has also agreed to take corrective actions to come into compliance. The EPA notes that this settlement reflects the company’s voluntary disclosure of potential noncompliance, cooperation with the EPA’s investigation, immediate efforts to come into compliance, and implementation of a corrective action plan.

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