On Sept. 25, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources received a check for $1.5 million from the federal government to bolster its environmental enforcement programs. The funds were forfeited by Guide Corp. of Anderson, Ind., as part of its June 18, 2001, guilty plea to misdemeanor violations of the Clean Water Act.
In December 1999, Guide discharged 1,610,000 gallons of improperly treated wastewater into sewers that led to the Anderson treatment plant, causing damage to the plant and then killing approximately 100 tons of fish and aquatic life along the White River.
In a related civil settlement, Guide agreed to pay $6 million to two White River restoration funds, $2 million to reimburse state agencies that responded to the fish kill and $2 million in civil penalties.
EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the FBI and the Law Enforcement
Division of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources investigated the
case. Forensic support was provided by EPA's National Enforcement
Investigations Center. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office
MAN PLEADS TO ILLEGAL DISPOSAL OF MERCURY-CONTAINING WASTE
Michael A. Raasch of Brewster, Mass., pleaded guilty on Sept. 23 in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Boston to violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
Raasch was the golf course superintendent at the Chequessett Yacht and Country Club in Wellfleet, Mass. On April 4, 2000, he illegally disposed of a four-pound bag of Calo-Gran, a mercury-based fungicide, by dumping it in a deserted location near the sixth fairway. The National Park Service owned the land. The fungicide contained high concentrations of mercury, a toxic heavy metal, which can be absorbed through contact with the skin and can cause severe neurological damage and death.
When sentenced, Raasch faces a maximum sentence of up to five years in
prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000. EPA's Criminal Investigation
Division and the National Park Service investigated the case. It is being
prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office in Boston.
UNITED STATES SETTLES WITH 12 MINNESOTA ETHANOL COMPANIES
The Department of Justice, EPA and the state of Minnesota announced comprehensive civil settlements with 12 ethanol plants in Minnesota for alleged Clean Air Act violations. The settlements are the first agreements to mandate reductions in air pollution from the ethanol manufacturing industry.
The government alleges that the facilities were operating in violation of the Clean Air Act's New Source Review (NSR) provisions. The Clean Air Act's NSR program requires a source to install pollution controls and undertake other pre-construction obligations to control air pollution emissions.
The agreements will ensure each plant installs air pollution control equipment to greatly reduce air emissions such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by 2,400-4,000 tons per year and carbon monoxide (CO) emissions by 2,000 tons per year. In addition to contributing to ground-level ozone (smog), VOCs can cause serious health problems such as cancer and other effects; CO is harmful because it reduces oxygen delivery to the body's organs and tissues. The settlement also will result in annual reductions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 180 tons, particulate matter (PM) by 450 tons and hazardous air pollutants by 250 tons.
Ethanol is primarily a product of industrial corn and is used as an automobile fuel alone or blended with gasoline. Ethanol's high oxygen content allows automobile engines to combust fuel better, resulting in reduced tail pipe emissions. During the ethanol manufacturing process, dry mills burn off gasses that emit volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide into the air.
Under the settlements, the plants will install thermal oxidizers that reduce VOC emissions by 95 percent from the feed dryers and meet new, more restrictive emission limits for NOx, PM, carbon monoxide and hazardous air pollutants. In addition to emission control requirements valued at about $2 million per plant, each facility will also pay a civil penalty ranging from $29,000 - $39,000.
The state of Minnesota, through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and the state Attorney General's Office teamed with the United States in the settlement negotiations to resolve the companies' alleged violations and to bring the facilities quickly into compliance.
The following Minnesota facilities that have the combined capacity to produce more than 400 million gallons of ethanol per year, which is 17 percent of the national production, agreed to install state-of-the-art air pollution control technology at their dry corn mills:
Agra Resources Cooperative (Exol), Albert Lea Agri-Energy, L.L.C., Luvern
Al-Corn Clean Fuel, Claremont
Central Minnesota Ethanol Cooperative, Little Falls
Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company (CVEC), Benson
Corn Plus, Winnebago
Diversified Energy Co., L.L.C., (DENCO), Morris
Ethanol 2000, Bingham Lake
Gopher State Ethanol, St. Paul
Heartland Corn Products, Winthrop
Minnesota Energy, Buffalo Lake
Pro-Corn L.L.C., Preston
EPA Regional Administrator Tom Skinner met with representatives from the ethanol industry on June 3, 2002, to discuss recent emission test results, recommended tests methods and the proposed pollution control technology. Skinner heads the Chicago EPA office that oversees environmental compliance in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin and 35 North American tribes.
The Clean Air Act, as amended in 1990, directed EPA to issue regulations that require gasoline to be reformulated in order to burn cleaner. EPA's reformulated gasoline (RFG) program is helping to reduce air pollution in areas with the worst air quality problems. Reformulated gas is made in a way that prevents it from evaporating as quickly as conventional gasoline, and contains a chemical oxygen, know as oxygenate, to improve combustion. Ethanol is a type of oxygenate and a renewable fuel.
Last week, the Sierra Club announced its intention to sue two Midwest ethanol producers to force Clean Air Act Compliance. The settlement with Ethanol 2000 in Minnesota addresses concerns raised by the Sierra Club and will bring about full compliance at that facility.
The consent decrees were lodged in federal district court in Minneapolis and
are subject to a 30-day comment period.
CHANGE A LIGHT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
EPA is challenging Americans to change a light in their homes to illustrate the impact of a consumer's energy choice and the benefits of using energy-efficient light bulbs and fixtures. Choosing a more energy-efficient lamp can save money and help the environment.
"Change starts with simple everyday actions," said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman. "Energy Star puts the power of change in the hands of all Americans. If everyone across the country changed just one room in their home to Energy Star lighting, we could keep one trillion pounds of greenhouse gases out of the air."
From October through December, EPA is partnering with more than 140 manufacturers, retailers, state governments and utilities throughout the United States to make finding and buying energy efficient lighting easier.
Local, regional and national promotions include special offers and rebates from major retail chains and regional utility companies to help consumers save on compact fluorescent light bulbs, fixtures and ceiling fans with lighting. Nationwide promotions and in-store lighting workshops will be held through a national home improvement chain. Local events where customers can exchange older technology halogen floor lamps for discounts on more energy-efficient ones will also take place.
A typical household spends about $90 a year, or 10 percent, of its annual electricity bill on lighting. Energy Star labeled light bulbs, fixtures and ceiling fans with lighting help the environment and benefit consumers with greater energy savings and fewer bulb changes. Only 10 percent of a standard bulb's energy is converted into visible light, while the other 90 percent is wasted as heat. By comparison, today's compact fluorescent light only wastes 30 percent of its' energy as heat. There are more than 40 types of Energy Star qualified bulbs that last at least 6000 hours while using 75 percent less energy without sacrificing quality.
Energy Star is a voluntary program managed by EPA and the U.S. Department of
Energy. The Energy Star label allows consumers to easily identify
energy-efficient appliances, electronics, office equipment, lighting,
heating and cooling equipment, buildings and homes. For more information
about Energy Star and how you can help by changing a light, visit
http://www.energystar.gov or call 1-888-STAR-YES.
EPA REPORTS 2000 NATIONAL WATER QUALITY INVENTORY SHOWS LITTLE OR NO CHANGE IN NATION'S WATER QUALITY
EPA released its biennial national summary of water quality, based on water monitoring findings reported by the states, territories, jurisdictions and tribes in 2000 under Section 305(b) of the Clean Water Act. The information in this report applies only to the waters that were assessed for one or more of the uses, such as swimming, fishing, and fish consumption, designated for them by the states.
States assessed 19 percent of the nation's 3.7 million total river and stream miles, 43 percent of its 40.6 million acres of lakes, ponds and reservoirs, and 36 percent of its 87,300 estuary square miles for this report. EPA reports that 39 percent of assessed river and stream miles, 45 percent of assessed lake acres, and 51 percent of assessed estuary square miles in the nation were found to be impaired for one or more uses.
EPA found that the percentage of assessed river/stream and estuary waters found to be impaired has increased somewhat from the last report in 1998, although that difference is more likely due to changes in assessment approaches than actual water quality changes. Many states are choosing to use higher quality data than in the past in making their assessments, discarding older or less quality¡assured data. They are also moving toward more comprehensive examination of fish tissue and issuing statewide advisories limiting the consumption of certain species of fish. Mercury, which originates from air transport from power generating facilities and incinerators, mining, natural rock weathering and other sources, was cited in approximately 2,240 of the nation's 2,800 fish consumption advisories reported in 2000 and is reported as a leading cause of impairment in U.S. lakes and estuaries.
According to G. Tracy Mehan, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water, this report points out the need for more effective controls to address the nation's water quality problems, especially those originating from diffuse, non-permitted sources such as runoff from agricultural and urban areas, as well as air deposition. As in the past, these non-point sources continue to dominate as sources of pollution. "EPA and the states need to work together as partners to solve this problem and implement more effective solutions," said Mehan.
EPA is working to improve identification and cleanup of impaired waters through the Clean Water Act Section 303(d) program. This program calls for participation of the public in the identification of impaired waters and in the development of pollution "budgets" used to restore the health of those waters. EPA is also developing a national monitoring strategy to improve water quality assessment and reporting and ensure that state water quality findings are comprehensive and comparable among states and over time. Under the Clean Water Act, states have primary responsibility for water quality monitoring.
This 2000 National Water Quality Inventory is the 13th in a series published since 1975. New EPA guidance issued in November 2001 calls for future reports to include information on impaired waters as reported by the states under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act.
The "National Water Quality Inventory: 2000 Report" is available at
EPA ANNOUNCES HOMELAND SECURITY STRATEGIC PLAN
EPA Administrator Christie Whitman announced EPA's Strategic Plan for Homeland Security. The plan is intended to support the President's National Strategy for Homeland Security and the efforts undertaken by a new Department of Homeland Security. Since November 2001, EPA, at the direction of Administrator Whitman, has been examining its mission as it relates to homeland security. Using its core mission of protecting public health and safeguarding the environment, the senior leadership of EPA has closely examined the role of EPA in protecting against and responding to any future terrorist attacks.
The Agency's Strategic Plan identifies goals in four mission-critical areas. The plan will serve as a blueprint for the Agency's senior leadership on how to enhance EPA's ability to meet its homeland security responsibilities. The activities and initiatives in the plan represent an enhancement of EPA's capabilities to detect, prepare for, prevent, respond to and recover from terrorist incidents. The plan is one of many steps the Agency took in the weeks and months following September 11th to ensure the Agency's ability to fulfill its homeland security responsibilities. As the federal government continues to address the issue of protecting the nation the plan will continue to be revised and improved. The new Department of Homeland Security or other agencies may eventually carry some of the activities identified in the plan out.
The goals of the plan are separated into four distinct mission areas: critical infrastructure protection; preparedness, response, and recovery; communication and information; and protection of EPA personnel and infrastructure. The strategic plan lays out goals, tactics and results in each of these areas.
In addition to announcing the Agency's proposed strategic plan, Whitman signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center, one of EPA's federal partners, designed to enhance the Agency's work with the Center with respect to biological contaminants in water.
Finally, in coordination with the Office of Homeland Security, EPA is developing a National Decontamination Team, a cadre of highly specialized and experienced emergency responders, engineers and scientists dedicated to providing immediate technical decontamination expertise at the scene of a chemical, biological, or radiological attack.
Over the past several years, various Presidential Decision Directives and other orders have assigned EPA responsibility for some very important aspects of homeland security. These explicit responsibilities include being the lead federal agency charged with helping to protect the nation's water infrastructure from terrorist attack, being the lead agency responsible for the cleanup of any biological or chemical attacks, and having significant responsibilities in certain radiological attacks.
More recently, President Bush's National Strategy for Homeland Security names EPA as the lead federal agency for reducing the vulnerability of the chemical industry and hazardous materials sector of the nation's critical infrastructure.
EPA for the past year has been committed to assessing its homeland security responsibilities and capabilities. In addition to calling for the development of the Strategic Plan, Administrator Whitman directed the Agency to undertake a thorough "lessons learned" study to determine what the agency had done well and what things needed to be done better in response to the September 11th attacks.
Since September 11th the EPA has taken a number of steps to ensure its abilities to meet its homeland security responsibilities. The Agency is adding 75 response staff personnel to strengthen its ability to respond simultaneously to multiple incidents. In addition, the Agency is providing advanced training and state of the art equipment to those who will respond to any chemical, biological, or radiological incident and is establishing a new Environmental Response Team West in Las Vegas to provide a quicker response time to any incidents that may happen in the western United States. The Agency has already awarded nearly $50 million in grants to the nation's largest drinking water facilities to assess their vulnerabilities and make security improvements and upgraded its Cincinnati facility to handle level three contaminants. Last week, Whitman announced a Homeland Security Research Center in the Agency's Cincinnati labs to coordinate research in areas such as building decontamination, rapid risk assessment and drinking water protection.
The Agency's strategic plan can be downloaded in PDF format at
EPA ISSUES INFORMATION QUALITY GUIDELINES FOR ENVIRONMENTAL DATA
EPA has issued Information Quality Guidelines to ensure and maximize the
quality of environmental data and information that the Agency distributes to
the American public. The guidelines were developed under an initiative
headed by the Office of Management and Budget for all federal agencies to
establish quality guidelines, standards and procedures for federally
disseminated information. EPA was able to build on existing procedures to
develop the guidelines. The complete guidelines are posted on EPA's web site
CLEAN AIR ACT (CAA)
- October 21, 2002 - Existing and new pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities
subject to the national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants for
pharmaceuticals must comply with 40 CFR 63, subpart GGG.
- October 22, 2002 - Existing sources subject to organic hazardous air
pollutant emission controls under 40 CFR 63, subpart H, for equipment leaks
from Groups II and IV chemical process units must submit a semiannual report
CLEAN WATER ACT (CWA)
- October 28, 2002 - Owners and operators of industrial facilities in EPA
Regions 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, or 10 subject to the terms and conditions of
EPA's NPDES storm water multi-sector general permit must submit compliance
monitoring results from the second year of the permit to EPA.
SAFE DRINKING WATER ACT (SDWA)
- October 10, 2002 - Unfiltered public water systems must submit a summary
report to the state for the previous year.