The former chief engineer of an American-flagged car-carrier pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to the deliberate discharge of oil-contaminated bilge waste through a “magic pipe” that bypassed required pollution prevention equipment, announced Ronald J. Tenpas, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Rod J. Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland.
Patrick Brown, the former chief engineer of the M/V Fidelio, renamed the M/V Patriot, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge William M. Nickerson to conspiracy and making a false statement in a ship’s Oil Record Book. Brown was employed by Pacific Gulf Marine Inc. (PGM), a vessel operator based in Gretna, La., which previously pleaded guilty to its role in deliberately discharging hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil-contaminated bilge waste from four of its giant car-carrier ships, including the Fidelio.
PGM was sentenced on Jan. 24, 2007, to pay $1 million in criminal fines and $500,000 in community service, and serve three years of probation under the terms of an environmental compliance plan, which includes audits by an outside firm that, in turn, are reviewed by a court-appointed monitor.
“The defendant was involved in the deliberate overboard discharge of oil-contaminated bilge waste into the ocean for multiple years and lied to the Coast Guard to cover up his illegal actions. Corporations and crews should beware that polluting and lying to the authorities will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Tenpas said.
“The convictions in this case should send a powerful message about our commitment to prosecute anyone who damages the environment by bypassing pollution controls and intentionally discharging oil into the seas,” Rosenstein said.
In a factual statement filed with the court, Brown admitted that he used a bypass pipe to make deliberate overboard discharges of oil-contaminated bilge waste from 1994, when he began working as a Chief Engineer on the Fidelio under a prior management company, through March 2003, when the Coast Guard discovered the bypass pipe during an inspection of the ship in Baltimore. During the Coast Guard inspection on March 29, 2003, inspectors lifted a deck plate and found a permanently installed bypass pipe on the Fidelio that was part of the ship’s original construction.
“The U.S. Coast Guard continues to uncover deceptive tactics being employed by those in the maritime industry who are disregarding U.S. and international environmental laws by intentionally discharging oil and hazardous substances into our oceans. Uncovering illegal operations such as this one and bringing the perpetrators to justice requires a coordinated effort,” said Captain David Lersch, Chief, Prevention Division, Fifth Coast Guard District. “Protecting the environment is a mission we fully embrace and will continue to perform with vigor and compassion.”
The Coast Guard directed the removal of the bypass pipe—referred to by some in the maritime industry as a “magic pipe”—and found that it was filled with black oil. The ship’s Oil Record Book, a required log in which all overboard discharges must be recorded, had been falsified to conceal illegal discharges made without the use of an oily water separator, a required pollution prevention device that Brown admitted was “rarely if ever used,” except for demonstrating its functions during Coast Guard inspections.
Engine-room operations aboard large ocean-going vessels generate large amounts of waste oil and oil-contaminated bilge waste. International and U.S. law prohibit the discharge of waste containing more than 15 parts per million oil and without treatment by an oil-water separator and oil-sensing equipment. The regime, established by the MARPOL Convention (Annex I)—a treaty signed by more than 135 countries representing approximately 97.5% of the world’s commercial tonnage and implemented into U.S. law by the APPS—also requires that overboard discharges be recorded in an oil record book.
EPA Proposes an Import Exemption for Veolia ES Technical Solutions, L.L.C.
On Feb. 28, 2008, EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response signed the Polychlorinated Biphenyls: Manufacturing (Import) Exemption for Veolia ES Technical Solutions, L.L.C. proposal.
DOT Publishes New Review of Regulations for Shipment of Radioactive Materials
Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Available From EPA
Annual U.S. emissions for the period of time from 1990 through 2006 are summarized and presented by source category and sector. The notification of the availability of the document appeared in the March 7 Federal Register .
The inventory tracks annual greenhouse gas emissions at the national level and presents historical emissions from 1990 to 2006. The inventory also calculates carbon dioxide emissions that are removed from the atmosphere by "sinks," or through the uptake of carbon by forests, vegetation, and soils.
EPA prepares the annual report in collaboration with experts from multiple federal agencies. After responding to public comments, the U.S. government will submit the final inventory report to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), fulfilling its annual requirement as a party to the international treaty on climate change. The UNFCCC treaty, ratified by the United States in 1992, sets an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change.
The major finding in this year's draft report is that overall emissions during 2006 decreased by 1.5% from the previous year. This decrease was due primarily to a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions associated with fuel and electricity consumption. Total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in 2006 were about 7,202 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent. These gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. Overall, emissions have grown by 14.1% from 1990 to 2006, while the U.S. economy has grown by 59% over the same period.
The inventory includes estimates of carbon fluxes in U.S. agricultural and forest lands. The technical approach used in this report to estimate emissions and sinks for greenhouse gases is consistent with the methodologies recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and reported in a format consistent with UNFCCC reporting guidelines. The Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990–2006 is the latest in a series of annual U.S. submissions to the Secretariat of the UNFCCC.
Comments on the report should be submitted to Mr. Leif Hockstad at: EPA, Climate Change Division (6207J), 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, D.C. 20460, Fax: 202-343-2359.
For more information, contact Mr. Leif Hockstad, EPA, Office of Air and Radiation, Office of Atmospheric Programs, Climate Change Division, 202-343-9432
Federal Pollution Control Laws: How Are They Enforced?
The report provides an overview of the statutory framework, key players, infrastructure, resources, tools, and operations associated with enforcement and compliance of the major pollution control laws and regulations administered by EPA. It also outlines the roles of federal (including regional offices) and state regulators, as well as the regulated community. Understanding the many facets of how all federal pollution control laws are enforced, and the responsible parties involved, can be challenging. Enforcement of the considerable body of these laws involves a complex framework and organizational setting.
The array of enforcement/compliance tools employed to achieve and maintain compliance includes monitoring, investigation, administrative and judicial (civil and criminal) actions and penalties, and compliance assistance and incentive approaches. Most compliance violations are resolved administratively by the states and EPA.
In FY2006, EPA concluded 4,624 final administrative penalty orders. Civil judicial actions, which may be filed by states or EPA, are the next most frequent enforcement action. EPA referred 286 civil cases to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in FY2006. The U.S. Attorney General’s Office and DOJ’s Environmental Crimes Section, or the State Attorneys General, in coordination with EPA criminal investigators and general counsel, may prosecute criminal violations against individuals or entities who knowingly disregard environmental laws or are criminally negligent.
According to the report, in FY2007 regulated entities committed to invest an estimated $10.6 billion for judicially mandated controls and cleanup, and for implementing mutually agreed upon (supplemental) environmentally beneficial projects. EPA estimates that these efforts achieved commitments to reduce 900 million pounds of pollutants in the environment, primarily from air and water. EPA also assessed more than $145 million in civil and criminal fines and restitution during FY2007. Nevertheless, noncompliance with federal pollution control laws remains a continuing concern. The overall effectiveness of the current enforcement organizational framework, the balance between state autonomy and federal oversight, and the adequacy of funding are long-standing congressional concerns.
Federal appropriations for environmental enforcement and compliance activities generally have remained relatively constant in recent fiscal years. Total funding for EPA’s enforcement activities in FY2007 was $548.9 million. Many contend that overall funding for enforcement activities has not kept pace with inflation or with the increasingly complex federal pollution control requirements.
DOE Implements More Stringent Criteria for ENERGY STAR® Clothes Washers, Expands CFL Program
Based on first-year projected sales data, approximately 1.9 million ENERGY STAR-qualified clothes washers will be sold, saving American families up to $92.4 million annually on their water and utility bills. CFL products under the ENERGY STAR label—which include new categories for CFLs that contain less mercury, new candelabra products, and more rigorous testing procedures—are expected to save Americans approximately $30 billion in utility costs over the next five years. More stringent criteria, combined with a greater diversity of energy-saving product options, will allow Americans to more efficiently use energy in their homes and aims to further the President’s Advanced Energy Initiative, which seeks to fundamentally change the way the nation uses power.
“The ENERGY STAR program provides consumers with greater options for purchasing energy-efficient products to save money and energy,” DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner said.
The more stringent requirements for clothes washers carrying the ENERGY STAR label will take effect in two phases. In order to qualify, clothes washers must be a minimum of 43% more efficient than current federal energy-efficiency standards with a maximum Water Factor (WF) of 7.5, as of July 1, 2009. As of January 1, 2011, clothes washers must be a minimum of 59% more efficient with a maximum WF of 6.0. WF measures the water efficiency and is calculated as gallons of water used per cubic foot of capacity—the lower the WF, the more efficient the clothes washer.
Following the 2011 criteria change for clothes washers, consumers are expected to save $120 million on utility bills annually, 11.2 billion gallons of water, and 659 million kilowatt hours of electricity. Current ENERGY STAR-qualified clothes washers use 75% less energy than clothes washer models manufactured in 1980. The ENERGY STAR criteria for clothes washers, last modified in January 2007, were drafted with input from stakeholders and public review and comment.
In addition to the expansion of eligible product categories for CFLs, the new criteria limits, for the first time, the amount of mercury that CFLs can contain to less than 5 milligrams for most bulbs, expands the program to include candelabra-based CFLs, incorporates a third-party testing program for all bulbs effective in November of 2008, tightens lamp color requirements, and adds high-heat testing requirements for reflector products. Revised ENERGY STAR criteria for CFLs takes effect Dec. 2, 2008—270 days from the criteria’s issuance. The criteria for CFLs were last updated in 2003.
ENERGY STAR is a joint U.S. DOE–U.S. EPA program, formed in 1992 as a voluntary, market-based partnership that seeks to reduce air pollution through increased energy efficiency. DOE and EPA work to offer businesses and consumers energy-efficient solutions to save energy and money, while also helping to protect our environment. More than 9,000 organizations have joined ENERGY STAR as partners committed to improving the energy efficiency of products, homes, and businesses. The ENERGY STAR label appears on more than 40 kinds of consumer products.
EPA to Update NAICS Codes Used on TRI Forms
Reporting facilities will be required to report TRI using 2007 NAICS codes beginning with TRI reporting forms that are due on July 1, 2009, covering releases and other waste management quantities for the 2008 calendar year. EPA is also proposing to make corrections to the list of NAICS codes subject to reporting under TRI that was published on June 6, 2006, in the final rule adopting NAICS for TRI reporting. Additionally, EPA is correcting a longstanding typographical error in the regulatory text where a reference to 40 CFR 372.17 should in fact be 40 CFR 372.30.
Written comments must be received by April 7, 2008.
When comments are submitted, they should be identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-TRI-2007-0318 and be submitted by one of the following methods:
- Fax: (202) 566-9744
- Mail: OEI Docket, Environmental Protection Agency, Mailcode 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, D.C. 20460.
- Hand Delivery: EPA/DC, EPA West, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, D.C. 20460. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket's normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information.
- Instructions: Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-TRI-2007-0318.
EPA Considers Delisting of Acetonitrile as Toxic Chemical Under SARA Title III Section 313
The notice was published in the March 7 Federal Register ).
The purpose of EPA’s action is to solicit public comment on two documents developed in response to a petition to remove acetonitrile from the list of chemicals subject to reporting under Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986, commonly referred to as the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). The two documents EPA is making available for public comment are: The TRI Technical Review of Acetonitrile and the Acetonitrile External Peer Review charge. EPA is also providing the public with access to related reference documents. Comments must be received on or before April 7, 2008.
Submit any comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-TRI-2006-0319, by one of the following methods:
- Fax comments to: 202-566-9744.
- Mail comments to: OEI Docket, EPA, Mailcode: 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW., Washington, D.C. 20460.
- Hand deliver comments to: EPA Docket Center (EPA/DC), EPA West, Room 3334, 1301Constitution Ave., NW., Washington, D.C. 20460. (Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket's normal hours of operation and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information.)
Website Provides an Easy Way to Donate and Locate Reusable Materials
The California Integrated Waste Management Board has launched a new website to make it easier for California businesses, governments, organizations, and schools, to dispose of and locate reusable-excess materials at little to no cost.
“Of the 92 million tons of waste generated in California annually, approximately half comes from the business sector,” said Chair Margo Reid Brown. “CalMAX gives businesses a way to further promote California’s goals to reduce, reuse, and recycle by making it easier to exchange, donate, or recycle their excess materials. This makes (for) a more sustainable environment and helps businesses with their bottom line.”
The most notable improvement for CalMAX users is the ease and enhanced ability to manage their own CalMAX ad listings, as well as create, modify, delete, and report on successful exchanges. To help users find what they are looking for, advance search features are listed by county, region, material type, or key word. The CalMAX website also has articles and links to other material exchange sites throughout California and North America.
. Donations made through KidMAX may be tax-deductible.
A partial list of materials listed on the CalMAX site include: paper, pallets, textiles, durable goods, metal, wood, glass, and paint/wax. CalMAX does not accept listings for hazardous materials.
The California Integrated Waste Management Board is the state’s leading authority on recycling and waste reduction. It promotes reducing waste whenever possible, managing all materials to their highest and best use and protecting public health and safety and the environment.
Water Facilities Can Tap Into Energy Savings
America’s drinking water and wastewater facilities can now save energy and reduce their carbon footprint with expanded tools available from EPA’s Energy Star Program. Water and wastewater facilities are energy intensive, accounting for more than one-third of municipal energy use. Improving the energy efficiency of America’s drinking water and wastewater systems by 10% would save more than 5 billion kilowatt-hours each year representing a cost savings of about $400 million annually.
“Wasting energy is sending good resources down the drain,” said Benjamin H. Grumbles, assistant administrator for Water. “Energy efficiency is good for the planet as well as the plant managers who make water clean and healthy.”
. Through Energy Star, EPA provides a proven energy management strategy and no-cost tools for public and private organizations to save energy and money, as well as demonstrate environmental leadership.
More than 800 organizations—including more than 150 local governments and water utilities—are leading the way toward improved energy efficiency by responding to the Energy Star Challenge, EPA’s national call-to-action to improve the energy efficiency of America’s commercial and industrial facilities by 10% or more. In June 2007, the U.S. Conference of Mayors endorsed the Energy Star Challenge as a key strategy in meeting the goals of the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement.
Energy Star was introduced by EPA in 1992 as a voluntary, market-based partnership to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through energy efficiency. Currently, the Energy Star label can be found on more than 50 different kinds of products, new homes, and commercial and industrial buildings. Products and buildings that have earned the Energy Star designation prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy-efficiency specifications set by the government. Last year alone, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved about $14 billion on their energy bills while reducing the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of 25 million vehicles.
Such paint removers are used in industry and are also sold in “Do-It-Yourself” stores accessible to everybody. Dichloromethane vapor is toxic to the central nervous system. The commission’s proposal follows some experts’ concerns that a number of accidents and fatalities, which have occurred in recent years in the European Union (EU), have been linked to use of the substance. The Commission therefore proposes to ban the sale of such paint strippers to the general public and professional users. However, taking account of other expert opinion that this substance may be safely used by professionals if adequate precautions are taken, member states may permit their purchase and use by licensed professionals who have received appropriate training. For industrial activities, their use will be permitted under strictly controlled conditions. The formal adoption by the European Parliament and the Council is expected by the end of the year.
“Our proposal will achieve a high level of protection of human health and will provide an important measure of added safety for consumers and workers,” said Commission Vice President Gnter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy.
Risks from dichloromethane in paint strippers have been assessed in several studies conducted by the Commission. They concluded that measures to reduce the risk connected to the use of dichloromethane are necessary throughout the EU.
Between 1989 and 2007, a significant number of fatalities and accidents have been registered in the EU from the use of such paint strippers caused by inadequate ventilation and inappropriate personal protective equipment.
Several EU member states have already implemented national measures to control the risks of dichloromethane in paint strippers, and Germany has recently informed the commission of its restriction measures.
The Commission proposal aims:
- To ban the use by consumers, who are least aware of the dangers of dichloromethane and who have the least access to protective equipment.
- To ban the general use by professionals operating outside industrial premises, but member states can opt to allow further use by professionals with adequate training and license to operate.
- To increase protection of workers during industrial use of such paint strippers through compulsory use of protective equipment (gloves and masks), as well as the modification of the operational strip tanks and adequate ventilation at the workplace.
- To avoid further divergent actions by member states, which create obstacles to the internal market without protecting all European citizens.
The commission has consulted all relevant stakeholders in preparing the proposal. The measures have been evaluated in a Commission impact assessment and were found to be most effective and proportionate compared to other available options.
New Strategy to Help the Nation's Ports Go Green
The "Vision, Mission, and Strategy for Sustainable Ports" recognizes the steady growth in global maritime commerce and the critical role American ports and related transportation and supply chain partners play in managing the environmental impacts of moving goods across the country.
Ports are vital to the U.S. economy. Ocean-going ships move more than 99% of U.S. overseas trade (by weight). The top ten U.S. ports moved a combined total of 23 million cargo containers in 2006. The environmental challenges for ports and their transportation network include reducing air emissions, improving water quality, and protecting the health of communities near port facilities.
EPA's Strategy focuses on six themes: Clean Air and Affordable Energy, Clean and Safe Water, Healthy Communities and Eco-systems, Global Environment, Ports Communications, and Enforcement. There are more than 70 possible actions, including working with port authorities, their business partners, and other sectors of the transportation industry to quantify and reduce air emissions from all sources along the shipping supply chain; setting up state innovative financing funds to help small owner-operators of diesel equipment finance the upgrading or replacement of older, dirtier engines; and collaborating with the international port community on innovative technologies and development of international standards.
EPA's strategy complements the recent resolution and guiding principles on port sustainability issued by the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA). EPA programs will work with AAPA, individual port authorities, private port operators, transportation supply and logistics companies, government agencies, states, communities, and other interested groups to promote and implement sustainable practices at ports and their related operations. EPA regions will work collaboratively with individual ports to select (from among the full menu of possible actions in the EPA Strategy) a specific set of activities to work on together. These shared action plans will address the unique environmental impacts and opportunities for ports in different parts of the country.
EPA Issues Immediate Final Rule Authorizing Utah’s State RCRA Program
In the March 7 Federal Register, EPA announced that Utah’s State RCRA Program has been approved (). The Solid Waste Disposal Act, as amended, commonly referred to as the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (), allows EPA to authorize states to operate their hazardous waste management programs in lieu of the federal program. Utah has applied to EPA for final authorization of the changes to its hazardous waste program under RCRA. EPA has determined that these changes satisfy all requirements needed to qualify for final authorization and is authorizing the state's changes through this immediate final action.
This final authorization will become effective on May 6, 2008, unless the EPA receives adverse written comment by April 7, 2008. If adverse comment is received, EPA will publish a timely withdrawal of the immediate final rule in the Federal Register informing the public that the rule will not take effect.
Riverside Cement Company Fined $394,000 for Air Quality Violations
Thousands of San Bernardino County, Calif., residents will enjoy cleaner air under the terms of a $394,000 settlement between EPA and the Riverside Cement Company (RCC) for allegedly violating Clean Air Act (CAA) standards at its Oro Grande plant, located near Victorville, Calif.
Under the EPA settlement, the Riverside Cement Company will further improve local air quality by shutting down seven 50-year-old short dry kilns by August 2008. In their place, Riverside Cement will begin operation of a single, state-of-the-art kiln, constructed at a cost of at least $385 million. This improvement will remove 1,500 tons annually of harmful nitrogen oxide emissions.
In the interim, RCC must comply with enhanced requirements for inspecting and monitoring baghouses.
“We welcome any effort that reduces nitrogen oxides and ozone as a step towards healthier air,” said Deborah Jordan, director of EPA’s Air Division in its Pacific Southwest Office in San Francisco. “Through enforcement, technological breakthroughs, and corporate involvement, we will help communities get the clean air they deserve.”
According to the California Air Resources Board, the Oro Grande facility is one of the largest sources of damaging nitrogen oxides in California.
Nitrogen oxide helps create ozone, which causes health and environmental impacts. Breathing ozone can worsen respiratory illness, including emphysema and asthma. Repeated exposure may permanently scar lung tissue.
The penalty resolves various CAA violations, including:
- Exceeding the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants temperature limits for kilns in 2002–2004
- Exceeding nitrogen oxide limits for the kilns in 2003–2005
- Failing to perform opacity tests at baghouses in 2002
- Exceeding opacity limits for several emission units in 2005
- Failing to perform required inspections at certain baghouses during 2002–2004
The Riverside Cement Company is a leading manufacturer of cement, concrete, and aggregate material.
IOGEAR Fined $208,000 for “Nano Coating” Pesticide Claims on Computer Accessories
EPA has settled with ATEN Technology, Inc., of Irvine, Calif., acting for its subsidiary IOGEAR, for selling unregistered pesticides and making unproven claims about their effectiveness.
EPA maintains that IOGEAR made unsubstantiated public health claims regarding unregistered products and their ability to control germs and pathogens—a violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
“We’re seeing far too many unregistered products that assert unsubstantiated antimicrobial properties,” said Katherine Taylor, associate director of the Communities and Ecosystems Division in EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “Whether the claim involves use of an existing material such as silver, or new nano technology, the EPA takes these unverified public health claims very seriously. Consumers should always follow common-sense hygiene practices, like washing hands frequently and thoroughly.”
IOGEAR products at issue were: wireless laser mouse with nano-shield coating, laser travel mouse with nano-coating technology, and wireless RF keyboard and mouse combinations. After being contacted by EPA, IOGEAR stopped making claims that their computer peripherals protect against germs.
Products that kill or repel bacteria or germs are considered pesticides, and they must be registered with the EPA prior to distribution or sale. The agency will not register a pesticide until it has been tested to show that it will not pose an unreasonable risk when used according to the directions. Consumers should be careful to look for the EPA registration number printed on product labels and to follow the directions for safe use.
This enforcement action was based on a tip, and ensuing inspection was conducted by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.
Greka Faces Three Enforcement Orders for Oil Releases
EPA has ordered Greka Oil and Gas, Inc., to immediately comply with the Federal Water Pollution Control Act at their California Lease Well or face fines of up to $32,500 per day for each violation. This is the third enforcement order issued to Greka by the EPA since January 2008.
"The EPA safeguards local waters by vigorously enforcing clean water laws,” said Rob Wise, federal on-scene coordinator for the Superfund Division in the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “Polluters who spoil Santa Barbara County’s waters will face aggressive penalties.”
On March 2, 2008, the California Lease Well landowner discovered an oil spill originating from a pipeline into Bradley Canyon Creek and notified Greka of this spill. The Bradley Canyon Creek is a tributary to the Santa Maria River, which drains to the Pacific Ocean.
The spill was caused by a hole in one of Greka’s flowlines, which crossed the creek. More than 150 gallons of oil went directly into the creek, and an oil sheen was observed at least one mile downstream.
Per this latest order, Greka must immediately remove all petroleum and petroleum-contaminated media fouled as a result of the spill. This includes, but is not limited to, crude oil, produced water, contaminated creek waters, contaminated soil along all access roads, contaminated soil in the Bradley Canyon Creek, petroleum-contaminated vegetation, and debris in nearby watersheds.
At the direction and oversight of EPA, Greka has been engaged in cleanup efforts at its recent spill sites. At Bradley Canyon Creek, Greka has been directed to manually clean the creek, including shoveling the oil and contaminated sediment into plastic bags.
EPA is issuing this order to ensure that the cleanup is completed expeditiously, comprehensively, and in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.
EPA continues to work with members of the California Department of Fish and Game, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Pacific Strike Team, and Greka Oil and Gas, the responsible party, to contain and clean up Greka’s multiple recent oil releases and to prevent further harm to the environment.
Candy and Granola Manufacturer Fined for Water Discharges
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has reached a settlement with G.K.I. Foods, Inc., of Livingston County, Mich., over allegations of illegal discharges to the state’s waters. GKI is a manufacturer of chocolate candy and granola products that discharged production wastewater to its sanitary wastewater system, which ultimately failed due to the buildup of fats, oils, and grease. The system’s failure led to untreated wastewater being discharged to the county drain located behind the facility.
As part of the settlement, G.K.I. agreed to dispose of its sanitary sewage and liquid waste in accordance with state law, provide the DEQ with plans for the installation of long-term disposal systems, and apply for the appropriate permits. GKI also agreed to reimburse the state for its enforcement costs of $32,807 and pay a civil fine of $11,000.
“Illegal discharges to our waters put our environment and the health of our communities at risk,” said DEQ Director Steven E. Chester. “The DEQ will continue to ensure that our environmental laws are followed and that Michigan’s lakes and streams are kept clean and safe.”
Pennsylvania DEP Fines Hoeganaes Corporation $30,000 for Air Quality Violations
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has fined Hoeganaes Corporation $30,000 for numerous air quality violations that occurred over a two-year period at its ferrous metal powder production plant in Delaware Township, Pa.
“DEP made many attempts to assist Hoeganaes in its efforts to reduce emissions within acceptable limits, but the company was not successful,” said DEP Northcentral Regional Director Robert Yowell.
Most of the violations, which began in 2006, were associated with the company’s insulated particle process and excessive emissions of methylene chloride, a hazardous air pollutant. The air pollution control equipment used by Hoeganaes did not reduce the methylene chloride emissions enough to meet the limits set by DEP in the air quality plan approval.
Because it could not achieve compliance, Hoeganaes shut down the insulated particle process in July 2007. The fine will be paid to the Clean Air Fund.
EPA Fines University of Guam $10,000 for Hazardous Waste Violations
Like many school campuses, the university’s facility generates and stores hazardous waste such as waste varnish and flammable paint waste. The facility also generates and stores used oil and other wastes including spent lead-acid batteries and fluorescent lamps.
“All facilities that generate hazardous waste must properly contain, manage, and dispose of their wastes,” said Nancy Lindsay, director of Waste Programs for EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. “Failure to do so jeopardizes the safety of the community, workers, and the environment, as spilled waste can contaminate soil and ocean ecosystems. This settlement sends a message that noncompliance is not acceptable.”
The university also failed to:
- Have a contingency plan to respond to used oil and other waste spills, as well as maintain emergency equipment
- Properly identify its hazardous waste, store hazardous waste in proper containers without visible leaks, and prevent the possibility of hazardous waste spills
- Clearly mark or label containers of universal waste
- Manage waste fluorescent lamps and record how long the waste had been accumulated
The waste has since been shipped for disposal to a proper hazardous waste disposal facility as required by EPA’s hazardous waste regulations.
Proper disposal of hazardous waste is required at a permitted disposal site with the proper permits and notifications made to the EPA.
Gulf Program Seeks Entries for 2008 Gulf Guardian Awards
The Gulf of Mexico Program is currently soliciting entries for the 2008 Gulf Guardian Awards Program.
The Gulf of Mexico Program partnership developed the Gulf Guardian Awards in 2000 as a way to recognize and honor the businesses, community groups, individuals, and agencies that are taking positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful, and productive. The Gulf Guardian Award exemplifies what the Gulf of Mexico Program stands for—innovative solutions that occur when we pool resources and look for creative ways to tackle the region’s complex coastal environmental challenges in ways that also positively impact our quality of life and economic well being. The Gulf Program recognizes annually a first, second, and third winner in each of seven categories: 1) Business, 2) Government, 3) Civic/Nonprofit Organizations, 4) Youth/Education, 5) Partnerships, 6) Individual, and 7) Binational, which jointly honors U.S./Mexico Partnership programs and projects.
The Gulf of Mexico Program began in 1988 to protect, restore, and maintain the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem in economically sustainable ways. The program is sponsored by the U.S. EPA and is a non-regulatory, inclusive consortium of state and federal government agencies and representatives of the business and agricultural community, fishing industry, scientists, environmentalist, and community leaders from all five Gulf States. The Gulf Program seeks to improve the environmental health of the Gulf in concert with economic development.
The Gulf of Mexico Program encourages you to apply for this prestigious award. To apply, go to the web address above and click on the “2008 Gulf Guardian Application” link. The application is available in English and Spanish.
$468,335 in Used Oil Collection Grants to Help Encourage Proper Collection of Used Motor Oil in Tennessee
Tennessee Governor Bredesen and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation have announced that 29 used oil collection grants totaling $468,335 have been awarded to establish, upgrade, and expand used oil collection centers in communities across the state.
“This is a very straightforward approach to dealing with a potential cause of pollution, and it has a direct positive impact on the water quality of our lakes, streams, and groundwater in Tennessee,” Bredesen said. “I’m pleased we can provide these grants to encourage community collection centers where ‘do-it-yourselfers’ can conveniently recycle their used motor oil.”
Tennesseans who change their own motor oil generate more than one million gallons of used oil each year, which can pollute soil and water and interfere with the operation of sewer systems when not properly disposed. The General Assembly authorized the Used Oil Collection Act of 1993 to assist local communities in collecting used oil and reducing its negative effects on the environment. Tennessee’s Solid Waste Management Act requires counties to have at least one place where used oil can be properly disposed.
The first priority for grant funding is to establish collection sites in underserved areas. Other grants will fund improvement or replacement of equipment in existing public and private facilities. Equipment purchased through Oil Collection Grants can include containers, used oil burners, containment structures, shelter covers, and other items.
National Groups Launch Drinking Water Protection Campaign
The Source Water Collaborative (SWC) is launching a campaign, “Your Water. Your Decision,” to help local decision-makers take advantage of opportunities to protect sources of drinking water, understand the costs involved, and consider ways to pay for it. The SWC, a group of 16 national organizations and three federal agencies including EPA, was formed with the joint signing of a vision statement in February 2006 to further the goal of protecting drinking water sources.
As part of this initiative, the SWC has developed a guide for community leaders and a toolkit for using the guide. The “Your Water. Your Decision.” guide is intended as a quick source of key information on local options for protecting drinking water, including development, stewardship, and budgeting. Using the theme, “How You Govern Can Determine What You Drink,” the guide was developed as a tool to enable local officials to take action within their communities and with neighboring communities.
Nexus Between Energy Use and Water Infrastructure
Reducing climate impacts, saving money, and saving water are the goals of recent Office of Water efforts to make the most of the nexus between energy use and water infrastructure. Providing drinking water and wastewater services to citizens across the nation requires a lot of energy. In EPA’s work with the water utility industry, it can encourage communities to identify approaches to integrate energy-efficient practices into their daily management and long-term planning.
Combined heat and power is a reliable, cost-effective option for wastewater treatment facilities that have, or are planning to install, anaerobic digesters. Biogas flow from these digesters can be used as “free” fuel to generate reliable electricity and power.
Big Incentive to Use Recycled Tires in Road Construction
The California Integrated Waste Management Board approved 37 grants totaling $2.4 million to encourage the use of waste tire products in agricultural, landscape, recreational, and transportation projects. These projects aim to divert nearly 580,000 California waste tires from landfills or dangerous and illegal waste tire stockpiles.
“Recycling of all waste tires is a goal the board would like to see achieved, given the large numbers of waste tires produced in the state yearly,” said Board Chair Margo Reid Brown. “The use of recycled-content products is also a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
California produces more than 40 million waste tires annually. Although approximately 75% of this amount is recycled, the state faces the challenge of dealing with roughly 10 million surplus tires annually in which the majority end up in landfills and some of which end up in illegal stockpiles.
. Grantees can use grant funds to purchase new products made from 100% recycled California waste tires. These products will be incorporated into a variety of agricultural, landscaping, recreational, and transportation projects, with each tire-derived project being required to divert at least 2,500 California tires from landfills.
The revenue-neutral tax, which will apply to gasoline, diesel, natural gas, coal, propane, and home-heating fuel, takes effect July 1. Initially, consumers will pay about $0.025 (CAD) more per liter ($0.006 per gallon USD) for gasoline. The tax will increase each year until it reaches $0.072 per liter ($0.019 per gallon) in 2012. The tax on other fuels will rise by a comparable amount.
British Columbia’s Finance Ministry estimates that consumers using natural gas to heat their homes and water will pay $60 (CAD) more for fuel in 2008, rising to $180 by July 2012. To offset these increases, the provincial government is offering tax incentives toward the purchase of energy-efficient appliances and fuel-efficient vehicles, and it is reducing corporate, small business, and personal income taxes.
Buildings account for 40% of the energy consumed within the United States and a similar percentage of carbon dioxide emissions. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) engineers recently took a look at energy-related upgrades to their own quarters—and found energy-related improvements were well worth the expense. A NIST plan to act on the findings should save taxpayers money while helping meet a presidential order for federal agencies to cut energy consumption to 70% of 2003 levels by 2015.
The NIST researchers undertook their study using two adjacent offices in one of the general purpose buildings on the NIST campus. The building is typical of those constructed on the NIST campus in the early to mid-1960s. One of the two offices served as the control office, and the second office was modified to reduce the flow of energy through the exterior wall. Each room was carefully instrumented to determine energy savings that could be realized through various energy savings options while maintaining identical levels of comfort.
The unmodified control office has a single-pane glass window unit and an antiquated heating and cooling unit. Thermal insulation was not present between the exterior walls of the office and the interior space. Significant air leakage occurred between the interior of the office and the outdoor air as a result of numerous gaps and voids in the exterior wall.
In the modified office, all air leaks were sealed The exterior walls were insulated with approximately 9 inches of glass-fiber insulation, and the more than 40-year-old single-pane glass window was replaced with a double-pane, argon-filled insulated glass window unit. A forced air heating and cooling unit was installed in the attic to deliver conditioned air to the office module, replacing the antiquated heating and cooling system that required piping in the office module walls. Energy upgrade expenditures came to approximately $2,825.
Measurements made to compare the energy required to maintain the control and modified office modules at identical conditions revealed a 59% savings. Annual cost savings from the energy upgrades, based on 2007 energy prices, came to approximately $195 per year. The researchers used NIST’s Cost Effectiveness Tool for Capital Asset Protection software to figure in a 3% annual energy price escalation rate. They found that over a 25-year period, the improvements would generate an average $1.75 for each dollar invested.
NIST will begin implementing the research findings in April. In the first phase, 22 offices will be upgraded with the energy savings features. The remaining 85 offices will be modified in 2009 and 2010.
Rhode Island DEM Partners With Better Shred in Pilot Recycling Project
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has launched a paper-recycling program at its Providence headquarters thanks to financial help from the Governor’s Commission on Disabilities. The commission will fund the program during a one-year partnership between DEM and Better Shred, a business enterprise of CranstonArc, which was established to meet the growing need for safe and secure destruction of sensitive documents and to provide a source of employment opportunities for adults with developmental disabilities.
The pilot program comes on the heels of a reinvigorated commercial recycling initiative announced by DEM last month geared toward increasing recycling in the business sector.
After reading a Providence Journal story about the reinvigorated initiative and the lack of a comprehensive recycling program at DEM’s Foundry offices, Christine Botts, disability business enterprise coordinator for the Governor’s Commission on Disabilities contacted DEM about the availability of the funds and the new program was quickly put in place.
“The timing of this offer was great,” said Terry Gray, DEM Assistant Director for Air, Waste & Compliance, who noted that it had recently come to the department’s attention that much of the paper DEM staff had been segregating to be recycled had been, instead, routinely mixed with trash at collection and disposed of as waste. “As an environmental agency, we found this to be unacceptable and have worked to come up with a solution. The funding offer will provide us with the opportunity to practice what we preach without financial resources from the department and hopefully will lead the way for others to implement similar programs.”
Better Shred will deliver and strategically place 17 new, 66-gallon lockable plastic recycling containers on wheels to DEM’s leased offices in Providence where approximately 320 DEM employees work. DEM staff will then routinely place all types of paper goods, including bond and copy paper, newspaper, and periodicals, in the bins for shredding, except for paper used in wrapping or packaging food. When the bins are full, the paper goods will be picked up by Better Shred and transported to its facility in Cranston, where they will be shredded in a manner that complies with federal regulations under secure conditions and sold for reuse.
The funding for the pilot program comes from a $10,000 grant to the Governor’s Commission on Disabilities from the RI Resource Recovery Corporation to educate state agencies on the importance of recycling and to divert paper from the landfill by recycling all confidential shredded documents. Other state offices involved in the program include the Department of Elderly Affairs, DCYF Juvenile Corrections, and the Disabilities Commission itself.
DEM announced last month that, in an effort to increase recycling in the business sector, it has re-invigorated a commercial recycling program to help business comply with the state’s mandatory recycling law and to help preserve landfill capacity. It has asked more than 2,300 businesses to report information about their waste stream and recycling efforts via a new online system at www.ri.gov. DEM will use the data to gauge the current level of recycling, identify what is working well and where improvements are needed, and to track the recycling program. Key information will be incorporated into the second phase: a joint DEM and RI Resource Recovery Corporation sector-by-sector education and compliance assistant program set to begin in late spring.
Rhode Island businesses generate approximately 60% of the waste buried in the state’s Central Landfill, or about 700,000 tons a year. Despite a law requiring businesses to recycle and businesses with more than 50 employees to implement recycling plans and report progress annually to DEM, the commercial recycling rate is estimated to be less than 3%. The planning and reporting process implemented in the past proved to be resource intensive for businesses. Recycling cost and convenience issues also prevented businesses from fully complying with program requirements. The revised program, with an automated reporting system, as well as a business assistance component, aims to address those issues.
New Hampshire Accepting Applications for 2008 Governor’s Award for Pollution Prevention
The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Pollution Prevention Program is accepting applications for the 14th Annual Governor’s Award for Pollution Prevention through June 6, 2008.
The Governor’s Award for Pollution Prevention recognizes businesses and other organizations for their outstanding pollution prevention accomplishments. Award recipients will be recognized for specific programs that go beyond regulatory requirements to reduce or eliminate the generation of waste. Qualified applicants must be in compliance with state and federal environmental laws, and their pollution prevention efforts must be voluntary.
The applications will be evaluated by a panel of judges representing industry, environmental organizations, trade associations, and government. Judges will evaluate pollution prevention projects that reduce the use, generation, or release of pollutants at the source; increase efficiency in the use of raw materials, energy, water, or another resource; protect natural resources using conservation techniques; and measure the project’s success, level of commitment, and leadership in pollution prevention.
Winners will receive a hand-cut New Hampshire granite trophy and public recognition in press releases and trade papers. Awards will be presented to the winners in the fall of 2008.
2007 Governor’s Award winner Herb Parkhurst commented, “I am honored to receive the Governor’s Award for Pollution Prevention on behalf of the Astro Division and New Hampshire Ball Bearings. It symbolizes our ongoing commitment to reducing our environmental footprint, an important civic and strategic objective shared by all of us at NHBB and our parent company, Minebea Co., Ltd.”
Learn “Green” Backyard Gardening Techniques
At EPA’s urban backyard at the 2008 Philadelphia Flower Show, you’ll learn the best techniques for having a beautiful, carefree garden that doesn’t need mowing, uses little water and fossil fuels, reduces the need for fertilizers and pesticides, and keeps garden waste out of landfills.
“We want to show people it’s possible to have a beautiful garden without a lot of fuss, and have it do good for the environment,” said Jeff Lapp, an EPA scientist who helped design and construct EPA’s exhibit.
No-mow sod, native plants, composting, using a rain barrel to capture rain, and using recycled materials such as old wrought-iron fencing are just some of the topics demonstrated in this year’s EPA exhibit.
One of the more intriguing methods for backyard gardeners this year is the no-mow sod. It’s an ornamental grass that has long slender blades which grow long and lay over. The sparkling green color remains beautiful year-round. It is fairly wear resistant and works best in areas that don’t get a lot of wear from foot traffic. In the Eastern United States, 30% of residential water consumption goes toward watering lawns. The no-mow sod requires less watering and less mowing—from once a month to once a year depending on landscape tastes.
EPA’s exhibit stresses the importance of minimizing air emissions from mowing and reducing the use of chemicals on lawns. Structura