$5 Million Penalty for Falsifying Wastewater Sample Data

April 16, 2007

Sinclair Tulsa Refining Company was fined $5 million and two company managers were sentenced on April 4 for environmental crimes related to the operation of the company’s Tulsa refinery. Sinclair and the two managers, John Kapura and Harmon Connell, admitted to knowingly manipulating the refinery processes, wastewater flows, and wastewater discharges for mandatory testing required by law. The manipulated samplings were intended to influence results reported to the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and the EPA. Under the Clean Water Act, industries must limit the amount of pollutants discharged into rivers, lakes, streams or other water bodies.

Sinclair was ordered to pay a $5 million criminal penalty, to make a community service payment of $500,000 to the Arkansas River Parks Authority and to be on probation for two years. Connell and Kapura were each sentenced to serve six months of home detention and three years of probation. In addition, Connell was ordered to pay a $160,000 fine and to serve 100 hours of community service; Kapura was ordered to pay an $80,000 fine and to serve 50 hours of community service.

EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and the Oklahoma Attorney General's Environmental Protection Unit investigated the case. The Department of Justice and the Northern District of Oklahoma United States Attorney’s Office prosecuted the case.

What Does “Weekly” Mean?


Environmental regulations require you to inspect, report, monitor, or keep records according to specified frequencies, such as daily, weekly, and annually. Does weekly mean once per week or every seven days. In many cases, the regulations don’t specify the difference. The Ohio EPA recently distributed guidance, which must be followed in Ohio, but would be worth considering in any state:

  • “Week” means seven consecutive days.
  • “Year” means twelve consecutive months.
  • “Daily” means an event that must occur every day, that is, once within a calendar day period following the previous calendar day period.
  • “Weekly” means an event that must occur once within a seven day period following the previous event. As an example, if you inspect the area where your hazardous waste containers are accumulated on Tuesday April 6, 2007 you must inspect the area again on or before the close of business on Tuesday April 13, 2007.
  • “Annual” or “annually” means an event that must occur in the same calendar month that it occurred in the previous year.
  • “Quarterly” means an event that occurs once every three months evenly spaced within a 12 consecutive month period (for groundwater monitoring the events should capture seasonal variations).
  • “Semi-annually” means an event that occurs once every six months evenly spaced within a 12 consecutive month period (for groundwater monitoring the events should capture seasonal variations).

For purposes of determining your generator status, you are required to count all hazardous waste generated during a specific calendar month. For example, the waste generated from the first day of the month until the last day of the month. (i.e. January 1 through January 31 or February 1 through February 28 or 29 if leap year).

$30,300 Penalty Proposed for Unpermitted Exhaust Hoods and Dust Collector


Deleware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Secretary John A. Hughes has issued a Notice of Administrative Penalty Assessment and Secretary’s Order to Dentsply International, L.D. Caulk Division, Milford, for violations of Delaware’s regulations governing the control of air pollution. The order includes a cash penalty of $30,300 and an additional $4,545 as cost recovery reimbursement to DNREC for expenses associated with its investigation.

At the time of the violations, Dentsply International owned and operated two lab exhaust hoods and two downdraft tables, also connected to exhaust systems, and a dust collector at its West Plant, in Milford, De. The firm has since discontinued use of one of the downdraft tables. The equipment is used in the manufacture of dental products and produces by-products including ethanol, ethyl ether, methanol, toluene, and particulate which are emitted to the atmosphere.

An inspection on Oct. 28, 2004 revealed that both the West Plant and Dentsply’s Lakeview Plant at 38 West Clarke Avenue in Milford, were operating equipment without required air permits and registrations. The department processed three new permits for the West Plant and two new registrations for the Lakeview Plant, all for existing equipment. The toluene draft tables had been operating without a permit since 1988.

The facility was found to be in violation of the Delaware Code and its regulations governing air pollution control by operating the two toluene draft tables, a methanol/ethyl ether hood, an ethanol hood and the dust collector without first obtaining required permits or registrations from the DNREC secretary and prior to receiving department approval of its applications. The company has 30 days to request a public hearing before the secretary’s order becomes binding.

EPA Fines The Clorox Company for Violating Federal Pesticide Laws


The EPA recently filed a complaint seeking $177,300 against The Clorox Company, an Oakland, Calif.-based manufacturer, for the alleged distribution of unregistered and mislabeled disinfectant bleach intended only for Asian export.

The EPA is seeking a penalty from The Clorox Company, for distributing export-only unregistered pesticides within the United States. In addition, the disinfectants contained Chinese and English labeling without adequate directions for use and lacked the required statement: “Not Registered for Use in the United States of America.”

“Companies must ensure that all pesticides meant solely for export do not enter into the U.S. market,” said Enrique Manzanilla, the EPA’s Community and Ecosystems Division director for the Pacific Southwest. “Selling or distributing unregistered, mislabeled pesticides is a serious violation that can result in harm to public health and the environment.”

Discrepancies identified in The Clorox Company’s 2005 pesticide production report led EPA enforcement officials to conduct a detailed investigation that uncovered 38 violations of federal pesticide law.

These unregistered pesticides must be clearly marked with the required labeling to prevent the products from inadvertently entering the U.S. market. These requirements protect public health and the environment by ensuring safe and effective handling, application, and disposal of pesticides, and by preventing false, misleading, or unverifiable product claims. The law also prohibits marketing of misbranded, improperly labeled, or adulterated pesticides.

Southeast Rebuild Collaborative to Fight Energy Waste


EPA Region 4 is proud to support Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina in uniting to create the Southeast Rebuild Collaborative (SRC), a partnership to promote energy efficiency among school districts, state and local governments, and colleges and universities in the member states. Through the project, these states will work as a region to collectively leverage federal programs and resources of the U.S. Department of Energy and EPA.

“There is a growing sense that savings through energy efficiency are missed because institutions are unaware of readily available support products and services in our states and federal programs such as ENERGY STAR,” said Michael Ohlsen, chair of the SRC Executive Committee. “This partnership will help building owners take advantage of resources that help save energy and money.”

The SRC is established through a grant from the State Technologies Advancement Collaborative (STAC) issued by the National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO). The grant enables states to provide best energy management practices, software, training, and technical support to institutions in the Southeast. Motivated to reduce energy waste, SRC states joined the ENERGY STAR Challenge and set a goal of improving energy efficiency by ten percent or more using the resources provided by the SRC partnership.

The SRC will make use of the tools and resources provided by this government-backed voluntary program to assist school districts, local governments, and other private and public sector organizations. The project’s goal is to reach out to 650 facilities per year throughout the life of the project.

For all participating states, the estimated benefits include a total annual energy savings of approximately $4.1 million. In total, the SRC plans to influence institutions owning approximately 49 million square feet of building space, thereby preventing the emissions of 483 million pounds of carbon dioxide annually.

The Florida Energy Office manages this multi-state effort with the support of The Cadmus Group, Inc. and other nationally recognized organizations such as the Florida Solar Energy Center and the Southface Energy Institute.

To learn more about the SRC and how you can get involved in the effort to save money and help protect the environment, visit the SRC Web site at www.southeastrebuild.org, or by calling 1-866-SRC-4999.

EPA and DOE Join to Reduce Foreign Oil Dependency, Greenhouse Gases



At a press conference, EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, joined by Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman and National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator Nicole Nason, discussed the RFS program, increasing the use of alternative fuels, and modernizing CAF standards for cars.

Authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the RFS program requires that the equivalent of at least 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel be blended into motor vehicle fuel sold in the U.S. by 2012. The program is estimated to cut petroleum use by up to 3.9 billion gallons and cut annual greenhouse gas emissions by up to 13.1 million metric tons by 2012 – the equivalent of preventing the emissions of 2.3 million cars. The RFS is an important first step toward meeting President Bush’s call on our nation to reduce gasoline use by 20-percent within 10 years by growing our renewable and alternative fuel use to 35 billion gallons by the year 2017.

The RFS program will promote the use of fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, which are largely produced from American crops. The program will create new markets for farm products, increase energy security, and promote the development of advanced technologies that will help make renewable fuel cost-competitive with conventional gasoline. In particular, the RFS program establishes special incentives for producing and using fuels produced from cellulosic biomass, such as switchgrass and woodchips.

The RFS program requires major American refiners, blenders, and importers to use a minimum volume of renewable fuel each year between 2007 and 2012. The minimum level or “standard” which is determined as a percentage of the total volume of fuel a company produces or imports, will increase every year. For 2007, 4.02% of all the fuel sold or dispensed to U.S. motorists will have to come from renewable sources, roughly 4.7 billion gallons.

The RFS program is based on a trading system that provides a flexible means for industry to comply with the annual standard by allowing renewable fuels to be used where they are most economical. Various renewable fuels can be used to meet the requirements of the program. While the RFS program establishes that a minimum amount of renewable fuel be used in the United States, more fuel can be used if producers and blenders choose to do so.

The RFS brings the nation closer to President Bush’s Twenty in Ten goal to reduce gasoline consumption 20% in ten years. To achieve this goal, the Bush Administration’s Alternative Fuel Standard (AFS) proposal builds on the RFS and requires use of 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017 - nearly five times the RFS target of 2012. The AFS proposal will displace 15% of projected annual gasoline use in 2017 through the use of fuels, including corn ethanol, cellulosic ethanol, biodiesel, methanol, butanol, hydrogen, and other alternative fuels. The Twenty in Ten plan also calls for reforming and modernizing CAF standards to increase the fuel economy of cars. This will reduce projected annual gasoline use by up to 8.5 billion gallons, a further 5% reduction that will bring the total reduction in projected annual gasoline use to 20%. President Bush has called on Congress to act on these proposals by the start of the summer driving season this year.

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) released a statement indicating that the new fuel rules will not add a single gallon of renewable ethanol or biodiesel beyond the industry's current forecasts. According to the NRDC, global warming pollution may actually go up, not down under the plan. The reason is that the administration’s legislative proposal defines liquid coal as an alternative fuel, and liquid coal leads to more CO2 pollution than gasoline.

First EPA Report on Environmental Impacts of Energy Use in Leading Manufacturing Sectors


The report concludes with a general overview of the barriers to energy efficiency and use of clean fuel technologies, and offers some possible policy options for government to help address these barriers.

These sectors account for about 85% of all U.S. industrial energy use. The report analyzes each sector’s current energy consumption trends and the associated environmental impacts, specifically emissions of air pollutants and carbon dioxide. Under a business-as-usual scenario, energy consumption across many of these sectors will increase by 20% from 2004 levels by 2020, and carbon dioxide emissions will increase by 14 percent. The 12 sectors analyzed are aluminum, cement, chemical manufacturing, food manufacturing, forest products, iron and steel, metal casting, metal finishing, motor vehicle manufacturing, motor vehicle parts manufacturing, petroleum refining, and shipbuilding.

The report shows how each sector could improve environmental performance by becoming more energy efficient or by using clean fuel technologies. :

  • Switching to cleaner fuels
  • Using combined heat and power
  • Retrofitting or replacing older equipment
  • Making process improvements
  • Investing in research and development

Based on the insights from this report, EPA will now work with the industry partners to explore the best ways to improve energy and environmental outcomes in each sector.

EPA Fines Holland Terminal for Violations at Bulk Terminal


EPA Region 5 has reached an agreement with Holland Terminal Inc. on alleged Clean Air Act violations at the company's bulk petroleum distribution terminal at 630 Ottawa Ave., Holland, Mich.

The agreement, which includes a $55,000 penalty, resolves EPA allegations that Holland Terminal violated Michigan's plan for implementing the Clean Air Act by, in part, failing to maintain and operate its air pollution control system in a satisfactory manner.

As part of the settlement, the company must increase the frequency of tank inspections from monthly to weekly in the non-winter months. EPA estimates this action, in addition to the fact that Holland Terminal replaced a number of its tank components, will result in a potential emission reduction of some 60 tons of volatile organic compounds per year. In addition, Holland Terminal revised its plan for addressing any malfunctions that could occur at the facility.

Volatile organic compounds contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog. Smog is formed when a mixture of air pollutants is heated in the sun. Smog can cause a variety of respiratory problems, including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain. People with asthma, children and the elderly are especially at risk, but these health concerns are important to everyone.

Hendrix and Dail Fined for Pesticide Violations


Hendrix and Dail has agreed to pay a $15,000 penalty to settle alleged violations of federal pesticide regulations that occurred at a nursery in Montgomery County, Pa., the EPA announced recently. Hendrix and Dail, a commercial pesticide applicator, is headquartered in Greenville, N.C.

EPA cited Hendrix and Dail for violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), a federal law requiring the registration of pesticide products and pesticide-production facilities, the proper labeling of pesticides, and the proper handling and application of pesticides. FIFRA's requirements protect public health and the environment by ensuring the safe production, handling, and application of pesticides; and by preventing false, misleading, or unverifiable product claims.

EPA alleged that Hendrix and Dail violated five FIFRA worker protection standards (including pesticide label requirements) concerning the application and use of a restricted use pesticide MBC-33 at a nursery in Montgomery County, Pa., in June 2003. The violations include failure to post warning signs; failure to ensure the nursery was aware of necessary safety information related to the pesticide; allowing improperly trained and equipped handlers to assist with the application process (nursery employees shoveled dirt onto the edge of the tarpaulin used in the application); and two counts related to the tarpaulin being removed without the direct supervision of a certified applicator.

As part of the settlement, the company neither admitted nor denied liability for the alleged violations. The company has certified to EPA that it currently is complying with applicable provisions of FIFRA and the applicable pesticide label requirements with respect to each pesticide application it is performing in the United States. All inquiries to Hendrix & Dail should be made to Dennis Nino, Esq., General Counsel, at (408) 398-4352.

EPA Decides to Not Regulate 11 Drinking Water Contaminants


The EPA has made a preliminary determination not to regulate 11 contaminants on the second drinking water contaminant candidate list (). The agency's "preliminary regulatory determination," based on an extensive review of health effects and occurrence data, concludes that the specific contaminants do not occur at levels of public health concern in public water systems.

Two other contaminants – perchlorate and MTBE – require additional investigation to ascertain total human exposure and health risks. For those contaminants, EPA is providing a summary of current health, occurrence, and exposure information. The agency is seeking comment and additional information to help EPA's evaluations.

A regulatory determination is a formal decision on whether EPA should develop a national primary drinking water regulation for a specific contaminant. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires that EPA issue a CCL every five years for at least five contaminants from the most recent CCL. In 2005, the agency published the second CCL of 51 contaminants.

The 11 contaminants include naturally occurring substances, pesticides, herbicides, and chemicals used (or once used) in manufacturing. EPA monitored eight of the contaminants during the first round of the unregulated contaminant monitoring program and the remaining three during previous occurrence surveys. While none of the contaminants were found nationally at levels of public health concern, EPA is recommending that health advisories for seven of the contaminants be updated to provide local officials with current health information for situations where the contaminants may occur.

EPA will take comments for 60 days following publication of a notice in the Federal Register.

The 11 contaminants:

  • Boron - a naturally occurring metal-like element used in industrial production
  • Dacthal mono- and
  • Di-acid degradates – herbicides that should not be directly applied or discharged to surface waters
  • 1,1-dichloro-2,2-bis(p-chlorophenyl) ethylene (DDE) – a degradate of the pesticide DDT, which was banned in 1973
  • 1,3-dichloropropene (Telone) – a soil fumigant used to control nematodes which has labeling requirements to protect sources of drinking water
  • 2,4-dinitrotoluene, and
  • 2,6-dinitrotoluene – chemicals found in ammunition, explosives, dyes, polyurethane foams, and automobile air bags
  • s-ethyl propyl thiocarbamate (EPTC) – an herbicide used on various food crops
  • Fonofos – a soil insecticide which was discontinued by the manufacturer in 1999
  • Terbacil – an herbicide used to control broadleaf weeds
  • 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane – a volatile organic chemical once used for a variety of industrial uses

Senator Boxer introduced two bills on perchlorate on the first day of Congress, both cosponsored by Senators Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ). The first bill (S. 24) would assure that tap water is tested for this toxin, and that the public is told if it is found in their water. The second bill (S. 150) would order EPA to quickly establish a drinking water standard that protects pregnant women, children, and other vulnerable people from perchlorate.

MTBE is a gasoline additive that moves quickly in the environment and has caused widespread contamination of drinking water wells across the country. EPA said in 1997 that MTBE is a potential carcinogen, but has not yet set a tap water standard for the chemical.

EPA Provides Equal Treatment for Ethanol Production Plants


Ethanol, a clean-burning renewable fuel, can be used to meet the requirements of the Renewable Fuels Standard Program, which is designed to reduce dependence on foreign oil by doubling the use of vehicle fuels from American crops by 2012.

Ethanol is produced at corn milling facilities for use as fuel, in industrial processes, or for human consumption. While the processes are similar, these facilities have historically been treated differently under Clean Air Act permitting programs.


This final rule establishes the same emissions thresholds for new facilities that produce ethanol using a feedstock such as corn or sugar beets, regardless of the product produced – 250 tons per year for the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) permitting program. The thresholds for the nonattainment NSR and Title V programs will remain at current levels.

The final rule also no longer will require facilities producing ethanol for fuel or industrial purposes to count emissions of criteria pollutants that do not come from process stacks or vents when determining if they meet or exceed the emissions thresholds for the Clean Air Act operating permits, nonattainment NSR, or PSD programs.

EPA Cites EMCO Chemical for Hazardous Waste Violations; Proposes $349,015 Penalty


A $349,015 penalty is proposed.

Following an EPA inspection at the EMCO facility, the company was cited for violating Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) requirements for managing hazardous waste. EMCO failed to have permits for hazardous waste storage and ensure that hazardous waste containers were properly labeled.

EPA has ordered EMCO to cease storing hazardous waste at its facility unless it fully complies with RCRA requirements, and to submit a closure plan with a cost estimate and assurance of financial responsibility for closure. EMCO has 90 days to make the changes and may request a hearing or settlement conference.

Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, EPA controls hazardous waste from its production to final disposal.

Supreme Court Ruling Validates EPA New Source Review Regulations


The justices ruled that the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., overstepped its authority by invalidating EPA regulations, interpreting them in a way that favored Duke Energy. New Source Review regulations require stationary sources of air pollution to get permits before they start construction.

California Department of Toxic Substances Control Reaches $495,000 Settlement with Defense Industry Manufacturer


The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced a $495,000 settlement with the Joslyn Sunbank Company LLC of Paso Robles, a military and aerospace conduits and thermoplastics manufacturer. In its manufacturing process, the company routinely generates and treats large quantities of hazardous wastes, including corrosive plating solutions, rinse waters, and sludges, which contain cyanide, chromium, cadmium, copper, and nickel.

In 2005, DTSC found a number of violations of the state’s Hazardous Waste Control Law at the facility, violations that could have significant health and environmental risks. In one of the most serious violations, DTSC inspectors observed large quantities of cyanide crystals in the floor grates in the plating area adjacent to an acid tank where acid rinse waters drip off parts. The combination of cyanide crystals and acid can produce cyanide gas. DTSC inspectors also found severe corrosion in several areas of a steel platform that holds a cyanide waste treatment tank unit. A collapse of the platform could have resulted in a tank failure, which could have caused a spill of a large quantity of cyanide waste.

“Compliance with the Hazardous Waste Control Law is critical to safeguard the environment and prevent health risks to workers and neighboring communities,” said DTSC Director Maureen Gorsen. “This settlement represents another step in the department’s ongoing effort to ensure safety and compliance with the state’s hazardous waste management laws.”

The San Luis Obispo County Superior Court entered a final judgment and permanent injunction pursuant to stipulation against Joslyn Sunbank on behalf of DTSC on March 28. Joslyn Sunbank has paid a total of $485,000 in penalties and $10,000 to the Western States Project. 

Fertilizer Distributor Fined $30,000 for Violating Hazardous Waste Rules


Mismanaging hazardous wastes and draining sludge and wastewater to the ground have resulted in a $30,000 fine for the operators of a large fertilizer warehouse that closed recently in Pasco, Wash. Some of the wastes may have contained chemicals at toxic concentrations.

The Department of Ecology (Ecology) issued the penalty to United Agri Products (UAP), which formerly operated on North Oregon Avenue in Pasco.

UAP was in the process of closing its facility and cleaning out its storage tanks in the summer of 2006 when thousands of gallons of waste that contained fertilizer ingredients drained from the tanks to an overflowing cement containment structure.

Approximately 30,000 gallons of the contaminated wastewater and sludge were spilled to the surrounding ground or allowed to evaporate to the air over the fourth of July weekend. The tanks continued to leak for several days.

The tanks held fertilizer products such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and sulfur, and also contained about 300 gallons of phosphoric acid, a caustic chemical. At least five of the tanks contained the toxic metals arsenic, selenium, and cadmium.

"The contents of the tanks should have been properly identified so that we know what we're dealing with when disposal takes place," said Lisa Brown, who manages Ecology's hazardous waste program in the eastern tier of counties. "So, not only did we have spill-over onto soil, but the wastes weren't properly tested to determine how toxic they were."

When hazardous materials are released to the soil, the potential exists for the materials to contaminate groundwater. In this case, nearby homes do not use drinking water wells that could have been vulnerable.

After Ecology discovered the incident, UAP excavated the top layer of the soil and transported the waste to an appropriate disposal facility.

MassDEP Investigation into Hazardous Waste Dumping in Lawrence Results in $25,000 Penalty


An investigation by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) regarding the dumping of multiple containers of hazardous waste curbside on Franklin Street in Lawrence resulted in a $25,000 penalty assessed against Pacific VII Realty Trust and trustee David C. Tombarelli.

On May 11, 2006 the MassDEP Strike Force responded to a request from Lawrence officials concerning the discovery of illegal dumping of illegally disposed hazardous waste at 16 Franklin Street. Sixteen plastic buckets of regulated hazardous waste, including kerosene, waste oil and lube oil were found covered in plastic bags and placed on the sidewalk for trash pickup.

After the investigation, Tombarelli, who owns a commercial property nearby at 6 Franklin Street, was notified of MassDEP's intention to initiate enforcement action against him for violating the Massachusetts Hazardous Waste Management Act. Tombarelli subsequently agreed, in signing an Administrative Consent Order, to pay a penalty, hire a professional environmental cleanup consultant, and pay the response costs incurred by MassDEP during the removal of those hazardous materials.

"Curbside disposal of regulated hazardous waste is illegal and irresponsible. It poses a significant threat to anyone who comes into contact with the hazardous waste during handling and removal, and if not detected it ends up at a facility not intended to receive or treat such waste. In addition, spills that arise from illegal disposal can adversely impact the environment," said Pamela Talbot of the Environmental Strike Force. "A scofflaw may think he is saving money by including this type of waste with regular trash pick-up, but the price is steep when caught."

MassDEP has agreed to suspend $10,000 of the penalty pending compliance with all terms of the order for a period of one year.

Chemical Solvents Inc. to Pay Penalty for Air Permit Violations


Chemical Solvents Inc. will pay a $17,500 penalty under a settlement with Ohio EPA for violating Ohio's air pollution permitting and reporting requirements.

The company, located in Cleveland, Ohio, was cited with late and incomplete reporting of permit and compliance information. Ohio EPA relies on timely and complete reports to ensure facilities are operating in compliance with their permits.

The violations were documented in 2004 by an inspector with the Cleveland Division of Air Quality, Ohio EPA's contractual representative for air pollution issues in Cuyahoga County. Chemical Solvents corrected the violations and has since operated in compliance with its permit.

Chemical Solvents manufactures special chemical products and also recycles and disposes of off-site chemicals. The facility's permitted air emissions sources include a vapor recovery system, loading racks, dip tank, and wheel strippers.

The civil penalty includes $14,000 to administer Ohio EPA's air pollution control programs and $3,500 to support Ohio EPA's clean diesel school bus program.

Texas TCEQ Approves Fines Totaling $454,250


The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) approved penalties totaling $454,250 against 71 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations.

Agreed orders were issued for the following enforcement categories: nine air quality, 21 dry cleaner, one Edwards Aquifer, six field citations, three industrial hazardous waste, one licensed irrigator, four multi-media, four municipal waste discharge, one on-site sewage facility installer, nine petroleum storage tank, seven public water system, and two water quality. In addition, there were default orders as follows: one dry cleaner and two public water system.

Included in the total fine figure is a penalty of $157,959 against Texas Petrochemicals LP in Houston. The fines are the result of violations from investigations conducted between August 2004 and April 2006. The 14 violations covered in the agreed order consist of a wide variety of air quality violations including unauthorized emissions, failure to install equipment, failure to rapidly repair leaking components, authorization, and notification failures.

Electroplater Pleads Guilty to Violating the Clean Water Act


Greg Street Plating Inc.—an electroplating, metal plating, and finishing company based in Sparks, Nev.—pleaded guilty to a one-count indictment charging the company with discharging highly acidic waste into the sewer system that leads to the Truckee Meadows Sewage treatment facility, in violation of the Clean Water Act. The company, which is no longer operating, also was sentenced to pay a $30,000 penalty for its criminal violation.

According to the plea, late Saturday night April 12, 2003, or early Sunday morning April 13, 2003, an unknown employee of Greg Street Plating dumped highly acidic waste into the sewer system. The acid discharge reached the sewage treatment plant, setting off warning alarms. The operators of the treatment plant acted quickly and efficiently to isolate and neutralize the acid waste, thereby avoiding the possibility of substantial damage to the facility. The source of the discharge was initially identified as Greg Street Plating by investigators from the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility and the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection (NDEP).

As part of the metal plating process, Greg Street generated hundreds of gallons of rinse wastewater each week, contaminated with heavy metals and having a pH of less than 5.0. The wastewater from Greg Street was supposed to be treated in a closed loop evaporation system, and none of the wastewater from the plating process was permitted to be discharged into the sewer system. Greg Street only had a permit to discharge domestic sewage into the sewer system.

In addition to the rinse water, Greg Street generated spent acid solutions and spent plating solutions, both hazardous wastes with a pH less than 5.0. Greg Street was unable to process all of these spent solutions in its closed loop wastewater treatment system and stored the waste in 55-gallon drums at the facility. Investigators from the Truckee Meadows Reclamation Facility and NDEP determined that the low pH waste stored in the drums was illegally discharged into the sewer. The EPA’s National Pretreatment Standards include a prohibition against sending any wastewater with a pH lower than 5.0 to any state- or municipality-owned treatment works unless specific accommodations are made.

This case was investigated by the Criminal Investigation Division of the EPA out of the San Francisco office. The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada, Reno Division and the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Delaware's Jurisdiction Affirmed in BP LNG Case; Special Master Upholds Coastal Zone Decision


A Special Master to the U.S. Supreme Court recommends that the Court affirm Delaware’s jurisdiction over its lands extending across the Delaware River to the New Jersey low water mark. The recommendation, issued April 12, effectively blocks construction of a proposed liquefied natural gas pier proposed by BP that would extend into Delaware’s Coastal Zone.

“This is great news for Delaware,” Gov. Ruth Ann Minner said. “This is also a good time for Delaware and New Jersey to reaffirm our common goals for protection of one of Delaware’s most precious environmental resources – the Delaware River.”

The recommendation from the Special Master in State of New Jersey v. State of Delaware is a major milestone in Delaware’s protection of its Coastal Zone.

“I applaud this recommendation,” said John A. Hughes, secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. “I expected the delineation of the boundaries and jurisdiction over them to be supported, but in my mind, the essential point is that our Coastal Zone Act has not been weakened.”

The case before the U.S. Supreme Court originated with a ruling by Secretary Hughes on February 3, 2005 that the proposed LNG off-loading pier proposed for the Delaware River is prohibited by Delaware’s Coastal Zone Act. The decision was in response to the Dec. 7, 2004 application of Crown Landing LLC to ascertain if a new pier facility to transfer liquefied natural gas from ships in the Delaware River to storage in New Jersey is allowable under the Coastal Zone Act.

Delaware’s Coastal Zone Act excludes new heavy industries and bulk transfer facilities from Delaware’s Coastal Zone. While BP’s proposed facility is in New Jersey, the pier necessary for off-loading of ships would extend into the Delaware River and over Delaware-owned public subaqueous lands.

On July 28, 2005, the State of New Jersey filed a motion in the U.S. Supreme Court, asking the Court to settle the long standing boundary dispute held by New Jersey.

The case progressed to an appointment of a Special Master and issuance of recommendations in a report announced. 

PHSMA is Moving

The DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, formerly the Research and Special Programs Administration is moving. On April 23, 2007, PHSMA will relocate to the new USDOT headquarters at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE (East Bldg.), Washington, DC 20003. PHSMA promulgates and enforces DOT hazardous materials regulations.


Massachusetts Joins Northeast States To Develop Plan Aimed at Lowering Mercury Levels in Freshwater Fish


A draft plan for reducing mercury in the waters of New England and New York State to eliminate fish consumption advisories throughout the region was released for public review and comment. It is the first regional mercury reduction plan proposed in the United States.

 This unprecedented multi-state action underscores the determination of the states to resolve the problem and to address the main cause – mercury deposited in the Northeast from sources outside the region. It calls on the federal government to do more to reduce mercury emissions that impact water bodies here.

The draft mercury plan acknowledges the success of the Northeast states – including Massachusetts – in achieving reductions in almost all in-state sources of mercury. Nearly a decade of work has resulted in regional reductions of greater than 70% in mercury emissions and discharges. But in-state progress has not been enough to eliminate fish advisories. The majority of mercury in the states' waters comes from out-of-state sources such as coal-fired power plants that bring mercury to the region's waters through atmospheric deposition.

"The Massachusetts Zero Mercury Strategy and our coordination with the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers mercury action plan continues to reap benefits for our citizens' health and our environment," said Ian Bowles, secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. "These comprehensive efforts have reduced mercury emissions by over 70% in Massachusetts since 1998. But more needs to be done outside our region to stop mercury from contaminating our waters."

Massachusetts is one of 15 states challenging a decision by the federal EPA to rescind an earlier ruling that mercury should be regulated as a hazardous air pollutant. The states are challenging the cap-and-trade Clean Air Mercury Rule, seeking to require EPA to issue a rule with a unit emission limit.

"Over the past 10 years, Massachusetts has been successful in reducing mercury emissions through innovative efforts addressing waste incinerators, coal combustion at power plants, mercury products, and the handling of dental amalgam waste," MassDEP Acting Commissioner Arleen O'Donnell said. "These tighter controls on mercury pollution have contributed to a significant decline in mercury levels in freshwater fish. Now, with this regional effort, we expect further reductions and the eventual elimination of many fish consumption advisories."

In the Northeast, elevated levels of mercury in certain fish species has resulted in fish consumption advisories on more than 10,000 lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, and over 46,000 river miles in the region. Reducing the mercury in these water bodies is not only desired by the states, it is required by law. The Clean Water Act mandates that states develop total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for polluted waters. A TMDL is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a water body can receive and still meet its water quality standards.

The TMDL draft stipulates that a reduction of between 86 and 98% from the 1998 baseline deposition data of mercury arriving in the region from out-of-state sources must be achieved to make many of our freshwater fish safe to eat again.

Massachusetts and the participating states believe that this issue deserves to be a national priority, and in turn, seeks federal assistance to address it. The ultimate goal of the Northeast Regional Mercury TMDL is to create a starting place for national initiatives to be developed and implemented so that fish consumption advisories are no longer necessary.

Massachusetts has been successful in significantly reducing in-state mercury emissions by implementing the following initiatives:

  • Massachusetts has the most stringent regulations on mercury emissions from trash incinerators in the country, and requires incinerators to divert mercury-containing products from the trash. These regulations have reduced mercury emissions from these facilities by more than 90 percent and have led to the collection and recycling of thousands of pounds of mercury from homes, businesses, and municipalities.
  • Massachusetts' multi-pollutant regulation for power plants requires 85 percent control of mercury from combusted coal by 2008 and 95 percent control by 2012.
  • Mercury emissions from medical waste incinerators have been eliminated, as all facilities in Massachusetts have ceased operation in large part due to the state's commitment to stringent mercury emissions limits.
  • The Dental Pollution Prevention Initiative requires dental offices to install amalgam separators to capture and recycle the mercury contained in old fillings. Since the implementation of the program, mercury levels in wastewater treatment sludge have dropped by about 50 percent.
  • In 2006, the commonwealth began to implement the Mercury Reduction Bill, which will reduce mercury in trash. The law requires manufacturers to label mercury-added products; prohibits many products containing mercury from being sold in the state when effective non-mercury options exist, such as thermometers; and requires collection and recycling of products that continue to be sold.

Massachusetts will seek comments from the public during two meetings on the proposed mercury TMDL. The meetings will be held: Monday, April 30, from 3-5 p.m., at MassDEP's Central Regional Office, 627 Main St., Worcester; and Tuesday, May 1, from 3-5 p.m., at MassDEP's Main Office, 1 Winter St., Boston.

MassDEP is accepting comments on the proposed mercury TMDL until 4:30 p.m. on May 25. Written comments should be submitted to: Dennis R. Dunn, Program Supervisor, MassDEP, Watershed Planning Program, 627 Main St., 2nd Floor, Worcester, MA 01608. Comments may also be e-mailed to:


New York City's Tap Water Receives Fresh Seal of Approval


EPA proposed on April 12, an ambitious new plan to safeguard New York City’s drinking water. The proposal allows the city to avoid spending billions of dollars on a water filtration system and will instead safeguard the supply via cost-effective watershed protection measures.

“New Yorkers can breathe a sigh of relief today,” said Eric A. Goldstein, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s New York Urban Program. “City, state and federal officials have agreed to take a common sense approach to keeping our water clean.”

A key element of the plan is a ten-year strategy that would set aside $300 million of city funds for the purchase, from willing sellers, of vulnerable lands surrounding city reservoirs. The plan also calls for a new partnership between the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the state’s non-profit land trusts, which will be called upon to assist the DEP and upstate residents in the land acquisition program over the next decade.

These watershed protection measures are much less expensive as compared to the alternative of creating a water filtration system, which would have totaled approximately $6 to $10 billion in capital costs alone. And filtration also could have led to water rate increases of 50%, according to city figures.

“Governor Spitzer, Attorney General Cuomo and City Council Speaker Quinn played critical roles in helping to convince the city and the EPA that continuing a robust, ten-year land acquisition program was smart choice both economically and environmentally,” Goldstein said. “This plan is a simple and cost effective way to keep drinking water safe and healthy for New Yorkers today and their grandchildren tomorrow.”

New York City receives 90% of its drinking water from six huge reservoirs west of the Hudson in the Catskill Mountains, as far as 125 miles from Manhattan. The city is one of only five in the United States that has not been required to filter its drinking water supply. In this action, EPA proposed to continue this waiver from the federal filtration requirement for another ten years, recognizing the historically high quality of water from the city’s rural watershed and the new commitments the city is making to watershed protection.

“Why spend time and money cleaning up pollution that you don’t even have to create?” said Goldstein. “New York City’s water remains clean today. And if this new plan is effectively implemented over the next decade, we can keep it that way for decades to come.”

Enforcement a Top Priority for Maryland’s Department of the Environment


Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Secretary Shari T. Wilson announced on April 6 that the agency will review all ongoing enforcement actions to ensure proper procedures are being followed in a timely manner. This latest action is the result of a citizen complaint about enforcement of wetland laws on the Eastern Shore.

“Enforcement is the core of MDE’s mission. In the next 30 days we will review all open complaints and notices of violation and follow up to ensure appropriate actions are being taken in a timely manner,” said MDE Secretary Shari T. Wilson. “While considering MDE’s budget restraints and other issues, we will give priority to enforcement activities where violations are likely to have the greatest public health and environmental impact and then communicate our enforcement activities more clearly.”

This action is being taken in addition to the agency’s comprehensive review of the department’s fiscal structure, which involves looking at revenue sources and staff resource allocation and needs, including enforcement. MDE will assess its priorities according to the current greatest public health and environmental needs, then realign resources accordingly. MDE is studying variables like federal funding levels and dedicated revenue sources to match them to the highest priority needs.

“We must ensure that we are prioritizing our resources to enforce laws to protect public health and the environment,” said Secretary Wilson.

“We are indebted to our 132 inspectors on the front lines in addressing these environmental problems each day,” said Secretary Wilson. “I encourage citizens to contact MDE if they see any suspected pollution problems by calling 1-866-MDE-GO-TO (1-866-633-4686) anytime day or night. Citizens have their finger on the pulse of their communities and play an important role in helping to protect Maryland’s air, water, and land resources.”

South Carolina to Help You Exchange Your Gas Powered Lawn Mower for Electric Mower


A partnership program to exchange gasoline-powered lawn mowers for electric-powered mowers on April 21 in Columbia was announced by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

“This program will allow citizens to get involved in cleaning our air by trading in their gasoline-powered lawn mower for a certificate good for the purchase of a Neuton electric lawn mower,” said Myra Reece, chief of DHEC’s Bureau of Air Quality. “By offering this lawn mower exchange, we invite residents in Richland and Lexington counties to recognize and reduce their contribution to air pollution. It is especially appropriate this program is taking place in conjunction with Earth Day observances on April 22.”

Reece said lawn mowers, string trimmers and other gasoline-powered lawn care equipment are the nation’s leading source of off-road air pollution. Gasoline-powered lawn mowers contribute to ground level ozone and particulate matter pollution in much the same way as cars and trucks.

“The gasoline-powered mowers being sold today are 90% cleaner than those sold 10 years ago,” Reece said. “However, because they burn gasoline for power, they still contribute to ground level ozone, particulate matter, and carbon dioxide pollution levels in our atmosphere. At DHEC, we use a Neuton mower to cut an area of the grass in front of this building during the ground-level ozone season.”

Reece said the partnership includes Richland and Lexington counties along with DHEC and Neuton Power Equipment. The program, to be held April 21 at the S.C. State Museum on Gervais Street in Columbia between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., will allow citizens to trade in their working gasoline-powered lawn mower for a certificate to be used toward the purchase of a Neuton electric lawn mower.

“This project is an example of local solutions to local problems as these two county governments, along with state assistance are proving that we can improve our local air quality,” Reece said. “This event could not have happened without the commitment, hard work, and creativity of our partners including Keep the Midlands Beautiful, Lexington and Richland Counties and Neuton Power Equipment. We at DHEC are grateful for their participation.”


Trivia Question of the Week

For each 10 degrees that you set back your water heater, you can save about how much on your energy bill?

a. 1 – 2%
b. 3 – 5%
c. 10 – 20%
d. 30 – 50%


The winners of last weeks trivia question contest are “emilykubala” and “flyfisherman_78.” If that’s you, please contact Connie Broich at 919-469-1585 for the free Hazmat Hat of your choice.