$650,000 Penalty for Discharging Hazardous Waste to Wastewater

March 05, 2007

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced that Exxon Mobil Corporation will pay $650,000 to settle the department’s allegations that the refinery discharged wastewater considered hazardous waste by virtue of its selenium concentration, from its facility in Torrance to the Los Angeles County Sanitation District for at least five years. Exxon Mobil has also agreed to operate selenium removal equipment or otherwise ensure that the effluent stream at the refinery is below the state hazardous waste limit of 1.0 Mg per liter for soluble selenium. In accordance with the consent order, Exxon Mobil has submitted a report to confirm the company has reduced the selenium levels to safe standards.

“All facilities need to comply with hazardous waste laws to safeguard the environment and prevent possible health risks and exposure,” said DTSC Director Maureen Gorsen. “The early acknowledgement by Exxon Mobil has resulted in the refinery coming into compliance.”

$40,000 Penalty for Failure to Implement Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan


Bay State Galvanizing, Inc., of Everett, Mass., will pay a penalty of $40,000 to settle EPA claims that the metal finisher violated the terms of its permit to discharge storm water under the Clean Water Act.

“It is important that all facilities understand and comply with requirements that are designed to protect both people’s health and our shared environment,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England regional office.

Bay State conducts metal finishing operations in an industrial section of Everett. Storm water from Bay State’s operations discharges through two storm drains to the City of Everett’s location on Spring Street which then discharges to the Island End River, and then ultimately into the Mystic River. EPA inspectors discovered that Bay State has failed to implement its storm water pollution prevention plan, which is required under the Storm Water Multi-Sector General Permit for Industrial Activities, which outlines the facility’s responsibilities for storm water management. Implementation of the storm water pollution prevention plan should reduce the pollutants in storm water discharges from the facility.

Last August, EPA issued an administrative order requiring Bay State to update and implement its storm water pollution prevention plan, utilizing best management practices and complying with inspection, sampling and training requirements. 

Under terms of the settlement, Bay State will pay a combined fine for both violations of $40,000.

Denver Plan Will Reduce Smog Ahead of Schedule


Denver is ahead of schedule in the effort to reduce ground-level ozone, or smog. 

As part of EPA's voluntary Early Action Compacts program, Denver committed to meeting EPA's more stringent 8-hour ozone standard by Dec. 31, 2007, earlier than required by the Clean Air Act.

Early Action Compacts provide a strong incentive for state and local governments, civic leaders and business interests to develop innovative, cost-effective strategies for improving ozone air quality in ways that are tailored to individual communities.

This is the third deferral for Denver. If they meet the 8-hour standard by Dec. 31, 2007, EPA will designate them as in attainment.

EPA and Doe Run Reach Agreement about Lead Handling and Trucking Practices in Southeast Missouri


The Doe Run Resources Corp. of St. Louis has agreed to implement specific work practices that will reduce the release of lead onto public roads.

The work practices, according to an agreement with the EPA, will apply to trucks that transport lead ore and concentrate from Doe Run facilities in southeast Missouri.

Exposure of young children to lead can cause irreversible brain and central nervous system damage, causing impaired growth development, lower IQ levels, and behavioral problems.

“The dangers of lead exposure to young children are well-known,” said Regional Administrator John Askew. “This agreement will help protect children who live along roads to the Herculaneum smelter and the port near Cape Girardeau. EPA looks forward to working with Doe Run as the company takes these new steps and others in the future to provide greater protection for Missouri children.”

Doe Run produces lead and other metals from the New Mine Belt or the Viburnum Trend in southeast Missouri. Production began there in the mid-1960s and continues today. The company operates a smelter, mines, mills and concentrators in this area.

Ore from the mines is crushed, milled, and processed to form lead and other metal concentrates. Lead concentrate is trucked over public roads to the Herculaneum smelter for processing, or it is trucked to the Southeast Missouri Regional Port Authority near Cape Girardeau for shipment overseas.

The facility is being required to:

  • Install truck wash stations at each of its facilities.
  • Clean streets or roads leading from the facilities.
  • Ensure that lead-bearing materials are not leaking or spilling from trucks during transportation.
  • Use dedicated vehicles for transportation of lead-bearing materials.
  • Develop spill response planning.
  • Comply with monitoring, sampling, and reporting requirements.

EPA will enforce and monitor Doe Run in its efforts to comply with the order.

New Compliance Incentive Program for Colleges and Universities


EPA has launched a College and University Compliance Incentive Initiative to encourage colleges and universities in the Southeast to conduct voluntary environmental self-audits. The program’s audit policy provides incentives for regulated entities that voluntarily discover, promptly disclose, and expeditiously correct non-compliance. Disclosures meeting the necessary conditions of the policy may receive a partial or complete reduction in financial penalties.

Higher education institutions are as much a part of EPA’s regulated community as business, industry, and government facilities and must comply with federal and state environmental laws. If not, they are subject to enforcement penalties. Among the potential environmental problems at colleges and universities are improper handling, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste; laboratories and chemical storage; air quality problems; storm water runoff and wastewater discharge; inadequate monitoring of underground storage tanks; sewage treatment facilities that are not operating properly; and improper removal of lead-based paint and asbestos.

To assist colleges and universities in complying with environmental laws and regulations, EPA, in partnership with state environmental agencies, conducted seven compliance assistance workshops for colleges and universities. The workshops were held throughout the Southeast to provide an opportunity for all colleges and universities to participate and gain valuable information on the environmental expectations of their facilities. Compliance assistance efforts for colleges and universities began in 2002 and ended with a final workshop held in Atlanta on Sept. 20-21, 2006.

EPA Files Complaint against CEMEX


The EPA, through the Department of Justice, filed a complaint Monday in federal district court against CEMEX California Cement LLC alleging that the company violated federal air regulations at its Victorville, Calif., plant.

"The EPA seeks through this complaint to have the company install proper air pollution controls that could reduce nitrogen oxide emissions," said Deborah Jordan, director of the EPA's Air Division in its Pacific Southwest Office in San Francisco. “We believe that this will help improve air quality and protect public health in nearby communities.”

In addition to obtaining proper permits and installing new controls, CEMEX California Cement LLC faces penalties of up to $32,500 per day per violation.

Nitrogen oxide is a harmful air pollutant that causes smog and respiratory problems in children and the elderly. The Victorville area fails to meet federal air quality standards for both ozone and particulate matter.

$9,500 Penalty for Storm Water Violations


As part of the EPA ongoing effort to protect Alaska waters, EPA has reached a $9,500 settlement with Discovery Construction, Inc. (Discovery) for alleged violations of EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System () General Permit for Construction Storm Water Discharges (Construction General Permit).

The violations occurred at the Chugach Meadows III construction site, located on Meadow Street in Anchorage, Alaska. The violations include the failure to install best management practices to prevent storm water pollution and the failure to remove off-site accumulations of sediment.

EPA has taken three previous enforcement actions against Discovery.

“EPA takes repeat violators very seriously,” said Kim Ogle, manager of EPA’s NPDES Compliance Unit in Seattle. “We hope that Discovery reviews some of its best management practices and makes a concerted effort to educate their operators about storm water controls.”

Under the Clean Water Act, point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States must obtain NPDES permits.

EPA Announces New Human Health Research Web Site


The program's science looks at such questions as why some people are more sensitive to pollution and how exposure to chemicals affects people's health. The site is designed for the general public as well as for the scientific community.

"The best decisions are informed decisions," said George Gray, assistant administrator for the Office of Research and Development. "The site provides easy access to research and results on methods, tools, and data needed to improve risk assessments to protect the public."

Visitors to the site will find an overview of the research, information on how research has contributed to decision making, resource materials available in journal publications and reports, and a listing of meetings and conferences.

EPA Actions Will Assure Air Permitting Programs Run Consistently and Smoothly


EPA is revising parts of its permitting process for certain new or modified industrial facilities in areas that do not meet EPA's health-based national air quality standards for ground-level ozone and fine particle pollution. The agency is taking two actions to ensure nationwide consistency as states implement the new source review () air permitting program.

In the first action, EPA is updating a section of its NSR regulations known as "Appendix S". Appendix S contains requirements states must rely upon to implement NSR in areas where the agency has not yet approved a state plan to implement the program. Appendix S will remain in place until EPA approves a state's implementation plan. This action will ensure national consistency with 2002 NSR reform rules for permitting new or modified industrial facilities in areas working to attain and maintain national air quality standards.

In the second action, EPA is seeking comment on two options for improving recordkeeping and reporting requirements for sources that make modifications that do not trigger NSR. EPA seeks input on whether a source should use its projected actual emissions increases or potential emissions increases as the basis for determining whether recordkeeping and reporting are required. EPA will accept comment on this rule for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

EPA and Other Agencies Issue National Drug Disposal Guidelines


The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Dept. of Health and Human Services, and EPA jointly issued guidelines on Feb. 20 for the proper disposal of prescription drugs. The guidelines address both environmental concerns and the diversion of prescription drugs (used by other than the person for whom they were prescribed) and include four points on how to dispose of unwanted medications: throw unused medicines in trash; mix them with an undesirable substance such as coffee grounds or kitty litter; don't flush unless label specifically says to do so; and use community return programs and household hazardous waste collections that accept pharmaceuticals where they exist.

Oil, Gas Industry Agrees to Work with EPA in Solving Environmental Problems


Through this program, EPA works with the diverse parties to improve the environmental impact of the major manufacturing and service sectors of the U.S. economy.

EPA’s primary contacts in the industry will be the American Petroleum Institute (API), the Domestic Petroleum Council (DPC), and the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA). Collectively, these organizations represent the full spectrum of oil and gas operations – from exploration and production to refining and distribution.

The U.S. is the world's third-largest petroleum producer, with more than 500,000 producing wells and approximately 4,000 oil and natural gas platforms operating in U.S. waters. The nation's 144 refineries process more than 17 million barrels of crude oil every day. Together, oil and gas supply 65 percent of U.S. energy.

Currently, more than 20 national trade associations – representing 12 major divisions of the U.S. economy – are working with the agency to improve their environmental performance with the least administrative burden. The participating sectors represent more than 780,000 facilities.

The 12 other participating sectors include agribusiness, cement manufacturing, specialty-batch chemical manufacturing, colleges and universities, construction, forest products, iron and steel manufacturing, metal casting, metal finishing, paint and coatings, ports, and shipbuilding and ship repair.

EPA Cuts Diesel Locomotive and Vessel Pollution

EPA is proposing a new rule to significantly reduce air pollution from locomotive and marine diesel engines. 

“By tackling the greatest remaining source of diesel emissions, we’re keeping our nation’s clean air progress moving full steam ahead,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “Over the last century, diesels have been America’s economic workhorse, and through this rule, an economic workhorse is also becoming an environmental workhorse.”

When fully implemented, this initiative is expected to reduce particulate matter emissions from these engines by 90 percent and nitrogen oxides emissions by 80 percent. This would result in annual health benefits of $12 billion in 2030 and reduce premature deaths, hospitalizations, and respiratory illnesses across the United States. These benefits would continue to grow as older locomotive and marine engines are replaced. Overall benefits are estimated to outweigh costs by more than 20 to 1.

The Clean Air Locomotive and Marine Diesel Rule would tighten emission standards for existing locomotives when they are remanufactured. Additionally, the rule sets stringent emission standards for new locomotive and marine diesel engines and sets long-term regulations that require the use of advanced technology to reduce emissions.

Consistent with its other clean diesel successes, EPA worked collaboratively with diverse stakeholders, including engine and equipment manufacturers, technology companies, environmental groups and states. The proposal dramatically cuts emissions from all types of diesel locomotives, including line-haul, switch, and passenger rail, as well as from a wide range of marine sources, including ferries, tugboats, yachts and marine auxiliary engines. This includes small generator sets to large generators on ocean-going ships.

The locomotive remanufacturing proposal would take effect as soon as certified systems are available, as early as 2008, but no later than 2010. Standards for new locomotive and marine diesel engines would phase-in starting in 2009. Long-term standards would phase-in beginning in 2014 for marine diesel engines and 2015 for locomotives. The rule also explores a remanufacturing program for existing large marine diesel engines similar to the existing program for locomotives. Other provisions seek to reduce unnecessary locomotive idling.


First Harmonized Label for Pesticide Product Available


The EPA and the Canadian Pest Management Regulatory Agency have given the first joint approval of a North American Free Trade Agreement harmonized label for a pesticide product. The pesticide product is called Far-Go Granular Herbicide in the United States (EPA reg. 10163-287) and Avadex MicroActiv Herbicide in Canada and is registered for use on wheat, barley, beets, lentils, and peas.


"As a result of extraordinary collaboration and leadership on the part of governments, growers, and pesticide producers, now joint U.S./Canadian pesticide labels are a reality,” said EPA Assistant Administrator Jim Gulliford. “Joint approvals maintain high safety standards, help ensure producers have pest control tools available, and advance the goal of a North American market for pesticides."

A harmonized label allows for cross-border movement of pesticide product since the harmonized package labeling satisfies the regulatory requirements in both countries with unique use directions to accommodate differences in the two countries’ use patterns. Thus, the harmonized labels safeguard public health protections in both the United States and Canada.

This accomplishment represents an important milestone to allow pesticide products to move across borders legally. Currently, 12 more pesticide products are in the pipeline for NAFTA label development.

Revised Freshwater Criteria for Copper

In a February 22 Federal Register Notice, EPA announced the availability of the revised national recommended freshwater aquatic life criteria for copper. Since EPA published the hardness-based recommendation for copper criteria in 1984, new data have become available on copper toxicity and its effects on aquatic life. The Biotic Ligand Model (BLM), a metal bioavailability model that uses receiving water body characteristics to develop site-specific water quality criteria incorporates the best available science and serves as the basis for the new national recommended criteria. 

EPA Sued for Failure to Regulate Common Pesticides


According to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the EPA has failed to protect the public from exposure to two highly toxic pesticides—DDVP (dichlorvos) and carbaryl—found in common household products that have been demonstrated in laboratory studies to cause severe neurological and developmental harm.

The NRDC’s lawsuit charges that EPA has missed its congressionally mandated deadline to finalize a comprehensive reevaluation of carbaryl, failed for 20 years to finish an expedited review of DDVP, and failed to respond to a petition calling for a ban on the chemicals.

“EPA is needlessly jeopardizing the health of our children,” said Dr. Jennifer Sass, an NRDC senior scientist. ‘The agency should ban DDVP and carbaryl. There are safer alternatives on the market today, and we urge consumers to avoid any products that use either of these two pesticides.”

DDVP—commonly used in pest strips, aerosol sprays and pet collars—is one of a class of the most dangerous pesticides on the market, called organophosphates, which derive from World War II-era nerve agents. Studies have shown DDVP causes cancer in laboratory animals. California lists DDVP as a known carcinogen, while the World Health Organization and the EPA list it as a possible human carcinogen. DDVP already is banned overseas, including the United Kingdom, Denmark and Sweden.

Carbaryl—a highly toxic pesticide used in large-scale agriculture, lawn products, commercial garden centers and pet products—is particularly toxic to the developing nervous system in fetuses, infants, and young children. EPA acknowledges that carbaryl can overstimulate the nervous system, inducing .nausea, dizziness, confusion, and even death in extreme cases.

“EPA has known about the risks of these chemicals to human health for decades, and has dragged its feet while allowing exposures to continue,” said Mae Wu, a staff attorney at NRDC.

Trivia Question of the Week

Daylight Savings Time begins on March 11, which is 3 weeks earlier this year as required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. It has been estimated that in the U.S., DST will save what percentage of energy each day:

a. 1%
b. 5%
c. 10%
d. 25%