“Cancer affects almost everyone’s life, either directly or indirectly,” said Rick Woychik, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and NTP. “As the identification of carcinogens is a key step in cancer prevention, publication of the report represents an important government activity towards improving public health.”
The Report on Carcinogens identifies many different environmental factors, collectively called substances, including chemicals; infectious agents, such as viruses; physical agents, such as X-rays and ultraviolet radiation; and exposure scenarios. A substance is listed as either known to be a human carcinogen or reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen, to indicate the potential hazard.
The report does not include estimates of cancer risk because many factors affect whether a person will or will not develop cancer. Those include the carcinogenic potency of the substance, the level and duration of exposure, and an individual’s susceptibility to the carcinogenic action of the substance.
People living in poverty and certain racial, ethnic, and immigrant groups are disproportionately affected by H. pylori infection. Treatment of infected people who have stomach ulcers or signs of stomach infection can decrease their risk of cancer.
Antimony trioxide is primarily used as a component of flame-retardants in plastics, textiles, and other consumer products. Highest exposure occurs among workers who produce the substance or use it to make flame retardants.
Other people are potentially exposed to low levels of antimony trioxide from breathing contaminated outdoor air or dust from the wear and tear of flame-retardant-treated consumer products, such as carpets and furniture. State and federal agencies limit exposure to the substance in the workplace and the environment through regulation.
Water treatment removes contaminants and disease-causing agents from drinking water. HAAs are formed during the disinfection of water from a reaction between the chlorine-based disinfection agents and organic matter in the source water.
Approximately 250 million U.S. residents use community water systems and are potentially exposed to HAAs in disinfected water. Municipal water systems monitor for some HAAs. Improvements in disinfection technology, such as filtration methods, can reduce the levels of HAAs in drinking water.
Clean Harbors operates facilities throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico. The Wilmington and Newark facilities offer services that include handling, recycling and disposal of hazardous waste.
“Companies that handle hazardous waste in California must do so safely, and they must follow the laws that are put in place to protect the public and the environment,” said DTSC Director Dr. Meredith Williams. “We will continue to rigorously inspect these types of operations and will file enforcement actions when appropriate.“
At Clean Harbors’ Wilmington facility, DTSC inspectors found multiple violations, including:
At the Newark facility, owned by Safety-Kleen, a Clean Harbors company, DTSC inspectors found multiple violations including:
At the former Clean Harbors (now Emerald) facility in Los Angeles, the complaint cited the following violations:
“The Great Lakes and our coastal waters are natural treasures that deserve our most stringent protections,” said PHMSA Deputy Administrator Tristan Brown. “This rule strengthens and expands pipeline safety efforts in these sensitive areas.”
The PIPES Act of 2020 mandated that PHMSA update the regulatory definition of “Unusually Sensitive Areas,” which are a subset of HCAs, to include the Great Lakes, coastal beaches, and coastal waters. This mandate clarified a related provision from the PIPES Act of 2016 by specifying which coastal areas must be protected.
Interim Final Rules are published when an agency finds cause to issue final regulations without first obtaining public comment.
The Advanced Clean Truck rule requires manufacturers of vehicles more than 8,500 pounds to participate in a credit/deficit program intended to increase the percentage of zero-emission vehicles sold in New Jersey. In addition, the Fleet Reporting rule sets a one-time reporting requirement to obtain information about the in-state operation of fleets of vehicles over 8,500 pounds that will inform future decisions concerning further emission reductions from the transportation sector. The rules are modeled after regulations established in California and nearing adoption in several other states.
“New Jersey is already experiencing the adverse impacts of climate change, but we have the power and obligation to reduce its worsening in the years ahead by acting now to limit our emissions of climate pollutants,” said DEP Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette. “My DEP colleagues and I have proudly worked with Governor Murphy to make the Advanced Clean Truck and Fleet Reporting rules a centerpiece of our Climate Pollutant Reduction (CPR) initiative because transportation emissions remain the largest source of climate pollution in New Jersey, which disproportionately impair the air quality and public health in underserved communities. With the Governor’s continued environmental leadership, DEP intends further CPR reforms in the months and years ahead because acting together, we can improve public and environmental health for every New Jersey community, respond to the risks of climate change, and create good-paying green jobs in the process.”
“New Jersey once again demonstrates its leadership on electric mobility,” said Pam Frank, CEO of ChargeEVC, a nonprofit coalition that supports electric vehicle development and use. “Joining a handful of states adopting this important rule, this action is an important and necessary part of accelerating this transition. It will bring health and economic benefits to everyone in the Garden State.”
New Jersey’s transportation sector is responsible for more than 40 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. While medium and heavy-duty trucks and buses account for only 4 percent of all vehicles on the road, they make up nearly 25 percent of transportation-sector greenhouse emissions. The rules will also address pollutants that are harmful to human health, including nitrogen oxides and fine particulate matter (PM2.5).
The rules were developed as part of the NJ PACT (Protecting Against Climate Threats) initiative. NJ PACT is a holistic set of rulemaking initiatives that will better position New Jersey to reduce greenhouse gases driving climate change and make the state more resilient to intense storms and sea-level rise caused by a warming planet. These reforms represent a “PACT” with the residents of New Jersey to help them to both stave off the worst impacts of climate change and adapt to the unavoidable impacts that are already occurring.
The adopted rules require each truck manufacturer selling medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in New Jersey to increase the number of electric vehicles sold in the state over time.
Manufacturers generate credits by selling Zero Emission Vehicles in New Jersey or obtaining credits from another manufacturer’s sales of ZEVs in the state. Deficits attributable to a manufacturer are based on its total sales of all medium- and heavy-duty vehicles in New Jersey. The deficits incurred each year must be offset by credits beginning 2025 and increasing every year through 2035. This will increase the total number of ZEV sales in the state.
Under Governor Murphy, New Jersey has become a national leader on climate change. Through the Global Warming Response Act, the state is taking coordinated actions across the public and private sectors to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and other climate pollutants to at least eighty percent below their 2006 levels by the year 2050.
Increasing the use of ZEVs of all weight classes and increasing the number of vehicle-charging stations throughout New Jersey is critical to the overall strategy to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The state is aggressively funding electric trucks and buses as well as charging stations. Last month, Governor Murphy announced a $13.7 million investment in electric buses and trucks to reduce emissions and improve air quality in overburdened communities.
Since February 2021, New Jersey has committed nearly $71 million in Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative proceeds to purchase electric vehicles and install charging stations in environmental justice communities, which have shouldered the burden of air pollution and climate change.
An OSHA investigation found their employer, Alejandro Carpentry Inc. failed to have a competent person train the workers to recognize fall hazards. OSHA also cited the Bradenton Beach company for not hiring a registered professional engineer to design the scaffolding system, and failing to anchor or brace the outrigger's beams properly.
"One man's family is left to grieve, and another man suffered serious injuries because Alejandro Carpentry did not take the necessary steps to prevent this tragic event,” said OSHA Area Director Danelle Jindra in Tampa, Florida. "Falls continue to be a leading cause of death and serious injury in the construction industry. OSHA encourages industry employers to contact our staff to recognize and address safety hazards so their workers can return home safely at the end of the day.”
The investigation also found the project's prime contractor, Lighthouse Property Innovations LLC of Holmes Beach did not have a competent person conduct frequent and regular inspections of the job site, or materials and equipment to identify and mitigate safety and health hazards. These violations led OSHA to propose $4,096 in penalties.
The companies have 15 business days from receipt of their citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The recommendation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit continues the legal saga of Travis Slaughter – owner of Great White Construction Inc. and Florida Roofing Experts, both in Jacksonville – who has failed to pay $2,202,049 in OSHA penalties for more than 48 safety and health violations dating back nearly a decade at Florida worksites.
Since 2017, Slaughter's companies have been the subject of 10 inspections, resulting in 21 willful, eight repeat, and one serious citations.
On Aug. 28, 2019, based on Great White, Florida Roofing and Slaughter's continued violations of OSHA standards and failure to pay penalties, the department filed a petition for civil contempt, citing the failure to comply with the 2017 and 2018 court orders.
"The U.S. Department of Labor's enforcement action and the litigation that followed shows we will use every resource available to hold Travis Slaughter and his companies, Great White Construction Inc. and Florida Roofing Experts, accountable for continually putting workers at risk of serious injury or worse," said Regional Solicitor of Labor Tremelle Howard in Atlanta.
The court's recommendation is the best remedy to address the companies' longstanding refusal to protect workers and pay the associated penalties and is the result of lengthy litigation by the department's Office of the Solicitor before OSHRC and confirmation the employer continued violating OSHA's safety requirements.
California Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to Adopt Revised COVID-19 Standards
California’s Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board adopted revisions to the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards to include the latest recommendations from the California Department of Public Health. The revisions will take effect on January 14, 2022.
The revisions include the following:
- Investigating and responding to COVID-19 cases in the workplace: Employers must continue to properly notify employees, employee representatives and any other workers at a worksite of possible COVID-19 exposures within one business day. This section was updated to give employers more clear instructions on how to notify workers who were at the same worksite as the COVID-19 case during the high-risk exposure period.
- Face Coverings: The definition was updated to include more detail on the different types of acceptable face coverings.
- Testing and Exclusion: The following revisions make the ETS consistent with current CDPH recommendations:
- Employers are now required to make COVID-19 testing available at no cost and during paid time to employees who were fully vaccinated before the “close contact” with a COVID-19 case occurred, even if they are asymptomatic.
- During outbreaks and major outbreaks, employers must now make weekly testing (outbreaks) or twice-weekly testing (major outbreaks) available to asymptomatic fully vaccinated employees in the exposed group.
- Employees who have recently recovered from COVID-19 and those who are fully vaccinated are not required to be excluded from the workplace after “close contact” but must wear a face covering and maintain six feet of physical distancing for 14 calendar days following the last date of contact.
- Return to Work Criteria: The period of time before an employee can return to work after close contact or COVID-19 infection has been revised to be consistent with current CDPH guidelines.
These time frames will automatically update if CDPH updates their guidelines pursuant to the Governor’s executive order (N-84-20).
Important requirements remain unchanged in the COVID-19 Prevention Emergency Temporary Standards. Employers must continue to maintain an effective COVID-19 Prevention Program that includes identifying and evaluating employee exposures to COVID-19 health hazards, training employees on how to prevent hazards and implementing procedures to correct unsafe conditions. Employers should still allow adequate time for handwashing and cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects.
Cal/OSHA is updating its resources to assist employers with understanding their obligations required by the revised emergency standards. The COVID-19 webpage
contains an updated fact sheet
which describes revisions to the emergency temporary standards. When the revised emergency temporary standards become effective, Cal/OSHA will publish updated FAQs. Cal/OSHA’s model COVID-19 Prevention Program in English
is a helpful resource for employers to develop and maintain an effective written program.
Seattle Barrel Reconditioning Company and Owner Convicted of 10-Year Water Pollution Scheme
A barrel cleaning and reconditioning operation, Seattle Barrel and Cooperage Company, and its owner, Louie Sanft, 55, were convicted late yesterday of conspiracy, making false statements, and 33 Clean Water Act violations following a three-week jury trial, announced U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. Investigators with the EPA documented a conspiracy to illegally dump caustic waste into the King County sewer system, which ultimately empties into Puget Sound. The company used a hidden drain, and over ten years, lied to regulators to carry out their illegal dumping. Sentencing for Sanft and the company is scheduled in front of U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones on March 25, 2022.
“While publicly claiming to follow environmental best practices, in private the company was illegally sending thousands of gallons of caustic wastewater into the sewar system,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “The highly corrosive wastewater can damage equipment that cleans wastewater, and further pollutes our fragile Puget Sound. I commend the investigators with EPA and King County, who uncovered this conspiracy and our team who successfully held Mr. Sanft and the company accountable.”
Seattle Barrel’s business involves collecting used industrial and commercial drums and reconditioning and reselling them. Part of the reconditioning process involved washing the barrels in a highly-corrosive chemical solution. The caustic solution had a very high pH level. According to the indictment, since at least 2009, Seattle Barrel has operated under a discharge permit that prohibits it from dumping effluent with a pH exceeding 12 to the sewer system. Effluent above pH 12 will corrode the sewer system and treatment plant, and potentially cause pass-through pollution to Elliott Bay and Puget Sound.
In 2013, King County conducted covert monitoring of Seattle Barrel, and discovered the company was illegally dumping effluent with a pH above 12 in violation of its permit. King County fined the company $55,250, but later agreed to reduce the fine when Seattle Barrel installed a pretreatment system for its wastewater. Beginning in 2016, Louie Sanft represented to King County in written monthly certifications that the company had become a “zero discharge” facility and was not discharging any industrial wastewater to the sewer.
In fact, in 2018 and 2019, additional covert monitoring by the EPA inspectors revealed that Seattle Barrel was continuing to routinely dump wastewater with a pH above 12 into the sewer system despite telling local regulators that no industrial wastewater was being discharged. Agents then installed real-time monitoring equipment that allowed them to determine when the dumping was taking place and obtained a search warrant.
Early on the morning of March 8, 2019, the covert monitors indicated Seattle Barrel was dumping high-pH material into the sewer. Agents immediately executed the warrant and entered the building. Inside, they discovered a portable pump on the floor near the tank of caustic solution. They then discovered that the pump was being used to pump solution to a nearby hidden drain that had never been disclosed to King County. The drain led directly to the sewer system. The company claims that since mid-2019, following the criminal conduct in this case, it no longer uses the caustic solution.
Louie Sanft, the owner and operator of Seattle Barrel, was convicted of conspiracy, 29 violations of the Clean Water Act for discharging pollutants to the sewer, four counts of submission of False Clean Water Act Certifications, and making a false statement to special agents of the EPA. Louie Sanft faces up to 5 years in prison on the conspiracy and false statement counts, and up to three years in prison for each violation of the Clean Water Act. His cousin, John Sanft, 53, of Issaquah, WA, the plant manager, is scheduled for a separate trial on the charges in March 2022.
U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones will determine the sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The case was investigated by the EPA Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID) with significant assistance from King County Industrial Waste.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Seth Wilkinson and Jim Oesterle, and Special Assistant United States Attorneys Karla Perrin and Gwendolyn Russell, Regional Criminal Enforcement Counsel with the Environmental Protection Agency.
Cutting Back on Environmental Compliance Cost Company $2.4 Million
Leonard C Boyle, Acting United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, Tyler Amon, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division for New England, and Commissioner Katie Scharf Dykes of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection announced that Marmon Utility LLC waived its right to be indicted and pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Kari A. Dooley in Bridgeport to a felony violation of the Clean Water Act for knowingly failing to properly operate and maintain the industrial wastewater treatment system and sludge-processing equipment at the Kerite Power Cable & Pump Cable factory located at 49 Day Street in Seymour, Connecticut. Marmon Utility LLC (Marmon), a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, owns and operates the factory.
Under the terms of its plea agreement, if accepted by the court, Marmon will be under federal probation for three years and must pay $2.4 million to the government: $800,000 as a federal penalty and $1.6 million to fund a Supplemental Environmental Project administered by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (CT DEEP) to remediate the Naugatuck River.
According to court documents and statements made in court, the Kerite Power Cable & Pump Cable (Kerite) factory in Seymour manufactures large power cables and generates industrial wastewater containing heavy metals such as lead and zinc. Under its 2015 CT DEEP permit, Marmon was required to properly operate and maintain the wastewater treatment system at the factory to reduce the heavy-metal content by chemical precipitation before the wastewater could be discharged to the sewage treatment plant.
The investigation revealed that Marmon had been cutting back on its environmental compliance program for many years, and had not had an employee with an environmental background running its wastewater treatment system since February 2004. When the operator of the wastewater treatment system became ill in March 2016, Marmon ran the system for approximately five months with maintenance employees who lacked environmental training and training on the treatment system.
On September 7 and 8, 2016, the superintendent of the Seymour treatment plant observed unusual, rusty brown wastewater flowing into the plant and notified CT DEEP. This rusty brown influent was interfering with the decomposition of the sewage. The superintendent took samples and determined that the lead concentration of the rusty brown influent was approximately 127 times greater than the plant’s normal lead measurement, and that its zinc concentration was over 10 times the typical zinc concentration. During the next several days, the superintendent had to order several truckloads of biologic microorganisms to break down the unprocessed sewage. It took two weeks for the treatment plant to return to usual operational capacity.
On September 27 and 29, 2016, CT DEEP and the plant superintendent inspected Marmon’s Kerite facility and concluded that it had discharged the rusty brown influent with the high lead and zinc concentrations on September 7, 8, and 9, 2016. CT DEEP issued a Notice of Violation to Marmon based on, among other evidence:
- The Marmon facility manager’s statements (1) that the wastewater treatment operator had not been at the facility since the end of March 2016 due to medical reasons; (2) that no sludge had been processed in the filter press since this employee’s departure; and (3) no other Marmon employee had been trained to process sludge as required under the CT DEEP permit.
- The Kerite factory had discharged 5,725 gallons of industrial wastewater on September 7, 2016, and 5,225 gallons on September 8, 2016, which exceeded the daily discharge limit in Marmon’s CT DEEP permit.
- The lead concentration in water samples taken from Marmon’s final discharge tank, which flows to the Seymour sewage treatment plant, was 69 times greater than the permissible limit in Marmon’s CT DEEP permit. The zinc concentration was 8.5 times greater than the prescribed limit.
The EPA’s investigation further disclosed that from at least April 24, 2016, and until September 29, 2016, the Marmon maintenance employees operating the wastewater treatment system did not know how to check and maintain the pH probe, operate the sludge filter press, check or change certain filters. These were all key components of the treatment system used to remove heavy metals from the factory’s industrial wastewater. These employees also did not have access to detailed manuals for operating the system.
In fact, these Marmon employees informed investigators that, during this time period, when certain tanks became full and the system was imbalanced, they would empty the tank by opening certain valves to discharge the industrial wastewater without treating it. As of mid-October 2016, the 3,000-gallon holding tank in Marmon’s wastewater treatment system held 1,000 gallons of sludge.
In addition to not properly operating and maintaining the wastewater treatment system and sludge-processing equipment at the Seymour factory, Marmon has also admitted to knowingly exceeding its maximum daily discharge limit in its CT DEEP permit on September 7 and 8, 2016, knowingly failing to notify CT DEEP promptly of the improper bypass, and that it had stopped processing the sludge using a sludge filter press as required under the CT DEEP permit.
“Any company operating a factory in Connecticut that ignores federal and state environmental laws does so at its own peril,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Boyle. “Marmon failed to properly operate its industrial wastewater treatment system, thereby allowing unacceptably high levels of lead and zinc in its factory wastewater to flow to the Seymour sewage treatment plant – nearly knocking it offline. Although Marmon once had a robust environmental program, the company gradually eliminated its environmental compliance department and reassigned these duties to maintenance workers with minimal training. The prosecution under the CWA is the direct result of Marmon’s penny-wise, pound-foolish approach. We recognize and thank the EPA and CT DEEP for their invaluable work in protecting the environmental integrity of Connecticut’s rivers and the Long Island Sound.”
“A town’s publicly owned wastewater treatment plant disinfects incoming wastewater from industry so clean water can be safely returned to our creeks, rivers, and lakes,” explained Special Agent in Charge Tyler Amon with EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division for New England. “The criminal conduct of Marmon Utility compromised Seymour’s operations and the company simply did not play by the rules. The criminal pleading demonstrates again the U.S. Attorney’s Office and EPA’s commitment to protecting Connecticut’s environment.”
“By disinvesting in environmental management and the proper operation and maintaining of its wastewater pretreatment systems, Marmon’s conduct compromised the Town of Seymour’s Publicly Owned Treatment Works’ ability to properly treat all the wastewaters it receives from its community and protect the quality of the Naugatuck River for fishing and swimming, “ DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “This action sends a clear message – everyone has a role in protecting public health and our environment and there are significant consequences for not obeying our environmental laws and regulations. Funds that will be provided to DEEP as a result of the proposed settlement of this case will strengthen programs that preserve and improve the quality of the Naugatuck River and its aquatic ecosystem. This settlement was achieved through a strong partnership of the DEEP, the EPA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. DEEP is proud to have played a part in this effort.”
This Clean Water Act offense carries a fine of not less than $5,000 but not more than $50,000 per day of the violation.
Judge Dooley has scheduled sentencing for April 7, 2022. This matter has been investigated by the EPA and the Connecticut DEEP. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Hal Chen, with assistance from the Connecticut Office of the Attorney General.
Avantor Performance Materials Cited for Public Right to Know and Mercury Export Violations
On December 20, EPA announced a settlement with Avantor Performance Materials, LLC (Avantor) to resolve alleged violations of Emergency Planning Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) Toxics Release Inventory (TRI
) reporting requirements at Avantor’s Phillipsburg, New Jersey facility; Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Data Reporting (CDR
) violations at both its Phillipsburg, New Jersey and Paris, Kentucky facilities; and TSCA Mercury Export Ban Act (MEBA
) (Mercury Export Prohibition) violations at its Paris, Kentucky facility. Under this settlement agreement, negotiated by EPA Region 2, Avantor has certified it is now in compliance with TSCA and EPCRA. It has submitted its required CDR and TRI reports for a variety of chemicals including acids, bases, salts, solvents and metals, and has ceased exporting elemental mercury. Avantor will also pay a $600,000 civil penalty. The Consent Agreement and Final Order was approved by the EPA Environmental Appeals Board on December 15, 2021 and is effective immediately.
“Complying with these reporting requirements and the mercury export ban is an essential part of protecting public health, the environment, and emergency preparedness,” said Larry Starfield, Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “By reducing the global supply of elemental mercury in commerce, the mercury export ban seeks to reduce human exposure to this potent neurotoxin.”
Under EPCRA, facilities that manufacture, process, or otherwise use certain toxic chemicals above threshold amounts must file annual reports of their chemical releases and transfers with EPA and the appropriate state agency or tribe. In this case, EPA found that Avantor processed many chemical substances at its Phillipsburg, New Jersey facility. Of those chemicals, it failed to report 17 chemicals to the TRI for calendar year 2015 by the required due date of July 1, 2016.
Under TSCA, chemical manufacturers and importers must comply with EPA’s CDR requirement every four years. Facilities must report chemical production amounts for sites that manufacture (including import) 25,000 pounds or more of an existing chemical substance on the TSCA inventory that was manufactured for commercial purpose in the U.S. during any one calendar year between submission periods. In this case, EPA found that Avantor failed to report 13 chemical substances that it imported for commercial purposes at its Phillipsburg facility and that it failed to report 16 chemical substances that it imported for commercial purposes at its Paris facility. These CDR reports were due between June 1, 2016 and October 31, 2016.
The Mercury Export Ban Act (MEBA) amended TSCA. The law has prohibited the export of elemental mercury from the United States since January 1, 2013, unless permitted under an exemption granted by EPA. Avantor exported elemental mercury from the United States, through its Paris facility, in quantities between one and two pounds between October 1, 2014 and May 29, 2018. These exports were sent to Canada, Taiwan, and India without Avantor having obtained an exemption from EPA, a violation of TSCA.
Greenhouse Gas Standards for Passenger Vehicles Pave Way for a Zero-Emissions Future
EPA has finalized its most ambitious federal greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions standards for passenger cars and light trucks ever. The final standards, for Model Years (MY) 2023 through 2026, leverage advances in clean car technology to unlock $190 billion in net benefits to Americans, including reducing climate pollution, improving public health, and saving drivers money at the pump. The final rule also delivers more net benefits to consumers than the proposed rule showcasing how zero-emission vehicles are more affordable and more efficient for consumers.
The ambitious standards through 2026 also set the light-duty vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) program on track to provide a strong launch point for the Agency’s next phase of standards for MY 2027 and beyond. EPA is planning to initiate a separate rulemaking to establish multi-pollutant emission standards under the Clean Air Act for MY 2027 and later that will speed the transition of the light-duty vehicle fleet toward a zero-emissions future consistent with President Biden’s Executive Order, “Strengthening American Leadership in Clean Cars and Trucks.”
“The final rule for light duty vehicles reflect core principles of this Administration: We followed the science, we listened to stakeholders, and we are setting robust and rigorous standards that will aggressively reduce the pollution that is harming people and our planet – and save families money at the same time,” said EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “At EPA, our priority is to protect public health, especially in overburdened communities, while responding to the President’s ambitious climate agenda. Today we take a giant step forward in delivering on those goals, while paving the way toward an all-electric, zero-emissions transportation future.”
The standards are the most ambitious vehicle emissions standards for greenhouse gases ever established for the light-duty vehicle sector in the United States. They are based on sound science and grounded in a rigorous assessment of current and future technologies with supporting analysis that shows the standards are achievable and affordable. EPA’s final standards for 2025 and 2026 deliver even greater net benefits and emissions reductions than those proposed in the initial rulemaking stage in August of 2021. Through 2050, the program will result in avoiding more than 3 billion tons of GHG emissions which is equivalent to more than half the total U.S. CO2 emissions in 2019.
These ambitious standards are cost-effective and achieve significant public health and welfare benefits. The benefits of this rule exceed the costs by as much as $190 billion. Benefits include reduced impacts of climate change, improved public health from lower pollution, and cost savings for vehicle owners through improved fuel efficiency. American drivers will save between $210 billion and $420 billion through 2050 on fuel costs. On average over the lifetime of an individual MY 2026 vehicle, EPA estimates that the fuel savings will exceed the initial increase in vehicle costs by more than $1,000 for consumers.
While these standards are ambitious, they provide adequate lead time for manufacturers to comply at reasonable costs. EPA’s analysis shows manufacturers can comply with the final standards with modest increases in the numbers of electric vehicles entering the fleet. By MY 2026, EPA projects that the final standards can be met with sales of about 17% electric vehicles (EVs), and wider uptake of advanced gasoline engine and vehicle technologies available today.
Auto companies continue to invest in, and develop, zero-emissions vehicles to meet rising consumer demand, while making make public commitments to build these vehicles in the future. The final standards have been calibrated to align with and support those investments. Companies are announcing unprecedented plans for an increasing diversity and production volume of zero- and near-zero emissions vehicle models, while also implementing a broad array of advanced gasoline vehicle GHG emission-reducing technologies. As the GHG standards get stronger over four years, sales of EVs and plug-in hybrid vehicles will grow from about 7 percent market share in MY 2023 to about 17% in MY 2026, the agency projects. These increasing levels of EVs will position the United States to achieve aggressive GHG emissions reductions from transportation over the long term.
Under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, $7.5 billion is allocated for EV charging and related programs with a target of having 500,000 public charging stations by 2030, with a focus on creating a convenient national network and providing equitable access to rural drivers and overburdened and underserved communities. More than $7 billion is set aside for investments in battery manufacturing, materials, and recycling to drive down costs, increase sustainability, and build the batteries that will power the future vehicles here in the United States. The surge in charging infrastructure investments coupled with battery technology advancements, increased range, and reduced battery and vehicle costs are making EVs more attractive than ever to consumers.
Moving to a clean energy future will benefit our most vulnerable communities. Areas located close to major roads and highways will have less exposure to air pollution. Overburdened and underserved communities are especially vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. These standards will help address climate change and reduce climate impacts on vulnerable communities.
For more information on the final rule, please visit: epa.gov/LDV
Lawsuit Against Walmart for Illegal Disposal of Hazardous Waste in California
California Attorney General Rob Bonta, joined by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and twelve district attorneys, filed a statewide lawsuit
against Walmart for the illegal disposal of hazardous waste. Over the past six years, Walmart is alleged to have violated California’s environmental laws and regulations by disposing of hazardous waste products at local landfills that are not equipped or authorized to receive this type of waste. The waste includes alkaline and lithium batteries, insect killer sprays and other pesticides, aerosol cans, toxic cleaning supplies, electronic waste, latex paints, and LED lightbulbs, as well as confidential customer information. According to results from Walmart’s own inspections, the California Department of Justice estimates the company unlawfully disposes of approximately 159,600 pounds – or more than one million items – of hazardous waste in California each year.
“Walmart’s own audits found that the company is dumping hazardous waste at local landfills at a rate of more than one million items each year. From there, these products may seep into the state’s drinking water as toxic pollutants or into the air as dangerous gases,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “When one person throws out a battery or half-empty hairspray bottle, we may think that it's no big deal. But when we’re talking about tens of thousands of batteries, cleaning supplies, and other hazardous waste, the impact to our environment and our communities can be huge. This lawsuit should serve as a warning to the state's worst offenders. We will hold you accountable. As the People’s Attorney, taking on corporate polluters and protecting public health will always be among my top priorities.”
“Despite repeated enforcements against Walmart over the past two decades, it consistently – and knowingly – fails to comply with California’s environmental protection laws,” said Dr. Meredith Williams, DTSC Director. “DTSC will vigorously pursue justice in this and all mismanagement of hazardous waste – particularly by repeat offenders, and most especially in communities forced to suffer the consequences of industrial pollution, generation after generation.”
In 2010, the California Attorney General’s Office reached a $25 million settlement against Walmart for illegally disposing of hazardous waste. Despite the injunctive terms Walmart agreed to as part of the settlement, inspections beginning in 2015 found that Walmart was continuing to conduct operations in California in violation of state laws.
From 2015 to 2021, California investigators conducted 58 inspections across 13 counties of trash compactors taken from Walmart stores. In each and every single case, they found dozens of items classified as hazardous waste, medical waste, and/or customer records with personal information. Yet instead of trying to come into compliance with the law, Walmart claims that its corporate sustainability achievements and its past criminal and civil penalty payments fulfill its compliance responsibilities.
In the lawsuit, Attorney General Bonta and the district attorneys allege that Walmart violated the Hazardous Waste Control Law, the Medical Waste Management Act, the Customer Personal Information Law, and the Unfair Competition Law.
Attorney General Bonta is joined by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and the district attorneys of Alameda, Fresno, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Joaquin, Solano, Tulare, and Yolo counties in filing the lawsuit.
Taylor Energy Company To Pay Over $43 Million and Transfer $432 Million Decommissioning Trust Fund to the United States for Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill
Taylor Energy Company LLC (Taylor Energy), a Louisiana oil and gas company, has agreed to turn over all its remaining assets to the United States upon liquidation to resolve its liability for the oil spill at its former Gulf of Mexico offshore oil production facility — the source of the longest-running oil spill in U.S. history, ongoing since 2004.
Under the proposed consent decree
, Taylor Energy will transfer to the Department of the Interior (DOI) a $432 million trust fund dedicated to plugging the subsea oil wells, permanently decommissioning the facility, and remediating contaminated soil. The consent decree further requires Taylor Energy to pay over $43 million for civil penalties, removal costs and natural resource damages (NRD). The State of Louisiana is a co-trustee for natural resources impacted by the spill and the NRD money is a joint recovery by the federal and state trustees.
The United States filed a civil complaint against Taylor Energy in the U.S. District Court in New Orleans on Oct. 23, 2020 — United States v. Taylor Energy Company LLC — seeking removal costs, civil penalties and NRD under the Oil Pollution and Clean Water Acts arising from the discharge of oil from the company’s former oil production facility. Between 2016 and 2020, Taylor Energy filed several lawsuits against the United States, including challenging the Coast Guard’s decision to install a spill containment system and appealing the Coast Guard’s denial of Taylor Energy’s $353 million spill-cost reimbursement claim submitted to the U.S. Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. The settlement resolves the United States’ environmental enforcement claims against Taylor Energy and requires the company to drop its remaining lawsuits against the United States.
“Offshore operators cannot allow oil to spill into our nation’s waters,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “If an oil spill occurs, the responsible party must cooperate with the government to timely address the problem and pay for the cleanup. Holding offshore operators to account is vital to protecting our environment and ensuring a level industry playing field.”
“Despite being a catalyst for beneficial environmental technological innovation, the damage to our ecosystem caused by this 17-year-old oil spill is unacceptable,” said U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans for the Eastern District of Louisiana. “The federal government will hold accountable businesses that violate our Nation’s environmental laws and ensure that any oil and gas company operating within our District meets their professional and legal responsibilities.”
“We are proud of and grateful to the outstanding interagency team of technical and legal experts from the Departments of the Interior and Justice, the U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies who have worked tirelessly for more than a decade to mitigate environmental impacts to the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, hold the company accountable, and protect the American taxpayer,” said Deputy Secretary of the Interior Tommy Beaudreau.
“For the last three years, the Coast Guard, along with our federal partners, have committed to the challenging mission of containing and removing more than 800,000 gallons of oil discharging into the Gulf of Mexico,” said Captain Will Watson, Sector Commander of the Coast Guard New Orleans. “Containment and removal operations continue to this day. This settlement will provide significant financial resources for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Coast Guard to permanently secure the wells, protect the marine environment, preserve marine resources and ensure compliance with the Oil Pollution Act of 1990.”
“This settlement represents an important down payment to address impacts from the longest-running oil spill in U.S. history,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, Director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service. “Millions of Americans along the Gulf Coast depend on healthy coastal ecosystems. NOAA and our co-trustees look forward to working in partnership with the National Pollution Funds Center to ensure the region and the ecosystem can recover from this ongoing tragedy.”
Under the settlement, Taylor Energy will pay over $43 million — all of the company’s available remaining assets — allocated as follows: $15 million as a civil penalty, $16.5 million for NRD, and over $12 million for Coast Guard removal costs. Taylor Energy also will transfer to DOI’s Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management (BOEM) $432 million currently held in a trust for decommissioning the Mississippi Canyon (MC)-20 site, and the company will be barred from interfering in any way with the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (BSEE’s) decommissioning work. Likewise, Taylor Energy may not interfere in any way with the Coast Guard’s oil containment and removal actions. Taylor Energy will turn over to DOI and the Coast Guard all documents (including data, studies, reports, etc.) relating to the site to assist in the decommissioning and response efforts. When Taylor Energy liquidates after court approval of the settlement, it will make a final payment to the United States of the value of its remaining assets.
The settlement also requires the company to dismiss three lawsuits it filed against the United States, including two cases in the Eastern District of Louisiana—Taylor Energy Co. LLC v. Captain Kristi M. Luttrell, in her Official Capacity as Federal On-Scene Coordinator for the MC20 Unified Command and Taylor Energy Co. LLC v. U.S. Department of the Interior — a case pending in the District Court for the District of Columbia, Taylor Energy Co. LLC v. United States.
The spill began in 2004, when a Taylor Energy production platform located in the Gulf of Mexico about 10 miles off the coast of Louisiana collapsed during Hurricane Ivan, resulting in an ongoing oil discharge that continues to this day. Since April 2019, the vast majority of the leaking oil has been successfully captured by a containment system installed and operated by the U.S. Coast Guard through a contractor. The settlement was filed by the Justice Department on behalf of the Coast Guard, DOI and the federal and state trustees for natural resources. The designated federal trustees for the natural resources impacted by Taylor Energy’s oil spill are the U.S. Department of Commerce through the NOAA and DOI through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The designated state trustees are the Louisiana Oil Spill Coordinator’s Office, Department of Public Safety & Corrections; Louisiana Department of Natural Resources; Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality; Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries; and the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.
Federal Court Orders Care Facility Employers To Pay Attorneys’ Fee to U.S. Department of Labor After Failing To Comply with OSHA Subpoena
The Occupational Safety and Health Act authorizes OSHA to issue subpoenas to request necessary documents as part of an OSHA inspection. If a recipient fails to comply, the department may then move to enforce the subpoena in federal district court. A recent decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts affirms that recipients who oppose such investigative requests without substantial justification can face significant and costly consequences.
On Oct. 21, 2021, the court ordered UHS of Fuller Inc. and UHS of Delaware Inc. to pay the department $30,515.63 in attorneys’ fees after they failed to comply with an OSHA-issued subpoena for documents.
OSHA issued the subpoena as part of a 2019 workplace violence inspection at an Attleboro behavioral health facility the companies operated. Among other things, the subpoena requested video footage of workplace violence incidents involving employees at the facility. After failing to comply, the department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor petitioned the court to enforce the subpoena for the requested video.
The court found that the companies’ opposition was not “substantially justified” and ordered them to comply with the subpoena, and to pay the department’s attorneys’ fees incurred responding to their arguments.
“The court made clear that there can be significant consequences for a recipient that opposes OSHA subpoena compliance without substantial justification. The law makes a clear distinction between good faith arguments and those that lack merit,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Maia Fisher in Boston. “If a recipient chooses to engage in the latter, the recipient should expect to be held accountable.”
“OSHA’s mission is to seek to ensure a healthy and safe workplace for every employee,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Galen Blanton in Boston. “To do that, OSHA must be able to obtain and evaluate all evidence that illustrates a workplace’s potential hazardous conditions. The court’s decision supports this.”
18 Penalties Issued in October and November for Oregon Environmental Violations
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued 18 penalties totaling $2,571,444 in October and November for various environmental violations. A detailed list of violations and resulting penalties is at ordeq.org/enforcement
Fines ranged from $1,100 to $2,105,405. Alleged violations included discharging wastewater without a water quality permit, not following hazardous waste regulations, and not submitting annual reports as required by air quality permits.
The Oregon DEQ issued civil penalties to the following organizations:
- Baker County, $7,400, Halfway, asbestos
- Bullseye Glass Co., $6,600, Portland, hazardous waste
- Clean Water Services, $13,200,Tigard, water quality
- Da Yang Seafood Inc., $105,000, Astoria, water quality
- East Side Plating Inc., $21,000, Portland, hazardous waste
- Endura Products Inc., $4,500, Prineville, air quality
- Farm Power Misty Meadow LLC (FPMM), $18,701, Tillamook, air quality
- High Quality Roofing & Pressure Washing LLC, $24,000, Tigard, water quality
- HP Inc., $1,100, Corvallis, air quality
- Insurance Auto Auctions Inc., $6,701, Portland, stormwater
- Johnny Cat Inc., $4,300, Jacksonville, air quality
- Malarkey Roofing Company, $2,105,405, Portland, air quality
- NIC Industries Inc., $63,600, White City, hazardous waste
- PetroCard Inc., $9,568, Oakland, underground storage tanks
- Sysco Portland Inc., $48,540, Wilsonville, stormwater
- Tortoise Transport Company LLC and TNQ Developmental Employment LLC, $91,929, Klamath Falls, hazardous waste
- Valley Iron and Steel Co. (VISCO), $20,400, Eugene, solid waste
- WOF PNW Threemile Project LLC, $19,500, Boardman, air quality
DEQ issued a news release
on Oct. 20, 2021, regarding the $2.1 million fine for Malarkey Roofing.
Organizations or individuals must either pay the fines or file an appeal within 20 days of receiving notice of the penalty. They may be able to offset a portion of a penalty by funding a supplemental environmental project that improves Oregon’s environment. Learn more about these projects at https://ordeq.org/sep
MDE Requires Poultry Rendering Facility To Take Steps To Ensure Future Operations Comply with Permit Conditions
An Eastern Shore poultry rendering facility has suspended operations as it takes steps, under the oversight of the Maryland Department of the Environment, to comply with regulations that protect the environment and public health.
The Valley Proteins facility in Dorchester County suspended operations following an MDE inspection report that listed a series of needed corrections, along with potential MDE actions for failing to comply with those requirements. The inspection report
, issued yesterday, requires the facility to set forth planned actions to ensure that future operations will comply with discharge limits and permit terms. The proposal is subject to MDE review as the department and the facility work toward an agreement, in the form of a consent order, on moving forward.
MDE announced in September that it intended to take an enforcement action against the facility and pursue a significant financial penalty to address past violations. Last week, Maryland Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles informed Valley Proteins that its recent compliance record leaves the agency with no option but to proceed with the filing of a civil complaint. The filing of that complaint is pending.
In his letter
, Secretary Grumbles wrote, “The Department is committed to protecting and restoring the environment and has the responsibility and authority to ensure compliance with environmental laws and regulations. A primary goal of the Department is to attain and maintain a high rate of compliance by providing clear expectations and by ensuring that environmental responsibilities are enforced within the regulated community consistently. When significant violations are observed the Department has an obligation to take equitable and timely enforcement action, reasonably necessary, to deter future violations from occurring.”
In recent months, Valley Proteins has been the subject of a number of MDE inspections that found the facility to be out of compliance with environmental regulations and law. Additional pollution events at the facility in the past week led to MDE to issue an inspection report yesterday that includes findings, a list of corrective actions and that states, “Failure to comply with any of the actions listed above may result in the Department taking additional actions, including but not limited to issuing an Administrative Order, suspension of the permit, and/or administrative and civil penalties.”
The Valley Proteins facility in Linkwood, Dorchester County, suspended its operations in response to MDE’s inspection report, attorneys for the facility told attorneys for MDE.
In September, in addition to the announcement that it intended to take an enforcement action, MDE released
a draft permit that would require significant water quality improvements from the Valley Protein facility. The public comment period on the draft permit
, which initially incorporated a 60-day extension and then an additional 30-day extension, is open until January 14, 2022. MDE held a virtual public hearing in October and an in-person public hearing in November. MDE values public input and will carefully consider all comments received in making a final decision on the permit application.
“We are much more focused on enforcement and correcting any ongoing violations before taking any actions on a draft permit,” said Secretary Grumbles.
Oregon OSHA Has Adopted COVID Rule Updates That Maintain Current Protections
Effective Dec. 21, 2021, the rule formalizes updates to the rule the division had already made on a temporary basis in summer 2021. The action was necessary to avoid the rule reverting to earlier requirements that were no longer in line with state public health guidance and federal OSHA requirements.
Oregon OSHA's updates to the workplace rule reflect, in part, changes to protective measures initiated by the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). The changes made by OHA included removal of facial coverings outdoors while keeping in place the use of facial coverings indoors. Under the indoor requirement, employers must implement facial coverings for employees working in indoor workspaces. Under state law, Oregon OSHA has the authority to enforce rules adopted by other state agencies for the health and safety of workers.
The division's adoption of the rule followed four public hearings in November and a period for accepting written public comments.
As it has previously stated, Oregon OSHA intends to repeal the entire workplace rule once it is no longer necessary to address the COVID-19 pandemic in Oregon workplaces. Discussions continue with the Oregon OSHA Partnership Committee, OHA, two infectious disease rulemaking advisory committees, and other stakeholders to determine when all of the additional parts of the rule can be repealed.
The adopted rule's updates include:
- Employers with workers operating in indoor workspaces must implement the facial covering requirements adopted by OHA.
- Employers must ensure the provisions of OHA's facial covering requirements in schools and other employee protections imposed by OHA or the Oregon Department of Education are followed in public and private K-12 schools.
- The physical distancing requirements of Oregon OSHA's workplace COVID-19 rule are no longer in effect outside of health care and transit settings.
- Except for health care settings, Oregon OSHA no longer requires employers to regularly clean or sanitize common areas, shared equipment, and high-touch surfaces. Other sanitation measures in the division's rule remain in effect for all workplaces.
- To ensure Oregon OSHA's rule is at least as effective as federal OSHA's COVID-19 emergency temporary standard, employers in the health care sector must provide certain workers financial relief when such workers cannot work because of quarantine or isolation for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Oregon OSHA's rule adoption included updated protective measures addressing the risks of COVID-19 in employer-provided housing.
Arizona Auto Parts Companies Fined for Selling ‘Defeat’ Devices
EPA announced settlements with two Arizona automotive parts distributors to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act. The companies illegally sold aftermarket auto parts that bypass or disable required emissions control systems, otherwise known as defeat devices. The distributors paid $54,814 in penalties.
“These settlements are a very significant step toward stopping the sale of illegal aftermarket defeat devices. These unlawful products cause harmful pollution on our roads and in our communities,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Director of the Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division, Amy Miller. “We will continue to investigate and penalize anyone who manufactures, sells, or installs these types of illegal products.”
Tampered diesel and gasoline powered vehicles emit large amounts of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, both of which contribute to serious public health problems in the United States. These problems include premature mortality, aggravation of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, aggravation of existing asthma, acute respiratory symptoms, chronic bronchitis, and decreased lung function. Numerous studies also link diesel exhaust to increased incidence of lung cancer.
The increase in emissions that would have resulted from the use of the illegal parts and tuning software addressed in these settlements is estimated to equal the emissions coming from an additional 1,830 vehicles on the road.
The announcement highlights separate settlement agreements:
Dykstra Inc. dba Dykstra Machinery sold or installed aftermarket parts and tuning software designed to defeat emission control systems of heavy-duty diesel trucks and nonroad diesel tractors. Dykstra also tampered with such trucks and tractors. The company, located in Gilbert and Casa Grande, Arizona, paid a civil penalty of $29,814 to resolve the violations. This agreement was reached under EPA’s expedited settlement policy, which is only used in certain circumstances to address minor, easily correctable violations.
Dudu Oja Ije, LLC, dba RPM Outlet sold aftermarket parts and tuners designed to defeat the emission control systems of highway motor vehicles. The company, located in Phoenix, Arizona, agreed to pay a civil penalty of $25,000, which was reduced due to financial hardship, to resolve the violations..
If you suspect someone is manufacturing, selling, or installing illegal defeat devices, or is tampering with emissions controls, tell the EPA by writing to email@example.com
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Changing of the Guard
Brian Karnofsky, the founder of Environmental Resource Center, will be retiring at the end of the year. Brian is being replaced by Amy Knight, who along with the remainder of your team at Environmental Resource Center, will continue to help you achieve your environmental, health, and safety goals. After he retires, you can still call or email him at Environmental Resource Center, but he might reply from a hiking trail or camp site. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org