The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory—which is a list of chemical substances in commerce in the US, is being updated.
If your company manufactured or imported chemicals from June 21, 2006 through June 21, 2016, the EPA’s TSCA Inventory Reset rule may require you to identify those substances as active on the EPA’s central data exchange (CDX) before February 8, 2018.
If you process or use chemicals, you may identify them as active on the TSCA Inventory through October 5, 2018. After October 5, 2018, EPA will compile a list of inactive substances, and 90 days after that list is published, the inactive substances may not, unless exempted, be manufactured, imported, processed, or used in commerce, in the U.S.
The 2016 amendments to TSCA require EPA to designate chemical substances on the TSCA Chemical Substance Inventory as either active or inactive in US commerce. To accomplish that, EPA established a retrospective electronic notification of chemical substances on the TSCA Inventory that were manufactured (including imported) for nonexempt commercial purposes during the 10-year time period ending on June 21, 2016, with a provision to also allow notification by processors. EPA uses these notifications to distinguish active substances from inactive substances. EPA includes the active and inactive designations on the TSCA Inventory and as part of its regular publications of the Inventory. EPA also established procedures for forward-looking electronic notification of chemical substances on the TSCA Inventory that are designated as inactive, if and when the manufacturing or processing of such chemical substances for nonexempt commercial purposes is expected to resume. On receiving forward-looking notification, EPA will change the designation of the pertinent chemical substance on the TSCA Inventory from inactive to active. EPA established the procedures regarding the manner in which such retrospective and forward-looking activity notifications must be submitted, the details of the notification requirements, exemptions from such requirements, and procedures for handling claims of confidentiality.
Reporting Requirements Update Expected for Animal Waste Emissions
Due to a recent court action, many U.S. farms with animal operations will be required to report emissions from animal waste as early as January 22. CERCLA and EPCRA require facilities to report releases of hazardous substances that are equal to or greater than their reportable quantities (RQ) within any 24-hour period. Following a hazardous substance reportable release, a facility owner or operator must notify federal authorities under CERCLA and state and local authorities under EPCRA. Review the CERCLA and EPCRA Reporting Requirements for Air Releases of Hazardous Substances from Animal Waste at Farms Fact Sheet for frequently asked questions and how the updates may affect your operations.
On December 18, 2008, EPA published a final rule that exempted most farms from certain release reporting requirements in CERCLA and EPCRA. Specifically, the rule exempted farms releasing hazardous substances from animal waste to the air above threshold levels from reporting under CERCLA. For EPCRA reporting, the rule exempted reporting of such releases if the farm had fewer animals than a large concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO).
In short, all farms were relieved from reporting hazardous substance air releases from animal waste under CERCLA, and only large CAFOs were subject to EPCRA reporting.
A number of citizen groups challenged the validity of the final rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. On April 11, 2017, the Court struck down the final rule, eliminating the reporting exemptions for farms. EPA sought additional time from the Court to delay the effective date so that EPA could develop guidance materials to help farmers understand their reporting obligations.
No reporting is required until the Court issues its order, or mandate, enforcing the April 11, 2017, decision. EPA will update this guidance to provide farmers with notice of when the mandate issues and reporting requirements begin. The court is expected to issue the mandate on January 22, 2018. Check EPA’s website frequently for updates. Once the mandate is issued, farms should submit an initial continuous release notification to the National Response Center for qualifying releases that occur within a 24-hour period.
SSA Containers, Inc. to Pay $2.5 Million for Air Quality Violations
The California Air Resources Board announced a $2.5 million settlement with SSA Containers, Inc., and its affiliates. The Seattle-based company received a notice of violation for failing to repower, retire, or retrofit its cargo-handling equipment at the ports of Long Beach and Oakland, and for failing to certify large spark ignition engines on yard trucks servicing those terminals, as required by state law.
The company and its affiliates will pay $1.25 million to the Air Pollution Control Fund for pollution research, $728,060 to the South Coast Air Quality Management District to fund air filtration systems in schools located near ports, and $521,940 to the Prescott-Joseph Center for Community Enhancement to fund the Northern California Breathmobile, which travels to disadvantaged communities in the Bay Area to meet health care needs of children with asthma.
“This settlement is part of a dynamic, focused effort to protect the health of people who live and work near ports from the harmful effects of diesel exhaust,” said CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey. “We are glad that these worthy projects will benefit from the settlement monies but are working diligently toward the day when California’s air is so clean that they will no longer be necessary.”
SSA Containers and its affiliates fully cooperated with CARB during its investigation and provided all needed information as requested. As part of the settlement, SSA Containers, Inc., replaced all uncertified engines operating at its facilities, and is now in compliance with CARB’s Cargo Handling Equipment and Large Spark Ignition Engine Regulations.
SSA Containers, Inc., and its affiliates operate in various locations in California, including Oakland, Stockton, Long Beach, Port Hueneme, San Pedro, and San Diego. The company has no prior CARB violations.
Diesel exhaust contains a variety of harmful gases and more than 40 other known cancer-causing compounds. In 1998, California identified diesel particulate matter as a toxic air contaminant based on its potential to cause cancer, premature death, and other health problems.
Energy Corporation of America Ordered to Pay $1.7 Million for Drilling Violations
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) collected a $1.7 million civil penalty prescribed in a consent order and agreement with Energy Corporation of America (ECA) for violations at 17 well sites in Cumberland, Jefferson, and Whiteley Townships, Greene County and Goshen Township, Clearfield County.
The violations for which ECA was penalized included: failure to properly contains fluids in onsite pits, unauthorized discharge of industrial waste into groundwater, unauthorized disposal of residual waste, failure to restore the pits and well sites, and operating solid waste storage, treatment, and transfer facilities without permits.
“Laws and regulations on the books and strong permitting are in place to protect the public and our natural resources,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “When we uncovered systemic violations of proper handling practices of flowback fluids, our compliance team conducted a thorough investigation to hold the operator accountable.”
At the Mohr A & B Well Site in Cumberland Township, Greene County, a substantial leak killed vegetation, impacted groundwater, and one natural spring used for drinking water. The release did not impair any streams or waterways. The property owner with the spring was provided with a temporary water supply and permanent water supply restoration was started. Following this violation, DEP’s investigation from 2015 to 2017 uncovered incidents of leaking pits and wastewater impoundments at several of ECA’s unconventional well sites and forensically demonstrated ECA’s mismanagement of drilling, flowback, and produced fluids.
DEP’s investigation revealed that ECA transferred drilling fluids from well site to well site long after the last well at these sites was completed, making these sites an unlawful waste transfer station. These fluids were stored in onsite pits for over nine months after the completion of drilling, in violation of site restoration regulations. In October 2016, new regulations (Chapter 78a) specifically foreclosed the use of temporary storage pits and required the closure of onsite pits at unconventional well sites. Additionally, DEP determined that ECA transferred, stored, and treated fluids at these sites despite the fact that the fluids were not used for any well development or drilling activity at the sites.
Waste fluids were removed from all sites. The consent order and agreement set a schedule for the removal of sludge and accumulated precipitation that exists in onsite pits at the five sites where pits remained. ECA submitted an environmental pad assessment and remediation plan that detailed how it will assess and remediate environmental impacts. The agreement provided additional stipulated penalties if ECA failed to comply with its obligations in a timely manner.
Remediation work is ongoing. The agreement outlined sites for priority remediation and ordered ECA to do the following:
- Close open on-site pits by removing and reusing or properly disposing of all fluids, removing and properly disposing of liners, sludge, and impacted soils, managing precipitation, and managing residual solids
- Monitor on a quarterly basis any water supplies within 3,000 feet of the well pads with open pits and manager precipitation into the pits until the pits are closed
- Provide DEP with written records of reuse, disposal, or treatments of all fluids, waste, and soils removed from the sites
- Restore all well sites with open onsite pits
- Assess and remediate all sites with open or closed pits according to the Land Recycling Act or Act 2 standards
New Polymer Offers Improved Possibilities for Better Batteries
Lithium-sulfur batteries are promising candidates for replacing common lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles since they are cheaper, weigh less, and can store nearly double the energy for the same mass. However, lithium-sulfur batteries become unstable over time, and their electrodes deteriorate, limiting widespread adoption.
Now, a team of researchers led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have reported that a new lithium-sulfur battery component allows a doubling in capacity compared to a conventional lithium-sulfur battery, even after more than 100 charge cycles at high current densities, which are key performance metrics for their adoption in electric vehicles (EVs) and in aviation.
They did it by designing a new polymer binder that actively regulates key ion transport processes within a lithium-sulfur battery, and have also shown how it functions on a molecular level. The work was recently reported in Nature Communications.
"The new polymer acts as a wall," said Brett Helms, a staff scientist at Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry and corresponding author of the study. "The sulfur is loaded into the pores of a carbon host, which are then sealed by our polymer. As sulfur participates in the battery's chemical reactions, the polymer prevents the negatively charged sulfur compounds from wandering out. The battery has great promise for enabling the next generation of EVs."
When a lithium-sulfur battery stores and releases energy, the chemical reaction produces mobile molecules of sulfur that become disconnected from the electrode, causing it to degrade and ultimately lowering the battery's capacity over time. To make these batteries more stable, researchers have traditionally worked to develop protective coatings for their electrodes, and to develop new polymer binders that act as the glue holding battery components together. These binders are intended to control or mitigate the electrode's swelling and cracking.
The new binder goes a step further. Researchers from the Organic Synthesis Facility at Berkeley Lab's Molecular Foundry, a research center specializing in nanoscale science, designed a polymer to keep the sulfur in close proximity to the electrode by selectively binding the sulfur molecules, counteracting its migratory tendencies.
The next step was to understand the dynamic structural changes that are likely to occur during charging and discharging as well as at different states of charge. David Prendergast, who directs the Foundry's Theory Facility, and Tod Pascal, a project scientist in the Theory Facility, built a simulation to test the researchers' hypotheses about the polymer's behavior.
"We can now reliably and efficiently model sulfur chemistry within these binders based on learning from detailed quantum mechanical simulations of the dissolved sulfur-containing products," stated Prendergast.
Their large-scale molecular dynamics simulations, conducted on supercomputing resources at Berkeley Lab's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), confirmed that the polymer has an affinity for binding the mobile sulfur molecules, and also predicted that the polymer would likely show a preference for binding different sulfur species at different states of charge for the battery. Experiments conducted at Berkeley Lab's Advanced Light Source and Argonne National Laboratory's Electrochemistry Discovery Lab confirmed these predictions.
The research team took their study one step further by also examining the performance of lithium-sulfur cells made with the new polymer binder. Through a set of experiments, they were able to analyze and quantify how the polymer affects the chemical reaction rate in the sulfur cathode, which is key to achieving high current density and high power with these cells.
By nearly doubling the battery's electrical capacity over long-term cycling, the new polymer raises the bar on the capacity and power of lithium-sulfur batteries.
The combined understanding of the synthesis, theory, and characteristics of the new polymer have made it a key component in the prototype lithium-sulfur cell at DOE's Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR).
CenturyLink Field Honored with EPA WasteWise Award
The EPA honored CenturyLink Field in Seattle, Washington, for its sustainability accomplishments and green sports leadership. CenturyLink Field, home to the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Sounders FC, earned national recognition for its programs to reduce waste, divert material from landfills, and recover organic resource value through composting. CenturyLink Field is among 16 WasteWise national award winners, who collectively prevented and recycled over 355,801 tons of waste, saving $17.7 million in avoided landfill fees.
CenturyLink Field’s award-winning results in reducing waste, including their wider effort to make their facility a sustainability leader, include:
- 97% waste diversion rate in 2016 and more than 95% each of the last four years
- All food service products and vessels are compostable
- Transitioned to paper-based, ocean degradable straws in 2017
- 25% of the stadium’s energy consumption generated by on-site solar
- 24% energy reduction by installing LEDs and automating lighting
- Use 1.3 million gallons less water per year by installing low-flow fixtures
- First stadium to be Smart Catch certified, 95% of seafood served by FGH is certified as sustainably harvested
- Pork, chicken, and beef is sourced from local farms and ranches practicing humane and sustainable farming
- Partnered with Cedar Grove Compost and Sound Sustainable Farms to direct compost from CenturyLink Field to grow organic vegetables that are used at the stadium
For 23 years, EPA’s WasteWise has helped organizations and businesses apply sustainable materials management practices to prevent and reduce municipal and select industrial wastes, saving them resources and money. WasteWise partners reported preventing and diverting 8.5 million tons of waste that would otherwise have been disposed in landfills or incinerators. These actions—which include waste prevention, recycling, composting, and donation—saved participants over $400 million in avoided landfill fees.
WasteWise partners who report the best overall improvement in waste prevention and recycling activities—when compared to the previous year—receive awards in various categories. All U.S. businesses, governments, and non-profit organizations can join WasteWise.
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