In addition to the penalty, the company will spend approximately $400 million on safety upgrades and improvements to prevent future chemical releases and spills.
"BP committed serious environmental crimes in our two largest states, with terrible consequences for people and the environment," said Granta Nakayama, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "Today's agreement sends a message that these types of crimes will be prosecuted."
This is the largest criminal fine ever assessed against a corporation for Clean Air Act (CAA) violations and the first criminal prosecution of the requirement that refineries and chemical plants take steps to prevent accidental releases. The requirement was passed in 1990 as part of the CAA following the explosion at the Union Carbide chemical plant in Bhopal, India, where thousands were killed and injured.
BP will pay $50 million for a catastrophic explosion in 2005 that killed 15 people and injured more than 170 others at its Texas City refinery. BP will also pay a $12 million fine for spilling 200,000 gallons of crude oil onto the Alaskan tundra and onto a frozen lake in March 2006, resulting in the largest spill that ever occurred on the North Slope.
In addition to the $50 million fine, the company pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the CAA and will serve three years of probation for the Texas City incident. BP is also required to complete a facility-wide study of its safety valves and renovate its flare system to prevent excess emissions at an estimated cost of $265 million.
For the Alaska spill, BP pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor of the Clean Water Act and will serve three years probation, pay $4 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to support research and activities on the North Slope, and pay $4 million in restitution to the state of Alaska. BP is required to replace 16 miles of pipeline at an estimated cost of $150 million.
On March 23, 2005, an explosion occurred at the Texas City refinery when hydrocarbon vapor and liquid released from a stack and ignited during the process of increasing octane levels in unleaded gasoline. Investigators learned that operators regularly failed to follow written standard operating procedures for ensuring the mechanical integrity of safety equipment. The stack where the release occurred had been in poor operating condition since at least April 2003. Alarms failed to function or were ignored.
The Texas City refinery is BP's largest U.S. refinery, which covers more than 1,200 acres and can process as much as 460,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The refinery was previously owned by Amoco, which merged with BP in December 1998.
In March 2006, BP spilled more than 200,000 gallons of crude oil on the North Slope in Alaska. A second spill occurred in August 2006, but it was quickly contained after leaking approximately 1,000 gallons of oil. Investigators determined the leak was caused by a buildup of sediment in the pipe and that BP failed to properly inspect or clean the pipeline, which is required by law to prevent pipeline corrosion. The investigation revealed that in 2004, the company became aware of increased corrosion in the pipeline.
New York Proposes Greenhouse Gas Regulations
. The draft regulations implement the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
RGGI is an agreement by 10 Northeastern states to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Under RGGI, participating states will each issue their own regulations and, when fully implemented, RGGI will achieve a 16% reduction in emissions from projected business-as-usual emissions. Under the groundbreaking draft regulations, a power plant would have to buy enough carbon credits or allowances (one allowance per ton of emissions) to cover its emissions in a flexible, market-based system, which is similar to those used to combat acid rain.
“Global warming is the most significant environmental problem of our generation, and by helping lead this regional program, we can reduce emissions from power plants—one of the main sources of carbon dioxide emissions in the Northeast,” said Governor Spitzer. “Absent federal leadership, states across the nation are taking action to cut greenhouse gas emissions and reduce their impact on the environment. This is a new approach and one that should be replicated at the federal level.”
In a major departure from previous programs, the state will not simply give away allowances to power plants. From the start, companies will have to buy allowances through an auction for every ton of carbon dioxide they emit. New York was the first state to advocate auctioning off 100% of its pollution allowances—a strategy that most other RGGI states will likely follow.
Power plants pump out 25% of the total annual carbon dioxide emitted in New York State. For the initial six years of the RGGI program, carbon emissions will be capped at current levels. In 2015 and in each of the subsequent three years, the cap will be reduced by 2.5% for an overall reduction of 10%.
Proceeds from the auction would go toward energy-efficiency programs and renewable energy projects. The program would also provide opportunities for power companies to offset their emissions through other “green” investments.
Under RGGI, annual emissions of carbon dioxide from New York power plants 25 megawatts and larger would be capped at 64.3 million tons from 2009 through 2014. From 2015 to 2019, emissions would be reduced by 10%. This will achieve a 16% reduction from projected business-as-usual emissions.
“By design, this plan creates winners and losers. Older, less-efficient power plants with higher emission levels will pay more to comply with RGGI than newer, more efficient units,” added Governor Spitzer. “Dirty generators will be at a competitive disadvantage, and there will be a new incentive to build clean, efficient or renewable generation.”
The draft regulations are the culmination of dozens of public meetings, which included energy industry representatives, between 2003 and 2007. RGGI is part of a regional strategy to combat global warming. Under the draft regulations, power plants will have to procure enough allowances or “offsets” to meet their actual emissions over a three-year period. In order to ensure that the cost of compliance does not increase dramatically, the state would permit generators to use offsets to account for up to 3.3% of their overall emissions. Offsets are greenhouse gas emission reduction projects from outside the electricity sector. For example, generators could choose from a number of projects—from planting trees on land where there are none to landfill gas recapture—to removing a corresponding amount of CO2 from the atmosphere. Offset projects provide generators with additional flexibility to meet their compliance obligations.
Other states participating in RGGI include: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. Each state is given allowances to approximately match current emissions; each state has discretion to allocate up to 75% of their allowances. Maine and Massachusetts recently published their proposed regulations, which call for an auction of 100% of allowances.
. Public hearings will be held on December 10 in Albany, December 11 in Ray Brook in the Adirondacks, December 12 in New York City, and December 13 in Avon.
EPA Offers Free Seminar on Climate Change and Waste Management
EPA’s Resource Conservation Challenge (RCC) Web Academy is hosting a Recycling and Solid Waste Management Educational Series of monthly programs. The program on November 15 (1 p.m., Eastern time; 12 p.m., Central time; 11 a.m., Mountain time, and 10 a.m., Pacific time) will focus on climate and waste. The seminar will last 90 minutes.
Many people don’t realize that solid waste reduction and recycling help address global climate change. The manufacture, distribution, and use of products—as well as management of the resulting waste—all result in greenhouse gas emissions. Waste prevention and recycling reduce greenhouse gases associated with these activities by reducing methane emissions, saving energy, and increasing forest carbon sequestration.
Hazmat Driver Info Stolen From TSA
TSA reportedly revealed the theft in an October 12 letter to lawmakers. The computers, which are those of TSA contractor Integrated Biometric Technology for the TSA's Hazardous Materials Endorsement Threat Assessment program—which gathers security-clearance information on hazmat drivers—include personal data such as names, addresses, birthdates, commercial driver's license numbers, and some Social Security numbers of nearly 4,000 people, according to an AP report.
Recommendations Made for CO2 Allowance Auction
A final report containing research and recommendations for the design of a CO2 allowance auction as part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative has been released by the research team from the University of Virginia, Resources for the Future, and the California Institute of Technology.
The RGGI Staff Working Group is soliciting comments on the auction design report. Submitted comments will be posted on the RGGI website. To receive full consideration, comments on the Final Report should be submitted by November 15, 2007.
EPA Orders Gas Station Owner to Pay $193,538 Penalty
EPA had cited the Spring Valley, N.Y.-based company for violations at two former Texaco gas stations: North Fifth Street Texaco, 1410 N. 5th Street, Stroudsburg, Pa., the site of two 10,000-gallon and one 2,000-gallon gasoline USTs, and at Scotrun Texaco, Route 611, Scotrun, Pa., the site of 6,000-, 4,000-, and 3,000-gallon gasoline USTs.
In addition to the penalty, the company is ordered to correct the alleged violations and to certify its compliance with applicable federal and state UST regulations.
A March 30, 2004, inspection by EPA and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection revealed that the company did not provide required corrosion protection and leak prevention and detection safeguards for the six underground tanks at these facilities. According to the complaint, Century abandoned the two facilities in the late 1990s, leaving each facility with at least one UST that was not empty.
With millions of gallons of gasoline, oil, and other petroleum products stored in USTs throughout the country, leaking tanks are a major source of soil and groundwater contamination. EPA and state UST regulations are designed to reduce the risk of underground leaks and to promptly detect and properly address leaks that do occur, minimizing environmental harm and avoiding the costs of major cleanups.
EPA Settles With Roanoke Landlord Over Lead-Paint Hazards
The EPA has announced its settlement with a Roanoke landlord for alleged violations of a federal law requiring disclosure of lead-based paint hazards in residential rental properties. In a consent agreement with EPA, Frank Roupas has agreed to pay a $4,000 civil penalty and spend at least $32,000 on abating lead-based paint hazards and replacing windows at Roupas’ properties in Roanoke, Va.
EPA cited Roupas for violating the “lead disclosure rule" under the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 (RLPHA) at two of his rental properties. This regulation requires sellers and landlords of residential housing built before 1978, the year the federal government banned the sale of lead-based house paint, to disclose to purchasers and tenants the presence of known lead-based paint hazards or disclose their lack of knowledge of such hazards.
According to EPA, Roupas failed to provide required lead-based paint disclosures and required lead warning statements in leases signed in January and June of 2006. Roupas has certified that he is now in compliance with the lead disclosure rule.
Under the law, landlords and home-sellers must provide a lead hazard information pamphlet; provide a standard warning statement in the lease on the dangers of lead-based paint; provide purchasers with a 10-day opportunity to conduct a lead-based paint inspection; and include disclosure and acknowledgment language in sales contracts and leases.
EPA is cooperating with other federal, state, and local agencies to protect tenants and homeowners from the health risks of lead-based paint. Young children, in particular, are most vulnerable because their nervous systems are still developing.
Arctic ‘Report Card’ Shows Continued Climate Changes
The first update of a report tracking the state of the Arctic indicates that some changes in that region are larger and occurring faster than those previously predicted by climate models, while other indicators show some stabilization. The “Report Card” was issued by an international team of scientists, including a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) lead author.
“There will be significant environmental effects throughout the globe resulting from changes in the Arctic. This annual update provides key information to decision makers and the scientific community on changes that are taking place in the Arctic now.”
. Relative to amounts of Arctic sea ice in the 1980s, the region lost almost 40% of the summertime sea ice in the central Arctic in 2007. While the continued loss of summertime sea ice is the most dramatic example, changes are also seen in the atmosphere, on land, in the ocean, and in location and abundance of Arctic species.
“The purpose of the Report Card is to provide a concise, scientifically credible and accessible source of information on recent changes in the Arctic,” says Jacqueline Richter-Menge, the chief editor of the project, from the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory.
The fate of the Greenland ice sheet represents large uncertainty. “Recent ice loss is about the same as in the early 20th century, but one cannot exclude a potentially faster response, as mechanisms remain incompletely understood,” wrote the team headed by Edward Hanna of the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom.
Not all indicators show extreme events, and some signals are mixed. For instance, North Pole ocean temperatures are returning to 1990s values, but currents are relatively warm around the edges of the Arctic Ocean. Permafrost temperatures are stabilizing in both North America and Eurasia, but permafrost melt remains a serious problem. Shrubs are moving northward into tundra areas, but causes for treeline movements are difficult to assess because forest management practices are as influential as climate change. Changes in Arctic animal populations show mixed tendencies over decades. Many caribou and reindeer herds have declined (some up to 80% relative to their peaks), while Arctic goose populations have generally expanded.
“The Report Card brings together cutting-edge information on changes in Arctic systems,” says Mike Gill, Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program Secretariat in Canada, and a report card co-editor. “The Report Card reinforces that natural systems in the Arctic continue to undergo significant change, with climate change likely playing an increasing role—emphasizing the need for ongoing and enhanced monitoring.”
The Report Card is organized by NOAA and will be updated annually. It is a contribution to the international Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP) and the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) Programme.
From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.
NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 70 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts, and protects.
Hearing on Mandatory Reporting of Greenhouse Gases in California
On Oct. 31, staff of the Air Resources Board (ARB) will hold a public workshop to discuss a proposed regulation for mandatory reporting of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Earlier in October, the ARB released a proposed regulation for GHG mandatory reporting.
This release begins a formal 45-day comment period on the proposal prior to consideration at a two-day meeting of the Air Resources Board beginning December 6.
At the workshop, the ARB will provide an overview of the regulatory proposal, answer any questions, and receive feedback as it prepares to bring the proposal to the Board for consideration. This proposed GHG reporting regulation is being developed pursuant to requirements of the California Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32, Statutes of 2006, Chapter 488). The proposed regulation specifies GHG calculation, reporting, and verification requirements for the specific industrial sectors proposed for mandatory reporting, including electricity generating facilities, electricity retail providers, electricity marketers, oil refineries, hydrogen plants, cement plants, cogeneration facilities, and industrial sources that emit more than 25,000 metric tons per year of CO2 from stationary combustion.
Derby, Vt., Company Faces Fine for Oil Spill Prevention Violations
A plumbing and heating company that stores and distributes oil from its bulk storage facility in Derby, Vt., faces fines of up to $157,500 for allegedly failing to adequately plan for and guard against oil spills at its facility.
On February 27, approximately 5,000 gallons of gasoline was released from a 25,000-gallon double-compartment aboveground storage tank at Fred’s Plumbing & Heating bulk plant located on Route 5 in Derby. During the cleanup response, it was revealed that spilled gasoline had migrated beyond the secondary containment walls and floor surrounding the tank and contaminated soil and groundwater on the facility grounds.
The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VTDEC) responded to the spill and is continuing to oversee the ongoing remediation and investigation to categorize the extent of the release and recover the discharged oil. Efforts continue to evaluate the threat posed by the release to a tributary of the John’s River, located approximately 200 feet southwest of the spill area, and to two nearby drinking water wells, which are located within 1,000 feet of the bulk plant.
EPA’s Administrative Complaint alleges that the company violated the federal Clean Water Act by failing to have an adequate "Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure" (SPCC) plan in place at its facility. EPA’s Oil Pollution Prevention regulations require that certain spill prevention and response measures be implemented at facilities that store oil above threshold amounts. The rule helps ensure that a tank failure or spill does not lead to oil being released into surface waters, such as rivers, streams, or groundwater.
An inspector from EPA’s New England office and a representative from VTDEC inspected the Derby facility and found that the company had failed to fully implement an adequate spill prevention plan for the site. In particular, the company failed to construct sufficiently impervious secondary containment for the oil storage containers, loading rack, and other fuel transfer areas.
“Oil spills can do significant damage to the environment, including to surface waters and drinking water supplies,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. “EPA will continue to ensure that facilities handling oils follow established procedures to minimize risks of oil spills.”
EPA has been focusing on oil spill prevention in New England. The complaint against Fred’s Plumbing & Heating is one of many undertaken by EPA during the past 18 months to ensure that facilities that store oil have fully implemented SPCC plans at their facilities.
Reduce Catalog Clutter
Use it to reduce your mailbox clutter, while helping save natural resources. It’s a sponsored project of the Ecology Center that has been endorsed by the National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and funded by the Overbrook Foundation, the Merck Family Fund, and the Kendeda Fund.
EPA Reaches Agreement With Spectro Alloys on Clean Air Violations
The agreement, which includes a $70,923 penalty, resolves EPA allegations that Spectro exceeded emission limits for dioxins and furans at two of its furnaces and failed to maintain afterburner inspection records for the years 2003 through 2006.
Testing in May 2007 showed that Spectro is now meeting the emission limits for dioxins and furans. Spectro also demonstrated to EPA that it is currently maintaining the required afterburner inspection records.
Dole Fresh Vegetables, Inc., Fined for Faulty Risk Management Plan
Dole Fresh Vegetables has agreed to pay a $54,450 fine and correct deficiencies in its chemical risk management plan as part of a settlement with Ohio EPA.
The company owns and operates a food preparation and storage facility at 600 Benjamin Drive (PrimeOhio) in Springfield. As part of the refrigeration process, the company uses anhydrous ammonia. The facility also treats process water with chlorine.
Because of the amount of anhydrous ammonia and chlorine at the facility, the company must file a risk management plan (RMP) with Ohio EPA outlining a program to prevent accidental releases. This includes staff training and handling procedures for working with the chemical as well as describing a worst-case scenario for a chemical release.
During a 2006 inspection, Ohio EPA noted multiple deficiencies in the company's RMP. Those included failures to:
- Establish a written management system for risk management plan elements
- Provide supporting hazard assessment documentation
- Develop process safety information
- Analyze hazards relating to the chlorination process and address recommendations from the anhydrous ammonia refrigeration process hazard analysis
- Include operating limits, consequences of deviations and safety functions for the ammonia process, and complete operating procedures for the chlorination process
- Provide refresher training to employees at least every three years
- Implement preventive maintenance procedures
- Complete pre-startup reviews
- Conduct a risk management plan compliance audit at least every three years
- Implement the contractor program
The worst-case scenario in the plan is useful in case of emergency releases. Companies often coordinate plan development with local fire departments and other emergency responders.
Western Climate Change Initiative Conference Call
The Western Climate Initiative (WCI) will hold a conference call for stakeholders on October 31 at 2 p.m., Pacific time.
The WCI will present the current status of the initiative and will take stakeholder questions during the call. Prior to the conference call, materials will be posted on the WCI website.
Toll-Free Call-in number: 1-800-868-1387
Direct Call-in number: 1-404-920-6440 Pass code: 659537#
Samuel Adams Brewery Company Pays $18,360 Penalty for Faulty RMP
Samuel Adams Brewery Company has paid an $18,360 fine and corrected deficiencies in its environmental (or chemical) risk management plan as part of a settlement with Ohio EPA. The company has now returned to compliance.
The company owns and operates a brewery at 1625 Central Pkwy., Cincinnati. As part of the refrigeration process, the company uses anhydrous ammonia. Because of the amount of anhydrous ammonia at the facility, the company must file a risk management plan (RMP) with Ohio EPA outlining a program to prevent accidental releases. This includes staff training and handling procedures for working with the chemical as well as describing a worst-case scenario for an anhydrous ammonia release.
During a 2002 inspection, Ohio EPA found three deficiencies in the company's RMP. Those were corrected; however, during a March 13, 2007, inspection, Ohio EPA conducted an RMP audit and discovered the company failed to complete five areas of its RMP. These included failure to:
- Change emergency contact information within one month of changing the emergency contact
- Renew and update the off-site consequence analysis after five years
- Certify annually that operating procedures are current and accurate
- Failure to conduct refresher training on the operating procedures
- Develop and implement a mechanical integrity program.
The worst-case scenario in the plan is useful in case of emergency releases. Companies often coordinate plan development with local fire departments and other emergency responders.
EPA Terminates Permits for EDS Hazardous Waste Underground Injection Wells
EPA Region 5 has decided to terminate federal permits issued to Environmental Disposal Systems, Birmingham, Mich., allowing the injection of hazardous waste into two underground disposal wells at a facility in Romulus, Mich.
Since 2005, the company had been accepting a variety of liquid hazardous wastes from industry and injecting them into a layer of rock nearly a mile underground. EPA's decision is based on numerous violations, including failing to notify the agency of an ownership transfer, at the now-closed facility.
"When EPA issues a permit, it expects the permit holder to comply with all terms and conditions, and EDS has not done so," said Kevin Pierard, Region 5's acting water division director. "Any potential new operator must start the permitting and public comment process from the beginning."
A public comment period on the proposed termination ended June 22. Those who provided comments will receive a summary of EPA responses to all comments received about the proposal. The response-to-comments document will be available for review at the following three public libraries:
- Romulus Public Library, 11121 Wayne Road
- Taylor Community Library, 12303 Pardee Road
- Eshleman Library, Henry Ford Community College, 5101 Evergreen Road, Dearborn
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality inspectors found a leak in the surface piping of one of the wells during an October 2006 visit and ordered the facility shut down. Subsequent inspections by EPA confirmed the leak and identified numerous other violations of permit conditions.
Connecticut DEP Offers Fall Outdoor Safety Tips
The Department of Environmental Protection issued a safety reminder for all outdoor enthusiasts, including hunters and non-hunters alike.
"We are approaching the peak time of year for a variety of hunting activities in Connecticut," said Dale May, director of the DEP Wildlife Division. "This is also a popular time for others to enjoy the many outdoor opportunities that our state has to offer, including hiking, biking, and paddling.
It is especially important for all outdoor users to respect the rights of others and be aware of all activities that may be occurring outdoors. Connecticut hunters have an excellent safety record, and awareness on the part of non-hunters can help in our efforts to keep hunting safe for everyone."
Whether you like to hike, camp, horseback ride, mountain bike, hunt, or fish, it is a good idea to observe a few safety precautions while outdoors.
Basic Safety Tips all outdoor users should follow include:
- When you use the outdoors, whether for hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, or some other activity, let someone know where you plan to be and when you will return.
- Familiarize yourself with the area you will be using and know the activities that occur there.
- Obtain landowner permission before accessing private land.
- Wear brightly colored clothing.
- Avoid wearing gray, brown, tan, or white when hiking in or near hunting areas.
- Consider using a bell on your bike or horse during hunting season.
- If you see someone hunting, call out to them to make them aware of your location.
- Report wildlife or hunting violations to the DEP Environmental Conservation (EnCon) Police at 860-424-3333. You may also use the Wildlife Violation Hotline at 1-800-842-HELP, where callers can choose to remain anonymous and receive cash rewards for information leading to arrest and conviction of the violator.
Hunters should also follow three basic, but important, rules:
1. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded.
2. Always keep the muzzle of your firearm pointed in a safe direction.
3. Always be sure of your target and what is beyond it before pulling the trigger.
Sportsmen must also observe the fluorescent orange clothing requirements, which specify that a total of 400 square inches be worn above the waist and be visible from all sides from September 1 through the last day in February. Some exceptions do apply; they are listed in the 2007 Connecticut Hunting and Trapping Guide.
Hunting Activities: Hunters must obtain landowner permission before hunting on private land. Hunting on public lands is allowed on most state forests and wildlife management areas and on some state parks. Detailed information about hunting seasons, public hunting areas, laws and regulations are available in the 2007 Hunting and Trapping Field Guide available at all town clerks, license agents, and on the DEP website.
In general, peak hunting occurs during early morning and late afternoon, primarily during the period from mid-October through mid-December. The general firearms season for deer begins on November 14 this year.
Want to Learn More? Take a Conservation Education/Firearms Safety Course.
For those who want to learn more about outdoor safety, hunting, and wildlife management, the DEP offers a comprehensive course of instruction to anyone wishing to increase their knowledge and understanding.
All first-time firearms hunters in Connecticut are required to successfully complete a 16-hour class offered by the DEP Wildlife Division’s Conservation Education/Firearms Safety Program. A dedicated core of more than 300 certified volunteer instructors teach the classes, which are offered free-of-charge throughout the year. In addition to firearms safety, laws and regulations, all courses include topics such as outdoor survival and first aid, wildlife management, wildlife identification, and hunter ethics and responsibility.
Lawsuit Filed Over Contamination From Gas Station
The Department of Attorney General, on behalf of the Michigan DEQ, has filed a counter lawsuit against Michigan-based J&S Company, Inc., regarding contamination at the former Speed-E-Mart Gas Station located in the village of Milford, Oakland County. The lawsuit, filed in the Oakland County Circuit Court, also lists Michigan-based G/CSC Ltd., the previous owner of the Former Speed-E-Mart and Maryland-based BP Products North America, the owner of the Former Amoco Gas Station which is also located in the village of Milford, as defendants.
Previous releases of gasoline from the Former Speed-Mart Gas Station and the Former Amoco Gas Station have resulted in environmental contamination that poses a threat to the village of Milford's municipal well field. The DEQ spent $3.5 million of cleanup funds to install and operate a groundwater treatment system that has successfully prevented contaminants from reaching the municipal well field that provides the village of Milford with drinking water. Under state and federal environmental laws, J&S Company, G/CSC Ltd., and BP Products North America are responsible for those costs and the lawsuit seeks to recover those funds.
"The contamination in this case posed a serious public health risk, and it became necessary for the DEQ to step in and address the problem," said DEQ Director Steven E. Chester. "Now it is time for the responsible parties, and not Michigan's taxpayers, to bear the costs of the cleanup activities."
"I am committed to protecting Michigan's environment from polluters," said Attorney General Mike Cox. "Those responsible for this pollution will be held accountable."
EPA Calls for Partnering on School Chemical Safety
What should a school do with outdated chemicals that may have been sitting in the lab cabinet or storage closet for 20 years or more? EPA's Schools Chemical Cleanout Campaign can help schools find partners to give advice in safe chemical removal and management. EPA is challenging companies and other organizations with chemical expertise to be good neighbors and help schools in their community.
Developer of Construction Project Fined $85,318 for Discharging Without a Permit
The Washington Department of Ecology has fined JPS Holdings of Normandy Park $85,318 for discharging stormwater from the Brandon Meadows construction project in Auburn without a permit and for violating an Ecology order to apply for a permit.
Ecology gave written and verbal warnings to the company—starting in September 2006—that construction projects larger than one acre that drain to surface water require a construction stormwater permit, which outlines proper pollution controls. The Brandon Meadows project—at 130th Ave. SE and SE 309th Place—is 10.2 acres.
An Ecology order in November 2006 directed the company to apply for the permit by December 3. An application was not filed until July 2, 2007.
Department inspectors observed silty stormwater discharging from the project during six different visits to the site from November 2006 to February 2007. Ecology fined JPS Holdings $21,000 in March for similar violations at the company’s Cristelle Ridge construction project in Renton. That penalty is under appeal.
“It is rare for a company to receive notices and warnings, and even a recent fine, and continue committing the same violations,” said Dave Peeler, who manages Ecology’s water quality program. “All construction projects one acre or larger that drain to surface water must have a storm water permit, and they need to comply with this permit. This regulatory requirement has been in place for years, and it is clearly understood by all responsible developers, contractors, and consultants in this industry.”
Muddy water interferes with the ability of fish and other aquatic organisms to obtain oxygen and the silt can smother salmon-spawning areas. Water from the Brandon Meadows projects drains to a tributary of Big Soos Creek, a salmon-bearing stream. Parts of the creek do not meet state standards for dissolved oxygen and fecal coliform bacteria.
House Passes Bill to Curb Invasive Species Devastating National Wildlife Refuges
The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the bipartisan Refuge Ecology Protection, Assistance, and Immediate Response Act, or REPAIR Act (H.R. 767), which will direct federal resources to states to help eradicate invasive species that are devastating many wildlife refuges. In response to the exploding threat that invasive species pose to the health and abundance of many birds, Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) championed legislation that provides grants to states to identify harmful non-native species and establish priorities for preserving native birds, fish, other wildlife, and their habitats. The REPAIR Act now moves to the Senate where American Bird Conservancy hopes to see quick passage.
“For too long, our National Wildlife Refuges have been overlooked and neglected,” Rep. Kind said. “Meanwhile, refuges have faced an unanswered march of invasive plants and animals that have literally taken over, crowding out the very wildlife and habitat the refuges are charged with protecting. By providing grants for both immediate response and long-term eradication of invasives, passage of the REPAIR Act brings us one step closer to giving our National Wildlife Refuge System a vital tool in combating the number one ecological and economic threat to their quality and longevity.”
Significant portions of federal lands and waters including National Wildlife Refuges are thoroughly infested with harmful non-native species, which are subsequently able to spread unchecked to adjacent private, public lands, and waters. Invasive species infest more than 100 million acres of the American landscape, and each year they continue to spread, at great cost to wildlife and the economy. The cost of control and damages from invasives is estimated at $138 billion annually. Invasives are also one of the main causes of biodiversity loss.
“As the leader of the Refuge Caucus in the House, but also as a Member of Congress with three important National Wildlife Refuges in his district that serve as vital habitat to many species of birds, Rep. Kind understands very well how these delicate ecosystems are thrown out of balance with the introduction of non-native species,” said Darin Schroeder, Executive Director of Conservation Advocacy for American Bird Conservancy. “Passage of the REPAIR Act in the House is a crucial first step in stopping the spread of invasives and ensuring that our refuges continue to be home to an amazing array of birds for future generations of Americans to enjoy. American Bird Conservancy appreciates Rep. Kind’s leadership on this issue.”
The REPAIR Act provides matching grants to federal land and water managers and non-federal partners to conduct control projects that aim to manage harmful non-native species where present, take steps to detect early infestations, and restore native species and habitats. Lastly, it will provide a rapid response capability at the request of a state to make emergency funds available for the control of an incipient invasive species; authorize the National Invasive Species Council; and provide funds for long-term monitoring of project sites. The federal cost share of grants under this bill is 75% on non-federal lands and 100% for work carried out in refuges.
“Unfortunately, under current law, native fish and wildlife are not directly protected from harmful non-native species on federal or any other lands,” said Schroeder. “A good example of invasive species harm can be found at Midway Atoll, where non-native golden crown-beard (Verbesina encelioides) is quickly choking the island and further threatening Laysan Albatrosses by limiting reproductive success.”
New Energy Star Tool Offers Warm Homes and Cool Savings
With winter just around the corner, a new tool from EPA can help you reduce your energy bills by up to 25% just by making some simple home improvements. Using energy more efficiently is also another way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Dropping temperatures don’t have to lead to rising energy bills. By making a few energy-saving home improvements, Americans can stay warm this winter, while keeping more cold cash in their pockets,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson.
The average family spends $1,900 per year on energy bills. For example, EPA estimates that homeowners can save up to 10% on their annual energy bill simply by sealing air leaks and adding insulation. If every American home improved energy efficiency by 10%, the result would be 800 pounds of carbon removed from the air each year.
Using the Energy Star Home Advisor, you can enter your zip code and some basic information about the types of fuel used to heat and cool your home and get recommended home improvement projects to increase energy efficiency and comfort. You can also see the average energy savings for these improvements and associated greenhouse gas reductions.
Common recommendations include sealing air leaks and ducts; adding insulation; installing a programmable thermostat; replacing older heating, cooling, and water-heating equipment with more efficient units; as well as changing lighting, appliances, and windows to Energy Star qualified models.
Environmental Innovation on YouTube
Toyota is sponsoring a series of short clips on environmental innovation from a wide range of different sectors. The “Green Design” movies are available on YouTube and highlight a series of ideas that enable us to live greener through the use of modern technologies. The films cover a range of topics from eco football to a solar tower in Spain.
Toyota sponsors Green Design as part of its “aim: zero emissions” philosophy: Sustainability is about more than just the reduction of exhaust emissions. The company is focused on reducing the environmental impact of a car throughout its entire life cycle—from design and manufacturing through to recycling.
TCEQ Approves Fines Totaling $554,909
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) approved penalties totaling $554,909 against 69 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations.
Agreed orders were issued for the following enforcement categories: 3 agricultural, 12 air quality, 3 dry cleaner, 2 Edwards Aquifer, 3 field citations, 1 industrial hazardous waste, 4 industrial waste discharge, 4 licensed irrigator, 3 multi-media, 1 municipal solid waste, 15 municipal waste discharge, 2 petroleum storage tank, 7 public water system, 1 sludge, 1 underground injection, and 3 water quality. In addition, default orders were issued for the following categories: three dry cleaner and one municipal waste discharge.
Included in the total fine figure is a penalty of $137,600 against E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company in Jefferson County. The fines are the result of a discharge of more than 4,000 gallons of acrylonitrile, a liquid chemical used in making plastics, into the West Marsh area resulting in a fish kill.
Trivia Question of the Week
Compact fluorescent lamps have CCT ratings of 2700K to 5000K. A 5000K lamp:
a. Uses more energy than a 2700K lamp
b. Uses less energy than a 2700K lamp
c. Contains more mercury than a 2700K lamp
d. Emits a whiter light than a 2700K lamp