Recently, several facilities subject to EPA reporting requirements under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA or SARA Title III) or the Clean Air Act (CAA) Section 112(r) have inquired about the appropriateness of filing reports under these legislative requirements. Facilities have cited nondisclosure or confidentiality agreements relating to implementation of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) new Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS).
Nothing in the new CFATS regulations alters the requirements that apply to a facility covered under both CFATS and EPCRA or CAA 112(r). Section 27.405 of the CFATS regulations (Review and Preemption of State Laws and Regulations) states that, “Nothing in this regulation is intended to displace other federal requirements administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Transportation, or other federal agencies.”
In the preamble to the regulation, DHS further clarifies this provision, specifically indicating that CFATS has no affect on EPCRA, CAA Section 112(r), and other laws administered by EPA.
Recent discussions between EPA and DHS officials have confirmed that the current intent of the CFATS regulations remains in accordance with this understanding and that information currently required to be submitted under EPCRA and CAA Section 112(r) is not Chemical-Terrorism Vulnerability Information (CVI), and must, therefore, be reported.
EPA Performance Track Program Exceeds 500–Member Mark
Facilities from Nestle, Frito-Lay, and Toyota are among the 42 new members committing to go above and beyond environmental requirements as members of EPA’s National Environmental Performance Track Program. The latest additions bring the total number of environmental leaders in Performance Track to 538 with members in 49 states and Puerto Rico.
“EPA applauds our Performance Track partners who are going above and beyond environmental requirements and producing real, measurable results,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “By committing to conservation today, these leading companies are helping shape a healthier, more prosperous tomorrow.”
Performance Track members come from a wide range of sectors, such as automotive, paper, food processing, pharmaceuticals, and government agencies. This latest membership round, the 15th to date, includes first-time applications from Goldschmidt (McDonald, Pa.), a manufacturer of tin chemicals; Standard Aero (San Antonio, Texas), a gas turbine engine repair and maintenance company; and two Pull-A-Part facilities (Conley and Norcross, Ga.), a do-it-yourself autoparts retailer. Coca-Cola, the U.S. Postal Service, Baxter Health Care, Covanta, and Toyota were among 13 organizations already represented in Performance Track that added facilities to the program. Individual facilities apply for membership in Performance Track, and companies may have multiple facilities in the program.
Performance Track recognizes facilities that have a strong record of environmental compliance, have set three-year goals for continuous improvements in environmental performance beyond their legal requirements, have internal systems in place to manage their environmental impacts, engage in community outreach, and consistently report results. Performance Track facilities must meet all environmental regulatory requirements and typically set four goals for environmental improvement (facilities with less than 50 full-time employees set two goals).
Since the 2000 launch of this facility-based program, Performance Track membership has grown to 538 members in 49 states and Puerto Rico, and those members have set more than 3,500 goals to benefit the environment in both regulated and unregulated areas. Through goals that have been set since the inception of the program, Performance Track members have reported greenhouse gas reductions of 310,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, reductions in nitrogen oxides of 13,000 tons, and reductions of hazardous waste of 52,000 tons.
Bacteria and Nanofilters: the Future of Clean Water Technology
Bacteria often get bad press, with those found in water often linked to illness and disease. But researchers at The University of Nottingham are using these tiny organisms alongside the very latest membrane filtration techniques to improve and refine water-cleaning technology.
These one-celled organisms eat the contaminants present in water—whether it is being treated prior to industrial use or for drinking—in a process called bioremediation.
The water is then filtered through porous membranes, which function like a sieve. However, the holes in these sieves are microscopic, and some are so small they can only be seen at the nanoscale. Pore size in these filters can range from ten microns, ten thousandths of a millimeter, to one nanometer, a millionth of a millimetre.
These technologies can be developed into processes that optimize the use of water—whether in an industrial system or to provide drinking water in areas where it is a scarce resource.
The research is led by Nidal Hilal, professor of Chemical and Process Engineering in the Centre for Clean Water Technologies, a world-leading research center that is developing advanced technologies in water treatment.
Current membrane technology used in water-treatment processes can decrease in efficiency over time, as the membranes become fouled with contaminants. By using bioremediation, the membranes can be cleaned within the closed system, without removing the membranes. Center researchers have developed the technology in partnership with Cardev International, an oil filtration company based in Harrogate.
As well as being highly effective in the water-treatment process, transforming industrial liquid waste contaminated with metals and oils into clean water, ultrafiltration and nanofiltration membranes have a useful side effect. The waste products have a very high calorific value and can be used as fuel.
Nanofiltration and ultrafiltration membranes are also being used in work funded by the Middle East Desalination Research Centre, which looks at creating drinking water from seawater. By pretreating the seawater and removing contaminants, the membranes reduce the fouling of machinery in the next stage of the process—whether through reverse osmosis or thermal desalination. This can prevent damage to the machinery, reducing the need for expensive repair and replacements.
And by measuring liquid properties at the nanoscale, using state-of-the-art atomic force microscope equipment at the university, researchers are exploring how liquids behave at an atomic level—how they flow and pull apart. These results could be used in mechanics and industry, for example, maximizing the use of oil in an engine.
Liquids are also being tested at a range of temperatures, from the very low (–50 C) to the very high (150 C).
“Examining the properties of liquids has never been done before at this scale,” Professor Hilal said. “By using bioremediation and nanofiltration technology combined, the water cleaning process is integrated—using far less energy than current processes. Add to this the recycling of waste products as fuels and you have a greener technology.”
The Greening of Your Copy Machine
EPA is launching the first steps toward new green standards for copiers and other imaging devices. This effort builds on the success of EPEAT—an online tool to help institutional buyers identify and buy greener electronic equipment.
On February 20–21, EPA hosted a two-day roundtable to kick-off the development process for the new environmental standards. The forum brought together representatives from manufacturers, suppliers, public and private sector purchasers, public interest groups, and experts in electronics design to define the scope of the products to be covered, look at other standards and labels, and begin to develop potential environmental performance criteria for the new standards.
EPEAT is a trusted resource for buyers looking for greener computers, because it was developed by all the stakeholders,” said David Jones, associate director of the Waste Division in EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “The success of EPEAT has led to significant environmental benefits. EPA is committed to supporting stakeholder efforts to now reduce the impact of printers and copiers as well.”
EPEAT—the electronic product environmental assessment tool—was launched in 2006, focusing on desktop and laptop computers and monitors. It includes a set of environmental criteria and a system for registering and verifying equipment that meets those criteria. EPEAT-registered computers have reduced levels of toxics, are more energy efficient, are easier to upgrade and recycle, and use more sustainable packaging than conventional equipment.
Purchasers have embraced EPEAT enthusiastically. Nearly all electronic equipment purchases by the U.S. government must be EPEAT-registered. In addition, more than six states and dozens of local governments and colleges and universities have adopted EPEAT in their procurement for computers. Major private companies are using the tool as well. That success has driven demand by purchasers for additional products to be added to EPEAT.
EPA will not develop the new standard itself, but it is providing funding and staff support to bring stakeholders together to accomplish this mission. The standard is expected to be finalized through the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., (IEEE) Standards Association, , which is the world’s largest technical professional society.
Toxic Release Data Now Available to the Public
This is the earliest release of the data in the 20-year history of the program. Improvements in electronic reporting and data processing have made this possible. On a nationwide basis, chemical releases into the environment are down by 2% from 2005 levels.
“Citizens have information about hundreds of chemicals at their finger tips and, we’re getting that information to them faster than ever with improvements made in electronic reporting, data processing, and analysis,” said EPA’s Chief Information Officer Molly O’Neill. “Making the public aware of this inventory of releases is a powerful tool for reducing pollution. From 2001 to 2006, we have seen a 24% decrease in total releases.”
The TRI is an online electronic database, housing information about chemical releases at facilities across the country. TRI tracks and contains detailed information on releases of nearly 650 chemicals and chemical categories from about 23,000 industrial and federal facilities. The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) of 1986, also known as SARA Title III, established the TRI program. In 1990, The Pollution Prevention Act expanded the program by including data on toxic chemicals that are released, treated, recycled, and burned for energy recovery.
EPA has been providing information to the public about chemical releases into the air, water, and land at facilities nationwide. This information is getting to the public earlier and faster than ever and is accessible based upon geographic location, industry sector, and individual chemicals.
New Web-Based Tool for Stormwater Best Management Practices
The tool provides access to studies covering a variety of traditional and low impact BMP types, including retention and detention ponds, biofilters, grassed filter strips, porous pavement, wetlands, and others. Users will also find a series of essays aimed at improving understanding of BMP performance and the importance of volume reduction and infiltration in these assessments.
EPA plans to add more studies during the coming year, focusing on expanding the collection of studies of low impact development or green infrastructure BMPs.
Lamp Powered by Gravity Wins Greener Gadget Award
Virginia Tech student has created a floor lamp powered by gravity. While many people want to know when the lamp will be available, many others point out that it won't actually work.
The criticism is that a great deal of weight—tons—would be required and current LEDs are not sufficiently efficient. Designer Clay Moulton acknowledges that the current state of the art isn't sufficient to actually build the lamp.
The award was for a conceptual design project based on future technology, and the lamp was one of many futuristic designs recognized at the Greener Gadgets Conference.
Clay Moulton of Springfield, Va., who received his master of science degree in architecture (concentration in industrial design) from the College of Architecture and Urban Studies in 2007, created the lamp when he was an industrial design graduate student. The light-emitting diode (LED) lamp, named Gravia, has just won second place in the Greener Gadgets Design Competition as part of the Greener Gadgets Conference in New York City.
Concept illustrations of Gravia depict an acrylic column a little over four feet high. The entire column glows when activated. The electricity is generated by the slow fall of a mass that spins a rotor. The resulting energy powers 10 high-output LEDs that fire into the acrylic lens, creating a diffuse light. The operation is silent and the housing is elegant and cord free—completely independent of electrical infrastructure.
The light output will be 600–800 lumens—roughly equal to a 40-watt incandescent bulb over a period of four hours.
To turn on the lamp, the user moves weights from the bottom to the top of the lamp. An hour glass-like mechanism is turned over, and the weights are placed in the mass sled near the top of the lamp. The sled begins its gentle glide back down and, within a few seconds, the LEDs come on and light the lamp, Moulton said. "It's more complicated than flipping a switch but can be an acceptable, even enjoyable routine, like winding a beautiful clock or making good coffee," he said.
Moulton estimates that Gravia's mechanisms will last more than 200 years, if used eight hours a day, 365 days a year. "The LEDs, which are generally considered long-life devices, become short-life components in comparison to the drive mechanisms," he said.
The acrylic lens will be altered by time in an attractive fashion, Moulton said. "The LEDs produce a slightly unnatural blue-ish light. As the acrylic ages, it becomes slightly yellowed and crazed through exposure to ultraviolet light," he said. "The yellowing and crazing will tend to mitigate the unnatural blue hue of the LED light. Thus, Gravia will produce a more natural color of light with age."
He predicted that the acrylic will begin to yellow within 10 to 15 years when Gravia is used in a home's interior room.
EPA Helps Communities Increase Water System Sustainability
EPA works with a number of partners, including organizations that provide technical assistance to small public water systems, to improve technical, managerial, and financial capacity of systems. Two new documents that describe how EPA is carrying out efforts to help are titled, “National Capacity Development Strategic Plan” and “Analysis on the Use of Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Set-Asides: Promoting Capacity Development.”
“Our Strategic Plan and State Revolving Fund reports will help communities increase capacity for maintaining and sustaining their drinking water assets,” said Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles.
The “National Capacity Development Strategic Plan” describes how EPA, state drinking water programs, drinking water system owners and operators, and technical assistance providers will work together to achieve the objectives and anticipated outcomes of the national capacity development program. The strategy outlines how EPA and its partners will promote proactive communication and outreach to help ensure that water systems have the capacity to demonstrate long-term sustainability.
Funding made available through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) program can be critical in advancing capacity development programs at the state level. EPA’s report titled, “Analysis on the Use of Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Set-Asides: Promoting Capacity Development,” provides information on how states have used their funds and will help state drinking water personnel, drinking water system owners and operators, and technical assistance providers to better understand how the DWSRF can support capacity development programs and EPA’s sustainable infrastructure initiative.
EPA Proposes Drinking Water Contaminant Candidate List
Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, EPA includes on the draft Contaminant Candidate List (CCL) currently unregulated contaminants that are known or anticipated to occur in public water systems and that may require regulation.
“EPA is casting a broader scientific net for potential regulation of chemicals and microbes in drinking water,” said Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles. “EPA’s proposed list of priority contaminants will advance sound science and public health by targeting research on certain chemicals and microbes and informing regulators on how best to reduce risk.”
The CCL process was established by the 1996 Amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act as a mechanism to determine if new regulations are needed to protect drinking water. Under this process, EPA conducts extensive research into the occurrence and health effects of the listed contaminants before issuing new regulations or standards.
The draft list includes chemicals used in commerce, pesticides, biological toxins, disinfection byproducts, and waterborne pathogens. The agency evaluated approximately 7,500 chemicals and microbes and selected 104 candidates for the final draft list based on their potential to pose health risks through drinking water exposure. The comment period is now open.
EPA and National Association of Manufacturers Sign Memorandum of Understanding
EPA and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) met in Georgetown, Ky., and have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to help improve the energy efficiency of U.S. manufacturers. This is the first-ever agreement between EPA and NAM, the nation’s oldest and largest industrial trade association.
In combination with the EPA and NAM MOU ceremony, EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson also presented Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc. (TMMK) with its second Energy Star Plant Award for its commitment to energy efficiency.
Currently, the ENERGY STAR label can be found on more than 50 different kinds of products, new homes, as well as commercial and industrial buildings. Products and buildings that have earned the ENERGY STAR designation prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy-efficiency specifications set by the government. Last year alone, Americans, with the help of ENERGY STAR, saved about $14 billion dollars on their energy bills while reducing the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of 25 million vehicles.
Members of Agricultural Advisory Committee Announced
In an effort to continue strengthening EPA’s relations with the agricultural community, EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson has announced the appointment of 30 citizens to serve on a newly formed Farm, Ranch, and Rural Communities Advisory Committee.
“Through increased cooperation with our agriculture partners, EPA is planting the seeds to reap both environmental and economic benefits for the American people,” said Johnson.
“I am honored and pleased to provide leadership to this positive breakthrough in relations between the EPA and the agriculture community,” added Committee Chairman James R. Moseley, former deputy secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. “I look forward to helping the committee provide EPA with solutions that benefit agriculture, the environment, and the economy.”
The committee will advise the administrator on environmental policy issues impacting farms, ranches, and rural communities, and will operate under the rules of the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The first meeting of the committee will take place March 13–14 in Washington, D.C.
Initially, EPA is asking the committee to focus on the following issues:
- How EPA’s policies and regulations on climate change and renewable energy will affect the agriculture community. The agricultural industry—through the development of renewable energy sources—can play a significant role in the nation’s ability to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on oil imports.
- An environmental strategy for managing waste from livestock operations that considers regulatory and voluntary approaches, and provides tools for producers to attain superior environmental performance.
- Development of a constructive approach to advancing sustainable agriculture, protecting the environment, and addressing communication between environmental and agricultural interests.
Members of the committee have been selected from a pool of more than 200 applicants generated from a request for nominations published in the Nov. 15, 2007, issue of the Federal Register. The new members represent large and small farmers, ranchers, and rural communities; rural suppliers, marketers, and processors; academics and researchers who study environmental issues impacting agriculture; as well as environmental and conservation groups.
The committee is being developed as part of a comprehensive National Agriculture Strategy adopted by the administrator in May of 2006. That strategy seeks to engage agriculture in cooperative, collaborative, and innovative ways, in addition to the traditional regulatory programs the agency administers.
Three-Year Performance Partnership Agreement Will Boost Rhode Island’s Environmental Protection
A three-year performance partnership agreement between EPA’s New England regional office and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM), worth nearly $8 million, gives Rhode Island’s environment a major boost.
“By reaching a three-year agreement on funding of these important environmental programs, we are better able to make strategic, long-term decisions that provide better protection for the health of citizens and our environment,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.
“The agreement and associated funding are critical to maintaining our core programs for environmental protection in the state,” said RI DEM Director W. Michael Sullivan, PhD. “They include long-standing programs to protect air and water resources, ensure the proper management of hazardous wastes and pesticides, and ensure the proper operation of underground storage tank systems.”
The agreement dedicates $7.9 million for environmental protection. In addition to focusing on clean air and protecting Rhode Island’s water resources, the partnership agreement between EPA and RI DEM will also focus on restoring ecosystems.
The partnership agreement also includes financial help for communities, such as a total of $700,000 for retrofitting vehicles to reduce emissions from diesel fumes and $440,000 for non-point source water pollution control projects.
Among other provisions of the partnership agreement, RI DEM will continue to monitor water quality conditions in Narragansett Bay, rivers, lakes, and coastal waters that will assist in Rhode Island’s efforts to identify pollution problems and help it move forward with cleanup efforts. The agreement also calls for RI DEM to revise the state’s solid waste regulations to promote recycling of commercially generated waste and revise the state plan to meet the federal air pollution standard for ground-level ozone.
CBS Corporation to Pay More Than $31 Million for Final Cleanup of Indiana Superfund Sites
CBS Corporation has agreed to pay $31.35 million to resolve all outstanding liability related to the cleanup of six Superfund sites in and near Bloomington, Ind., according to an announcement from the Justice Department, EPA, and the State of Indiana. This is the last in a series of partial settlements that have been negotiated with CBS Corp. during the past 10 years after the parties abandoned their original settlement, which required CBS Corp. to excavate and incinerate PCB-contaminated materials.
Under the global settlement, CBS has agreed to perform additional cleanup actions, worth an estimated $22.8 million, to remove PCBs from groundwater and streams at the last three sites. CBS also will pay $6.67 million to reimburse EPA for response costs incurred in investigating and cleaning up the sites.
Under the settlement, CBS has agreed to pay $1.88 million to the Department of the Interior for the purpose of restoring or replacing natural resources that have been injured by ongoing PCB releases from the sites. When combined with response actions performed under prior settlements, CBS will have spent an estimated $247 million in addressing PCB contamination at the Bloomington Superfund sites.
“We are very pleased with this settlement, which provides for robust measures to protect human health and the environment,” said EPA Regional Administrator Mary Gade. “The citizens of Bloomington have lived for too long with fish advisories because of the high concentrations of PCBs in fish in local streams. The settlement puts into place measures that will reduce PCB levels in fish and bring about a day when fish in Clear Creek, Stout’s Creek, and Richland Creek can be safely eaten by people and animals alike.”
CBS is the corporate successor to Westinghouse Electric Corp., which operated an electrical capacitor production facility in Bloomington. The insulating fluid used in the manufacturing of the electrical capacitors contained polychlorinated biphenyls, commonly known as PCBs, which are hazardous substances that do not break down readily by natural processes. Prior to 1972, defective capacitors were disposed of at local dumps resulting in the release or threatened release of hundreds of tons of PCBs into the environment. In addition, PCBs were discharged through the sewer system of the Westinghouse plant, resulting in contamination of the treatment works at the Winston Thomas Sewage Treatment Plant, which was permanently closed in the 1980s due to PCB contamination.
In 1985, after extensive litigation, CBS entered into a court-approved settlement with the United States, the State of Indiana, the City of Bloomington, and Monroe County that required CBS to clean up six sites in and near Bloomington. The settlement required CBS to dig up all materials within the confines of each site and burn the excavated material in an incinerator to be constructed and operated by CBS. In the early 1990s, the parties decided to abandon the incineration remedy and return to negotiations in an effort to agree upon remedial measures to replace those in their original settlement.
Cyprus Amax Minerals Company to Pay More Than $1 Million for Clean Water Act Violations
A proposed consent decree by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment has been filed against Cyprus Amax Minerals Company in the District Court for the District of Kansas. The Consent Decree requires Cyprus Amax Minerals Company to pay $1.2 million to resolve the claims of the United States and the State of Kansas under Section 311(f) of the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. 1321(f), and Kansas state law for natural resource damages at the Cherokee County Superfund Site.
The Department of Justice will receive comments relating to this Consent Decree through March 24, 2008.
Troy Mills, Inc., to Pay More Than $1 Million Superfund Settlement
A proposed CERCLA Settlement Agreement against Troy Mills, Inc., has been lodged with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of West Virginia.
The Settlement Agreement is seeking recovery of $1,100,838 in past costs, plus all future costs incurred by EPA in responding to the release or threat of release of hazardous substances at the Troy Mills Superfund Site in Troy, N.H. The Settlement Agreement provides that the United States will have an allowed administrative claim against Troy Mills, Inc., in the amount of $14 million and would be allowed to place a lien for this amount on Troy Mills, Inc., property at the site.
Additionally, EPA is seeking to have Troy Mills provide an easement to the State of New Hampshire protecting groundwater and the remedy at the site.
The Department of Justice will receive comments through March 24, 2008, relating to the Settlement Agreement.
Lodging of CERCLA Settlement Agreement Against Kennecott Utah Copper Corporation
On Feb. 15, 2008, a proposed Consent Decree in United States vs. Kennecott Utah Copper Corporation was lodged with the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah. The proposed Consent Decree resolves claims alleged by the United States, on behalf of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) against the Kennecott Utah Copper Corporation (KUCC), under CERCLA.
The claim, as alleged in the complaint, seeks recovery of natural resource damages, including compensation to the public for interim losses resulting from the release of hazardous substances from KUCC’s mining, smelter, refinery, and mill tailings facility located near Magna, Utah. The proposed Consent Decree provides that the KUCC will transfer approximately 617 acres of property known as “The Lake Point Wetlands Property” and associated water rights to The Nature Conservatory (TNC). Additionally, KUCC will pay an endowment of $175,000 for management of The Lake Point Wetlands Property, implement a Restoration Plan for property, pay $113,800 in reimbursement of federal damage assessment costs, and pay $52,000 for FWS management oversight of the property and restoration planning.
The Department of Justice will receive comments relating to the proposed Consent Decree through March 24, 2008.
Certified Tank Testing Employees Weren’t Certified
New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection (NJ DEP) Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson announced that ABC Environmental Inc. based in Elmwood Park, N.J., has been fined $290,000 for 58 violations of state requirements for certification of firms and individuals that monitor and service underground storage tanks.
“This company repeatedly ignored the law by providing highly technical services to small retail service stations without the training certification that is required of businesses that monitor and maintain the complex pollution controls on modern fuel tanks,” Commissioner Jackson said. “To make matters worse, the company blatantly continued to send out uncertified technicians to perform this work despite a DEP directive to stop until it obtained all the necessary certifications.”
The work was performed at service stations in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Middlesex, Monmouth, and Passaic counties. The firm, doing business as Certified Tank Testing, lacked DEP certifications when it performed various services at 14 gas stations from June 2006 through April 2007, according to a DEP civil penalty notice. In a letter dated April 16, 2007, NJ DEP instructed the company to cease performing the services until it secured certifications for the business and for its individual employees.
ABC Environmental obtained DEP certification as a company for various tank-testing services on May 17, 2007. However, it continued to send employees who lacked individual certifications and were not accompanied by certified supervisors to conduct services at six service stations from May through September 2007, according to the penalty notice.
The company is entitled by law to request an administrative hearing.
Early leak detection is critical to protecting the environment, providing an early warning before fuel products can spread from faulty tanks and contaminate ground water or nearby surface waters.
The DEP maintains an underground storage tank certification program as required by the Underground Storage of Hazardous Substances Act and Water Pollution Control Act. The program requires training certification for firms and individuals that engage in the installation, closure, subsurface evaluation, and analysis of leak-protection systems for underground storage tanks. The program also requires companies to demonstrate financial responsibility for their work, typically through liability insurance.
Landlords Agree to $182,000 Settlement in Lead Paint Disclosure Case
Three closely related New Haven, Conn., nonprofit housing corporations—Edgewood Village, Inc., F.O.H., Inc., and Yedidei Hagan, Inc.—have agreed to a $182,000 settlement of EPA claims that the housing corporations violated lead paint disclosure laws at their New Haven rental properties.
The violations were identified during the course of an investigation that EPA began in July 2005 and were cited in a complaint filed in April 2007. Under the settlement, the three entities will pay a $20,000 fine, replace 214 old windows, and perform other projects to remove lead-based paint hazards associated with more than 15 apartments in New Haven.
This settlement is one of three significant enforcement actions announced this week by EPA in New England states regarding violation of lead paint disclosure laws. The other cases involved a private landlord in Manchester, N.H., and Chestnut Hill Realty, a property manager for more than 5,000 residential apartment units in the Greater Boston area and Rhode Island.
Old windows are a major culprit in residential lead poisonings because the action of opening and closing windows can abrade lead-based paint on the windows, creating lead-containing dust. The window replacement and lead abatement projects will cost $110,000. While the case was underway in 2007, the landlords performed other lead-based paint hazard abatement work costing approximately $52,000, which was also incorporated into the settlement.
“Lead poisoning is a serious health threat for children in New England, because so much of our housing is older and may contain lead paint,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA’s New England office. “It is critically important that renters and buyers get the information they need to protect themselves and their children from potential exposure to lead paint.”
Infants and young children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure, which can cause intelligence quotient deficiencies; reading and learning disabilities; impaired hearing; and reduced attention span, hyperactivity, and behavior problems. Adults with high lead levels can have difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, nerve disorders, memory problems, as well as suffer muscle and joint pain.
This case is among dozens of lead-related civil and criminal cases EPA New England has taken on as part of a collaborative effort between federal, state, and municipal agencies, as well as grassroots organizations, to make sure property owners, property managers, and real estate agents are complying with federal lead disclosure laws. EPA has conducted hundreds of inspections in New England.
The purpose of the Lead Disclosure Rule is to provide residential renters and purchasers of pre-1978 housing with enough information about lead-based paint in general and known lead-based paint hazards in specific housing, so that they can make informed decisions about whether to lease or purchase the housing.
Federal law requires sellers and landlords selling or renting housing built before 1978 to:
- Provide a lead hazard information pamphlet to inform renters and buyers about the dangers associated with lead paint
- Include lead notification language in sales and rental forms
- Disclose any known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in the living unit and provide available reports to buyers or renters
- Allow a lead inspection or risk assessment by home buyers
- Maintain records certifying compliance with federal laws for a period of three years
Massachusetts Oil Company Pays $78,000 to Settle Clean Water Violations
A Vineyard Haven, Mass., petroleum storage and distribution company has agreed to pay a $78,000 fine for violating the federal Clean Water Act and Oil Pollution Prevention regulations.
RM Packer Inc. failed to adequately implement a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) plan and did not sufficiently maintain proper containment for its tanks and loading rack. Upgrades required by the facility’s SPCC plan had not been implemented, including installing high level alarms and level monitors on tanks, installing secondary tank bottoms with corrosion protection, and testing tanks for soundness. The facility is located directly across from Vineyard Sound Harbor; therefore, these violations presented a significant threat of an oil spill into navigable water.
Following the original EPA inspection, the company submitted a schedule for coming into compliance, including upgrading its tanks and containment areas. When RM Packer fell behind schedule, EPA sent a letter to the company notifying the company that its oil tanks on Beach Road were still out of compliance with the SPCC regulations. Due to the company’s continued noncompliance, EPA subsequently issued an Administrative Order, requiring the company to comply with the storage tank requirements of the SPCC rule. Following continued delays to comply with the SPCC requirements, EPA initiated the current penalty against the company.
“Oil spills can (cause) significant damage to the environment,” 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.”
Spill prevention and control laws help ensure that a tank failure or spill does not lead to oil being released into drinking water wells, rivers, or streams.
RM Packer has agreed to upgrade its facility and comply with the SPCC regulations. The company has poured concrete into the previously unpaved tank containment area, upgraded containment for other, smaller tanks, and has installed high-level alarms and corrosion protection for the active tanks. In addition, RM Packer is working with an engineer to update its SPCC plan.
EPA continues to focus on oil spill prevention in New England. In 2007, EPA conducted inspections at more than 100 facilities in New England to determine their compliance with the Oil Pollution Prevention regulations.
Magnesium Aluminum Corporation to Pay $67,370 for
Violating Ohio’s Air Pollution Control Laws
Magnesium Aluminum Corporation will pay $67,370 penalty as a settlement for violating Ohio’s air pollution control regulations at its manufacturing facility in Cleveland, Ohio. The company was cited for failing to obtain a permit to operate a melting furnace, failure to perform weekly checks for visible emissions, and failure to submit semiannual deviation reports. The violations began in 2004 when the company began operating a 1,500-pound gas-fired aluminum melting furnace without the required permit. The furnace emits pollutants to the air.
The violations were documented by the Cleveland Division of Air Quality (CDAQ), Ohio EPA’s contractual representative responsible for monitoring air pollution sources and inspecting permitted facilities in Cuyahoga County.
Magnesium Aluminum manufactures precision aluminum die-castings for the automotive, industrial, power tool, and electronics industries. To come into compliance with Ohio’s air pollution laws, the company recently submitted a permit-to-operate application to CDAQ for review and approval.
The civil penalty includes $53,896 to administer Ohio EPA’s air pollution control programs and $13,474 to support Ohio EPA’s clean diesel school bus program.
Boston Landowner Penalized $30,000 for Repeated Waste Cleanup Violations
The continued failure to submit cleanup reports related to a release of gasoline and waste oil has resulted in a $30,000 penalty for Joseph Ruggiero, of Barrington, R.I., in an agreement with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP).
“The failure to complete response actions in a timely manner at a site where there has been a release of oil or hazardous material represents an un-met obligation to the Commonwealth that MassDEP will pursue,” said Richard Chalpin, director of MassDEP’s Northeast Regional Office in Wilmington. “In the end, the best use of any property owner’s resources in the event of a release is simply to do the right thing and do it promptly.”
The property is located in the North End section of Boston. The original release was discovered and reported on Jan. 26, 1993. Thereafter, Ruggiero failed to meet cleanup deadlines and agreed in a signed Consent Order with MassDEP to comply with cleanup requirements and to pay a $5,000 penalty. MassDEP, at that time, conditionally suspended an additional $17,500 penalty pending compliance.
On July 24, 2006, after failing to meet those deadlines, Ruggiero agreed to pay the $17,500 that had been suspended and new deadlines were established. On Aug. 30, 2007, Ruggiero failed to meet the deadline for submitting a phase three report as required. Under this agreement, Ruggiero has agreed to submit a (revised) phase two report by Sept. 1, 2008 and phase three report by Oct. 1, 2008, followed by a phase four no later than Jan. 1, 2009, and a final outcome statement for the site no later than June 1, 2009.
Under this new agreement, Ruggiero will pay a $19,331.24 penalty and an additional $10,668.76 penalty will be suspended, pending compliance with the above deadlines.
$13,790 Penalty for Open Dump and Open Burning
Officers of the former Elm Manor Corporation have been assessed $13,790 in penalties by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) for air quality and solid waste violations discovered at their property, located in Blackstone, Mass.
In the summer of 2005, MassDEP personnel inspected the former company’s site, confirming reports of illegal dumping activity taking place at the site. In 2006, in the midst of its investigation of the property, MassDEP received reports from the Blackstone Fire Department and other town officials of illegal open burning activities being conducted on the site.
In a recently finalized consent order, John H. Tweed of Sherborn and Alfred A. DaPrato of Bellingham, officers of the former corporation, agreed to pay the $10,000 penalty, clean up the site, and cease all open-burning activities. MassDEP has agreed to suspend $3,790 of the penalty pending compliance with the order.
Flueger Construction Company Pays $12,700 for Illegal Waste Pile
Flueger Construction Company of Red Wing, Minn., a corporation that primarily performs excavation and grading work, has paid more than $12,700 for alleged solid waste violations.
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) staff documented solid waste violations at a quarry site owned by Edward Flueger and operated by Barney Flueger, doing business as Flueger Construction Company. Although the site is not permitted for disposal of solid waste, a waste pile measuring 160 feet long by 50 feet wide by 50 feet deep was discovered during an inspection. The pile consisted of municipal solid waste and demolition debris.
In addition to paying the civil penalty, the company has also completed two Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) totaling approximately $6,200 and agreed to remove all solid waste from the quarry. The SEPs involved assisting the Red Wing Environmental Learning Center with transportation of building materials and performing a dredging project for the Red Wing Wildlife League. Removal of solid waste at the facility will be completed according to a plan submitted by Flueger. Removal is expected to continue for approximately 60 months.
The settlement, known as a stipulation agreement, is one of the tools used to achieve compliance with environmental laws. When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it was a first time or repeat violation, and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. The agency also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.
SABCO Industries Fined $10,000 for Hazardous Waste Violations
EPA has reached an agreement with SABCO Industries Inc., Toledo, Ohio, on alleged violations of federal hazardous waste regulations. The company will pay a $10,000 penalty.
SABCO formerly cleaned and reconditioned stainless steel kegs, converted soda tank containers for beer industry use, and manufactured miniature brewing equipment. In the course of operations, it generated waste including but not limited to nitric acid, chromium, and paint strippings.
The company was cited for violating the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) requirements for managing hazardous waste. Specifically, EPA cited SABCO on nine counts, including failure to obtain a storage permit, failure to determine if the waste was hazardous, and failure to maintain unobstructed aisle space. The company also allegedly failed to institute a contingency plan, train personnel, keep records, and notify state and local emergency response departments.
Six New England Companies Filed for Failure to Submit FIFRA Reports
Six companies based in New England that produce pesticide products recently settled with EPA for failing to properly submit annual production reports to the agency, as required by federal law.
The law that governs pesticide use in the United States, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), requires pesticide manufacturers to submit annual production reports to EPA. According to the EPA complaints, each of the six companies has failed on at least one previous occasion to properly submit this information.
The companies are: Hydros, Inc. of Bourne, Mass.; AIRMAR Technology Corp. of Milford, N.H.; Goldline Controls, Inc. of North Kingstown, R.I.; North Safety Products, Inc. of Cranston, R.I.; Blue Seal Feeds, Inc. of Richford, Vt.; and Swish Maintenance, Ltd. of Burlington, Vt.
The companies have addressed all violations and have paid fines of up to $5,400. Penalties were based on several factors, including the type of violation and size of the business.
Section 7 of FIFRA requires that each registered pesticide-producing establishment submit annual production reports to EPA on or before March 1. These reports are the only means that EPA has for obtaining information on the types and amounts of pesticides being produced, sold, or distributed both domestically and for export during the year. EPA uses the information to trace ineffective, contaminated, or recalled pesticide products, among other purposes.
Pesticides include insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, antimicrobials, or other substances and pest control devices used to control insects, weeds, or microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses.
New York Attorney General Announces Closure of RG&E’s Coal-Burning Russell Power Plant
New York’s State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has announced a settlement with Rochester Gas and Electric (RG&E) that will require the company to shut down its coal-burning Russell power plant in Greece, N.Y. The agreement also mandates that if RG&E replaces the coal-burning facility, they must build a cleaner, state-of-the-art natural gas plant. As a result of this settlement, thousands of tons of air pollution will be eliminated in the Rochester area annually.
“This settlement represents a victory for the residents of the Rochester area on several fronts,” said Cuomo. “The Russell coal plant will finally be closed and the stage is now set to replace it with a cleaner, more productive, state-of-the-art facility. From asthma to acid rain to ozone, the closure of the Russell plant will reduce the harmful side effects of a coal-burning facility. The Rochester area will further benefit from the energy projects funded by the agreement. With this settlement, we worked productively with RG&E to ensure that the Rochester region’s future energy needs are met with cleaner power.”
Under the settlement, RG&E must permanently shut down the Russell power plant following improvements to power lines and substations, which are expected to be completed in May 2008. If RG&E builds another plant, the settlement requires that this new plant be a state-of-the-art natural gas burning facility. RG&E has already indicated its desire to replace the Russell plant and that it will conform to these requirements. The company has informed the New York Independent System Operator, which manages New York’s electricity transmission grid, that it plans to build a new 300-megawatt electricity generating plant at the site.
The settlement also requires RG&E to pay $500,000 to fund energy efficiency and air pollution reduction projects in the Rochester area, including Orleans, Monroe, Wayne, Ontario, and Livingston counties. Potential projects include the weatherization of low-income housing, the installation of photo-voltaic cells on municipal buildings, and the retrofitting of pollution controls on school buses. RG&E must also pay a civil penalty of $200,000 to New York State.
An investigation by the Attorney General’s office and the DEC found that RG&E had modified the Russell facility and increased air pollution emissions without installing the pollution controls that were required by state and federal clean air laws. After the DEC cited the Russell facility for violations and after initial settlement discussions with RG&E stalled, the Attorney General’s office notified RG&E of its intention to sue. The settlement ends the Attorney General’s legal action.
RG&E’s existing Russell plant consists of four coal-fueled power generating units, with a capacity of producing 260-megawatts of electricity. Each year, the plant emits roughly 20,000 tons of pollutants that turn into smog and soot, which contribute to increased asthma attacks and lung disease. This pollution also causes acid rain, which has devastated lakes, forests, and wildlife throughout New York’s Adirondack and Catskill regions. Annually, the facility also emits approximately 60 pounds of mercury, a potent neurotoxin that contaminates fish in New York lakes and rivers, and more than 1.3 million tons of carbon dioxide, a major global warming pollutant.
Natural gas burning facilities have significant environmental advantages compared to coal-fired plants, emitting a fraction of mercury as well as the pollution that causes smog, soot, and acid rain. Replacing RG&E’s Russell plant with a natural gas burning facility will cut emissions of global warming pollution by more than one-half million tons annually.
When Congress passed the New Source Review (NSR) provisions of the Clean Air Act in 1970, older power plants like the Russell facility were exempted from having to comply with the stricter air pollution control requirements imposed on newer power plants, unless the older plants underwent modifications that increased their pollution. This “grandfathering” was based on the assumption that these plants would be retired and replaced by new, cleaner power plants. Some companies, like RG&E, modified their power plants to extend their life spans, while claiming that the modifications were actually routine maintenance and were therefore exempt from the stricter pollution control requirements.
EPA and DOJ Extend Public Comment Period for Agreement With S.H. BELL on Clean Air Violations
EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice have extended the public comment period for a proposed agreement with S.H. Bell Co. on alleged clean air violations at the company’s facility in the East Liverpool, Ohio, area. The public will now have through March 10 to submit comments.
S.H. Bell operates its Stateline Terminal and its Little England Terminal with portions of the Stateline Terminal extending into the state of Pennsylvania. S.H. Bell operates material handling and temporary storage space for ferrous and nonferrous materials for industry at both plants.
The agreement includes a $50,000 penalty and two environmental projects costing $386,592. When it becomes final, it will resolve federal allegations that S.H. Bell failed to comply with permitting and testing requirements of the Clean Air Act.
In addition to agreeing to comply with all state and federal regulations, S.H. Bell will build a truck loadout shed and complete two road-paving projects totaling 14,850 square feet to capture and control particulate emissions.
Prison Sentence for Turtle Smuggling
Wang Hong, a Chinese national, has been sentenced in U.S. District Court in Denver, Colo., to 167 days in prison and three years of supervised release, according to a Justice Department announcement. Wang pleaded guilty to federal smuggling charges earlier this year in connection with his sale and shipment of endangered sea turtle shell and shell products from China to the United States.
Wang was arrested on Sept. 6, 2007, as part of a multi-year undercover investigation conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Branch of Special Operations. Wang had been indicted by a federal grand jury in August 2007, together with co-defendant Stephen Cheng, also of China. On Jan. 3, 2008, Wang pleaded guilty to knowingly sending four shipments of Hawksbill sea turtle shell and violin bows decorated with Hawksbill sea turtle shell, valued at a total of more than $5,000, to undercover agents of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service working in Colorado during 2006 and 2007.
“This sentence sends a strong statement that those who illegally traffic in endangered species will be punished,” said Ronald J. Tenpas, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Justice Department will continue to prosecute the illegal smuggling of protected species such as sea turtles and to ensure that those who engage in such activity cannot regard the United States as a safe market for their illegal products.”
The Hawksbill sea turtle is listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. It is also protected internationally by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES), a multilateral treaty to which the United States, China, and approximately 170 other countries are parties. Importation of sea turtles into the United States for primarily commercial purposes is strictly prohibited by CITES and U.S. law.
New Study Shows Extent of Harmful Human Influences on Global Marine Ecosystems
More than 40% of the world’s oceans are heavily impacted by human activities, including overfishing and pollution, according to a new study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published in Science.
The results of the study revealed the most heavily affected waters include the East Coast of North America, North Sea, South and East China Seas, Caribbean Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Red Sea, Persian Gulf, Bering Sea, and areas off the western Pacific Ocean. Least affected areas are near the poles.
Casey said that three measures of human-induced climate change were examined by the research team, including changes in sea surface temperatures, UV radiation, and ocean acidification. These measures were found to be among the most important factors in determining the global impacts.
“The extent of human influence was probably more than any of us expected,” said Casey, explaining that particular areas on a map developed in the study indicate the most heavily impacted regions. He added that the study and map—designed to visually highlight the trouble spots in the oceans—are tools for the world’s decision-makers to assess the real impact of human activities on marine ecosystems and help identify ways to lessen the threats.
According to the study, the most threatened ecosystems are:
Coral reefs—which house more than 25% of all marine life and protect against wave erosion
Seagrass beds—which are nursery grounds for young fish and mangroves, which grow in coastal habitats and also help ward off erosion.
“This project allows us to finally start seeing the big picture of how humans are affecting the oceans,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Ben Halpern of the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at the University of California–Santa Barbara.
Casey said the study established the framework for routinely assessing the state of marine ecosystems in the future. “As we compile more and better data, they can be fed back into the study to see where things stand.”
NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, 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.
EPA Awards Energy Star Status to 176 Buildings in Midwest
In 2007, EPA awarded Energy Star status to 176 office buildings, schools, hospitals, banks, hotels, supermarkets, and college dormitories in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. “They use about one-third less energy than average buildings, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and saves money.”
More than 1,400 were added in 2007 alone. The total includes about 1,500 office buildings, 1,300 supermarkets, 820 schools, and 250 hotels. Also, more than 185 banks, financial centers, hospitals, courthouses, warehouses, dormitories and—for the first time—big-box retail buildings earned the Energy Star. More than 35 manufacturing plants such as cement, auto assembly, corn refining, and—for the first time—petroleum refining are also being recognized.