Clean Air Excellence Awards Recognize 13 Innovative Environmental Efforts

March 19, 2004

For innovative air quality improvement efforts, 13 local and state governments, industries and citizens groups received national recognition at EPA's fourth annual Clean Air Excellence Awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

"From states to start-ups, corporate giants to dedicated individuals, these award-winners have demonstrated innovative approaches to making our nation's air cleaner," said EPA Deputy Administrator Steve Johnson. "These are lessons and approaches that should be adapted and applied in communities all across the country."

The 13 awardees are listed by category below:

Networkcar Company, Calif. – Remote Smog Check Technology, continuous monitoring and wireless reporting system for vehicle emissions.
IdleAire Technology – Advance Travel Center Electricfication to provide services to prevent unnecessary idling at truck stops.
Ford Motor Company; Dearborn, Mich. – "Fumes to Fuel" Process captures airborne solvents from the automotive painting operations and converts them fuel for electricity.
Flint Hill Resources; Pine Bend Minn. and Corpus Christi, Texas – Refinery Flare Reduction Project to prevent hydrocarbon emissions.
Packaging Corporation of America; Tomahawk, Wis. – Innovative technology to reduce emissions of hazardous air pollutants.

Centralina Council of Governments and the Catawba Regional Council of Governments; Charlotte, NC; Gastonia, NC; and Rock Hill, SC – "Sustainable Environment for Quality of Life," a local government partnership to address environmental issues on a regional basis.

Ventura County Air Pollution Control District, Calif. – Public Awareness Health and Air Pollution Campaign, a partnership with the medical community to inform people about air pollution prevention and health.
City of Victoria and Victoria College; Victoria, Texas – Keep it Clean Campaign to educate the community about air quality issues and reduce emissions associated with urban growth.
Wisconsin Partners for Clean Air, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and R.A.M. Products, Ltd; Southeastern Wis. – Gas Cap Wrench Program to prevent gasoline evaporation through the distribution of 30,000 gas cap wrenches.

State of North Carolina and Multiple Partners – Clean Smokestacks Act, state legislation requiring power companies to reduce emissions by about 75 percent in ten years.
3M – Investment in the Environment and Education to reinvest proceeds from emissions reduction credits as donations or resources to promote environmentally beneficial projects and programs.

Acadia National Park, Maine Department of Transportation, Mount Desert Island League of Towns, Downeast Transportation, Inc., Friends of Acadia, Tom Crikelair Associates, and L.L. Bean – Island Explorer Propane Shuttle Bus, a fare-free seasonal public transport system providing service to Acadia National Park and towns and villages on Mount Desert Island, Maine.

James M. Lents, Ph. D; Trenton, N.J. – a widely acknowledged leader in national and international air quality arenas, responsible for numerous technical and policy breakthroughs in the field of air quality.

The Clean Air Excellence Awards, sponsored by EPA, recognize and honor outstanding projects, programs and individuals achieving cleaner air. The program was established in 2000 at the recommendation of the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee, a senior-level policy committee that advises EPA on issues related to implementing the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. For information on the awards program visit

Discarded Cell Phones, Printers, and Keyboards may be Hazardous Waste

The devices that make possible e-mail, e-news and e-commerce may end their days as e-hazardous waste.

A just-completed study by University of Florida environmental engineers found that electronic-age gizmos ranging from cell phones to computer mice often release enough lead in laboratory tests to be classified as hazardous waste under federal EPA regulations.

The findings, presented last month in a draft report to the EPA, which funded the study, could prompt the federal government or individual states to change the disposal rules for millions of tons of electronic devices that now routinely make their way into household trash landfills, said UF environmental engineering Associate Professor Tim Townsend, lead investigator on the project.

“The bottom line is that when we tested these devices, in many cases they met the EPA definition for regulated hazardous waste,” said Townsend, who presented his findings Feb. 18 at an EPA meeting in Chicago.

Rapid changes in technology make the issue of “E-waste” pressing.

Experts estimate that more than 20 million personal computers became obsolete in 1998 alone, and project more than 60 million personal computers will be retired in 2005, Townsend said.

Five years ago, Townsend headed research that concluded cathode ray tubes - the “picture tubes” that produce images on standard television and computer screens - release enough lead to be classed as hazardous waste. The finding concerned state and federal officials, prompting the EPA to provide Townsend $40,000 to test other electronic devices.

In research that began late in 2001, Townsend and four UF graduate students examined cell phones, printers, flat-panel monitors, keyboards, computer mice, remote controls, VCRs, laptops and central processing units, or CPUs, the components that contain the “guts” of personal computers.

The researchers subjected many of the e-devices to a standard EPA testing procedure for hazardous waste, the Toxicity Characteristic Leaching Procedure. The procedure involves mixing the ground-up devices with an acid solution designed to simulate potential conditions in landfills. Technicians rotate the mixture for 18 hours in a drum container, and then test the results for eight hazardous metals: mercury, arsenic, cadmium, barium, silver, selenium, chromium and lead.

While the UF technicians were able to grind up the smaller devices, such as cell phones, the task proved difficult for the larger devices such as VCRs, Townsend said. As a result, they developed a modified version of the test: a sealed 55-gallon drum suspended on an axle connected to a large electric motor. They placed disassembled printers and other large electronic devices in the drum, added the acid solution, then rotated the contents for 18 hours and tested the leachate.

Every type of electronic device leached lead above the hazardous waste levels in at least some cases, the tests showed. The lead comes from the solder used to connect the circuits. None of seven other hazardous metals showed up as problems in the tests.

For example, 28 of 38 cell phones tested using the standard procedure produced leachate that exceeded the EPA standards of five milligrams of lead per liter. Seven of eight VCRs tested with the modified test exceeded the standard. The results were less dramatic for several other devices, but many still exceeded the standard.

Curiously, the experiments found that computer CPUs frequently exceeded the hazardous waste limit in the modified test, but rarely in the standard test.

Upon closer look at the data, the researchers realized the CPUs and other devices containing a large amount of steel tended to leach less lead when the devices were ground up, which they determined resulted from the electrochemical conditions of the solution.

“The more steel that you have in a device, the more it tends to diminish the lead that dissolved in the TCLP leachate,” Townsend said.

Townsend’s results may be important for both federal environmental regulators and individual states. Marilyn Goode, an environmental protection specialist at EPA headquarters in Washington D.C., said the agency would have to do further research before making any decision on new rules for e-waste disposal. However, she said, states may choose to institute their own rules, as they do in other cases.

For example, following Townsend’s earlier study, California and several other states began forbidding municipalities from disposing televisions or computer screens in standard household waste landfills. The EPA is in the process of finalizing a rule that will encourage businesses to recycle rather than disposing of television and computer monitors in landfills, Goode said.

Townsend said that the laboratory leaching test results provide a good tool, but they may not do a good job of mimicking what happens in actual landfills. To address this question, he launched a major experiment this month at a central Florida landfill, the North Central Landfill in Polk County. The experiment will involve burying 16-foot-long, two-foot-wide columns in the landfill, filling the columns with a mixture of municipal solid waste and electronic waste and testing the resulting leachate.

The two-year project is being sponsored by Polk County and the Florida Center for Solid and Hazardous Waste Management, a research center hosted by UF’s College of Engineering and funded by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

California Levies E-Waste Recycling Fee on Laptops, TVs, and LCD Computer Monitors

In a joint announcement by the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and California Integrated Waste Management Board, laptop computers (notebooks) and liquid crystal display (LCD) computer monitors will be part of a statewide recycling program established under Senate Bill 20, “The Electronic Waste Recycling Act”, authored by Senator Byron Sher. The program is designed to promote and fund the collection of electronic devices.

Preliminary studies by the DTSC’s Hazardous Materials Laboratory (HML) revealed these electronic devices exceed the State’s hazardous waste thresholds. According to a report, “Determination of Regulated Elements in Laptop Computers and LCD Desktop Monitors for SB 20”, released by HML, preliminary results indicated that all devices tested clearly exceeded at least one hazardous waste criterion. Copper was the most common element exceeding its limits followed by lead. Copies of the report can be obtained at

“This determination and inclusion of these products into the recycling program will ensure safe efficient collection and reuse of these electronic devices. Manufacturers, retailers, consumers, and recyclers will participate in a coordinated effort to manage these discarded items safely,” said Ed Lowry, DTSC Director.

DTSC’s determination clarifies that all computer monitors, laptops, and most televisions sold in California (with screens measuring 4 inches or larger diagonally) are now subject to the state’s new electronic waste recycling fee beginning July 1, 2004. This includes the sale of designated products to California consumers through the Web or via mail order. Retailers must collect the recycling fee at the time of sale and failure to do so could result in substantial fines. Manufacturers must submit a list of their products covered under the new law to retailers by April 1, 2004. The fee ranges from $6 to $10 per monitor or television, depending upon the size of the screen. The feel will help defray the cost to safely recycle these types of products when they are no longer useful. For more information on the SB 20 fee and how it will be used, visit

TSA Teams up with ATA to Prevent and Respond to Terrorists

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced a $19.3 million cooperative agreement with the American Trucking Associations (ATA) to expand ATA’s Highway Watch program, which trains highway professionals to identify and report safety and security situations on our nation’s roads.

The program will provide training and communications infrastructure to prepare 400,000 transportation professionals to respond in the event they or their cargo are the target of a terrorist attack and to share valuable intelligence with TSA if they witness potential threats. The intelligence will allow federal agencies and industry stakeholders to quickly move to prevent an attack or to immediately respond if an attack occurs.

Commercial truck and bus drivers, school bus drivers, highway maintenance crews, bridge and tunnel toll collectors and others will receive instruction under the Highway Watch Grant. The program’s primary goal is to prevent attacks by teaching highway professionals to avoid becoming a target for terrorists who would use large vehicles or hazardous cargoes as a weapon. A secondary goal is to train highway professionals to recognize and report suspicious activity.

The Highway Watch program will link these well-trained transportation professionals with first responders, law enforcement and the intelligence community via TSA’s Transportation Security Coordination Center (TSCC) in Herndon, Va. For example, a truck driver in North Carolina who witnesses a suspicious event can call the National Highway Watch Call Center which will in turn immediately alert the TSCC. The TSCC will then integrate this information with other data received from around the country as well as up-to-the-minute intelligence from around the world. Subsequently, this data will be analyzed and local first responders and law enforcement in appropriate areas will be alerted in a timely manner.

Three Idaho Men Indicted in Oil-Based Paint Hazardous Waste Disposal Case

Dennis D. Ellis of Boise, Idaho, Robert Mominee, currently of Salem, Ore., and Paul Woods of Wilder, Idaho, were indicted on March 10, 2004, on charges that they allegedly conspired to violate the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and the Hazardous Materials Transportation and Uniform Safety Act by transporting waste without a permit, transporting it to an unpermitted facility and illegally disposing of the waste. Mominee is also charged with making a false statement to EPA agents.

In Jan. 2000, Ellis sold the Ponderosa Paint Company in Boise, Idaho to Kelly Moore Paints for $14 million on the condition that Ellis would dispose of 20,000 gallons of waste oil-based paint remaining at the facility. Instead of paying a licensed hazardous waste disposal company, Ellis allegedly hired Woods and Mominee to illegally dispose of the wastes. Liquid, oil-based paints are flammable and must be disposed of by companies licensed to handle hazardous wastes. If placed into the trash or a landfill, chemicals from the paints may seep into the groundwater and be consumed by animals or people. The indictment alleges that Woods and Mominee took between 3,000 and 4,700 gallons of the paint waste to their Idaho homes in Apr. 2000, and that Woods allegedly burned waste in an open pit behind his house. After EPA agents searched Wood's property in June 2000, Mominee allegedly transferred the paint back to the Ponderosa facility. Mominee then allegedly lied to EPA agents, saying the paint was water-based and had been removed from his property by an unknown painting contractor.

The case was investigated by the Portland Area Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI with the assistance of the Idaho State Police, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, the Canyon County Sheriff's Office, the EPA Idaho Operations Office, and EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boise.

SPCC Stakeholder Meeting

On March 18, 2004, EPA announced that it would be holding a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) stakeholder meeting on March 31, 2004, from 9:30 A.M. to 3 P.M. The intent of the meeting is to explain Agency efforts to clarify the regulations and facilitate compliance (69 FR 12804).

The meeting will be held in Washington, DC at the following location:

Hilton Crystal City (Roanoke/Rappannock Room),
2399 Jefferson Davis Highway
Arlington, VA 22202
Telephone: (703) 418-6800

For additional information regarding the meeting please contact:

Leigh DeHaven
U.S. EPA (5203G)
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20460