Clean Harbors to Pay $8,000 for Hazardous Waste Shipment to Landfill

January 22, 2007

Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Inc., on behalf of Spring Grove Resource Recovery, Inc., will pay Ohio EPA $8,000 for causing hazardous waste to be transported to the Rumpke Landfill in Hamilton County, Ohio. The landfill is licensed to accept only municipal solid waste and is registered to process a limited amount of organic material as compost each year. The facility is not licensed to accept hazardous waste.

Spring Grove Resource Recovery, Inc., located in Cincinnati, is a licensed hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facility. The company also handles non-hazardous waste. Spring Grove is required to ensure that material entering its facility has been properly characterized and that hazardous waste leaving its facility is sent to a properly licensed hazardous waste facility.

On Sept. 29, 2005, Spring Grove notified Ohio EPA that it had sent to the landfill a shipment of hazardous waste that contained chromium. That same day, Rumpke also notified the agency that it placed the shipment into the landfill. As a result of this incident, Spring Grove has modified its hazardous waste operating permit to improve waste characterization and acceptance procedures.

The landfill has also paid a penalty and is instituting new screening measures to help ensure hazardous waste does not get into the landfill in the future.

Ohio to Adopt VOC Limits for Consumer Products

Currently, the Ohio EPA (OEPA) has no specific regulations for the control of VOC emissions from consumer products. The OTC is a 12-state organization that deals with ozone from Virginia to Maine. To date, several OTC member states have adopted the model rule for consumer products in their states.

The purpose of these new rules is to aid in the reduction of VOC emissions, an ozone precursor, so that measured ozone levels throughout the state of Ohio may be reduced to achieve and/or maintain the applicable 8-hour ground level ozone standard of 0.08 ppm as established by the U.S. EPA. These rules apply to a wide range of products, such as adhesives, degreasers, windshield washer fluid, brake cleaner, penetrants, pesticides, and other products.

The proposed compliance deadline for consumer products listed in the draft rule is Jan. 1, 2008.

Comment Period Extended for 8-Hour Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard

The EPA is extending the public comment period on the proposed Phase 2 of the Final Rule to Implement the 8-Hour Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard–Notice of Reconsideration (Dec. 19, 2006). The EPA has decided to extend the comment period until Feb. 2, 2007. The comment period on the reconsideration notice was originally set to close on Jan. 18, 2007.

California to Establish Low Carbon Standard for Transportation Fuels

Gov. Schwarzenegger announced that he is issuing an executive order establishing a low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) for transportation fuels sold in California. By 2020, the standard will reduce the carbon intensity of California's passenger vehicle fuels by at least 10 percent. This first-of-its-kind standard will support AB 32 emissions targets as part of California's overall strategy to fight global warming.

"Transportation accounts for 40 percent of California's annual greenhouse gas emissions, and we rely on petroleum-based fuels for an overwhelming 96 percent of our transportation needs," said Gov. Schwarzenegger. "This petroleum dependency contributes to climate change and leaves workers, businesses, and consumers vulnerable to price shocks from an unstable global energy market. As a world leader in energy efficiency, alternative energy, and reducing greenhouse gases, California's new low carbon standard is an innovative action that will diversify our fuel supplies and establish a vibrant market for cleaner-burning fuels."

The LCFS requires fuel providers to ensure that the mix of fuel they sell into the California market meets, on average, a declining standard for GHG emissions measured in CO2-equivalent gram per unit of fuel energy sold. By 2020, the LCFS will produce a 10 percent reduction in the carbon content of all passenger vehicle fuels sold in California. This is expected to replace 20 percent of on-road gasoline consumption with lower-carbon fuels, more than triple the size of the state's renewable fuels market, and place more than seven million alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles on California's roads (20 times more than what is on the state’s roads today).

The LCFS will use market-based mechanisms that allow providers to choose how they reduce emissions while responding to consumer demand. For example, providers may purchase and blend more low-carbon ethanol into gasoline products, purchase credits from electric utilities supplying low carbon electrons to electric passenger vehicles, and diversify into low carbon hydrogen as a product.

The University of California estimates that the governor's greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions goals can increase gross state product by about $60 billion and create more than 20,000 new jobs. As a result of AB 32 and other initiatives, including the Million Solar Roofs and Hydrogen Highway projects, the Bioenergy Action Plan, and the Strategic Innovation and Research Initiative, California drives clean technology research, investment, and development nationally. California leads the nation in clean tech investment, attracting $484 million in venture capital to California in 2005 alone–40 percent to startups in energy generation and efficiency sectors. The LCFS further expands the state's clean tech market by creating more sustainable demand for cleaner fuels.

The governor's executive order directs the Secretary for Environmental Protection to coordinate the actions of the California Energy Commission (CEC), the California Air Resources Board (ARB), the University of California, and other agencies to develop the protocols for measuring the "life-cycle carbon intensity" of transportation fuels. This analysis will become part of the State Implementation Plan for alternative fuels as required by AB 1007 (Pavley, Chapter 371, 2005) and will be submitted to the California Air Resources Board for consideration as an "early action" item under AB 32. The ARB will complete its review of the LCFS protocols for adoption as an early action no later than June 2007. Upon ABR adoption, the regulatory process will begin to put the new standard into effect. It is expected that the ARB regulatory process will be completed no later than December 2008.


New York DEC Extends Comment Period on Global Warming Policy

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) last week announced that it is providing the public an additional 60 days to offer comments on a preliminary global warming rule that will reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants–a major contributor to global warming. The new deadline for comments is March 13, 2007.

Under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, seven Northeast states agreed to implement a cap-and-trade program, which will be the first mandatory cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gas pollution in U.S. history. A preliminary draft regulatory proposal was released by DEC on Dec. 5, 2006. The additional time will allow more New Yorkers to offer their views on this critical issue.

Gov. Eliot Spitzer is fully committed to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and in his State of the State address said, "New York should also build on its existing regional compact to address climate change. I have already started speaking with other governors about the need to link and expand our climate change initiatives. This is something that can and must be achieved."

Public comments should be submitted to:or can be mailed to: Department of Environmental Conservation, Climate Change Office, 14th floor, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233.

EPA Fines Edgington Oil Company $30,000 for Air Violations

Located at 2400 E. Artesia Boulevard in Long Beach, Edgington produces fuels, paving asphalt, and other petroleum-based products.

“We trust that Edgington Oil Company, LLC, will follow EPA regulations and comply with the Clean Air Act,” said Deborah Jordan, Director of the Air Division of EPA, Region 9. “The EPA is a firm believer in protecting clean air without sacrificing jobs and economic productivity.”

Edgington allegedly failed to operate a continuous monitoring device for sulfur dioxide or hydrogen sulfide for a fuel gas combustion device at its Long Beach refinery between October 2001 and February 2004. It also failed to submit semiannual excess emission reports for the same device to the EPA from January 2002 through January 2005.

High levels of hydrogen sulfide gas can cause death. Longer-term exposure at lower levels can cause eye irritation, headache, and fatigue. Exposure to high levels of sulfur dioxide can be life threatening; symptoms include burning of the nose and throat and respiratory difficulties.

Edgington has since received an EPA approval for an alternate monitoring system for hydrogen sulfide for the fuel gas combustion device and has filed the required excess emission reports since January 2005.

EPA Orders ARCO to Investigate Contamination at Anaconda Mine

The EPA recently ordered the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) to begin a comprehensive investigation to determine the nature and extent of contamination at the Anaconda Copper Mine in Yerington, Nev.

The order requires ARCO to conduct a remedial investigation and feasibility study for most of the mine site, a necessary step in addressing imminent and substantial threats from hazardous substances at the former mine. The EPA established the scope of work for the investigation through discussions and coordination with Atlantic Richfield.

“Beginning the comprehensive remedial investigation and feasibility study for this site is the next step toward a thorough cleanup,” said Kathleen Johnson, EPA’s Superfund Branch chief managing this site. “After the feasibility study is complete, the EPA, with assistance from Nevada Department of Environmental Protection and Bureau of Land Management, will select a final remedy and work toward the ultimate cleanup.”

EPA’s information about this site has developed over several years in cooperation with the NDEP and BLM. The agencies have conducted or overseen a wide array of sampling activities, interviewed former employees and local representatives, and conducted lengthy documentary reviews.

In 2003, the agencies became aware of significant radiological concerns in soil and groundwater, which led to the order. In December 2004, NDEP sent the EPA a letter requesting that the agency formally assume the lead role at the site and the EPA accepted.

The EPA has removed hazardous substances at several sites. These removal actions include the relining and improvement of the “slot ponds” within the site fluid management system, which will prevent further groundwater contamination and actively begin to reduce the acidic load within the ore heaps. In 2005, the EPA covered 100 acres of mine tailings to prevent the further spread of hazardous dust from blowing off the site and removed 120 PCB-containing transformers from the site. The EPA also constructed a new four-acre evaporation pond and repaired several other holding ponds to prevent acid mine drainage from seeping into area groundwater.

Anaconda Minerals founded the mine in 1953. Atlantic Richfield acquired Anaconda Minerals in 1977, and continued operations at the mine through 1982. The site occupies approximately 3,468 acres, and includes a lead shop, four mine waste piles and associated ponds with acidic process water, large tailings piles, and expansive evaporation ponds. Approximately one-half of the site covers private lands held in fee, with the remaining lands subject to the jurisdiction, custody, and control of the BLM.

Industry and Environmental Groups Agree on Climate Protection

The U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP), whose members include Alcoa, BP America, Caterpillar, Duke Energy, DuPont, FPL Group, General Electric, Lehman Brothers, PG&E, and PNM Resources, along with NGO’s Environmental Defense, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pew Center on Global Climate Change, and World Resources Institute have agreed upon a set of principles and policy recommendations to address global warming. The members of the partnership stated that it is their united belief that they can, and must, take prompt action to establish a coordinated, economy-wide, market-driven approach to climate protection.

 The cornerstone of this approach would be a cap-and-trade program. The environmental goal is to reduce global atmospheric GHG concentrations to a level that minimizes large-scale adverse impacts to humans and the natural environment. The group recommends that Congress provide leadership and establish short- and mid-term emission reduction targets; a national program to accelerate technology research, development, and deployment; and approaches to encourage action by other countries, including those in the developing world, as ultimately the solution must be global.

Four Maine Lobstering Facilities Fined for Lack of SPCC Plans

Four lobstering facilities in Spruce Head, Maine have reached a settlement with EPA resolving violations of the federal Clean Water Act.  The facilities subject to EPA’s actions are Maine Coast Seafood, McLoon’s Wharf, LLC, Spruce Head Fisherman’s Co-op and William Atwood Lobster Co.

The expedited settlement program is designed to resolve easily correctable violations of the Oil Pollution Prevention regulations detected during an EPA inspection. If a facility chooses not to enter into an expedited settlement agreement with EPA, the agency may pursue a more traditional enforcement action, likely resulting in higher penalties.

“All facilities, whether big or small, need to abide by the law requiring plans to prevent oil spills," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "We do, however, appreciate efforts by facilities to quickly correct violations, and in these cases we are willing to resolve our enforcement action in an expedited manner."

Facilities which can store more than 1,320 gallons of oil in aboveground tanks or 42,000 gallons below ground, are required to have spill prevention, control, and countermeasure plans, also known as an SPCC plans, if it could reasonably be expected that a discharge of oil from the facility would reach a water of the United States or its adjoining shoreline considering a possible worst case scenario. The purpose of the SPCC program is to prevent spills before they happen, thus the need for a properly prepared and implemented plan is crucial to the success of the program.

Although all of the Spruce Head lobstering facilities store oil in amounts above the thresholds that require the preparation and implementation of an SPCC plan, EPA inspections revealed that they did not have adequate plans. Because of the relatively small quantity of oil stored at the facilities, and the fact that the facilities had some secondary containment for their oil storage, which is a major requirement under the Oil Pollution Prevention regulations, EPA decided to use expedited agreements to resolve the violations. The expedited settlement process for violations of the Oil Pollution Prevention regulations has been used successfully in other EPA regions.

New York City to Use Cleaner Diesel Fuel at Ports; Settles Violation by Reducing Emissions in Port

The EPA announced that it has reached a settlement with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) requiring it to pay for cleaner diesel fuels for local marine vessels and pay a penalty of $20,000. NYCEDC was cited by EPA because it placed into the Historic Area Remediation Site material dredged from its New York City Passenger Ship Terminal without the testing required in its federal permit. Under the settlement with EPA, NYCEDC will provide $85,000 in credited funds to allow Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Company to purchase special clean diesel fuel, called ultra low sulfur diesel (USLD), in the marine vessels it operates in the Port of New York and New Jersey. In addition, the company has independently committed to consider using the fuel in its marine equipment into the future.

“The city dredged and did not properly test material that they placed into the water. Such actions could adversely impact our marine environment,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA regional administrator. “The good news is that they have cooperated fully with EPA and now are taking action to turn this into a victory for the local environment. Emissions from marine vessels contribute to our overall air quality problems, and the new cleaner fuel will help cut that pollution.”

 Should NYCEDC fail to meet the requirements of the consent agreement and carry out the environmental project by June 30, 2008, it will be subject to stipulated penalties.

Burbank Pest Control Device Company Fined $4,680

The EPA has reached a settlement for $4,680 with a Burbank, Calif., company for failing to submit an annual report for its 2005 production of pest control devices, a violation of federal pesticide law.

The EPA cited Steril-Aire, a manufacturer of pest control devices, for failing to submit an annual production report required by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. Although Steril-Aire filed the required production reports with the EPA in 2001 through 2003, it failed to do so in 2005 after a warning in 2004. As part of the settlement, Steril-Aire has now submitted the required documentation.

"Reporting requirements detailing a company's production of pesticide control devices are necessary in the EPA's effort to ensure safe management and distribution of these devices," said Enrique Manzanilla, the EPA's Communities and Ecosystems Division director for the Pacific Southwest Region. "It only takes a few steps to stay in compliance with federal pesticide regulations."

Before selling or distributing any pesticide or pest control device in the United States, a company must register the production establishment with the EPA. As with pesticides, pest control devices must then be identified in pesticide production reports submitted annually to the EPA.

The enforcement case was based on a compliance review of production reports performed by the EPA earlier this year.

San Francisco Company Pays More Than $28,000 for Failure to Submit Form R to EPA

The EPA has announced it has reached a $28,677 settlement with a San Francisco company, R.J. McGlennon Co. Inc., over its failure to submit annual reports about its toxic chemical usage, a violation of the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know-Act.

The company manufactures finishes for wood and other surfaces. In a September 2006 civil complaint, the EPA alleged that McGlennon did not submit timely reports for its use of methyl ethyl ketone and xylene between 2001 and 2003 as well as its use of certain glycol ethers between 2001 and 2004.

The company will pay a $28,677 penalty to resolve the case.

“These annual reports provide the public valuable information about the chemicals being released into their communities,” said Enrique Manzanilla, director of the Communities and Ecosystems Division in the EPA’s San Francisco office. “This information is critical to protecting public health and the environment.”

EPCRA was enacted by Congress in 1986 as national legislation on community safety. It was designed to help local communities protect public health, safety, and the environment from chemical hazards.

The law requires companies using any of 650 listed toxic chemicals over a certain threshold to report their chemical usage to EPA on an annual basis. The information is then compiled into a national database that is accessible to local emergency planning personnel and the general public.

Pennsylvania DEP Fines Kilbuck Properties Maximum Penalty for Failure to Stabilize Site

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) filed a complaint for civil penalties of $470,000–the maximum allowed by law–against Kilbuck Properties and issued an order establishing a strict timeline, stringent performance standards, daily round-the-clock monitoring of the property, and biweekly reporting requirements for the development of a permanent site stability plan at the construction site where a September landslide closed roads and train tracks along the Ohio River.

“This is a wake up call to Kilbuck Properties that they must take immediate, effective action to stabilize this property,” said DEP Southwest Regional Director Kenneth Bowman. “To date, the company’s response has been wholly deficient and unacceptable and further delay cannot, and will not, be tolerated.”

The penalty is the maximum allowable under the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law and assesses Kilbuck Properties’ $10,000 a day from Dec. 2, 2006, for failure to comply with an Oct. 4, 2006, order requiring the company to provide a permanent stabilization plan for the site of the proposed River Pointe Plaza shopping center complex along Ohio River Boulevard in Allegheny County. The penalty assessment was filed with the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board.

A landslide at the site last September closed Route 65/Ohio River Boulevard, a major artery leading to and from Pittsburgh, for about two weeks as crews cleared tree limbs, rocks and dirt that fell from the construction site hillside. The landslide also affected three Norfolk Southern train tracks. Three of the four lanes of state Route 65 have since reopened.

Following the landslide on Sept. 22, 2006, DEP suspended Kilbuck Properties’ erosion and sedimentation control permit for earth disturbance activities, and on Oct. 4, 2006, it ordered Kilbuck Properties to develop a plan and establish a schedule to permanently stabilize the site.

The plan was originally due on Nov. 1, 2006, but a one-month extension was granted to allow the developer to collect additional data, including a study of soil composition and other subsurface conditions.

The report was first submitted on Dec.1, 2006, and was missing several elements including core boring logs, analysis of data collected to measure movement at the site, and an implementation schedule for a permanent stability plan. DEP issued a deficiency letter to Kilbuck Properties on December 6 for the initial Geotechnical Report.

A revised report was submitted on Dec. 21, 2006, and was found to be deficient and incomplete following review by the Commonwealth Geotechnical Team, a team of engineers and geologists from DEP, DCNR, and PennDOT assembled specifically to monitor and review developments at the site.

DEP’s latest order establishes a specific timeline for action by the developer and provides for monitoring and enforcement of the company’s actions.

Compliance will be tracked through biweekly reports made by the developer to the Commonwealth Geotechnical Team and by DEP site inspections. If any deadline is missed, DEP will initiate appropriate enforcement action. The strict timeline will ensure that a permanent stabilization plan that meets with design parameters imposed by DEP is submitted by April 19 and completed by, or before, Oct. 31, 2007.

The first deadline Kilbuck Properties must meet was January 19, when it was required to submit a drilling plan for groundwater monitoring devices, and design parameters that are required for slope stability analysis. The results of an investigation and stability analysis of the soil and material removed from Ohio River Boulevard following the landslide, known as the stockpile, must be submitted by close of business on January 22.

Kilbuck Properties must install additional earth movement sensors by February 19. Additionally, it also must complete a variety of tests and conduct a thorough evaluation of the stability of site soil with the results to be submitted by February 26. The suspension of the company’s erosion and sedimentation control permit remains in effect, prohibiting any construction at the site except for earth moving that relates to site stabilization. The developer will need to apply for and obtain the appropriate permits for any future development at the site.

Ohio EPA Reaches Settlement with Mahoning Paint Corporation

Ohio EPA reached a settlement with The Mahoning Paint Corporation for hazardous waste violations and issued an administrative consent order on January 10. The violations occurred at its facility located at 653 Jones Street, Youngstown, Ohio. 

Division of Air and Waste Management Enforcement Officers Handled 4,112 Complaints During 2006

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s (DNREC) Enforcement Section in the Division of Air and Waste Management handled 4,112 complaints and 240 enforcement actions during 2006.

“Environmental complaints increased only slightly in 2006 from the previous year,” said Kurt Reuther, chief enforcement officer for the division’s enforcement section. “We believe this is a result of a more effective, flexible approach to environmental enforcement, which more closely involves communities. Officers attend community meetings and work with organizations to educate businesses and citizens potentially affected by new regulations. By increasing our education efforts and encouraging community involvement, we hope to reduce the number of complaints and enforcement actions.”

The division’s environmental protection officers enforce the state’s air, waste, and water pollution laws and participate on DNREC’s Environmental Response Team by responding to environmental emergencies.

Individual complaints handled by enforcement officers included: 537 open burning, 553 water-related discharges, 437 air-related releases, 565 spills, 254 odors, 345 dumping, and 321 permit checks. The officers also apprehended eight fugitives with active arrest warrants from other police departments.

Following is a breakdown of the January through December 2006 complaint/enforcement statistics per county:

Total Complaints 4,112

New Castle County 2,109
Kent County 863
Sussex County 1,140

Total Enforcement Actions 240

New Castle County 99
Kent County 45
Sussex County 96

DNREC’s environmental enforcement officers receive complaints through a toll-free, 24-hour Environmental Complaint Line: 1-800-662-8802. Verizon Wireless customers in Delaware can reach the complaint line by calling #DNR on their cell phones. For further information, contact Chief Kurt Reuther or Capt. William P. (Chip) McDaniel II, DNREC Enforcement, 302-739-9401.

Pennsylvania to Implement Great Rivers EMAP Program

Pennsylvania has received a two-year funding to implement the Great Rivers EMAP program (EPA Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program) for the Allegheny and Monongahela Rivers. The project will involve the assessment of fisheries, benthic macroinvertebrates, freshwater mussels, habitat, sediment bioassay, and water chemistry. The EPA freshwater biology team plans to provide on-site assistance for the project along with assistance with fish and benthic macroinvertebrate identifications and will coordinate with Ohio on the sediment bioassay support aspect of the project. 

Cognis to Pay $310,000 Penalty for Numerous Air Pollution Violations

Ohio EPA, Cognis Corporation, and Cognis Oleochemicals, LLC, have reached a major settlement concerning air pollution violations at the facility located at 4900 Este Ave., Cincinnati. The company must pay a $290,000 fine, conduct a $20,000 pollution prevention study, and test air pollution equipment in the presence of Ohio EPA and/or Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services staff.

Violations occurred between 2001 and 2006 and included the companies' failure to:

  • Conduct timely stack tests for emissions
  • Comply with organic compound emission limits for two air pollution sources
  • Control organic compound emission control requirements from four units
  • Monitor and maintain records of landfill gas sulfur content
  • Limit particulate emissions for two air pollution sources
  • Monitor and record daily the pressure drop across the baghouse (air pollution control equipment) controlling the company's coal-handling system
  • Promptly correct a malfunctioning boiler that exceeded the permitted opacity


BP Plans Construction of Five U.S. Wind Projects This Year

BP Alternative Energy North America Inc. recently announced that it expects to begin construction on five wind power generation projects in the U.S. in 2007. Located in four states–California, Colorado, North Dakota, and Texas–the projects are expected to deliver a combined generation capacity of some 550 megawatts (MW).

When complete, the projects will exceed the company’s previously announced target to build 450 MW by the end of 2008.

“Today’s announcement marks an important step in delivering BP’s commitment to producing low and zero-carbon electricity,” said Robert Lukefahr, president of BP Alternative Energy North America Inc. “Our 2007 build program surpasses our target and does so a year ahead of schedule. It is a testament to the calibre of people working in our business and the opportunities in the U.S. wind sector.”

Construction is already under way on the Cedar Creek project in Weld County, Colorado, a development venture between BP Alternative Energy North America Inc., and Babcock & Brown Operating Partners LP. The 300 MW wind power generation project will be comprised of 274 wind turbines. Initial operation is expected in the second half of 2007 and when fully commercial, the project will generate enough carbon-free electricity to power 120,000 homes.

The remaining four projects are:

  • California–the Yaponcha wind power generation project is the repowering of an existing wind energy facility in San Gorgonio Pass that is expected to have a capacity of 20 MW.
  • North Dakota–a 65 MW wind power generation project.
  • Central Texas–a 60 MW joint project with Clipper Windpower.
  • West Texas–a project in excess of 100 MW.

EPA Environmental Award Nominations Open

The EPA is encouraging citizens in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands to nominate a friend, peer, or organization for this year's EPA Environmental Awards program. The program, now in its ninth year, seeks to recognize individuals and groups outside of the U.S. EPA who made significant contributions to improve the environment in 2006. Anyone can be nominated, such as scientists, teachers, journalists, citizen activists, young people, organizations, business representatives, public officials, and others committed to protecting public health and preserving our natural surroundings.

Entries will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Promotion of innovative ideas
  • Techniques, and/or technologies
  • Ability to address an environmental problem or need
  • Accomplishment of stated goals
  • Ability of the program/activity to be replicated or widely shared
  • Collaboration with others
  • Clarity and effectiveness of the presentation
  • Long-term benefits for the environment

Nomination forms must be submitted online on or before Feb. 16, 2007. An EPA panel will review all of the applications and select this year's finalists, who will be notified by mid-March. Winners will be recognized at a ceremony to be held in San Francisco in mid-April.For questions regarding the program, please call the Environmental Information Center at 866-EPA-WEST or Wendy Chavez at 415-947-4248.

New Federal Design Standards for Hazardous Materials Tank Cars

In a move designed to aid in the development of new federal design standards for stronger and safer hazardous materials tank cars, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is joining forces with rail and chemical industry leaders to create the tank car of the future, announced FRA Administrator Joseph H. Boardman.

“Our goal is to jump beyond incremental design changes,” Boardman said. “We and our partners are looking to apply the latest research and advanced technology to provide increased safety for rail shipments posing the greatest safety risk.” He noted that FRA is considering issuing new, more robust federal design standards for hazardous materials tank cars and hopes to issue a final rule in 2008.

Boardman said the FRA has signed a memorandum of cooperation (MOC) with Dow Chemical Company, Union Pacific Railroad, and the Union Tank Car Company to participate in their Next Generation Rail Tank Car Project. The agreement provides for extensive information-sharing and cooperation between ongoing FRA and industry research programs to improve the safety of rail shipments of hazardous commodities such as toxic inhalation hazards and high-risk gases and liquids.

Boardman stated FRA is focusing on strengthening the structural integrity of the tank car, including the type of material and thickness of the outer shell, and the type and design of the insulation material located between the outer shell and the inner tank that contains the hazardous material. This is intended to reduce the probability that a collision, such as a side impact, will result in the release of the hazardous commodity. In addition, FRA is evaluating technology such as pushback couplers, energy absorbers, and anti-climbing devices designed to prevent a derailment of the tank car by keeping it upright and on the tracks after an accident.

The MOC also supports FRA’s National Rail Safety Action Plan and its emphasis on promising research that has the potential to mitigate the greatest risks. In addition, the FRA has held two public meetings in cooperation with the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to receive comment on the design and operation of hazardous materials tank cars. It anticipates holding a third meeting in early 2007.

Proposed Rule Will Put Safety Technology in More Trucks

Truck and bus companies with a history of serious hours-of-service (HOS) violations may be required to install electronic on-board recorders (EOBR) in all of their commercial vehicles for a minimum of two years, according to a proposed rule announced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

The proposed rule also would encourage industry-wide use of electronic on-board recorders by providing incentives for voluntary use, said John H. Hill, FMCSA administrator. "The goal is to get more trucks and buses using innovative safety technologies like on-board recorders that will improve safety on our nation's roads," Hill said.

The proposal would require EOBRs to record basic information needed to track a driver's duty status, including: identity of the driver; duty status; date, time, and location of the commercial vehicle; and distance traveled. It also would add a new requirement to use Global Positioning System (GPS) technology or other location tracking systems to automatically identify the location of the vehicle, which further reduces the likelihood of falsification of HOS information. On-board HOS recording devices that are installed in commercial vehicles manufactured on or after two years from the effective date of a final rule would have to meet these new technical requirements, but EOBRs voluntarily installed before that time would be allowed to continue for the life of the vehicle.

If adopted, FMCSA estimates that within the first two years of enforcement approximately 930 carriers with 17,500 drivers would be required to use electronic on-board recorders. To expand use of the devices among the more than 650,000 motor carriers in the United States, the incentives for voluntarily installation include using an examination of a random sample of drivers' records of duty status as part of a company compliance review and partial relief from HOS supporting documents requirements. Additionally, the agency welcomes suggestions from the public for additional incentives.