September 13, 2002

Mahesh Patel, Executive Vice President of the Jemm Co., a Colorado plating company, was sentenced on Aug. 23 to 12 months and one day imprisonment and one year of supervised release for directing company employees to illegally dispose of plating wastewater in violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA).

Patel was responsible for overseeing day-to-day plant operations that generated wastewaters with high concentrations of metal, including chromium, copper, nickel and zinc. Patel directed employees to dump the contents of numerous process tanks, including plating tanks as well as alkaline and acid cleaning tanks, onto the plant floor. The wastewaters from these tanks flowed into two large holding tanks, which were ultimately emptied into the Denver sewer system in violation of the company's permit barring the discharge of such untreated wastewaters.

The Jemm Co. was previously fined $100,000 and required to publish a public apology for its role in these CWA offenses. EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the FBI and the Metropolitan Water District of Denver investigated this case with the assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office in Denver.


Clean Water Act (CWA)

  • September 30, 2002 - Owners or operators of industrial facilities located in EPA Region 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, or 10 subject to terms and conditions of EPA's NPDES storm water multi-sector general permit must calculate average concentrations for the pollutant parameter that it monitors.


Local, state and federal government agencies from the U.S. and Mexico conducted a drill to test the emergency response plans for the sister cities of Eagle Pass, Texas, and Piedras Negras, Coahuila.

The drill demonstrated that plans, manpower and resources are in place on both sides of the border in the event of an emergency. Representatives from 20 U.S. federal agencies, six Mexican federal agencies, five state and local agencies, the Kickapoo Nation and Fort Duncan Medical Center participated.

After several days of training and a tabletop exercise, the participants drilled in the field. The scenario for the exercise involved a truck hypothetically spilling hazardous material in Piedras Negras. Personnel worked with emergency response vehicles and equipment to demonstrate they could react appropriately, cooperate and communicate with each other in the event of a real emergency.

Drills are an important part of an emergency responder's training. They help emergency responders identify plan aspects that need upgrading, adjustment or redesigned coordination before the plan is used to respond to a real emergency.

This drill was the fifth such event conducted at sister cities along the U.S.-Mexico border since September 2000. Each nation has made a sincere commitment to work together for the benefit of both countries in the event of a disaster along the U.S.-Mexico border.


EPA recognized five meat processing companies on Sept. 9 for their outstanding voluntary contributions to environmental protection by participating in the Meat Processing Environmental Management System (EMS) Pilot project. The Agency also recognized the involved state partners.

The companies are: Advance Brands; Excel Corp.; Farmland Foods Inc.; Humboldt Sausage Co. and West Liberty Foods. They have implemented a comprehensive environmental management system (EMS), which enables an organization to reduce its environmental impacts and increase its operating efficiency. The use of an EMS complements needed regulatory controls and enables a facility to comprehensively manage the environmental footprint of its entire operation. This includes unregulated aspects such as energy, water use, climate change, odor, noise, dust, and habitat preservation. It encourages pollution prevention through source reduction and fosters continuous improvement of the facility's environmental performance. These systems are valuable contributions in the control of air, water and land pollution and they help facilities assure compliance with environmental regulations and realize cost savings, operational efficiency and improved supplier performance.

Further information on EMS projects is available at


A household hazardous waste collection program, sponsored by the City of Roanoke, Va., as part of its sentence for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, has resulted in the collection and proper disposal of 249 tons of waste.

The household hazardous waste collection effort was a negotiated part of the sentence imposed on the City of Roanoke for storing hazardous waste without a permit. The city's sentence, imposed by a federal judge in Roanoke, required it to sponsor household hazardous waste collection days during its three-year period of probation. The city, in conjunction with several neighboring communities, sponsored the one-day collections on June 17, 2000, April 21, 2001, October 22, 2001 and May 4, 2002. During the four collection days, 3,948 residents dropped off their hazardous household waste at various locations, and city-hired contractors then properly disposed of the waste. The program cost approximately $265,000.

In addition to sponsoring the collection days, the city paid a $125,000 fine, sponsored four three-day training sessions on environmental management systems for municipal officials throughout Virginia, and contributed money toward a "greenway" project along Tinker Creek.

"This case shows how criminal prosecutions can result in positive environmental benefits in a variety of ways," said Donald Welsh, the regional administrator of EPA Region III. "It also shows how much hazardous waste is in our homes and how important it is to develop collection and disposal programs."


Urging Americans to take renewed responsibility for their individual impact on the environment, EPA announced the kickoff of a campaign challenging Americans to meet or beat two goals by 2005: boosting the national recycling rate from 30 percent to at least 35 percent and curbing by 50 percent the generation of 30 harmful chemicals normally found in hazardous waste. To help meet the goals of the Challenge, EPA also announced 12 new innovative projects that will test creative approaches to waste minimization, energy recovery, recycling and land revitalization.

The program, called the "Resource Conservation Challenge," was announced by EPA at the National Recycling Coalition's 21st Annual Congress and Exposition in Austin, Texas.

"We are challenging all Americans to take a 'hands-on' approach to helping conserve our precious natural resources," said Marianne Lamont Horinko, EPA Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste and Emergency Response. "EPA is asking Americans to adopt smart environmental practices, make smart environmental purchases, reuse more products, and recycle at least one pound of their household waste a day. The results of the Resource Conservation Challenge and the innovative projects will be less waste, more economic growth and greater energy savings and recovery."

The Resource Conservation Challenge comprises 68 projects whose hallmarks are flexibility, partnership and innovation.

For example, in one of the projects, EPA is asking businesses and industry to join a "Waste Minimization Partnership Program" to help achieve the national goal of a 50 percent reduction of 30 harmful chemicals by 2005. These chemicals, such as lead, are among the most harmful to public health and the environment. The five founding members of the partnership are American Video Glass, Corning Asahi, Dow Chemical Corp., International Truck and Engine, and Toyota Motor Manufacturing.

EPA will do its part to support those actions that will contribute to meeting the Challenge goals. These efforts include:

  • Establishing partnerships and alliances with industry, states and environmental groups.
  • Providing training, tools and technology assistance for businesses, governments and citizen groups.
  • Getting the word out through outreach and assistance to the general population, especially to youth and minority groups.

In addition to the Resource Conservation Challenge, EPA is also partnering with states, academia, non-profits, tribes and local government and industry to test innovative ideas to make EPA's waste programs more efficient and effective. EPA announced twelve innovative projects from around the country this week. These creative projects demonstrate approaches to waste minimization, energy recovery, recycling and land revitalization that may be replicated across various industries, communities and regions. The projects range from making plastics from plant materials, to demonstrating the reuse potential of recycling residential building materials. For example, one project will develop and solicit designs for readily reusable packaging for products purchased electronically through the Internet.

Founded in 1978, the National Recycling Coalition, Inc. is a nonprofit organization representing all the diverse interests committed to the common goal of maximizing recycling to achieve the benefits of resource conservation, solid waste reduction, environmental protection, energy conservation and social and economic development.

Learn more about the Challenge at Learn more about the Innovations Projects at


EPA has announced the approval of South Carolina's Underground Storage Tank (UST) Program. EPA recognizes that, because of the large size and great diversity of the regulated community, state and local governments are in the best position to oversee USTs. Subtitle I of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) allows state UST programs approved by EPA to operate in lieu of the federal program, and EPA's state program approval regulations set standards for state programs to meet.

EPA worked closely with South Carolina officials while the program was under development. Once the state's legislature remedied certain legal points in accordance with EPA requirements, South Carolina applied for formal approval. A program is approved if it is judged to meet three criteria:

  • Standards set for eight performance criteria that are no less stringent than federal standards;
  • Contains provisions for adequate enforcement, and
  • Regulates at least the same USTs as are regulated under federal standards.

Benefits of UST program approval include: owners and operators in states with an approved UST program do not have to deal with two sets of statutes and regulations (state and federal) that may be conflicting and states have the lead role in UST program enforcement for approved programs.

An underground storage tank (UST) system is a tank (or a combination of tanks) and connected piping having at least 10 percent of their combined volume underground. The tank system includes the tank, underground connected piping, underground ancillary equipment, and any containment system. The federal UST regulations apply only to underground tanks and piping storing either petroleum or certain hazardous substances.