The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has ordered Stoney Creek Technologies, LLC, a specialty chemical manufacturing company located at 3300 West 4th St., Trainer Borough, Delaware County, to cease operations.
The company, which manufactures corrosion inhibitors, fuel additives, and oil additives, has a history of non-compliance and appears to be without adequate resources to operate safely, according to DEP Southeast Regional Office Director Joseph A. Feola.
"This company is in serious trouble and DEP is taking action to ensure public safety,” Feola said. “We have suspended their operating permits, and we’ll work with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Stoney Creek staff to safely process some of the remaining on-site chemical inventory, while removing the rest.”
An estimated 17 million pounds of chemicals are currently stored on the 15-acre site, which is adjacent to a residential community and major rail corridor near the Delaware River.
DEP has been working with the company to bring operations into compliance with environmental requirements, but the situation at the plant became critical this month when the electric company informed Stoney Creek that it would terminate service for non-payment of bills. Without power, the company’s safety systems cannot manage certain chemicals.
To ensure that the public is protected during an orderly closure of the facility, DEP will pay for continued electric service during the initial cleanup of the site, and provide staff for oversight of activities from its emergency response, environmental cleanup, air quality, waste and water management programs. This immediate response is being carried out through the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act, which enables DEP to respond quickly to protect public health and safety as a result of air, soil, and groundwater contamination or potential threat of such contamination.
The long-term safe closure of Stoney Creek Technologies will be managed by the EPA as an interim response through its Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act program, commonly known as Superfund. It is expected that experienced Stoney Creek staff will help identify and process the existing chemical inventory as part of the cleanup.
Both DEP and EPA are working with Delaware County Emergency Services and the Lower Chichester, Marcus Hook, Trainer Environmental Advisory Committee – as well as other local, state, and federal officials – to keep the community informed as the closure and cleanup proceed.
Do You Need to Conduct a Security Top-Screen?
DHS could also require your site to perform a top-screen even if it does not have substances on Appendix A at their screening thresholds. Once DHS reviews your top-screen, you will be notified if your site must perform a security vulnerability assessment and develop a site security plan.
Top-screens are due within 60 calendar days of the effective date of a final "Appendix A: DHS Chemicals of Interest" or within 60 calendar days of coming into possession of any such chemical of interest at or above the STQ. The department will be accepting comments on the proposed Appendix A until May 9, 2007.
Failure to complete a CSAT Top-Screen within the timeframe provided may result in civil penalties, a Department of Homeland Security audit and inspection, or an order to cease operations.
EPA Files Complaint against Romic for Recent Hazardous Release
The EPA is requiring Romic Environmental Technologies to pay up to $32,000 per day per violation after the company mixed incompatible wastes on April 5 causing a series of releases into the air at its facility on the Gila River Indian Reservation in the Lone Butte Industrial Park in Chandler, Ariz.
As part of the complaint, the EPA alleges that the company failed to promptly notify the National Response Center or the local on-scene coordinator, and failed to take all reasonable measures necessary to ensure that releases do not recur.
“This release could have been prevented had the company followed proper waste handling and operating procedures,” said Jeff Scott, the Waste Management Division director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “Romic’s hazardous waste operations must comply with the law to protect its employees, the surrounding community, and the environment.”
The morning of April 5, the facility’s alarm sounded after a Romic operator transferred approximately 50 gallons from a tote of hydrogen peroxide-bearing waste into a tank containing about 200 gallons of residual inorganic acid. The incompatible mixture caused a brief flash fire and generated smoke.
Approximately 30 minutes later, an evacuation horn sounded a second time after the pump transferring the hydrogen peroxide mixture from the tote into the tank became over-pressurized.
Just over an hour later, the tote holding the remaining 40 gallons of hydrogen peroxide combined and reacted with hose contents when it drained back into the tote, thus releasing approximately 40 gallons of hydrogen peroxide, an ignitable hazardous waste.
Romic is a hazardous waste storage and treatment facility. The company performs solvent recycling, blending, aerosol can processing, bulking, container crushing, and waste consolidation for off-site disposal.
In August 2005, the EPA fined Romic $67,888 for multiple hazardous waste violations at its facility. The company corrected the violations and spent $100,800 on life-saving equipment for the Gila River Indian Community Fire Department and air monitoring and meteorological equipment for the Gila River Indian Community Department of Environmental Quality.
California Sets Strict Limits on Formaldehyde Emissions from Composite Wood Products
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) adopted regulations on April 26 that require manufacturers of composite woods products, such as hardwood plywood, particleboard, and fiberboard to reduce formaldehyde emissions to protect public health.
"Today's action will bring California in line with Europe and Japan in Phase 1," said ARB Chairman, Dr. Robert Sawyer, "and will make us the world leader when we implement Phase 2 in 2012. This measure will substantially reduce public exposure to formaldehyde, related asthma attacks, and the risk of getting cancer."
All wood has some naturally occurring formaldehyde. But more formaldehyde is added to composite wood in the form of certain resins, which are used to bind wood particles together. New methods are available and others are quickly being developed that reduce and even eliminate the need for formaldehyde. When ARB's standards are in full effect in 2012, annually there will be 500 fewer tons of formaldehyde in California's air.
Composite wood is a general term for wood-based panels made from wood pieces, particles, or fibers bonded together with a resin. Today's regulations focus on three products: hardwood plywood, particleboard, and medium density fiberboard. Most of these products are used to make furniture, cabinets, shelving, countertops, flooring, and moldings in homes. Formaldehyde is released from composite wood products at manufacturing plants, fabrication facilities, lumberyards, and home construction sites, and ultimately through windows, doors, and ventilation systems in homes, schools, and other buildings.
The regulations require all composite wood products sold in California to meet strict formaldehyde limits. Similar products sold outside of California are exempt. To ensure compliance, foreign and domestic manufacturers must certify their products by a "third party" lab approved by ARB and clearly label the items as meeting California's emission requirements. Distributors, contractors, panel manufacturers, and importers will be held responsible for assuring their products comply.
Formaldehyde has both cancer and non-cancer health effects. The International Agency for Research on Cancer concluded there is sufficient evidence that formaldehyde causes nasopharyngeal cancer in humans (the region of the throat behind the nose). Formaldehyde also has non-cancer effects such as eye, nose, and respiratory irritation and has been linked to the exacerbation of asthma. Health risks from average formaldehyde exposures in California from all sources range from 86 to 231 excess cancer cases per million for adults, and from 23 to 63 excess cancer cases per million for children.
Formaldehyde was identified as a toxic air contaminant (TAC) by ARB in 1992 with no safe level of exposure. Once a TAC is identified, ARB is legally required to limit public exposure to the maximum feasible extent through the adoption of one or more air toxic control measures. As part of that process, statewide formaldehyde exposure was reevaluated by ARB in 2005. That evaluation found that emissions near composite woods were too high and required additional controls.
EPA Orders Navy to Reduce Drinking Water Chemical Levels at San Clemente Island Naval Base
The order requires the Navy to reduce levels of total trihalomethanes – byproducts of the water disinfection process – in the drinking water system that serves approximately 700 people on the island.
“Chemical byproducts in treated drinking water must meet federal guidelines to protect public health,” said Alexis Strauss, Water Division director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “The EPA will ensure this system returns promptly to compliance.”
The EPA is ordering the Navy to provide a written compliance plan describing how it will meet federal water regulations by June 30. By Dec. 31, 2008, the Navy must reduce its total trihalomethane levels to below federal standards. Failure to comply with the EPA order could result in penalties of as much as $32,500 per day per violation.
Byproducts such as trihalomethanes form when disinfectants used in water treatment plants, such as chlorine, react with natural chemical compounds from organic matter like decaying vegetation in source waters. After years of consumption, trihalomethanes may cause liver, kidney or central nervous system problems and may increase the risk of cancer.
Between July 2005 and April 2006, the drinking water at the naval auxiliary landing field averaged 0.099 milligrams per liter of total trihalomethanes, violating federal drinking water standards of 0.080 milligrams per liter.
The EPA established new disinfection byproduct regulations in 1998 to protect public health from potentially harmful byproduct chemicals that form when chlorine reacts with natural organic compounds during the treatment process.
Scott Brass Fined for Operating without Air Permit
EPA Region 5 has reached an agreement with Scott Brass Inc. on alleged Clean Air Act violations at the company's brass production plant at 31140 Edison Road, New Carlisle, Ind.
The agreement, which includes a $10,000 penalty, resolves EPA allegations that Scott Brass failed to apply for a state operating permit before it installed and began operating four furnaces at the plant in 1997.
Scott Brass agreed to comply with an EPA order to apply for a state operating permit that will require controls on furnace emissions. The furnaces emit particulate matter (smoke, ash, dust) when scrap is melted to produce brass metal.
Inhaling high concentrations of particulates can affect children, the elderly, and people with heart and lung diseases the most.
Mt. Hood Chemical Corporation Fined for Distributing Unregistered Pesticides
Mt. Hood has also agreed to conduct a full environmental audit of their Portland, Ore., facility, including non-pesticide related areas and processes, and to provide specialized FIFRA training for employees involved in any aspect of pesticide production, sales, and distribution. The settlement was reached following an investigation by inspectors with the EPA and announced from the agency’s regional headquarters in Seattle, Wash.
EPA’s inspection of the company’s Portland facility was prompted by its review of a report from a March 22, 2005, inspection conducted by the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA). Labels from 11 Mt. Hood disinfectant products collected during the ODA inspection did not contain proper caution or warning statements. It also appeared that Mt. Hood was producing and selling a disinfectant product that was not registered with EPA. EPA investigated and issued orders demanding that Mt. Hood stop selling the 11 improperly labeled products and the unregistered disinfectant. Disinfectants for use on non-living surfaces are considered pesticides under FIFRA because they kill or destroy bacteria, which is considered a “pest.”
Subsequent to the ODA inspection, EPA also learned that Mt. Hood was selling five-gallon pails of its unregistered Crown Bleach product with a competitor’s registered bleach label glued to the container.
“Selling or distributing unregistered and improperly labeled disinfectant products is illegal,” said Chris Gebhardt, a FIFRA enforcement officer in EPA’s Seattle Regional Office. “Disinfectant products that lack updated information about first aid, disposal, and environmental hazards can potentially harm people and the environment.”
In response to EPA’s investigation and stop sale order, Mt. Hood worked cooperatively with EPA and its business partners to promptly correct the labeling problems and satisfy conditions allowing them to resume sales of the above products.
EPA Proposes Refined Emissions Test to Determine NSR for Existing Power Plants
EPA is proposing further options to change the emissions test used to determine if the New Source Review () permitting program would apply when an existing power plant makes a physical or operational change. Congress established the NSR program as part of the 1977 Clean Air Act Amendments and modified it in the 1990 amendments. NSR is a preconstruction permitting program that maintains air quality while providing for economic growth. These goals are achieved through installation of state-of-the-art control technology at new plants and at existing plants that undergo a major modification.
On Oct. 20, 2005, EPA proposed to replace the annual emissions increase test with an hourly emissions test. The hourly emissions increase test would be used to determine whether planned changes at an existing power plant would be subject to emissions control requirements under the major NSR program. This supplemental action proposes further options by:
- Refining the originally proposed test options
- Proposing a new test option
- Analyzing the impacts on control device installation, emissions, and air quality that would result if either proposed option were finalized
- Including proposed rule language for public comment
According to EPA, the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) and other programs will lead to significant further reductions in sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions from the power sector. The agency projects that the NSR proposals will have very little effect on air quality. Both the October 2005 proposal and the supplemental proposed changes to the NSR program would complement the CAIR and other program requirements by eliminating administrative and other barriers that the power sector faces regarding safety, reliability, and efficiency improvements.
. It is outrageous that just weeks after the Supreme Court said EPA should live up to its responsibilities under the Clean Air Act, EPA is trying to roll back rules that protect the health of our families and communities. By making it easier for power plants to get away with not upgrading their pollution equipment, EPA is thumbing its nose at the significance at the Supreme Court’s decision and putting people and the environment at increased risk.”
“This move by EPA represents defiance of the Supreme Court decision and a rush to reward dirty coal-fired power plant lawbreakers,” said John Walke, National Resource Defense Council’s clean air program director. “EPA’s action will result in more air pollution while trampling on the law and damaging public health.”
Shintech Fined $426,530 for RCRA, EPCRA, and CAA Violations
The EPA announced last week that Shintech Louisiana LLC has agreed to a $426,530 penalty to resolve environmental violations at two of its plants in Addis, La.
The violations stem from EPA inspections of the company’s polyvinyl chloride manufacturing plants in 2004 and 2005, which revealed improper handling of hazardous waste. Shintech has since corrected the infractions and met reporting requirements set by EPA and the State of Louisiana.
“Business and industry play a large part in our ability to protect human health and the environment,” said EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene. “We are pleased that Shintech has taken responsibility for its environmental actions and corrected its processes. EPA will continue working with our state and federal partners to ensure diligent enforcement of our environmental laws.”
The complaint against Shintech, filed on behalf of EPA by the U.S. Department of Justice, states that the company violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act by failing to identify hazardous waste, keep records of its hazardous waste, and obtain the required approval to manage and store hazardous waste. Shintech corrected these violations by shipping all hazardous waste identified during the inspections to approved treatment, storage, and disposal facilities.
Shintech also violated the Clean Air Act through failures in reporting, record keeping, inspecting, and conducting audits and/or submitting certifications.
Finally, from 2000 to 2002, Shintech violated the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act by failing to submit required toxic chemical release reporting forms. These documents have since been submitted by the company.
The complaint and agreement for the Shintech violations were filed in the Middle District of Louisiana, Baton Rouge Division.
Rhodia Must Spend Over $50 Million to Settle Clean Air Act Violations
The pollution controls are expected to reduce harmful emissions from its production plants in Texas, Louisiana, California and Indiana by 19,000 tons per year.
The company will meet new, lower emission limits for sulfur dioxide at eight sulfuric acid production units: two in Houston, Tex., and one in Baytown, Tex.; two in Baton Rouge, La.; one each in Martinez, Calif., and Dominguez, Calif.; and one in Hammond, Ind. To meet these limits, the company will install state-of-the-art pollution control equipment at several plants and change operating procedures at several others. The states of Indiana and Louisiana, California's Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and the city of Hammond, Ind., joined the federal government in the agreement and will receive shares of the civil penalty.
As a result of these actions, actual emissions at some of the Rhodia plants will decrease by more than 90%. The Justice Department and the EPA expect to reach similar agreements with other sulfuric acid manufacturers.
"Today's settlement will reduce harmful air pollutants by 19,000 tons per year," said Grant Nakayama, EPA assistant administrator for the office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "Sulfur dioxide can impair breathing, aggravate respiratory diseases such as bronchitis, and cause acid rain. This will improve air quality for millions of people around the nation."
"This agreement is helping to improve the environment and at the same time creating a level playing field in the industry," said Matthew J. McKeown, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environmental and Natural Resources Division. "Today's settlement shows the high level of cooperation possible among the federal government, our local and state partners, and industry, when all are committed to compliance and meaningful improvement of the environment."
Rhodia's plants produce acid by burning sulfur-containing compounds, creating sulfur dioxide. The sulfur dioxide is then converted to sulfur trioxide, which combines with water to form sulfuric acid. Air pollution is created when "unconverted" sulfur dioxide and sulfuric acid mist is released to the atmosphere.
The government's complaint alleges that Rhodia made modifications to its plants, which increased emissions of sulfur dioxide, without first obtaining pre-construction permits and installing required pollution control equipment. EPA requires major sources of air pollution to obtain such permits before making changes that would result in a significant emissions increase of any pollutant. The settlement will ensure that the proper pollution equipment will be installed to reduce future emission levels.
EPA is focusing on improving compliance among industries that have the potential to cause significant amounts of air pollution, including the cement manufacturing, glass manufacturing, and acid production industries.
The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. The company is required to pay the penalty within 30 days after the court approves the settlement and to begin meeting stricter emission limits at some of the plants by July 1, 2007.
New Report Summarizes Ozone Layer Protection
After nearly 20 years of international treaty protection, the six-mile-high ozone layer that shields the earth from harmful solar rays is on the road to recovery, but challenges remain, EPA reports.
"We could not have made this progress without the collaboration of our partners from all sectors of our economy," said Bill Wehrum, EPA acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation. "These partnerships have spurred progress in technology development and deployment that is protecting the ozone layer, saving energy, and preventing emissions of greenhouse gases."
The report recognizes the substantial and successful investments of the many collaborators who have worked towards protecting and restoring the ozone layer. The ozone layer has not grown thinner over most of the world since 1998, according to the report, and the Antarctic ozone level is projected to return to pre-1980 levels between 2060 and 2075.
The report also recognizes the substantial and successful investments of the many collaborators who have worked toward protecting and restoring the ozone layer.
In 1999, the EPA estimated substantial benefits from the United States' work to restore the ozone layer, including:
- By 2165, actions to protect and restore the ozone layer were projected to save 6.3 million U.S. lives that would otherwise have been lost to skin cancer.
- Every dollar invested in ozone protection is estimated to provide $20 of societal health benefits in the United States.
- Protecting the stratospheric ozone layer is estimated to produce $4.2 trillion in societal health benefits over the period 1990 to 2165.
- Additionally, since many ozone-depleting substances are also greenhouse gases, replacing these substances with substitutes that are safer for the ozone layer can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
September 2007 will mark the 20th anniversary of the landmark Protocol to protect the ozone layer. The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was adopted in 1987 and has been ratified by 191 countries.
Wal-Mart Fined $24,000 for Storm Water Violations
The EPA announced last week that Wal-Mart will pay a civil penalty of $24,000 for not taking steps to prevent rain water from washing sediments and pollution into waterways at its Supercenter construction site in Caguas, Puerto Rico as required under the Clean Water Act. As a result of the agreement, the company will also provide at least $98,000 for the preservation of land in the area of Las Cucharillas Marsh, part of the San Juan Bay Estuary Watershed. The parcel will be perpetually maintained as an environmentally protected area through deed restrictions and legal agreements.
“Wal-Mart should have taken some simple, straightforward steps to control the rainwater run-off from its construction site and to protect the environment,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA regional administrator. “As development and construction continues to increase on the island, all companies both big and small, need to be aware that following environmental regulations is a business necessity. One positive result of this agreement will be the purchase and preservation of land in the area of Las Cucharillas Marsh, a precious ecosystem that contains the highest diversity of waterfowl in the San Juan Bay.”
All of these actions are requirements of EPA’s storm water general construction permit.
The transferred land is located around Laguna La Mano in the sensitive watershed of Las Cucharillas Marsh in Catao. Las Cucharillas Marsh is located at the intersection of the municipalities of Catao, Guaynabo, and Bayamon and covers approximately 1,236 acres, consisting mostly of wetlands, mangrove forests, and open waters. The marsh serves as a flood plain and acts as a sediment and nutrient filter for runoff waters before they reach the San Juan Bay.
Construction projects are a potentially significant source of storm water related sediment runoff when soil at these sites is disturbed or left in loose piles. When rain washes through the soil, large amounts of sediment may wash into local water bodies, clogging rivers, shore lines and wetlands, and may impact aquatic habitat and reduce the capacity of Puerto Rico’s reservoirs.
The Clean Water Act requires operators of construction sites of one acre or larger (including smaller sites that are part of a larger common plan of development) to obtain a permit to discharge storm water and to develop and carry out a storm water pollution prevention plan. EPA will continue to pursue those who do not follow the Clean Water Act and the permitting requirements of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System as part of the national wet weather enforcement priority. These actions are part of an ongoing and concerted national effort by EPA to reduce storm water pollution and improve water quality.
U.S. to Test New Coal Mine Methane Venting Technology - System Can Turn Problem into Asset
EPA, the Department of Energy (DOE), and industry have partnered to support this first U.S. trial of the technology.
"This project shows how we can work through public-private partnerships to develop innovative, climate-friendly technologies," said Bill Wehrum, acting assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. "By capturing methane from coal mines, we can promote clean energy while reducing greenhouse gases."
Coal mines are a significant source of methane, which is 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. Ventilation shafts from underground coal mines are the source of more than 50% of all methane emissions from the coal mining industry worldwide. In 2000, total global ventilation shafts produced an estimated 16.6 billion cubic meters of methane.
Pittsburgh-based CONSOL Energy is hosting the demonstration at the Windsor Mine Portal in West Liberty, W.Va., near Wheeling. Sequa Corporation's MEGTEC Systems of DePere, Wisc., has provided the technology for the demonstration, a thermal oxidation system that destroys methane in ventilation air by heating the gas to more than 1800 degrees fahrenheit and converting it to carbon dioxide and water. The heat produced in this process can then be used directly in mining operations such as coal drying, or it can be used to generate electricity. Although this project represents the first demonstration of this technology on U.S. soil, it has been successfully operated at one pilot-scale site in Great Britain, as well as at two mines in Australia, one a future commercial-scale operation.
EPA, through its Coalbed Methane Outreach Program (CMOP), is contributing $500,000 to the joint project, and DOE is providing more than $1.1 million. CONSOL and MEGTEC are together providing a total of approximately $400,000 in funding and resources, as well as technical support. In 2005, CONSOL Energy recovered and used more than seven billion cubic feet of methane from its U.S. coal mines using conventional technologies.
EPA's CMOP is a voluntary program whose mission is to promote the profitable recovery and use of coal mine methane. By working cooperatively with coal companies and related industries, CMOP helps to identify and implement methods to capture and use coal mine methane instead of emitting it to the atmosphere.
Software Tool Helps Watersheds Address Pollution
EPA released the Watershed Plan Builder interactive Web-based tool to help watershed organizations address polluted runoff and water quality improvement. When data are entered, the tool produces a comprehensive watershed plan outline, tailored to a specific watershed. There will be a free public Webcast on the interactive tool on May 2 from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. EDT, and for a limited time, users are invited to provide feedback.
American Finish and Chemical Company Fined $45,000 for Cleanup Delay
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has reached agreement with American Finish & Chemical Company, the former owner of 1012 Broadway in Chelsea, for waste site cleanup violations at that location. A previously suspended penalty of $15,000 is now due because of the failure to meet specified terms and conditions in a consent order signed last year by the company's owner, Leon Pinstein.
On Feb. 28, 2006, the company agreed to a $30,000 penalty and to submit a final closure statement, which would effectively finish the cleanup of volatile organic compounds in soil at this site, and to do so within one year. As agreed, the company then paid $15,000 with the remaining $15,000 suspended if the company completed the cleanup and complied with the deadlines.
On Jan. 19, 2007, the company sold the property and subsequently failed to meet the deadlines. Now, American Finish & Chemical Company has agreed to pay the remaining $15,000, and to finish cleanup actions.
"The cost of repeated delays in finishing a cleanup should be borne by the polluter, and not the community or the state," said Richard Chalpin, director of MassDEP's Northeast Regional office in Wilmington. "MassDEP will work to make sure responsible parties follow through on commitments and do not lag in meeting their obligations, especially those communities like Chelsea, which have been designated Environmental Justice areas."
Environmental Justice Communities are those that include many densely populated urban neighborhoods in and around the state's oldest industrial sites. These neighborhoods encompass only a small portion of the land area of the commonwealth (less than 5%), but they are home to a large percentage of the state's population (nearly 29%).
JTL Group, Inc. Fined for Particulate Matter Violations
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently settled an enforcement action with JTL Group, Inc. concerning its asphalt plant near Kalispell, Mont. The enforcement action included an $18,400 administrative civil penalty for the company’s violation of the Clean Air Act of Montana. The company will pay the DEQ a penalty of $4,600 with the remainder of the penalty, $13,800, suspended pending JTL’s completion of a supplemental environmental project (SEP).
Larry Alheim, DEQ environmental enforcement specialist, said that for the SEP, JTL will spend at least $20,800 to pave a gravel portion of the Conrad Complex parking lot to mitigate airborne particulate matter emissions and improve the PM10 air quality in that area of Kalispell. Alheim stated that JTL proposed this project because the complex is heavily used from early spring to late fall and the gravel parking lot generates a significant amount of airborne particulate matter.
Alheim said the DEQ took the action because JTL failed a source test on their asphalt plant in July 2006, exceeding the permitted particulate matter emission limit. The company took immediate corrective action to bring the asphalt plant back into compliance. JTL cooperated fully with the DEQ throughout the enforcement action.
TCEQ Approves Fines Totaling $619,176
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) approved penalties totaling $619,176 against 70 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations.
Agreed orders were issued for the following enforcement categories: seven air quality, 12 dry cleaner, six field citations, one industrial hazardous waste, one industrial waste discharge, two multi-media, five municipal solid waste, five municipal waste discharge, 14 petroleum storage tank, and 12 public water system, four water quality and one water rights.
Included in the total fine figure is a penalty of $130,625 against BP Products North America, Inc. in Texas City. The fines are the result of violations from investigations conducted between July 2004 and August 2005. The three violations covered in the agreed order consist of failure to prevent unauthorized releases of air contaminants and failure to cap an open-ended line.
Chevron to Pay $1 Million in Civil Settlement for 2006 Oil Spill into Arthur Kill
Attorney General Stuart Rabner and Criminal Justice Director Gregory A. Paw announced recently that Chevron has agreed to pay $1 million for spilling more than 10,000 gallons of crude oil into the Arthur Kill last year.
The funds paid by Chevron in the civil settlement with the Attorney General’s Office will be used by NY/NJ Baykeeper for a project to reestablish oyster beds in New York/New Jersey Harbor in the area of the Arthur Kill and Raritan Bay.
“This is an appropriate settlement, particularly given that the funds will be used to create new oyster beds in an effort to reestablish an important part of the harbor’s ecosystem,” said Attorney General Rabner. “Chevron previously paid for the environmental cleanup of the spill.”
A barge was offloading crude oil at the Chevron Perth Amboy facility on Feb. 13, 2006, when the oil was discharged from a leak in a pipeline near the Arthur Kill. The oil leached into the Arthur Kill, where it created a slick that led the U.S. Coast Guard, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and the Division of Criminal Justice – Environmental Crimes Bureau to respond.
“The circumstances surrounding this spill were thoroughly investigated by our Environmental Crimes Bureau,” said Director Paw. “Fortunately, the environmental damage from the spill was limited due to the quick response. This civil settlement represents a beneficial resolution of this matter.”
The settlement and investigation were handled for the Environmental Crimes Bureau by Supervising Deputy Attorney General Edward Bonanno and State Investigator Stephen Coraggio.
Chevron previously paid the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection $45,000 in a natural resource damage settlement related to the spill.
At one time, New York/New Jersey Harbor was filled with oyster beds that supported an entire fishing industry. The oyster population was decimated through pollution and over-fishing. NY/NJ Baykeeper has been working to create new oyster beds in the harbor. The funds from this settlement will be used for the Great Beds Western Raritan Bay Habitat Restoration Project.
Two Men Sentenced for Violating Fisheries Conservation Law
A former boat builder, Michael Bonner of Wetumpka, Ala. and a commercial fisherman, Gerald E. Andrews Jr. of Pensacola, Fla., were each sentenced to three years of probation and fines of $25,000 and $40,000, respectively, the Justice Department announced recently.
Both Bonner and Andrews pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of making false documents and writings in an attempt to violate a moratorium on charter vessel permits under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson Act) regulations.
In November 2003, the Magnuson Act placed a moratorium on charter vessel/headboat permits for Gulf coastal migratory ocean-going fish and Gulf reef fish in an effort to address concerns regarding over-fishing and declining fish stocks. The regulation requires that only individuals who could provide the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) with documentation verifying that, prior to March 29, 2001, a charter vessel or headboat was under construction and that at least $5,000 had been spent towards construction as of that date, are eligible for the permit.
According to the information filed on Feb. 6, 2007, Michael Bonner and Gerald Andrews agreed in two separate contracts that Bonner would build Andrews two 65-foot commercial fishing vessels. The defendants are alleged to have submitted to the NMFS sales agreements signed and dated March 2, 2001 for both boats when in fact the agreements were actually signed on or about May 1, 2003 in an attempt to secure charter fishing permits prior to the moratorium’s going into effect in September 2003.
The moratorium created a demand for the permits since they were not available to all charter boat owners. Anyone who could not meet the March 2001 deadline would have to purchase a permit valued up to approximately $50,000 from another boat owner.
This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Mary Dee Carraway of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section and was investigated by special agent Allan Coker of the National Marine Fisheries Service.
A.M. Welles, Inc. Penalized for Oversized Generator
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently settled its enforcement action against A.M. Welles concerning an air quality violation involving its Montana Air Quality Permit.
The permit issued to Welles allows for the use of a diesel generator with a maximum design capacity of 800 kW. During an inspection of their operation near Belgrade, Montana, DEQ staff observed an 815-kW generator being used.
To return to compliance, Welles paid the DEQ a $5,250 penalty and replaced the 815-kW generator with an 800-kW generator.
Nevada Takes First Step to Address Climate Control
Nevada Senate Minority Leader Diana Titus has introduced SB 422, Nevada's first attempt to address global warming. The bill requires the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection (NDEP) to develop a statewide greenhouse gas inventory that will identify and evaluate the sources, types, and amounts of greenhouse gases released in the State. It also establishes requirements for participation in a verifiable greenhouse gas registry and mandates annual reporting of all greenhouse gases emitted from certain sources, beginning with power plants.
This inventory and registry will provide information about the sources, types, and amount of greenhouse gas emissions in Nevada. The state would then use this information to set reasonable caps and reduction timetables and to create an emission credit trade program so Nevada companies can buy and sell credits within the state and throughout the West.
The bill was supported by NDEP, Barrick and Newmont Mining, Sierra Pacific Power Carthness, Ormat, Sierra Club, Nevada Conservation League, Western Resource Advocates, and Nevada Outdoor Recreation Association. In addition, a recent poll of 600 registered voters throughout Nevada conducted by Public Opinion Strategies revealed that 64% of Nevada voters say global warming is taking place and action should be taken and 54% say that the state should do more to address global warming.
California Files Appeal to Uphold State's Washing Machine Efficiency Standards
The California Energy Commission filed a federal suit April 20 against the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to uphold California's washing machine efficiency standards. Brought before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, the suit contests DOE's 2004 denial of an Energy Commission waiver to require more efficient washing machines statewide.
"For a state that faces perpetual water issues, every drop counts," said Commission Chair Jackalyne Pfannenstiel. "Less water use in California clothes washers will eventually save enough to supply a city the size of San Diego every year," she added.
The Energy Commission seeks to overturn the DOE action, arguing that the state's washing machine standards would save substantial amounts of electricity, natural gas and water. The standards will also enhance efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions. The commission's petition to DOE was strongly supported by California's local water utilities.
Under state legislation passed in 2002, the Energy Commission is required to establish standards to ensure washing machines sold in California after 2007 use no more than 8.5 gallons per cubic foot of washing machine capacity, subsequently decreasing to six gallons by 2010.
Water efficient washing machines will use on average only 21.1 gallons per wash, or 8,271 gallons a year - compared to typical models that used an average of 39.2 gallons per wash or 15,366 gallons a year for a normal household three years ago.
While the consumer on average will pay $130 more for a washing machine, savings during the life of the machine will average $242 in lower energy costs and water bills.
The commission said that in addition to consumers, the standards will also benefit local governments as decreased water and electrical use reduces the need for additional generation of power.
Poor Tire Maintenance Increases Gas Consumption and Reduces Tire Life
The California Integrated Waste Management Board (CIWMB), the California Highway Patrol (CHP) and the Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) conducted the Sacramento launch of National Tire Safety Week to demonstrate the effect that proper tire maintenance has on gas mileage, tire life, and passenger safety.
"In a recent survey we conducted only 55% of drivers said they checked their tire pressure within the past month compared to 70% last year when fuel prices peaked" said Daniel Zielinski, RMA vice president, Communications. "Maximizing tire performance and safety depends on regular maintenance."
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), low tire pressure-related crashes are to blame for 660 fatalities and 33,000 injuries every year. NHTSA estimates that about one in four cars and one in three light trucks has at least one significantly under inflated tire.
These alarming statistics are a critical reason why RMA is sponsoring the sixth annual National Tire Safety Week, which runs April 22–28, in partnership with CIWMB and CHP in California.
"There is a real need to educate drivers about tire maintenance in order to increase vehicle safety and tire performance as well as extend the life of the tires and save money on gas," explains Margo Reid Brown, CIWMB Chair. "California currently generates 40 million scrap tires annually which have significant impacts on our environment."
CHP driving instructors demonstrated how poor tire maintenance can affect safe driving. Demonstrations included a vehicle with bald rear tires, bald front tires, and a vehicle with improperly inflated tires. The CHP instructors depicted how the vehicles handle poorly during wet weather conditions and when trying to swerve or stop to avoid roadway obstacles.
During the event RMA urged motorists to follow several maintenance tips, including:
- Measure tire pressure monthly, using a good quality tire gauge. A visual inspection is not sufficient to detect under or over-inflated tire problems.
- Have tires aligned regularly and check owner's manual for specific recommendations. A pulling or vibration sensation means that alignment should be checked sooner.
- Rotate tires regularly, usually every 5,000-8,000 miles.
- Monitor tread wear and replace tires when tire tread is worn down to 1/16 of an inch. Proper tire tread prevents skidding and hydroplaning.
- Tires should be balanced periodically or when drivers feel a vibration.
- Conduct a visual check for embedded stones, glass and other foreign objects that could work their way into the tire and cause a leak.
More than 17,000 tire dealers, auto dealers, AAA clubs, and others throughout the country will make RMA tire care information brochures available to consumers during National Tire Safety Week. Additionally, most tire retail locations provide free tire pressure services to motorists throughout the year. In Northern California, Les Schwab has partnered with CIWMB and RMA to advertise their free tire safety checks to all drivers during the entire month of April.
European Liability Directive Ensures Polluters Pay
European Union legislation laying down liability rules for damage to the environment will become effective on April 30. It will ensure that future environmental damage in the EU is prevented or remedied, and that those who cause it are held responsible. Environmental damage includes damage to water resources, natural habitats, animals and plants as well as contamination of land which causes significant harm to human health. Member states are required to transpose the directive into their national law by 30 April, but to date only Italy, Latvia and Lithuania have done so.
EU Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas said: “The idea that the polluter must pay is a cornerstone of EU policy and with this legislation we are putting it into practice. The environmental liability directive will provide a strong incentive to prevent damage from happening at all, and enables governments to seek redress from the culprit when serious damage does occur. I am very concerned that only three member states have transposed this vital legislation so far. If the others do not follow suit very soon the commission will have to consider starting legal action."
The directive establishes a framework based on environmental liability to ensure that environmental damage is prevented or remedied. Environmental damage includes damage to species and natural habitats protected at EU level under the 1979 directive on the conservation of wild birdsand the 1992 directive on the conservation of natural habitats, damage to waters covered by the 2000 Water Framework Directive, as well as land contamination which causes significant risk of harming human health. There will be no retrospective effect.
The parties potentially liable for the costs of preventing or remedying the environmental damage are the operators of the risky or potentially risky activities listed in the environmental liability directive. These include activities that release heavy metals into water or into the air, installations producing dangerous chemicals, landfill sites, and incineration plants. Other economic operators may also be liable for the costs of preventing or remedying damage to protected species and natural habitats, but only if they are found to be at fault or negligent.
Public authorities will play an important role in the liability scheme. It will be their role to ensure that responsible operators undertake themselves, or finance, the necessary preventive or remedial measures. Public interest groups, such as non-governmental organizations, will be allowed to require public authorities to act, if this is necessary, and to challenge their decisions before the courts, if those decisions are illegal. Where damage or a threat of damage may affect more than one member state, the member states concerned must cooperate on the preventive or remedial action to be taken.
As the directive does not oblige operators to ensure coverage of their potential liabilities by appropriate financial security products, such as insurance, member states are required to encourage the development of (such) instruments allowing for financial security and their use by the operators. The commission will address this issue in a report once the directive has been operating for three years, while a general report on the implementation of the directive is due by 2014.
The principle according to which the polluter pays for environmental damage caused (the "polluter pays" principle) is set out in the Treaty establishing the European Community. Discussions on how to address environmental liability at EU level began in the late 1980s and led to publication by the commission of a Green Paper in 1993 and a White Paper in 2000. Both papers gave rise to extensive consultation and discussions with civil society and all stakeholders concerned. The commission subsequently came forward with a proposal for a directive on environmental liability in January 2002. The European Parliament and the Council adopted the directive on April 21, 2004, and member states have until April 30, 2007 to transpose it.
2007 Chemical Sector Security Summit
This department-supported summit is designed for industry professionals throughout the entire chemical sector involved with corporate and facility security; environment, health, and safety; and the transportation and distribution of chemical products. Topics for the summit include discussions regarding:
- The implementation of the new Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards
- Secure distribution of chemicals
- Coordinating security programs with local emergency responders
There will also be an opportunity for on-site security awareness and top-screen training. Workshops and breakout sessions will allow attendees to better understand the new security landscape and will provide networking opportunities with department officials, industry peers and security experts in the field.
There is no charge to attend this DHS-sponsored event and it is easy to register. Send your name, company name, contact information and job title to
You will receive an email confirming your registration. Register early—space is limited.
If you have any questions, contact
New EPA Study Shows Millions of Gallons of Paint Wasted
A new EPA study estimates that about 10% of the U.S. house paint purchased each year – about 65 to 69 million gallons – is ultimately discarded.
Leftover paint is the largest volume material collected by most household hazardous waste collection programs and represents a high cost for local governments. Despite existing collection efforts, large volumes of leftover paint remain stored in basements and garages across the country. Yet, leftover paint offers significant potential for reuse and recycling.
The study was released at a national meeting of the Paint Product Stewardship Initiative (PPSI) on April 18 and 19 in Washington, D.C. This initiative brings together paint manufacturers, retailers, recyclers, EPA officials, and representatives from more than two dozen state and local agencies to find better ways to manage leftover house paint. The PPSI has just completed a 2-year, $1 million research program laying the foundation for a nationally coordinated solution.
"This new study fills a critical information gap by defining the scope of an environmental problem that every American can identify with – what to do with leftover paint," said EPA Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock. "The data will help the Paint Product Stewardship Initiative determine the amount of paint available for collection, recycling, reuse and safe disposal."
PPSI is spearheaded by the Product Stewardship Institute, a national nonprofit organization that works in partnership with government, business, and other stakeholders to reduce the health and environmental effects of consumer products.
On March 21, the National Paint and Coatings Association’s Board of Directors adopted a resolution to support PPSI and work toward the development of a nationally coordinated system for managing leftover paint.
At last week’s PPSI meeting, the stakeholders began the task of fleshing out the details of a nationally coordinated system, including possible roles for paint manufacturers, retailers, government agencies, and consumers. The goal is to implement a state-level demonstration program over the next two years, and then to expand that approach to the national level.
Trivia Question of the Week
How much of the money EPA spent cleaning up Superfund sites has the agency recovered from responsible parties?