Compaq Computer Corporation (NYSE: CPQ) will begin marketing a multimedia environmental compliance information system called eFACTS (Environmental Facility Compliance Tracking System), which state governments can use to track the results of inspections, enforcement actions and permit reviews and make that information available to the public.
The eFACTS system was developed in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to assist with its efforts to protect the Commonwealth's air, land and water from pollution and provide for the health and safety of its citizens through a cleaner environment.
Since its inception five years ago, eFACTS has helped to manage 150,000 environmental permits processed through DEP's Money Back Guarantee Permit Review program, helped DEP for the first time establish baseline compliance rates for all programs and helped manage facilities to achieve higher levels of compliance. It also has made that information available to the public via the Internet. Because of the considerable benefits of this system, DEP is allowing Compaq to sell it to other states.
Compaq helped DEP develop eFACTS, which is an online database that the public can access to search for owners, operators and regulates sites, the compliance history of DEP permit holders and the status of all permits at a site. They can search by the name of the permit holder or by county or municipality.
Since its implementation, eFACTS has been used to track relevant information about environmentally regulated clients and their facilities. A comprehensive Geographic Information System application, eFACTS enables an agency to integrate data from different sources so all information about regulated organizations, individuals, sites and facilities can be viewed. Using eFACTS, agencies can track permit applications, approvals, inspections, violations, enforcement actions, bonding and forfeiture activities and self-monitoring reports.
Such information includes: names of regulated clients and their facilities, maps, permits and compliance data (inspections, violations, enforcements and penalties). In addition, people can sign up for eNOTICE, an electronic mail notification of permit activity of interest to them by county, municipality or borough. The eFACTS system contains six core modules for:
- Authorization application processing
- Program-specific inventory details
- Bonding and forfeitures
- Self-monitoring report tracking.
Through authorization application processing, eFACTS makes all permit applications "visible" as they are processed, including those that involve multiple DEP programs. For instance, a proposed power plant might need permits for air quality, waste management permit and water quality; eFACTS makes the status of the applications and permits available over the Internet.
The compliance module is similar, allowing users to record and track inspections, violations, enforcement actions and penalties. Additionally, eFACTS modules include program-specific inventory details (water quality, radiation protection, hazardous waste, municipal/residual waste, oil and gas management, mining and reclamation, air quality), bonding, forfeitures, licensing and self-monitoring functionality.
The Council of State Governments selected the DEP eFACTS Compliance Reporting System as one of 1999's eight most innovative programs. It is now available to state environmental agencies as a solution through Compaq's eGovernment practice.
Under the agreement, Compaq becomes the owner of the eFACTS software. For every license that Compaq sells, DEP receives a "service credit" to purchase professional, technical, consulting, maintenance and support services from Compaq.
DEP also retains the right to use the eFACTS software without paying royalties and can modify it for other uses.
For more information on eFACTS, visit DEP's website at
Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act - July 31:
Voluntary revisions to the Form R and Form A submissions should be submitted by this date.
Clean Air Act - August 14:
Each producer, importer, or exporter of a Class II controlled substance must submit a report to EPA providing information on the production, imports, and exports of such chemicals during the previous quarter.
Safe Drinking Water Act - August 6:
Each state must report to the EPA administrator on the success of enforcement mechanisms and initial capacity development efforts in assisting public water systems.
Sulfate must be included in the list of drinking water
contaminants for which a determination to regulate must be made.
EPA FINES ALASKA AIRLINES $84,500 FOR HAZARDOUS WASTE VIOLATIONS
EPA announced that it has fined Alaska Airlines $84,500 for hazardous waste violations discovered at its maintenance facility at the Oakland Airport in 1999.
EPA cited Alaska Airlines for violations under California's Resource Conservation and Recovery Act program, which governs the storage, transportation, and disposal of hazardous waste in the state. EPA investigators discovered the violations in December 1999 during a routine inspection of the airline's maintenance facility, where employees perform a variety of aircraft maintenance tasks, including repairing corrosion, tuning up engines, and painting landing gear.
"This action has set in place a number of measures that will make the facility safer for its workers and the surrounding community," said Jeff Scott, director of the U.S. EPA's Waste Management Division in San Francisco. "All facilities, including airlines, have the responsibility to properly manage their hazardous waste."
Alaska Airlines was cited for the following violations:
- Storage of hazardous waste without a permit, which included a
failure to properly label or mark 49 containers holding hazardous
waste and exceeding 55 gallons of hazardous waste accumulation at
a satellite location.
- Failure to transfer hazardous waste from three ripped plastic
bags to adequate containers.
- Failure to close eight containers holding hazardous waste
- Failure to have available a communication device -- such as a
telephone or two-way radio-- capable of summoning emergency
assistance for local police departments, fire departments or
emergency response teams. Also, failure to have a portable fire
extinguisher in the hazardous waste storage area.
- Failure to maintain aisle space between containers holding
hazardous waste to allow unobstructed movement of personnel and
equipment in an emergency.
- Failure to have a compiled contingency plan that describes
arrangements agreed to by emergency services; a list of names,
addresses, and phone numbers of all persons qualified to act as
emergency coordinator; a list of all emergency equipment at the
facility; and an evacuation plan for facility personnel.
To resolve these issues, Alaska Airlines agreed to pay a penalty
of $84,500, to develop a standard operating procedure to ensure
containers holding hazardous waste are properly labeled, and to
implement other appropriate compliance measures.
MANUFACTURER TO PAY $225,000 PENALTY FOR ALLEGED TOXIC CHEMICAL REPORTING VIOLATIONS
EPA announced that Croda, Inc. has settled violations of federal toxic chemical reporting regulations at its manufacturing plant in Mill Hall, Pa. In a consent agreement with EPA, the company has agreed to pay a $225,000 penalty for failing to file required annual reports on releases of toxic chemicals at its organic chemicals manufacturing plant. Croda voluntarily disclosed these violations to EPA in 1999.
EPA cited the company for violating the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. The law requires companies that use or process more than a threshold amount of listed toxic chemicals to file an annual toxic chemical release form with EPA and the state. Companies must also report both routine and accidental releases of toxic chemicals, as well as the maximum amount of any listed chemicals at the facility and the amount of those chemicals contained in wastes transferred off-site. The reports provide the basis for EPA's annual Toxic Release Inventory, which is provided to the public and regulatory authorities to track pollution trends and identify pollution prevention opportunities.
In June 1999, the company reported to EPA that it had failed to file required reports for 12 chemicals manufactured, processed or used at its plant in the 1995, 1996 and 1997. The chemicals included benzyl chloride, chloracetic acid, diethyl sulfate, epichlorohydrin, phosphoric acid, chloromethane, ethylene oxide, n-hexane , propylene oxide, diemethyl sulfate, diethanolamine, and methanol. This case involves alleged reporting violations, and not unlawful releases of toxic chemicals.
Because Croda reported these violations over six months after
discovering the noncompliance in late 1998, the company did not
qualify for a penalty waiver under EPA's self-audit and
disclosure policies. However, the settlement penalty reflects the
company's voluntary disclosure of the violation and its
cooperation with EPA's investigation of this matter. The company
has also certified that it is now in compliance with reporting
LEPC DATABASE UPDATED
EPA's Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Office has updated the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) database. This new version of the LEPC database allows users to search for their LEPC by zip code. It lists Risk Management Plan (RMP) facilities located within an LEPC's jurisdiction and also facilities that might affect that LEPC.
To check out the new database, visit
BUSH PLAN CALLS FOR STATES TO ENFORCE ENVIRONMENTAL LAWS
The Washington Post reports that the Bush administration has a plan to increase funding for enforcement of federal environmental laws to states while cutting the federal enforcement budget., despite evidence that some states may be unable or unwilling to take on those responsibilities.
The proposal includes a reduction in EPA's enforcement staff of 8 percent (270 positions) while providing $25 million to states to fund enforcement activities.
Bush has advocated an increased role for state and local government in managing and regulating natural resources. Preferring to reject the aggressive enforcement approach taken by the previous administration, Bush and EPA Director Christie Whitman have sought to reduce federal oversight of enforcement while expanding cooperation between industry and states.
In a speech last month to the National Association of Manufacturers, Whitman said that states are better equipped than the EPA to deal with the problems of environmental degradation -- in "partnership" with industry.
Some states, including Arizona, Delaware and Missouri, have aggressive -- and successful -- environmental enforcement programs. But others fall far short, as documented by the EPA's inspector general and analyses of EPA data by the Environmental Working Group.
In a September 1998 audit, the EPA's inspector general determined that six states had failed to report multiple serious violations of the Clean Air Act as required. Additionally, while Arkansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Washington state conducted over 3,300 inspections, they only reported 18 significant violations. An EPA review of a small portion of those inspections produced 103 additional serious violations,
While performing more than 3,300 inspections, Arkansas, Maryland,
Massachusetts, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Washington state
reported only 18 significant violations. While reviewing a small
portion of those 3,300 inspections, the EPA turned up an
additional 103 serious violations.
EPA UPDATES THE LIST OF LISTS
EPA has recently updated the Consolidated List of Chemicals Subject to the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and Section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act (also known as the List of Lists).
This consolidated list has been prepared to help firms handling chemicals determine whether they need to submit reports under sections 302, 304, or 313 of EPCRA and, for a specific chemical, what reports may need to be submitted. It will also help firms determine whether they will be subject to accident prevention regulations under CAA section 112(r). These lists should be used as a reference tool, not as a definitive source of compliance information.
This document is an 836K Adobe Acrobat PDF file; click here to
COURT RULES EPA REGULATIONS FOR HAZARDOUS WASTE BURNERS INADEQUATE
In its ruling this week, the United States Court of Appeals struck down as inadequate and unlawful EPA regulations for incinerators and cement kilns that burn hazardous waste. Earthjustice filed suit on behalf of the Sierra Club in 1999 to challenge the EPA regulations.
"Emissions from hazardous waste burners include large quantities of dioxins, mercury, and PCBs," said Jane Williams, chair of Sierra Club's Waste Committee. "These pollutants are among the most toxic there are, and they don't just go away after these polluters have pumped them into the air. Dioxins, mercury and PCBs settle in our waters, on our crops and in our gardens, and they persist in the environment for decades. Worse yet, they accumulate dramatically in the food chain and poison our food. Thanks to emissions from hazardous waste burners and plants like them, many women and children in America already are facing serious health risks."
According to EPA, the health threats resulting from exposure to the pollution emitted by hazardous waste burners include cancer, damage to the reproductive system, birth defects and developmental abnormalities, damage to the heart and liver, damage to the immune system, damage to the endocrine system, and damage to the respiratory system.
The most recent data from the National Air Toxics Assessment show
that the vast majority of Americans are breathing hazardous air
pollutants above levels considered safe by EPA. The Center For
Disease Control has found unsafe levels of these pollutants
present in human test participants. For example, CDC found that
in 10 percent of the women tested, mercury is circulating at
levels that are potentially unsafe for a developing fetus.
KODAK SETTLES WITH EPA ON CHARGES IT FAILED TO MONITOR FOR AIR EMISSIONS
Rochester, New York-based Eastman Kodak Company has settled with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on charges that the company did not test and monitor certain valves and pumps at its Lake Avenue facility for emissions of organic chemicals into the air. The company will pay a $175,000 penalty and has pledged to follow all appropriate environmental regulations for the valves and pumps from now on.
This case was one of several recently brought by EPA against large facilities that handle hazardous waste containing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in certain types of equipment. VOCs are toxic chemicals that are potentially harmful to humans if inhaled and are major contributors to smog. They also evaporate into the air very easily.
"We are very pleased that Kodak has settled with us and pledged to keep a close watch on all of its equipment used to transport hazardous waste containing VOCs," said William J. Muszynski, EPA Acting Regional Administrator. "We have noticed a pattern of large companies failing to test some equipment for VOC releases. Given the harm this group of chemicals can do to the environment, it is essential that facilities comply with all of EPA's hazardous waste air emissions regulations. We will continue to be out inspecting facilities to make sure this is the case."
After inspecting the Rochester facility in May 1999, the agency filed a complaint involving valves and pumps that are part of a system of pipes used to carry hazardous wastes containing volatile organic compounds. The hazardous wastes are generated in Kodak's chemical manufacturing processes. The agency had determined that certain valves were not checked monthly for leaks of volatile organic compounds over a one-year period, nor were they part of larger tests done by Kodak that would have made them subject only to quarterly testing. EPA also found that since December 1996, Kodak did not do monthly monitoring of a number of other valves or make weekly visual inspections of certain pumps used to move hazardous wastes through the pipes. Kodak stated that it believed these valves and pumps were part of the manufacturing process and not regulated. EPA also charged that Kodak failed to initially test 26 portable containers used to store VOC hazardous wastes to make sure they had no detectable emissions. Kodak's failure to perform these tests violated EPA regulations under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the law that governs how hazardous waste is managed.
In the settlement, the company committed to begin testing and monitoring all the valves and pumps used to transport VOC hazardous waste at the facility, and to ensure that containers storing such waste have no detectable emissions.