EPA issued a final action that relies on a broad range of existing programs and regulations at the federal, state and local level to control stormwater runoff from construction sites in lieu of a new national effluent guideline.
Almost every state and many local governments already implement requirements that are equivalent to or even more stringent than those contained in a regulation proposed in 2002. For example, all 50 states require sediment and erosion control measures at sites during construction. Additional regulations, as outlined in the 2002 proposal, would have limited states flexibility and resulted in very high costs with only minor reductions in pollution discharges. The 2002 proposal would have also prescribed sediment basins of a particular size to apply nationwide, where existing requirements allow states to set these technical requirements to meet regional differences in rainfall, seasonal weather patterns, soil types, slopes, and other considerations.
In 2003, new National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems regulations went
into effect for stormwater
discharges from construction sites that are one to five acres in size (larger sites were regulated previously). And, over 5000 municipalities are also developing or upgrading their programs to control stormwater runoff from construction sites. These new requirements along with other federal, state and local programs, will yield significant environmental improvements by controlling polluted runoff from construction sites. In addition, about 16 billion pounds of sediment will be prevented from entering the nation's waters each year due to these new stormwater regulations.
Information about this action is available at http://www.epa.gov/guide/construction. Information about existing programs, requirements, and EPA support for state and local stormwater programs is available at http://www.epa.gov/npdes/stormwater.
New Partnership Plans to Cut Chemical Releases in Workplaces, Communities
EPA signed an agreement on March 30 with OSHA and other chemical and safety groups establishing the Reactive Chemical Hazards Alliance to help reduce accidental chemical releases.
The cooperating members will work to provide those involved in the manufacture, distribution, use and storage of chemicals with information, guidance, and access to training resources on the hazards of chemicals. Under this agreement, the members aim to:
- increase awareness of the need to identify and manage chemical reactive hazards (CRH) among those who manufacture, distribute, use and store chemicals;
- provide management information, methods and tools on chemical reactivity hazards to a variety of audiences in meaningful and useful forms; and
- gain experience in the use of methods and tools to continuously improve identification and management of CRH.
Specifically, the members will develop and disseminate information through print and electronic media and the Internet, and make the CCPS' publication, " Essential Practices for Managing Chemical Reactivity Hazards," available through web sites and other outreach media.
EPA is working with the American Chemistry Council, the Center for Chemical Process Safety (CCPS), the National Association for Chemical Distributors, the Chlorine Institute, the Synthetic Organic Chemical Manufacturers Association, and the Mary Kay O'Connor Process Safety Center of Texas A&M University in this collaborative effort.
More information about the Reactive Chemical Hazards Alliance is available at http://www.osha.gov.
Some Eastern States Will Take Further Steps to Reduce Smog-Forming Pollution
Additional reductions of nitrogen oxides from power plants will assist several eastern states in achieving air quality standards for ground-level ozone, or smog, under a rule signed by EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt. The rule completes the second and final phase of the Nitrogen Oxides State Implementation Plan (SIP) Call, or "NOx SIP Call," an action that is projected to reduce one million tons of NOx, 10 percent of which will be addressed in this second phase.
The air pollution controls are estimated to improve air quality for more than 100 million people. The rule is designed to reduce smog-forming emissions of NOx that cross state lines and impair air quality. It requires states that submitted SIPs to meet the Phase I NOx SIP Call budgets to submit Phase II SIP revisions as needed to achieve the necessary incremental reductions of NOx. It also requires Georgia and Missouri to submit SIP revisions meeting the full NOx SIP Call budgets, since they were not required to submit Phase I SIPs. Sources in Alabama and Michigan will implement Phase II for the portion of the states covered by the NOx SIP Call.
For more information and a prepublication copy of the rule, visit http://www.epa.gov/airlinks/airlinks2.html
Company and Managers Indicted in Fraudulent Hazardous Waste Collection Scheme
Villafam Contracting Services, LLC, of El Paso, Texas, and two of its managers, Hector I. Villa, III and Denise Y. Villa-Aceves, were each indicted on March 22 on charges that they conspired to commit mail fraud by submitting falsely inflated invoices to the city regarding the amount of hazardous waste collected and disposed of by the company. In addition to the conspiracy charge, Villafam is charged with one count of mail fraud, and Hector Villa and Denise Villa-Aceves are each charged with six counts of mail fraud. The indictment also contains a notice of forfeiture by which the government seeks to recover the alleged proceeds of the scheme, including company assets and a monetary sum of $391,393. The case was investigated by the Dallas Area Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the FBI and the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in El Paso.
Plant and Plant Manager Plead Guilty to Releasing Hazardous Chemicals into U.S. Waters
Industrial Zeolite Ltd., and Emanuel Anthony Drouin, manager of the Industrial Zeolite plant located in LeCompte, La.; both pled guilty on March 18 to charges arising from the unpermitted release of pollutants into U.S. waters.
The defendants pled guilty to violating the Clean Water Act on Dec. 31, 2002 by knowingly releasing 1.1 million gallons of wastewater containing sodium hydroxide and aluminosilicate into a ditch connected to the Callahan Bayou which feeds into the Red River. In addition, Industrial Zeolite pled guilty to violating the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act between Dec. 26, 2002 and Jan. 6, 2003, by failing to report the release of up to 84,000 gallons of wastewater containing approximately 5,505 pounds of sodium hydroxide and approximately 2,000 pounds of aluminosilicate.
The defendants also face charges by the Rapides Parish District Attorney's Office for state environmental violations. Sodium hydroxide is a highly caustic substance. The release of this chemical or aluminosilicate into surface waters can harm fish, wildlife, and aquatic life and make surface waters unsafe for human recreation and drinking. The case was investigated by the New Orleans Area Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the Louisiana State Police and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Western District of Louisiana.
Green Investing: A Growing Trend
EPA announced that three socially responsible investment (SRI) organizations are using the EPA National Environmental Performance Track (PT) program as a criterion in developing their investment ratings. The Calvert Group, Innovest Strategic Value Advisors, and KLD Research & Analytics use Performance Track data as positive indicators when evaluating corporate environmental management. EPA has provided PT data publicly since 2001. Ratings are used by investors to help make informed investment decisions. Positive results can be crucial for publicly traded companies- - increasing investor confindence, strengthening brand awareness and recognition, and boosting stock indexes and company competitiveness.
"Investment advisors have discovered that environmental performance can be an excellent indicator of stock market potential, "notes Chuck Kent, EPA Director for the Office of Community and Business Innovation, "and Performance Track members represent many of the top environmental performers in the United States today."
The decision to use Performance Track membership as a screening criterion is symbolic of a growing trend toward socially responsible investing. Socially responsible investing incorporates economic, environmental and social data to provide a more complete understanding of overall corporate performance.
Calvert now monitors Performance Track membership to identify potential companies to include in its socially responsible mutual funds. KLD uses Performance Track data to assess how well companies prevent pollution and eliminate wasteful byproducts.
Performance Track facilities voluntarily exceed regulatory requirements, implement environmental management systems (EMS), work closely with their communities and make three-year goals to protect the environment and public health.
For additional information on Performance Track, visit http://www.epa.gov/performancetrack.
New Proposal to Cut Mercury, Lead, Other Air Emissions from Hazardous Waste Combustors
EPA signed a proposed rule designed to significantly reduce air pollutant emissions from five types of combustion sources that burn hazardous waste. This proposal could cut up to 4000 tons yearly of such hazardous pollutants as mercury, lead, dioxin, arsenic, soot and sulfur dioxide.
Hazardous air pollutants produce a wide variety of serious human health effects, including cancer, kidney damage and irritation of the lungs, skin and mucous membranes. The five types of combustion sources are: incinerators, cement kilns, lightweight aggregate kilns, steam and heat generation boilers, and hydrochloric acid production furnaces. EPA estimates the proposal would affect 150 facilities operating 276 existing hazardous waste-burning sources. This proposal would apply to all new and existing hazardous waste combustors, no matter what their size. The proposed rule is authorized by Clean Air Act provisions requiring EPA to develop regulations cutting hazardous air pollution emissions from various types of industries that emit one or more of 188 designated contaminants. These rules, including this proposal, require the use of maximum achievable pollution control technology (MACT). Under MACT, new plants must use control technology as good as any being used in the country; existing plants must use technology as good as the average of the top 12 percent of existing facilities.
The Federal Register notice, the database, a factsheet and background support documents on this proposed rule are available at http://www.epa.gov/hwcmact/.