The EPA recently announced citations against a Maryland-based contractor for violating Clean Air Act asbestos regulations.
The violations occurred during May 2004 while Power Component Systems, Inc. of Hanover, MD, was performing renovations on the Big Spring High School in Newville, PA. The school is part of the Big Spring School District, also named in the citation.
The agencyÆs complaint proposes a $17,584 penalty for improper removal of asbestos-containing material during the schoolÆs renovation. This involved the removal of about 82,000 square feet of asbestos-containing floor tile and 750 feet of asbestos-containing pipe insulation.
To reduce the risk of asbestos emissions, EPA regulations require that asbestos-containing materials that may release asbestos fibers during demolition or renovation must be adequately wetted during removal, and that they must be carefully handled to prevent unnecessary damage. In order to minimize asbestos emissions prior to disposal, these materials must remain adequately wetted until they have been securely bagged or otherwise treated.
During the inspection of the renovation project at the school, an EPA inspector observed dry, crushed asbestos tile debris in the hallways and rooms of the high school. The inspector also observed mechanical chipping machines at the facility, and noted that the floor tile had been subject to sanding, grinding, cutting and abrading during removal. Finally, the inspector observed dry asbestos pipe insulation in bags in the schoolÆs mechanical room.
Asbestos is a hazardous air pollutant, once used regularly in insulation and other building materials. Prolonged exposure and inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause cancer and asbestosis, a serious respiratory disease. For more information on asbestos and its regulation, visit http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/asbestos/help.html.
The cited parties have the right to contest the alleged violations and proposed penalty.
Corrective Action Financial Assurance Tools
In September 2003, EPAÆs Office of Site Remediation and Enforcement and Office of Solid Waste jointly transmitted the "Interim Guidance on Financial Responsibility for Facilities Subject to RCRA Corrective Action (PDF 351 KB)." That guidance recommended a flexible, facility-specific approach to requiring financial assurance for corrective action, where appropriate, and encouraged regulators to require financial assurance earlier in the correction action process such as for the RCRA Facility investigation (RFI) or for significant interim measures.
On November 1, 2004, OSRE released three documents intended to assist regional and state offices in evaluating the appropriate level of financial assurance that may be required for an RFI or interim measure.
Average Cost of Remedial Investigation Derived from Fund-lead Superfund Costs: This document provides information on completed fund-lead actions at 28 different types of sites. Because the Superfund and RCRA programs have similar investigation and remediation processes, Superfund RI costs can be used as a proxy for RFI costs and serve as a general guideline for cost estimating efforts. Users of this document can determine the "site type category" for a facility and then locate an estimate in 2004 dollars for assessing the appropriate amount of financial assurance
Interim Measures Cost Compendium: This document provides cost estimating information for 12 different types of interim measures. Cost information was developed by using RACER cost estimating software, which was originally developed for the US Air Force. Each interim measure discussion provides cost estimating information for multiple scenarios to address contamination problems of varying sizes. Cost estimating information is provided in a tabular format as well as cost equation format. The cost equations include both capital and annual operation and maintenance terms expressed in 2004 dollars.
Compendium of Related Guidance Documents: This document identifies Superfund and RCRA remediation guidance documents that address remediation cost estimating tools, remediation procedures and guidelines, and investigations and interim measures. A document summary is provided for each document along with a hypertext link to the document or information about ordering the document from NTIS.
EPA Issues Model Application/Information Request for CERCLA Service Station Dealer Exemption
In the November 15, 2004 Federal Register, EPA announced the availability of the "Model Application/Information Request for CERCLA Service Station Dealer Exemption" (69 FR 65596). This model will be another valuable tool in the implementation of the Service Station Dealer Exemption (SSDE) under section 114(c) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).
Under CERCLA Section 114(c), certain service station dealers may be exempt from generator or transporter liability for a release or a threatened release of recycled oil. A party may be eligible if it: (1) is a "service station dealer"; (2) accepts "do-it-yourselfer" used oil; (3) does not mix hazardous substances with used oil generated or collected by the service station dealer; (4) complies with EPA's RCRA used oil management standards in 40 C.F.R. Part 279; and (5) transported or sent used oil to a Superfund site after March 8, 1993. The SSDE is intended, in part, to encourage service station dealers to accept do-it-yourselfer used oil for recycling.
Under CERCLA, EPA typically issues general information requests to parties at a Superfund site to help decide which parties it should or should not treat as responsible parties. To expedite EPA's review of a service station dealer's status, EPA developed a model application/information request directed at service station dealers. The model generally will be used for any party EPA has reason to believe may be eligible for the SSDE. EPA finalized the model after providing two opportunities for public comment and a public meeting.
For additional information, contact Susan Boushell, OSRE, (202) 564-2173 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
New Initiative Encourages Responsible Redevelopment
EPA has made redevelopment of former contaminated sites a major priority. Redevelopment brings abandoned or underused properties back into use thereby preserving undeveloped land and revitalizing communities. But for all its virtues, redevelopment is not without cost. Building new structures requires the use of raw materials, and businesses and residences consume energy and resources and generate waste. According to Department of Energy estimates, the 76 million residential and 5 million commercial buildings in the US consume 37 percent of all US energy and 40 percent of all raw materials.
A new initiative called Environmentally Responsible Redevelopment and Reuse (ER3) seeks to "green" the redevelopment process by encouraging developers to adopt more environmentally-friendly building practices and materials. Through ER3, EPA will use existing tools, including comfort letters, prospective purchaser agreements, and green building supplemental environmental projects (SEPs), to give developers incentives. For example, a settler could agree to a green building SEP-a project which EPA will take into account in setting appropriate penalties-that aids a nearby redevelopment effort.
The Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) launched this initiative in September with the Office of Site Remediation Enforcement taking the lead. In the near term, OECA is partnering with other EPA offices and the Regions to develop a catalogue of incentives. In the future, the program could grow to include other federal agencies, including the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Energy.
For additional information, contact K.C. Schefski, OSRE, (202) 564-8213, email@example.com, or Phil Page, OSRE, (202) 564-4211, firstname.lastname@example.org
Cleanup Completed at a Portion of Ciba Geigy Site
In less than a year, and fully six months ahead of schedule, 47,055 drums were removed from a disposal area located on the Ciba-Geigy Chemical Corporation Superfund site in Toms River, NJ. The Ciba Specialty Chemical Corporation (Ciba) performed the cleanup, with oversight from the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Ciba-Geigy Chemical Corporation Superfund site encompasses approximately 1,400 acres of developed and undeveloped land, including wetlands. From 1952 to 1990, Ciba manufactured dyes, pigments, resins and epoxy additives on the property. The company buried sludge and chemical process wastes in drums, or disposed of them in lagoons and other areas.
Contamination from some of these areas is leaching into the ground water. Both ground water and soil at the site are contaminated, primarily with volatile organic compounds. The site was listed on the National Priorities List of the nation's most hazardous waste sites in 1983, and EPA subsequently began studies of the nature and extent of the contamination.
To eliminate potential threats to people's health, all affected residential irrigation wells were closed in 1991. Under EPA oversight, Ciba installed a treatment system to address contaminated ground water. The full-scale operation of this system began in March 1996. The plant treats approximately two million gallons of water per day. Treated water is reinjected into the ground at the site.
In September 2000, the EPA selected a cleanup for the site, which includes an on-site process to treat approximately 150,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil. The treatment process uses bacteria that already exist in the soil to break down and ingest the contaminants. The soil treatment began in July 2004 and is expected to continue for about five years.
EPA's cleanup plan also included removing drums from a disposal area used from 1972 through 1977. That cleanup, the subject of today's announcement, is now completed. Any drums of waste material encountered during the remaining cleanup work at the site will be disposed of in the same manner as those found in the drum disposal area.
Major improvements in Particulate Matter Concentrations shown in 2003 Particle Pollution Report
According to an EPA report released recently, levels of fine particle pollution, also known as PM 2.5, were the lowest in 2003 since nationwide monitoring began in 1999. The agency largely attributed the improved air quality to their acid rain program, as well as other programs for reducing emissions that contribute to fine particle formation.
"The Particle Pollution Report: Current Understanding of Air Quality and Emissions through 2003" looks at recent and long-term trends in air quality and emissions, and explores the characteristics of particle pollution in the United States. It also looks closely at particle pollution in 2003, the most recent year for which data are available.
Monitored concentrations of PM2.5 have decreased 10 percent since 1999, and are about 30 percent lower than EPA estimates of levels 25 years ago. Concentrations of PM10 have declined 7 percent since 1999, and 31 percent since 1988. Monitored levels of both particles decreased most in areas having the highest concentrations.
Airborne particle pollution is a mixture of liquid droplets and solid particles found in the atmosphere. These particles come in many sizes and shapes (PM2.5 and PM10 refer to the size of the particles), and can be made up of hundreds of different chemicals. PM 2.5, or "fine particles," refers to particles less than or equal to 2.5 micrometers - approximately 1/30th the size of the average human hair.
These particles can penetrate into the deeper regions of the bodyÆs respiratory system. Fine particle exposure has been associated with a number of serious health problems, ranging from the aggravation of asthma and the development of chronic bronchitis to heart arrhythmias, heart attacks, and even premature death.
While the EPA report shows that concentrations of PM have declined, millions of people still live in areas of the country where particle pollution exceed levels established to protect public health. The agency is taking a number of steps to address particle pollution, including the implementation of the first EPA fine particle standards, the clean air non-road diesel rule, and finalizing the proposed clean air interstate rule (CAIR).
The "Particle Pollution Report" may be viewed at http://www.epa.gov/airtrends. For more information about upcoming attainment and nonattainment designations for the fine particle standard, visit http://www.epa.gov/pmdesignations/.
Ethylene Glycol Monobutyl Ether Removed From CAA Hazardous Air Pollutants List
The EPA has adopted a final rule removing the compound ethylene glycol monobutyl ether (EGBE) from the group of glycol ethers listed as hazardous air pollutants (HAP) under section 112(b)(1) of the Clean Air Act.
The action went into effect late last month in response to a petition from the Ethylene Glycol Ethers Panel of the American Chemistry Council (formerly the Chemical Manufacturers Association). The petition was filed on behalf of EGBE producers and consumers.
Based on the available information concerning the potential hazards of and projected exposures to EGBE, the EPA determined that there is adequate data on the health and environmental effects of EGBE to determine that emissions, ambient concentrations, bioaccumulation, or deposition of the substance may not reasonably be anticipated to cause adverse effects to human health or adverse environmental effects.
The EPA has established a docket for this action under Docket ID No. OAR-2003-0188 and A-99-24. All relevant documents are listed in the EDOCKET index at http://www.epa.gov/edocket.
California Importer Fined by EPA for Selling Illegal Mothballs
EPA fined a California importer $3,960 for a violation of federal pesticide laws by allegedly selling and distributing an unregistered pesticide. American Wah Ta Trading Co., of San Francisco, CA, allegedly imported unregistered camphor/naphthalene mothballs from China for sale and distribution to retailers.
A spokesperson for the EPA's Cross Media Division suggested that children coming across these products might risk accidental poisoning due to the resemblance of the mothballs to candy. Despite the resemblance, however, the product contains no child-protection warnings or child-resistant packaging.
EPA recommends that you pay careful attention to the pesticides that you use. The agency will not register a pesticide until it has been tested to show that it will not pose an unreasonable risk when used according to the directions. The agency also makes sure that pesticide labels provide consumers with the information they need to use the products safely. Pesticides that have been registered with the agency will have an EPA registration number on the label.
Over the last several years, the EPA has fined more than a dozen companies for selling illegally imported mothballs. Importers, dealers and retailers may be fined up to $6,500 for each sale of the illegal pesticide products.