EPA announced that the federal district court in Baltimore has approved a consent decree settling the governmentÆs claims against 40 companies responsible for contamination of the Maryland Sand, Gravel and Stone Superfund Site in Elkton, MD.
The consent decree, filed on behalf of EPA, by the United States Department of Justice, requires the settling defendants to complete the cleanup. The EPA-supervised cleanup effort began in 1984, and will take several more years to complete. The total cleanup costs may exceed $50 million.
The consent decree announced involves the third and final phase of the cleanup, which will cost an estimated $23.5 million. The final phase of the cleanup includes excavating and treating contaminated soil, backfilling treated soil, and expanding the groundwater pump and treat system. This phase also includes adding substances, such as molasses or oxygen, to the groundwater in order to facilitate the breakdown of hazardous substances by microbes.
As part of the EPA-approved cleanup plan, the settling defendants will address 1,4-dioxane contamination of groundwater and soil, which may cost an additional $7 million.
Under the Superfund law, landowners, waste generators and waste transporters that are responsible for the contamination of a Superfund site must either clean up the site, or reimburse the government or other parties for cleanup costs.
This 150-acre site is the location of a former sand and gravel quarry owned by the Maryland Sand, Gravel & Stone Co. From 1969 to 1974, the site was used for the disposal of industrial waste, including waste processing water, sludge, and hazardous waste drums. After a chemical waste fire at the site in 1974, about 200,000 gallons of liquid waste were taken to an off-site landfill, and the remaining drums and sludge were buried in on-site excavation pits.
The hazardous waste disposal at the Maryland Sand Site resulted in high levels of several contaminants -- including benzene, chlorobenzene, 1,4-dioxane, 1,1,1-trichloroethane and vinyl chloride û in the siteÆs soil and ground water.
Since 1984, when the site was added to EPAÆs Superfund list of the nationÆs most contaminated sites, EPA has been involved in extensive cleanup efforts at the Maryland Sand Site. Past cleanup activities at the site have cost $20.7 million,
In 1988, forty potentially responsible parties entered into a consent decree with the U.S., agreeing to conduct the first phase of the EPA-approved cleanup plan which involved the removal of about 1,200 buried drums and construction of a pump and treat cleanup system for shallow contaminated ground water. A 1992 consent decree amendment required the parties to complete the second phase of the cleanup, addressing monitoring and treatment of deeper groundwater.
EPA Settles Air Pollution Case with Kerr-McGee for Violations that Began in 1993
EPA recently settled with Kerr McGee Chemical in Henderson, Nev. requiring the company to pay a $55,392 penalty to resolve alleged air permitting violations at its facility that began in 1993. The Agency cited Kerr-McGee for failing to install carbon monoxide emissions controls required under the Clean Air Act when it installed a new open hearth furnace in 1993.
During EPA's investigation, the company spent $4.8 million to install proper pollution controls on the unit reducing total carbon monoxide emissions 115 tons per year -- an 80 percent reduction from previous levels.
"This settlement, though long in coming, provides significant air quality benefits for Henderson and beyond," said Deborah Jordan, director of the EPA's Air Division for the Pacific Southwest region. "Installing required control equipment was necessary to minimize pollution and protect public health." The EPA discovered the violations during a routine records review of Kerr McGee's air emissions permit. The case was finally settled last month.
Under the Clean Air Act, the New Source Review program requires any industry to obtain a permit from the state when modifications are made that increase the facility's pollution emissions. These permits help states achieve clean air objectives by limiting the pollution from new or modified sources and requiring pollution credits to offset pollution increases.
Restaurant Company Pays $50,000 Penalty for Asbestos Violations
On June 28, Wilshire Restaurant Group, Inc., owner of Marie Callender's Pie Shops, Inc., pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah to negligently releasing asbestos when the roof of the Marie Callender's restaurant in Midvale, Utah, was replaced. The plea agreement calls for the defendant to pay a $50,000 fine.
In 1999, the defendant's employees at the restaurant noticed the roof was leaking and took measures to temporarily repair it. In April 1999, the company received a bid for replacing the roof and for properly disposing of its asbestos underlayment. In May 1999, the company sought a second bid, but a company employee failed to tell the roofing company that the underlayment contained asbestos. This second bid was lower, and the company let the contract to the low bidder. As a result, the asbestos underlayment was removed without following federal workplace standards and asbestos fibers were released into the air.
Federal Agencies Partner to Reduce Energy Costs
Three government agencies announced a new partnership aimed at reducing household energy costs by 10 percent over the next decade while improving the nation's air quality. The Partnership for Home Energy Efficiency will provide energy saving solutions for households across the country and support research and implementation of a new generation of energy efficiency technologies.
The Department of Energy, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the EPA will provide citizens and industry with the latest home energy savings information on a Web portal, http://www.energysavers.gov.
"In this time of high energy costs it's important that the federal government help Americans find ways to reduce home energy use and save money on their energy bills," DOE Secretary Samuel Bodman said. Americans spend more than $160 billion a year to heat, cool, light and live in their homes. By taking advantage of home energy efficiencies, an average American family could save $150 year.
"For most owners and renters, utility bills are the second largest household expense," HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson said. "That's why housing affordability and energy efficiency go hand in hand. By reducing the price of utility bills, we reduce the cost of living for the nation's low- and moderate-income families." In addition to the billions of dollars lost through energy inefficiencies, household power waste contributes to the power plant emissions that create soot, smog and acid rain.
"Last year, through ENERGY STAR«, Americans chose to invest in cleaner air and healthier lives - saving enough energy to power 18 million homes and cutting $10 billion from their energy bills," EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said. "We are delighted to work with our federal partners to help lower energy bills, reduce emissions from power plants and provide the next generation a healthier, cleaner environment."
Goals of the Partnership for Home Energy Efficiency include:
- Expanding efforts to promote ENERGY STAR« products;
- Developing durable, comfortable, affordable homes that use 40-50 percent less energy;
- Developing new energy efficiency services to provide homeowners with greater savings, such as Home Performance with ENERGY STAR«;
- Delivering energy efficiency savings to low income and subsidized housing;
- Continue to invest in innovative research in building science technologies, practices, and policies; and
- Providing design technologies and building practices to allow cost effective net zero energy homes, by 2020.
You can take many simple steps today to help make your homes and offices more energy efficient:
- Replace incandescent bulbs with lights that have earned the ENERGY STAR«.
- Use a programmable thermostat with air conditioners to adjust the setting warmer at night, or when no one is home.
- Use a fan with window air conditioners to spread cool air.
- Use energy-efficient ENERGY STAR« air conditioners, which can save up to 50 percent on cooling bills.
- Plant trees around your home. Just three trees, properly placed around a house, can save between $100 and $250 annually in cooling and heating costs. Daytime air temperatures can be three to six degrees cooler in tree-shaded neighborhoods.
- Plant trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units, but do not block the airflow.
- Install white window shades, drapes or blinds to reflect heat away from the house. Sunny windows can make air conditioners work two to three times harder.
- Replace windows with ENERGY STAR« models and consider the new double-pane windows with spectrally selective coatings.
- Tightly close your fireplace damper.
Several Companies Cited for Hazardous Chemical Reporting Requirements
EPA Region 5 recently settled two administrative cases involving hazardous chemical release reporting violations and filed new cases against two companies for chemical recordkeeping violations.
In the first settlement, Indiana Michigan Power Company (d/b/a American Electric Power), Bridgman, Mich., paid $14,769 to resolve EPA's July 2004 complaint for failure to provide prompt notification to national, state and local authorities of a 1,227-pound release of sodium hypochlorite from its Cook Nuclear Power Plant in Bridgman on Nov. 16, 2002. A required follow-up report was also received late, 58 days after the incident. The problem was caused by a disconnected pipe leak that flowed onto the floor, then into a drain, and ultimately into a reservoir that feeds into a condenser and then into Lake Michigan. Sodium hypochlorite is used as a disinfectant in chlorination systems. It may cause severe skin and eye irritation or burns to broken skin, and is a respiratory irritant. As part of the settlement, the Columbus, Ohio-based company also agreed to install an improved sodium hypochlorite piping, leak detection and spill containment system. The supplemental environmental project is valued at $66,000.
In the second settlement, Sewall Gear Manufacturing in St. Paul, Minn. paid $20,000 to resolve an April 2004 complaint. The company was cited for failure to submit to the Minnesota emergency response commission and the St. Paul fire department the required 2002 chemical inventory forms documenting the storage of 10,000 pounds of liquid nitrogen. Hazards associated with liquid nitrogen include frostbite, asphyxiation and implosion, if stored incorrectly. The company was also cited previously for hazardous materials recordkeeping violations.
In the first of two new cases, EPA proposed a $114,877 civil penalty against Loes Enterprises in St. Paul. The company was cited for failure to prepare or have available material safety data sheets for five different chemicals stored on-site, and failure to submit to the St. Paul fire department and the Minnesota emergency response commission the required 2003 and 2004 chemical inventory forms for these chemicals.
In the other case, EPA proposed a $73,800 civil penalty against Oldcastle Materials (also known as Michigan Paving and Materials), in Monroe, Mich. The company was cited for failure to submit to state and local authorities the required 2001 and 2002 chemical inventory forms for up to 56 million gallons of asphalt. Federal laws require notification to local authorities for storage of more than 10,000 pounds of liquid asphalt cement. Liquid asphalt may cause irritation or burns to the skin, vision loss, abdominal pain or breathing difficulty.
EPA Region 5 Clamps Down on Several Companies or Increasing Emissions without Permits
EPA Region 5 cited two Milwaukee companies - Lesaffre Yeast Corp. and Sensient Technologies Corp. for clean-air violations at a yeast manufacturing plant that Sensient sold to Lesaffre in February 2001. The Agency alleges that major changes were made to the plant in 1996 and 2000 that increased ozone-producing volatile organic compound emissions without getting permits that would require additional pollution controls. The Milwaukee area does not meet national outdoor air quality standards for ozone.
Chicago Carbon Co. was cited for modifying its plant causing a significant increase in emissions of volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide without getting permits that would require pollution controls. In addition, the company failed to identify this in its application for a state operating permit and failed to comply with testing and monitoring requirements.
EPA Region 5 also fined Kikkoman Foods Inc. food-processing plant in Walworth, Wi $110,670 because the company built and operated a spray dryer without getting state construction and operating permits and operated the equipment without controlling volatile organic compound emissions.
"We are pleased with Kikkoman's cooperation and with the extra effort it is making to comply with clean-air regulations," said Acting Regional Administrator Bharat Mathur. Although the regulations require controlling 85 percent of VOC emissions, Mathur said Kikkoman has agreed to go beyond what is required by installing equipment that will control its VOC emissions by 95 percent.
By Dec. 15, Kikkoman will install a thermal oxidizer and operate it when its spray dryer is used. By next April, the company will show that the oxidizer destroys at least 95 percent of VOC emissions from the spray dryer.
EPA Region 5 recently reached an agreement with Companhia Siderurgica Nacional LLC on alleged clean-air violations at the company's steel plant in Terre Haute, Ind. EPA assessed a $15,793 penalty, and the company has agreed to a $34,273 environmental project.
"For its environmental project, CSN will buy a thermal imaging camera and six laptop computers for the Honey Creek Fire Department to help the department respond better to hazardous waste accidents," said Acting Regional Administrator Bharat Mathur.
The agreement resolves EPA allegations that, during a March 2003 test, CSN emitted more hydrochloric acid from its steel pickle line than is allowed by federal regulations. Newly processed stainless steel is pickled, or bathed in hydrochloric acid, to remove its outer layer and improve its corrosion resistance.
ADEQ to Protect Children from Toxic Facilities Near Schools
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens today announced that the department has formalized a new policy to protect Arizona children from exposure to toxic substances and air pollutants from facilities near schools.
Under the policy, a facility seeking a permit or approval from ADEQ must demonstrate that children at nearby schools will be protected from any toxic releases or emissions from the facility. If children at any nearby school would not be protected, ADEQ may deny the permit or approval consistent with the department's existing authority to do so.
ADEQ will evaluate the potential impact of air pollutants from a proposed facility on children at any nearby schools, as well as determine whether any schools would be within the evacuation area in the event of a toxic release from the facility and whether vehicles carrying hazardous materials to and from the facility would be traveling in school zones. If the permit application or plan approval request cannot be revised to ensure that children at nearby schools will be protected from any such air pollutants or a toxic release from the facility or associated traffic, ADEQ may deny the permit or approval.
The policy applies to facilities near existing public, charter and private schools at the K-12 level, and all planned sites for schools approved by the Arizona School Facilities Board. In addition to new permit applications and approvals, the policy covers renewal of permits or plan approvals, expansion of existing facilities with permits or approvals, and modifications or amendments to permits or plan approvals that increase a facility's potential to emit pollutants, add new pollutants or otherwise increase the potential that children at nearby schools would not be protected.
Citing its Emergency Powers, EPA Orders Cleanup of Long Beach Electroplater
EPA has ordered three potentially responsible parties - Industrial Zinc Platers, Inc., Islander Extremes, Inc., and businessman Raymond Ball - to cleanup hazardous materials at a former plating shop. Containers and tanks filled with hazardous chemicals including chromium, arsenic, and cyanide were found at Industrial Zinc Plating, Inc., located at 3200 E. 29th Street, Long Beach, Calif. The emergency action began June 21, 2005, after a referral by the Los Angeles County Sanitation District.
Citing its emergency powers, the EPA has stabilized tons of hazardous materials from the abandoned metal plating company, due to the danger these materials represent to the surrounding community. "The EPA had to swiftly remove, secure and stabilize the chromium, arsenic and cyanide contaminated solutions and sludge from Industrial Zinc Plating, Inc., due to poor storage conditions, the dangerous nature of these hazardous substances, and the potential for endangerment to public health or the environment," said Kathryn Lawrence, Acting Chief of the Response, Planning and Assessment Branch of the EPA.
If Industrial Zinc Platers, Inc., Islander Extremes, Inc., and Raymond Ball do not comply with the agency's order, the EPA will undertake the cleanup using Superfund funds; the EPA may spend up to $ 1 million in cleanup costs. The improper storage of these chemicals violates the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan.
During the cleanup, the EPA will continue to evaluate contaminated soils, asphalt, concrete and structures associated with the former electroplating plant and require the disposal all exposed materials that pose a threat to the area.
DOE Cites Safety and Ecology Corp. for Violating Nuclear Safety Rules
The Department of Energy notified Safety and Ecology Corporation, the contractor responsible for radiological safety at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Project in Portsmouth, Ohio, that it will fine the company $55,000 for violating the department's regulations prohibiting retaliation against employees who raise nuclear safety concerns.
The Preliminary Notice of Violation (PNOV) follows a decision by DOEÆs Office of Hearings and Appeals that an employee was fired after raising nuclear safety concerns at the Portsmouth site. This is the first enforcement action involving ôwhistleblowersö covered under nuclear safety rules. A finding of contractor retaliation by the DOE Office of Hearings and Appeals or the U.S. Department of Labor is automatically considered a nuclear safety violation.
The decision by the Office of Hearings and Appeals was affirmed by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. As a result of the finding, the employee was reinstated to her position, provided back pay and reimbursed all costs associated with her case. The penalty announced today will be above and beyond the actions required by the Office of Hearings and Appeals decision.
Safety and Ecology Corporation will have 30 days to respond to DOE's concerns and identify corrective actions it has taken. Unless the contractor denies the violations with sufficient justification, the PNOV will become final and the contractor will have to pay the $55,000 fine.
Maryland Adopts Aggressive Wastewater Permitting Strategy
Maryland, EPA and other states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed have adopted an aggressive new permitting strategy for wastewater treatment plants that requires specific nutrient loading limits in all new or renewed permits issued for Maryland's 66 major wastewater treatment plants in the Bay watershed.
"The proposed nutrient loading limits are among the most stringent in the nation," said Governor Ehrlich. "Maryland's new state-of-the-art Enhanced Nutrient Removal (ENR) based loading limits are consistent with the requirements of the Clean Water Act and will ensure that Maryland can achieve and maintain its nutrient reduction goals for Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries."
Upon EPA approval of Maryland's Chesapeake Bay water quality standards that were re-published in the Maryland Register on June 24, specific nitrogen and phosphorus loading limits will be included in the discharge permits for the State's 66 major wastewater treatment plants as they are renewed.
Maryland's proposed nutrient loading limits are based on achieving state-of-the-art ENR levels of less than 4 milligrams per liter nitrogen and 0.3 milligrams per liter phosphorus at all major wastewater treatment plants. Major treatment plants are those that discharge more than 500,000 gallons per day of treated wastewater. Together, these plants account for approximately 95 percent of the treated wastewater discharged by all of the state's sewage treatment plants.
Unless more stringent limits are needed to meet water quality standards in the immediate vicinity of a discharge, the 66 major wastewater treatment plants currently being upgraded using the Bay Restoration Fund will be required to meet permit limits consistent with the loading goals established in the State's Enhanced Nutrient Removal Strategy, which is a major component of Maryland's Chesapeake Bay Tributary Strategies. Minor wastewater treatment plants (those that discharge less than 500,000 gallons per day), will be addressed in the latter stages of the Bay Restoration Fund implementation and will continue to have nutrient loading goals rather than limits in their permits.
To meet the new water quality standards, the states and EPA have determined based on water quality monitoring and advanced computer modeling that nutrient and sediment pollution entering the Bay and its tributaries will have to be reduced significantly from all industrial, urban, suburban and agricultural sources in the watershed.
MDE re-proposed the state's water quality standards after modifying an earlier proposal in response to EPA and other comments. The re-proposed standards were published in the Maryland Register on June 24 for a 30-day public comment period. State water quality standards are reviewed every three years per the federal Clean Water Act and updated as necessary to recognize the latest research science and technological advancements. More specific information on the updated standards, including a Frequently Asked Questions sheet, can be found online.
EPA Settles with Three Pesticide Companies for Failure to Submit Reports on Time
EPA has settled with three Southern California pesticide companies for failing to submit their 2004 pesticide reports on time, a violation of the federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act.
The three firms are OPI Products, Inc., of North Hollywood, Calif., which settled for $6,500. This company was subject to a 2004 EPA action due to similar violations. GenLabs Corporation, of Chino, Calif., which settled for $5,200. This company received a warning letter from the EPA for failing to report pesticide reports in 2004. Medical Chemical Corporation of Torrance, Calif., which settled for $6,500. This company was subject to a 2004 EPA action due to similar violations.
"The EPA uses pesticide reports to track pesticide production, their safe management and distribution; companies must report their pesticide production accurately and on time," said Enrique Manzanilla, the EPA's Communities and Ecosystems Division director for the Pacific Southwest region. "Because of the potential for pesticides to impact public health, this agency will see that pesticide laws are actively enforced."
Under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, companies must annually report pesticide production to the EPA; production records provide information on the quantity of pesticides produced and where they are produced.
Used Motor Oil Collection Program Reaches 10 Million Gallon Goal
MarylandÆs Used Oil Recycling Program has collected over 10 million gallons of used oil and more than 500,000 gallons of anti-freeze. The milestone reached by the State of Maryland is equivalent to the 257,000 barrels of oil spilled during the Exxon Valdez incident in Alaska or 125 Olympic-sized swimming pools. And the widely used program now has 157 collection facilities across the state.
ôMaryland state government decided that water resources and the greater environment needed better protection from oil spills and decided to provide this service to the public,ö said Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick. ôThe amount of oil being collected proves that even with the growth of quick-change stores and extended life motor oils MarylandÆs program provides a continued benefit for the environment.ö
MarylandÆs approach to used oil recycling is unique and a national model. Marylanders benefit from used oil collection tanks, advertisements and the recovery of the used oil for recycling. In other states private citizens must seek out their own means for proper disposal of their oil products. It has been found that in many other states, as well as MarylandÆs past history, used oil is poured down storm drains or on to the ground polluting surface and groundwater.
MarylandÆs Used Oil Recycling Program depends on volunteer facilities to provide the location for the recycling tank. Most of the tanks are located on local government property and are open for drop-off 24 hours a day. The program is very successful in recruiting and maintaining donor locations because the collection of oil is free and the equipment used is provided by the state. For more information on MarylandÆs Used Oil Recycling Program call 800-633-6101, ext.3442.
Air Pollution Webcams
We do not always enjoy a clear view in many natural areas. At times, a white or brown haze hangs in the air and affects the view. This haze is not natural. It is caused by manmade air pollution, often carried by the wind hundreds of miles from where it originated.
According to the Missouri DNR, the typical visual range in the eastern United States is 15 to 30 miles, about one-third of what it would be without manmade air pollution. In the West, the typical visual range is 60 to 90 miles, about one-half of the visual range under natural conditions.
Haze is caused by fine particles that scatter and absorb light before it reaches the observer. As the number of fine particles increases, more light is absorbed and scattered, resulting in less clarity, color and visual range.
Five types of fine particles contribute to haze: sulfates, nitrates, organic carbon, elemental carbon and crustal material. The importance of each type of particle varies across the country and from season to season. Details on each particle type are provided below:
- Sulfate particles form in the air from sulfur dioxide gas and are the largest contributor to haze in the eastern U.S. Most of this gas is released from coal-burning power plants and other industrial sources, such as smelters, industrial boilers and oil refineries.
- Organic carbon particles can be emitted directly into the air, but can also form in the air as a reaction of various gaseous hydrocarbons. Sources of organic carbon particles include motor vehicles, solvent evaporation (e.g., paints), food cooking and various commercial and industrial sources. Gaseous hydrocarbons emitted naturally from trees also form some of these particles.
- Nitrate particles form in the air from nitrogen oxide gas. This gas is released from virtually all combustion activities, especially those involving cars, trucks, off-road engines, power plants and other industrial sources.
- Elemental carbon particles are very similar to soot. These particles are emitted directly into the air from virtually all combustion activities, but are especially prevalent in diesel exhaust and smoke from the burning of wood and wastes.
- Crustal material is very similar to dust. It enters the air from dirt roads, fields and other open spaces as a result of wind, or other surface activities. Crushing and grinding larger, earth-born material also generates crustal
Air pollution webcams are available for these and many other sites throughout the country:
Corning Facility Recognized as Environmental Steward
The NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources recognized CorningÆs Wilmington Optical Fiber facilityÆs superior environmental performance, commitment to continued reduction of its environmental impact and demonstrated commitment to exceed compliance. The stateÆs Environmental Stewardship Initiative, designed to promote and encourage superior environmental performance by North CarolinaÆs regulated community, began in 2002. An ôEnvironmental Stewardö is an organization that has demonstrated environmental leadership through its commitment to exemplary environmental performance beyond what is required by regulation. As an Environmental Steward, the organization commits to reporting annually on its environmental performance.
"Corning continues to set the bar in the development of management systems for efficient and environmentally friendly manufacturing," said DENR Secretary William G. Ross Jr. "The company serves as an example that industry can be both successful in commerce and a steward of the environment in which it operates.ö A 10-member advisory workgroup appointed by Ross provides program direction and implementation and recommended that CorningÆs optical fiber manufacturing facility be selected as an Environmental Steward. Advisory workgroup membership consists of individuals from industry, industry trade groups, environmental and citizen nongovernmental organizations, government, academia and small business.
Reasons cited by the advisory workgroup in its selection of CorningÆs optical fiber manufacturing facility include:
- The establishment of aggressive goals that include raw material substitution to reduce air emissions and market development for waste products;
- Its practice of operating well below permitted limits and implementing management techniques beyond those required by regulation;
- Involvement in local environmental events and service on local environmental associations;
- CorningÆs integration of environmental management into its core business operations through activities including performance-based bonuses and evaluation of capital projects based on regulatory and environmental criterion.
"We are very pleased to be recognized as an Environmental Steward by the state of North Carolina," said Tom Nettleman, division vice president and plant manager for CorningÆs Wilmington optical fiber manufacturing facility. "At Corning we strive to go beyond all applicable laws and regulations, and are firmly committed to protecting the environment through continuous improvement of our processes, products and services."
The ESI program has two other levels of participation and recognition: Environmental Partner and Rising Environmental Steward. The Environmental Partner level is designed for adoption by a broad range of organizations that are interested in beginning the process of developing a systematic approach to improving their environmental performance. Partners must demonstrate a commitment to maintain compliance, commit to establishing an environmental management system and set environmental performance goals.
F&M Environmental Caught Selling Fake Training Certificates
In a case brought before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Norfolk, Va., during the week of June 30, ACS Environmental, Inc., of Norfolk, Va.; Air Power Enterprises, Inc., of Portsmouth, Va.; each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make false statements and to submitting false statements to the Small Business Administration (SBA).
In addition, James Schaubach, president of ACS and vice-president of Air Power; and Nicanor Lotuaco, president of Air Power, each pleaded guilty to making false statements to the SBA. The defendants purchased false asbestos and lead abatement training certificates for employees of ACS and Air Power from F&M Environmental Technologies, Inc. F&M was convicted of selling false certificates in 2001.
The certificates, which claimed employees had training they did not have, were used to obtain federal program minority set-aside contracts. From 1999-2004, Air Power received $37 million worth of these contracts for abatement activities and sub-contracted the work to ACS. Workers who perform asbestos and lead abatement activities without proper training are at serious risk of significant health consequences, including lung cancer and neurological disorders.
Two Men Charged with Submitting False Wastewater Treatment Reports
James M. Holden, operator of the Mount Pleasant, Tenn., wastewater treatment plant; and Marty Roddy, a plant employee; were charged on June 20 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee with submitting false wastewater treatment reports in violation of the Clean Water Act.
The charges allege that on 21 dates from January 2002 to October 2003, Roddy's initials appeared on test reports despite the fact that Roddy was absent from work on those days. Holden is accused of submitting the reports to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). The allegations further state that the twenty-one reports were inaccurate. Spot testing by TDEC found fecal coliform bacteria levels that were as much as 20,000 times greater than stated in the reports. Releasing wastewater with high levels of fecal coliform bacteria can present a health hazard to people and animals who come into contact with surface waters.
Two Men Convicted of Illegal Asbestos Removal in the Virgin Islands
On June 30, Cleve Allen George of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Dylan C. Starnes of Atlanta, Ga., were each convicted by a jury in U.S. District Court for the District of the Virgin Islands in St. Thomas of violating the Clean Air Act by illegally removing asbestos and filing false air monitoring reports to the Virgin Islands Housing Authority and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
In January and February 2001, the defendants conducted a demolition at the Donoe Housing Community in the Virgin Islands. During this demolition, they violated federal asbestos workplace standards by using a power washer to strip thousands of square feet of asbestos-containing material from ceilings. The asbestos material then washed out over the ground and into sewers. Improperly removing such material can cause asbestos fibers to become airborne, and inhaling airborne asbestos is a cause of lung cancer, a lung disease known as "asbestosis" and mesothelioma, a cancer of the chest and abdominal cavities.
EPA Fines Sierra Chemical $28,000 for Selling Improperly Labeled Pesticides
The EPA has fined Sierra Chemical Co. of Sparks, Nevada. $28,800 for the alleged sale and distribution of a misbranded pesticide in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act.
Sierra Chemical allegedly sold and distributed a product known as Sani-Chlor, a sanitizer, without proper labeling. The product label had incorrect directions, making it difficult for the consumer to understand the proper use of the product.
"Improper labeling can result in harm to the consumer or environment," said Enrique Manzanilla, director of EPA's Communities and Ecosystems Division for the Pacific Southwest Region. "To ensure the safe use of pesticides registrants are required to provide accurate product information and instructions, which are linked to the EPA Registration Number."
Before selling or distributing any pesticide in the United States, companies are required to register the pesticide with the EPA. Registered pesticides are labeled with a registration number used for product tracking purposes. Also required on the label is information concerning the producer and name, brand or trademark under which the pesticide is sold, as well as directions for use and other information to provide consumers with the information they need to use the products safely.
Seven-Up Bottling of San Francisco to Pay over $150,000 for Storm Water Violations
EPA announced that it has reached a settlement agreement with the Seven-Up Bottling Co. to resolve storm water and wastewater violations of the federal Clean Water Act at its Sacramento facility. The settlement calls for Seven-Up to pay a $19,500 fine and perform a supplemental environmental project, or SEP, that will directly benefit the Sacramento environment. The SEP will cost approximately $135,700.
For the SEP, Seven-Up has chosen to buy alternative fuel vehicles to replace the existing fleet of gasoline vehicles and propane forklifts used at its Sacramento plant on Land Avenue. The SEP will prevent air pollution from vehicle emissions and storm water pollution from gasoline and oil leakage. By switching to electric forklifts, Seven-Up will reduce the amount of smog-forming nitrogen oxide by 900 pounds a year in the vicinity of its Sacramento facility.
A valuable tool in the agency's enforcement program, a SEP allows a violator to perform a project that benefits the environment as part of a settlement of an enforcement action in return for reduced monetary penalty that would otherwise apply.
"The EPA is encouraged to see Seven-Up taking an innovative approach to resolving this case though environmental stewardship," said Alexis Strauss, director of the Water Division in the EPA's Pacific Southwest Regional Office in San Francisco. "This approach will have both immediate and lasting benefit to the local community and the environment."
On Dec. 5, 2003, inspectors from the EPA, the regional water quality control board and the county visited Seven-Up's bottling plant in Sacramento and discovered inadequate storm water pollution controls and storm water pollution prevention plan, which are violations of the company's storm water discharge permit. In addition, the industrial wastewater discharged by the plant into the county's sewer system was excessively acidic.
At the time, the Seven-Up was ordered by the EPA to implement a pH compliance plan for the industrial wastewater to the county sewer systems; update its storm water pollution prevention and monitoring programs; complete a cleanup of the property within 30 days; inspect outdoor industrial areas at regular intervals for spills and; submit inspection logs to the EPA on a quarterly basis. The company has been cooperative in complying with the EPA's order.
Canada Joins International Effort to Cut Methane Emissions
Canada is joining 15 other nations to cut emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas, methane, by using it to generate heat and power rather than letting it escape into the atmosphere. On July 14, Canada became the 16th member of EPA's Methane to Markets Partnership, an international initiative that promotes the recovery and use of methane, prevents greenhouse gas emissions, and provides valuable sources of clean energy to communities, businesses and industry.
"An innovative program like Methane to Markets is a model for future environmental solutions because it takes a great idea, adds new technology and promotes international cooperation," said EPA Administrator Steve Johnson. "The world will benefit from Canada's expertise and participation in this program."
"By participating in this exciting international initiative, Canada will have the opportunity to promote and market Canadian expertise in the area of methane-emissions-reducing technologies, particularly in the oil and gas sector. Canadian Minister of the Environment StTphane Dion added: Our participation in the Methane to Markets Partnership demonstrates Canada's commitment to both technology transfer and technology deployment as a way of achieving global greenhouse gas reductions."
By 2015 the Methane to Markets Partnership has the potential to deliver annual reductions in methane emissions of up to 50 million metric tons of carbon equivalent or recovery of 500 billion cubic feet of natural gas. If these projections are achieved, they could stabilize or reduce global atmospheric concentrations of methane. This would be equivalent to cutting the greenhouse gas emissions of 33 million cars, planting 55 million acres of trees, or eliminating emissions from 50 500 megawatt coal-fired power plants; or providing enough energy to heat approximately 7.2 million households for one year.
The Methane to Markets Partnership currently targets three major sources of methane -- landfills, underground coal mines, and natural gas and oil systems. The partnership is a collaboration between a growing number of partners in developed countries, developing countries, and countries with economies in transition. Project Network Partners come from the private sector, development banks, researchers, and other organizations.
In addition to Canada, countries participating in Methane to Markets include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, South Korea, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.