The DOT has extended the compliance date to update and clarify requirements in the Hazardous Materials Regulations applicable to incident reporting requirements and the Hazardous Materials Incident Report (HMIR), DOT Form F 5800.1. In response to appeals submitted by persons affected by the December 3, 2003 final rule, this final rule amends certain requirements, and makes minor editorial corrections. This final rule is effective January 1, 2005.
The final rule amendments include:
- 49 CFR 171.16(b)(1) has been clarified to indicate that either a written or electronic HMIR must be submitted, but not both
- DOT removed the supplemental guidance immediately following Item 23 from the HMIR
- DOT amended the requirement to provide the manufacturer and model number for any valve or device that failed on a tank to include the words "if present and legible."
- The definition of an "undeclared hazardous material" was corrected
For more information on this ruling, see http://hazmat.dot.gov/rules/69fr-30113.htm and attend any of Environmental Resource Center's DOT Hazardous Materials training seminars.
McWane Inc. and Executives Charged with Environmental Crimes
McWane Inc., James Delk, Michael Devine, Charles “Barry” Robinson, and Donald Bills were indicted by a federal grand jury for environmental crimes connected with the operation of McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company in Birmingham, Alabama.
One additional individual, Donald Harbin, has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to violate environmental laws connected with the operation of McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company in Birmingham, Alabama. Harbin, 58, of New Jersey, oversaw maintenance activities at McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company during a period when the company was allegedly discharging processed waste water into Avondale Creek in Birmingham in violation of a federal permit. The maximum sentence for an individual convicted on a conspiracy count is 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
McWane is a Delaware corporation, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, which operates iron foundries at various locations across the country, including the McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company in Birmingham. James Delk, 37, is a former Vice President and General Manager at the McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company, and currently works at a McWane facility in New York. Charles “Barry” Robinson, 65, of Birmingham, is the Vice President for Environmental Affairs at McWane. Michael Devine, 44, is a former plant manager at McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company, and currently works for McWane in New Jersey. Donald Bills, 56, of Birmingham, is plant engineer at McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company.
The twenty-five count indictment charges that the defendants caused industrial process wastewater from the operations of McWane Cast Iron Pipe Company in Birmingham to be discharged into Avondale Creek in violation of a federal permit and took steps to conceal the illegal discharges from state and federal regulators. Count 1 of the indictment charges each of the defendants with conspiracy to (a) defraud the United States by obstructing EPA’s enforcement of federal environmental laws, (b) violate the Clean Water Act, and (c) make false statements in a matter within the jurisdiction of the EPA. Counts 2 through 11 of the indictment charge McWane, James Delk, and Michael Devine with violations of a federal permit by discharging process wastewater into Avondale Creek through storm drains. Counts 12 through 22 charge McWane and James Delk with additional violations of the Clean Water Act, each month from March 2000 through January 2001, by way of discharging wastewater in violation of a permit. Count 23 charges McWane, James Delk, and Michael Devine with violating the Clean Water Act by discharging process wastewater that exceeded permit limits for oil and grease. Count 24 charges McWane and Charles “Barry” Robinson with making a materially false statement and representation to the EPA in response to an EPA request for information under the Clean Water Act. Count 25 charges McWane with obstruction of justice for providing false and misleading information to the EPA in April 2000.
The maximum sentence for an individual convicted on the conspiracy or false statement counts is 5 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. The maximum sentence for an individual convicted of the Clean Water Act charges is a fine of not less than $5,000 nor more than $50,000 per day of violation, and by imprisonment for not more than 3 years. For McWane, Inc. the maximum penalty for the conspiracy and Clean Water Act charges is a fine of the greater of $500,000 or $50,000 per day of violation, and probation of 5 years. On the false statement or obstruction charges, the maximum penalty for McWane, Inc. is a fine of $500,000 and 5 years probation.
The case is being investigated by Special Agents of the United States Environmental Protection Agency, with assistance of the FBI. Senior Trial Attorney Christopher Costantini, Trial Attorney Kevin Cassidy of the Environmental Crimes Section (ECS) of the U.S. Department of Justice, and Assistant U. S. Attorney Robert O. Posey are prosecuting this case.
NSTAR Agrees to $63,380 Settlement for Oil Spill Violations in Charles River
The NSTAR Electric and Gas Corp. has agreed to pay a penalty of $15,845 and perform an environmental project worth $47,535 to settle claims by EPA that it discharged oil into the Charles River on two occasions in 2002 and failed to develop spill control plans at four facilities used for storing oil.
The first spill occurred on August 6, 2002 from a pipe-type cable, a pipe that houses an electric transmission line surrounded by pressurized oil. The pipe ruptured after being damaged by a contractor of an unknown party, causing oil to leak into a storm drain that discharged into the Charles River near the Riverside boathouse in Cambridge.
The second spill also involved a pipe-type cable. On October 17, 2002, the pipe carrying the insulating oil ruptured where it crossed the Massachusetts Turnpike in Brighton and discharged a small amount of oil into the Charles.
NSTAR also settled EPA claims for failing to prepare spill plans for four different facilities. These facilities, which store oil that is pumped through the pipe-type cables, are located in Cambridge, West Roxbury, Needham and Brighton. As part of the settlement, NSTAR also agreed to produce an integrated spill prevention plan that covers its pipe-type cables and the oil storage facilities.
NSTAR agreed to pay a penalty of $15,845 to the US Coast Guard’s oil spill trust fund, which is used to finance the Coast Guard’s efforts to clean up oil spills. In addition, NSTAR will undertake a supplemental environmental project that will demonstrate the effectiveness of a novel cistern/drywell system for capturing and reusing stormwater.
Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England Office, lauded the settlement as another instance where past violations have been converted to future benefits for the environment. “NSTAR has stepped up to the plate by resolving its outstanding compliance issues and moving forward with a project that will provide useful information on how to solve storm water problems in a heavily urbanized area,” Varney said.
The demonstration project will be built at Harvard University’s vehicle washing facility. Water will be captured on the roof of the building and stored in a cistern for use in vehicle washing. In addition to recycling rainwater, the project will limit the amount of water entering the combined sewer system and will reduce the amount of contaminated stormwater that might otherwise flow from the site. Captured rainwater will also be used to irrigate landscaping around the building. The project will provide for a large demonstration of this technology and provide measurements of the various environmental benefits it produces.
For more information on oil spills and spill prevention requirements, visit the EPA’s web site at http://www.epa.gov/ne/topics/emergencies/oilspills.html. For assistance in complying with these requirements, contact Amy Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-537-2372, ext. 224.
Pennsylvania Company Pleads Guilty in Multi-State Wastewater Pollution Case
The PQ Corporation of Valley Forge, Pa. pled guilty on May 13, 2004 to violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) at its plants in St. Louis, Mo., Chester, Pa., and Baltimore, Md. by improperly discharging wastewater into public sewers and surface waters. The previous charges filed in three Federal Districts against PQ were combined into one case in Maryland court. According to the plea agreement, PQ will pay a $450,000 fine, provide $60,000 in restitution to the City of Baltimore, $47,000 to the Delaware County Regional Water Quality Control Authority, serve three years probation and pay $50,000 to fund community service projects.
PQ's facilities manufacture a variety of inorganic chemicals including water-soluble sodium silicates that are used in detergents, silica gel, adhesives and catalysts. The March 2004 charges claimed that PQ discharged wastewater in violation of applicable CWA pretreatment requirements from its St. Louis and Chester facilities into sewer systems operated by Metropolitan St. Louis and Delaware County. PQ was also charged with discharging wastewater without a CWA permit from its Baltimore facility into U.S. waters.
Discharging improperly treated wastewater into sewers can damage sewage treatment equipment and prevent proper sewage treatment. Unpermitted discharge of wastewater can also harm fish and wildlife and make the waters unsafe for recreational or drinking water purposes.
The case was investigated by the Washington, Philadelphia and St. Louis Area Offices of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Criminal Investigation Division, the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Maryland Attorney General's Office, and the Metropolitan Sewer District of St. Louis with the assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center. It has been prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Offices in St. Louis, Philadelphia and Baltimore.
New Website Tracks Chemical Makers' Performance
The American Chemistry Council (ACC) has launched a new website that significantly expands publicly available performance data on the U.S. chemical industry.
The new website (http://www.ResponsibleCare-US.com) creates easy public access to industry-wide and, for the first time, company-specific performance data in environment, safety, security, product stewardship, economic and other areas. The website makes available the most information on performance of any private sector group.
“This website opens a new chapter of transparency for America’s
leading chemical companies,” said ACC’s President and CEO Greg
Lebedev. “It clearly demonstrates our industry’s focus on making
readily available the performance results of Responsible Care®.”
Responsible Care is the U.S. chemical industry’s award-winning performance initiative that has led to emissions reductions of 70 percent and a worker safety record that is four times better than the average of the U.S. manufacturing sector.
Responsible Care companies recently increased the scope and specificity of this voluntary initiative, resulting in new standardized performance measurements, or metrics, that will be published annually on this new site.
In many cases, website visitors can view historic data showing how companies and the industry have improved performance over time. Companies choose whether to display up to five years of historic data and whether to post additional comments to help put the information in context.
“This is a groundbreaking step for our industry,” said Lebedev. “For more than fifteen years, ACC’s Responsible Care initiative has helped our nation’s chemical makers improve performance above and beyond government requirements. This new website allows ACC members to make these performance results more transparent so employees and the public can help identify even more opportunities for further improvements.”
While benchmarking and tracking performance can be a highly effective driver of performance, Lebedev stressed that website visitors should be wary of making company-to-company comparisons. “Our membership is highly diverse, including very large companies with tens of thousands of employees and dozens of facilities along with smaller enterprises with fewer than one hundred employees,” said Lebedev. “Comparison between companies is complicated. Regardless, even though their products and operations vary considerably, every ACC company has played an essential role in improving the industry’s performance and making this website possible.”
ENERGY STAR Promotes the Design of Energy Efficient Buildings
To reduce the air pollution caused by commercial building energy use, EPA is expanding the ENERGY STAR program to include new commercial buildings by encouraging the design of energy efficient buildings. Architecture firms will now be able to distinguish buildings that have been designed to be among the most efficient buildings in the country as "Designed to Earn the ENERGY STAR."
Recognizing the influence that the nation's architects can have in reducing the environmental impact of buildings, EPA is providing this new designation. Commercial buildings alone emit about 20 percent of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions. Expanding the ENERGY STAR to cover new construction fulfills recommendations outlined in the President's National Energy Policy.
A building design will be eligible for the new designation if the building is expected to qualify for the ENERGY STAR label once in operation. The ENERGY STAR is EPA's designation for superior energy performance. Buildings that have been in operation for at least one year qualify for the ENERGY STAR by scoring 75 or higher on EPA's 100-point national energy rating scale.
Existing buildings that have earned the ENERGY STAR label use about 40 percent less energy than average buildings, without compromising comfort or services. They also conserve natural gas.
EPA finds that newly constructed buildings are not significantly more efficient than buildings constructed years ago. With this new designation, EPA hopes to call attention to building design practices that are expected to deliver high quality and energy efficient commercial building space.
In 1999, EPA announced its national energy performance rating system for commercial buildings. The rating system now includes 10 types of buildings representing more than 50 percent of commercial building square footage across the country. Currently, more than 19,000 buildings have been rated nationwide, and more than 1,400 have earned the ENERGY STAR. By earning and displaying the ENERGY STAR plaque, organizations demonstrate their commitment to energy efficiency and environmental stewardship – while saving money on power bills.
Introduced by EPA in 1992 for energy-efficient computers, the ENERGY STAR label is now featured on products in more than 40 categories, including lighting, appliances, home office equipment, home electronics, and heating and cooling equipment. Since the mid-1990s, EPA has collaborated with the U.S. Department of Energy, which has responsibility for certain product categories. Efficient new homes became eligible for the ENERGY STAR label in 1995. Last year alone, ENERGY STAR helped Americans save enough energy to power about 20 million homes, reducing greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of 18 million vehicles. These reductions also saved Americans collectively $9 billion on their energy bills.
To learn more about ENERGY STAR, visit http://www.energystar.gov.