These amendments include revising the definitions of "hazmat employee" and "hazmat employer;"' revision of shipping paper retention requirements; providing a security plan exception for farmers; adding conditional applicability of postal laws and regulations; and replacement of "Exemption'' with "Special permit."
These major revisions to the hazardous materials regulations, which will impact every hazardous material shipper, offerer, and carrier, become effective January 9, 2006.
EPA Releases Plan to Test Alternative Method to Remove Asbestos
EPA is submitting a draft Quality Assurance Project Plan for external review for the Alternative Asbestos Control Method demonstration project. An alternative method for removing asbestos from older buildings during demolition will be evaluated and compared to removal techniques previously authorized by National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP). If successful, the newer method could allow the safe demolition of many abandoned buildings around the nation that present serious risks to nearby residents. Using the Alternative Asbestos Control Method, these former contaminated areas would then be available for redevelopment, creating jobs and tax revenues for communities. The newer method will be tested in spring 2006 at a remote location at Fort Chaffee, Ark., chosen to assure no public exposure. Buildings on the east side have a clearance of approximately 1,000 feet from the nearest occupied site, and far greater in all other directions. The demonstration will include extensive environmental monitoring, that allows for a representative of the city, state health department, or EPA to stop work if conditions so merit. The Alternative Asbestos Control Method first removes the most friable (easily crushed to a powder) asbestos-containing materials before demolition, but leaves some asbestos containing materials (primarily wall systems) in place. Then the demolition proceeds using water containing agents similar to detergents to increase the water's ability to penetrate dust layers and surfaces, trap asbestos fibers and minimize their potential release to air. The project is a joint effort of the Fort Chaffee Redevelopment Authority, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, the U.S. Department of Energy, and EPA. Public involvement is an important component for project success, and there will be opportunities for stakeholder input throughout the work. All comments received will be provided to the external peer review panel for consideration.
Air Quality Criteria for Lead
The Clean Air Act mandates periodic review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for six common air pollutants, also referred to as criteria pollutants, including lead. Under the review process, EPA's Office of Research and Development develops a "criteria document" -- a compilation and evaluation by U.S. EPA scientific staff and other expert authors of the latest scientific knowledge useful in assessing the health and welfare effects of the air pollutant. In this case, the Lead Criteria Document presents the latest available pertinent information on atmospheric science, air quality, exposure, dosimetry, health effects, and environmental effects of lead. In developing criteria documents, EPA must consider the advice of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC).
Volumes I-II (Air Quality Criteria Document for Lead) are being released for public comment and for review by EPA's CASAC. From the site, select 'Environmental Protection Agency' and the keyword 'ORD-2005-0018' (for the docket ID). Comments received by this date will be considered by the EPA CASAC during their review.
Air Quality Criteria for Oxides of Nitrogen
Although the emphasis is on presentation of health and welfare effects data, other scientific data are presented in order to provide a better understanding of these pollutants in the environment. Chapters are included which discuss the nitrogen cycle, sources and emissions, atmospheric chemical processes which transform emissions of nitrogen oxides into related airborne compounds, transport and removal processes, measurement methods, and atmospheric concentrations of nitrogenous pollutants.
EPA Proposal Would Lock in Low Emissions from Large Municipal Waste Combustors
As required by the Clean Air Act, EPA has reviewed its existing performance standards for large municipal waste combustors (MWCs) and is proposing to revise the emission limits to reflect the performance levels currently demonstrated by these facilities. Large MWCs burn more than 250 tons of municipal solid waste per day, or about 25 garbage truck loads. In 1995, EPA adopted emissions control requirements for large MWC units. These requirements were highly effective and reduced MWC emissions beyond what was required, including the reduction of:
- organic emissions (dioxin/furans) by more than 99%
- metal emissions (mercury, cadmium, and lead) by more than 93%
- acid gas emissions (sulfur dioxide and hydrogen chloride) by more than 91%
The proposed emission limits would ensure that high performance levels at MWCs are maintained. EPA is also proposing several changes to the rules to simplify implementation. EPA will accept comment on these proposed amendments for 45 days after publication in the Federal Register.
Supplemental Critical Uses of Methyl Bromide for 2005 Authorized
In accordance with the Clean Air Act and Montreal Protocol, EPA completed a rule authorizing a supplemental critical use exemption of 610,665 kilograms of methyl bromide for 2005. The exemptions for continued production and import of methyl bromide will honor the U.S. commitment to obtain methyl bromide for American farmers, in a manner consistent with the Montreal Protocol, while protecting the ozone layer. Critical use exemptions are anticipated under the Montreal Protocol for circumstances where there are no technically and economically feasible alternatives to methyl bromide. Further, the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 direct the EPA to issue regulations to implement the provisions of the Montreal Protocol within the United States. The final rule supplements the previous allowances for 2005 which totaled 35% of baseline methyl bromide consumption and were authorized during March 24-26, 2004 at the first Extraordinary Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol. The supplemental amount totals 2.5% of baseline and was authorized by the Parties to the Montreal Protocol at their 16th Meeting held during Nov. 22-26, 2004. Methyl bromide allowances for the 2006 calendar year were established at the Second Extraordinary Meeting of the Parties on July 1, 2005, and EPA is working to make these allowances available as quickly as possible. Allowance decisions for 2007 will be made at the upcoming 17th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Dakar, Senegal during Dec. 12-16, 2005.
EPA Proposing to Reduce Air Toxics Risks from Dry Cleaners
Based on recent analyses of health risks, the EPA is proposing a rule to reduce emissions of perchloroethylene (perc) from dry cleaners. "Risks from most dry cleaners across the country generally are low, and our proposed requirements would make them even lower," said Bill Wehrum, acting assistant administrator for air and radiation. "But based on what we now know about the risks from perc dry cleaners, a small group of dry cleaners located in apartment buildings requires closer examination. We are asking the public for additional information that could help us develop strategies to reduce these risks more quickly." More than 28,000 dry cleaners of all sizes and types in the United States use perc, a solvent, in the dry cleaning process. Perc is one of 188 pollutants EPA regulates as air toxics, also known as hazardous air pollutants. Air toxics are pollutants known or suspected to cause cancer and other serious health problems. Since the implementation of EPA's 1993 air toxics standards, dry cleaners have reduced perc emissions by about 15,000 tons a year through increased use of alternative solvents, replacement of older dry-cleaning machines, and state and industry programs to improve efficiency and reduce perc use. The proposal would amend EPA's 1993 air toxics standards to further reduce perc emissions from large industrial and commercial dry cleaners, freestanding small dry cleaners, and small dry cleaners located in apartment buildings. In developing risk-based standards to reduce health risks from air toxics, EPA strives to ensure that those standards provide the maximum feasible amount of protection. The Agency does this two ways. First, EPA tries to limit an individual's cancer risk to approximately 100 in 1 million. This means that a person living near a facility and exposed to maximum concentrations of a pollutant for a 70-year-lifetime would have no more than a 100 in 1 million chance of getting cancer as a result. Second, the agency strives to protect the largest number of people possible so that their individual cancer risks are no higher than approximately one in 1 million. The proposal includes the following requirements: Large Industrial and Commercial Dry Cleaners: There are 15 large dry cleaners in the United States. These dry cleaners are covered by EPA's 1993 maximum achievable control technology standards. The proposed amendments would reduce risks by up to 90% by requiring that these dry cleaners meet equipment standards and conduct enhanced leak detection and repair on a monthly basis. Freestanding Small Dry Cleaners: Freestanding small dry cleaners are the type of dry cleaner you might see in a strip shopping center or as a stand-alone building. Estimated risk to most people living near these dry cleaners generally is below 10 in 1 million. The proposed amendments would reduce these risks by about 20% by requiring that the approximately 27,000 freestanding dry cleaners meet equipment standards and conduct enhanced leak detection and repair. In addition, all existing small dry cleaners would have to eliminate machines that require clothing to be transferred from one machine to another for drying.
Small Dry Cleaners in Apartment Buildings: About 1,300 small dry cleaners using perc are located on the ground floor of residential buildings. Like freestanding small dry cleaners, these "co-residential" cleaners are covered by standards issued in 1993. Because apartments in these buildings are located very close to these dry cleaners, residents' exposures and their estimated cancer risks can be much higher than for typical area source dry cleaners. Based on the data evaluated for this proposal, estimated maximum cancer risks for people living in some of these buildings might be in excess of 100 in 1 million. EPA is proposing two options for addressing co-residential dry cleaners. Under a risk-based option, no new perc machines could be installed at these facilities. Dry cleaners eventually would have to phase out existing perc equipment as it wears out, eliminating risk from these facilities in about 15 years. Under a technology-based option, EPA would issue requirements based on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's dry cleaning regulations. These requirements would include equipment to recover perc solvent from vapors and to trap perc emissions from dry cleaning equipment. For both options, EPA is requesting additional information to help reduce risks more quickly. The proposed rule would not affect dry cleaners that do not use perc, or those that send clothes off-site to be cleaned. EPA will accept public comments on this proposal for 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register.
Guidebook Details Control of Urban Runoff Pollution
The EPA has released a guidebook on managing runoff pollution caused by urban activities. National Management Measures to Control Nonpoint Source Pollution from Urban Areas is an information source for states and cities to use in their pollution-management programs for protecting waterways.
Nonpoint source pollution, unlike pollution from industrial and sewage treatment plants, comes from many sources. They include contaminated runoff from paved surfaces, malfunctioning septic systems, pet wastes, over-applied fertilizers and pesticides, improperly disposed household chemicals, and motor-vehicle fluids.
"Our guidance is a textbook and toolkit for cooperative conservation and sustainable management of urban and suburban runoff," said Benjamin H. Grumbles, assistant administrator for water. "Stormwater pollution can harm surface and groundwater, but this guidebook identifies effective ways to reduce pollution and increase low impact development."
Twelve management measures have been included in the guidebook. Such measures can help establish performance goals for storm water control programs. They are also useful in determining what to do to minimize other negative factors associated with urban runoff.
- watershed and site protection
- new development
- on-site wastewater treatment (septic) systems transportation
- construction, bridges and highways
- construction site erosion, sediment, and chemical control
- existing urban areas
- pollution prevention
- operation and maintenance
- program evaluation
Revised Manual to Protect Agricultural Workers from Pesticides
A revised manual describing how to comply with EPA requirements to protect agricultural workers from pesticides is available. The new resource, called the "Worker Protection Standard for Agricultural Pesticides - How to Comply Manual" has been significantly updated to reflect amendments to the Worker Protection Standard, a regulation designed to protect agricultural workers and pesticide handlers. The revised manual provides detailed information to agricultural operators on who is covered by the standard and how to meet regulatory requirements. The updated information will facilitate better protection of pesticide workers and handlers in agriculture from the potential risks of pesticides. The Worker Protection Standard contains requirements for pesticide safety training, notification of pesticide applications, use of personal protective equipment, restricted entry intervals following pesticide application, decontamination supplies, and emergency medical assistance. The revised 2005 manual supersedes the previous 1993 version. Changes to the standard since 1993 have made the earlier version obsolete, and its continued use may lead an employer to be out of compliance.
EPA Upholds Fine Particle Pollution Designations
EPA delivered letters to seven state and local government petitioners denying their requests that the agency reconsider its decision to designate one or more full or partial county within their jurisdiction in nonattainment for EPA's health-based national air quality standards for fine particle pollution. EPA sent an eighth letter to a government/business coalition denying their request to stay the effective date (April 5, 2005) of the designations.
The petitions being denied include:
- State of Connecticut -- pertaining to Fairfield and New Haven counties from the New York nonattainment area
- Commonwealth of Virginia -- pertaining to all designated Virginia counties from the Washington, D.C. nonattainment area
- State of Maryland -- pertaining to Washington county from the Martinsburg, WV - Hagerstown, MD area
- Guilford County, NC -- pertaining to Guilford County from the Greensboro nonattainment area
- State of North Carolina -- pertaining to Guilford County from the Greensboro nonattainment area
- State of Alabama -- pertaining to the size of the partial county designation for Walker County within the Birmingham nonattainment area
- State of Georgia -- pertaining to the size of the partial county designation for Putnam County within the Atlanta nonattainment area
In addition, EPA is rejecting a petition from the Southwestern Pennsylvania Growth Alliance requesting a stay in the effective date of the designations pending issuance of a policy on implementing the new source review program. Areas designated as nonattainment can still receive federal highway funds and can still grow. To attain the air quality standards, nonattainment areas must reduce emissions that produce fine particles and the pollutants that form them. In December 2004, EPA designated attainment and nonattainment areas for fine particle pollution as an important step toward making the nation's air healthier to breathe. The agency designated counties as "nonattainment" when monitors in that county detected air quality that violates the fine particle, or PM2.5 standards. EPA also included in a nonattainment area, nearby counties contributing to fine particle pollution problems based on a review of nine key factors (including air quality, emissions, population, commuting, and weather conditions).
New Environmental Research Ship Docks in Baltimore
EPA Regional Administrator Donald S. Welsh hosted a tour of the EPA's new Ocean Survey Vessel (OSV) Bold. The 224-foot ship, docked in Baltimore's Inner Harbor, is a floating scientific laboratory that helps EPA monitor public health and environmental threats to our oceans, bays, and estuaries.
"EPA is very proud and excited about our newest tool to use in protecting marine environments. The Bold is a state-of-the-art survey ship, equipped with the latest technology to support the various monitoring and educational tasks necessary to preserve the quality of our oceans and coasts," said Donald S. Welsh, EPA's mid-Atlantic regional administrator.
The Bold is equipped to support EPA's ocean monitoring and educational tasks, carrying an array of sophisticated instruments to collect data on the state of our nation's oceans and coastal waters. The converted Navy vessel has onboard laboratories, an operating crew of 19 and can accommodate 20 scientists. EPA initiated surveys on the Bold in August.
The OSV Bold is EPA's only coastal and ocean monitoring vessel. The vessel is 43 feet wide, has a cruising speed of 11 knots, and a range of 3,000 nautical miles.
EPA uses the Bold to help scientists assess marine resources and how they are affected by human activities. The vessel is used to collect data on oceans and coastal areas in the waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Policymakers use information gained from ocean and coastal surveys to implement programs to protect our ocean and coastal environments.
In September, the Bold conducted water quality assessments in the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The Bold helps EPA monitor areas experiencing degradation from excessive nitrification, as well as monitoring the health of coral reefs and the impacts of ecological disturbances, such as harmful algae blooms. Other projects include monitoring the impacts of disposal of dredged material and wastewater discharges.
Beginning Dec. 6, the Bold will begin monitoring the impacts of dredge disposal from the Baltimore Channel. The Bold serves as a platform for scuba divers in EPA's dive program, supporting monitoring, enforcement, and survey efforts.
The Bold also serves as a floating classroom, holding tours and demonstration surveys to educate the public about ocean and coastal environmental issues.
EPA, Army Corps of Engineers and NJDOT Launch Passaic River Dredging and Decontamination Test Project
The EPA, United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) this week began an environmental dredging test project on the lower Passaic River in New Jersey.
"Results from this test project will greatly enhance our ability to evaluate sediment removal and treatment options," said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. "It is critical that we first demonstrate effectiveness on a pilot basis, and then apply that knowledge on a larger scale to develop a comprehensive cleanup plan for sediment contamination in the lower Passaic River."
This week's removal of 5,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediment from a 1.5-acre area in the Passaic River near downtown Newark kicks off a two-part evaluation of environmental dredging and sediment decontamination technologies.
"This is a critical first step that uses an integrated approach providing us with effective tools. The end result is that these expandable tools will allow us to remediate the contaminated sediments and restore the ecological health of the lower Passaic," said Army Col. Richard J. Polo Jr., the Corps' New York District Engineer.
The environmental dredging and decontamination pilot study is part of the Lower Passaic River Restoration Project, an ongoing joint effort conducted by NJDOT, EPA and the Corps with support from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
"The inception of the lower Passaic River dredging and decontamination project reflects NJDOT's commitment to advance both commerce and the environment by improving the condition of our maritime resources," said NJDOT Commissioner Jack Lettiere. "This pilot study will enable us to more quickly clean up the lower Passaic River by providing vital information on dredging and decontamination technology, economics and environmental impact."
The environmental dredging and sediment decontamination pilot will collect data on environmental dredging technology performance, productivity, re-suspension and treatability of contaminated sediments. Prior to the start of the pilot, the partner agencies, along with the U.S. Geological Survey and Rutgers University, collected monitoring data before the start of dredging and will collect extensive water quality monitoring data during and after the dredging to evaluate the extent of sediment re-suspension in the Lower Passaic River caused by environmental dredging operations.
Dredged sediment will be transported to the Bayshore Recycling Inc. facility located in Keasbey, NJ. The sediment will then be off-loaded to the Valgocen, a 730-foot bulk carrier vessel that will serve as a temporary storage location and material handling facility. This winter, the partner agencies will perform a sediment decontamination pilot study on the dredged sediments.
The agencies will use two different sediment decontamination technologies to demonstrate that contaminated Lower Passaic River sediments can be handled safely, decontaminated effectively, and be used to manufacture beneficial use products such as cement and soil.
Approximately 2,500 cubic yards of Passaic River sediment will undergo treatment using a sediment washing process performed at the Bayshore Recycling Inc. facility located in Keasbey, NJ. Manufactured soil will be produced during the treatment process. The decontaminated soil could be used in a number of land-based applications, such as upland remediation and landscaping.
The remaining 2,500 cubic yards of Passaic River sediment will undergo treatment using a thermal destruction process performed at the International-Matex tank terminal located in Bayonne, NJ. Construction-grade cement will be produced during the treatment process. The cement could potentially be used in the construction of sidewalks, parking lots and driveways.
Dredging plans and other project documents are available electronically and in print.
States Join Energy Star Challenge to Cut Costs by 10% or More
More than half the states across the nation and the District of Columbia are joining with the EPA to address critical energy issues at the local level in conjunction with EPA's Energy Star Challenge. Communities across the United States are facing higher energy prices this winter. The Energy Star Challenge calls on businesses, governments, schools, and other agencies to improve their energy efficiency by 10% or more. EPA estimates that if each building owner met this challenge, by 2015 Americans would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 20 million metric tonnes (carbon equivalent) -- equivalent to the emissions from 15 million vehicles, while saving about $10 billion. Most facilities can save up to 30% on their energy bills each year through cost-effective energy efficiency improvements. To encourage greater investments in efficiency, EPA is working with the following states and their energy offices to reach their resident building owners: Alabama, Arizona, California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Connecticut (through the Institute for Sustainable Energy, Eastern Connecticut State University), Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Vermont (through Efficiency Vermont). Through the Energy Star Challenge, state governments offer a variety of programs to help building owners assess how much energy their buildings use now, establish efficiency improvement goals of 10% or greater portfolio-wide, and make efficiency improvements wherever cost effective.
One Million Household Hazardous Waste Containers Recovered
The EPA announced that an estimated one million containers of household hazardous waste have been recovered from areas damaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. This milestone is significant given that the hazardous waste collected from homes in these areas has been properly disposed of, preventing future environmental problems.
"It's important that we properly discard hazardous waste to protect the public's health and eliminate problems that could occur if this type of waste ended up in municipal landfills," said Steve Way, an EPA emergency responder who is helping to oversee hurricane response activities from the unified federal and state command post in Metairie, Louisiana. "Our collection operations have been successful because many residents are cooperating by separating household chemical products from their ordinary trash, helping the operation run more smoothly."
Household hazardous waste includes products like bleach, propane, batteries, paints and containers of other household chemicals. EPA and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality have worked with local agencies and parishes to establish household hazardous waste collection centers and curbside pick-ups for residents in Orleans, St. Tammany, Lafourche, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, Vermillion, Cameron, and Jefferson parishes. After pick-up and delivery to the various collection centers, the products are segregated for either recycling or other types of proper disposal.
EPA Fines Guam Waterworks Authority $32,000 for Failure to Meet Federal Court Order
EPA fined the Guam Waterworks Authority $32,000 for failing to fully comply with a
2003 stipulated court order to develop a draft master plan.
"We are very concerned with GWA's continuing inability to comply with the stipulated order," said Alexis Strauss, the EPA's director for water programs in the Pacific Southwest region. "It is vital that the key management, technical and engineering staffing shortfalls be remedied if we are to achieve our shared goal of providing reliable drinking water and wastewater service to Guam residents."
GWA has provided a Work-in-Progress Report instead of a fully developed draft master plan document. GWA's master plan will be used by the utility as a road map for making immediate and long term infrastructure improvements.
The stipulated court order also required operation and maintenance parts inventories and manuals to ensure GWA has the necessary tools to maintain its water and wastewater systems. GWA failed to adequately demonstrate the development and maintenance of a 60-day operation and maintenance inventory for its wastewater and public water systems that includes any spare parts that may be needed.
The utility also failed to develop a set of comprehensive Operations and Maintenance manuals for its wastewater and public water systems. Although GWA had prepared a set of manuals, a review by Guam EPA inspectors revealed that the manuals were incomplete because they did not include equipment currently in use.
Guam's drinking water system is currently undergoing repairs and improvements to provide a more reliable supply of water to Guam residents. The island's wastewater treatment system is also being upgraded to ensure proper disposal of treated wastewater and to prevent any spills and overflows.
EPA Nanotechnology Draft White Paper
EPA has issued the Draft Nanotechnology White Paper, a road map that identifies critical questions that must be addressed in order for the United States to reap the potential environmental and economic benefits of nanotechnology. Along with presenting the anticipated benefits of nanotechnology, the paper also deals with risk management of possible negative impacts of the new technologies. EPA will accept public comments on the draft white paper until Jan. 9, 2006, and then provide those comments to external reviewers for their consideration. Nanotechnology is the science of creating or modifying materials at the atomic and molecular level to develop new or enhanced materials and products. In December 2004, EPA's Science Policy Council created a cross-agency work group to identify and describe the issues EPA must consider to ensure protection of human health and the environment as this new technology is developed. The draft white paper on nanotechnology is the product of the work group. The white paper identifies data gaps that need to be filled and the research that EPA will conduct to fully grasp the applications and the implications of nanotech. Those research results will inform the appropriate regulatory safeguards for nanotechnology. The latest nanotechnology and potential environmental benefits of nanotechnology are detailed. Risk management issues and the agency's statutory mandates are outlined, following an extensive discussion of risk assessment issues. The white paper concludes with recommendations on next steps for addressing science policy issues and research needs. Following the expert review, EPA will issue a final white paper on nanotechnology in early 2006.
Comments Sought on Proposed Permit for Storm Water Discharges
The EPA is seeking comments on a proposed reissue of the Storm Water Multi-Sector General Permit (MSGP). The new permit contains several changes from its predecessor, including:
- fast and easy electronic application
- a 30-day public notice for permit applications
- electronic submission of monitoring results
- updated monitoring schedules
As part of the reissue process, EPA is publishing a notice of the proposal in the Federal Register and is accepting public comments for a 45-day period. During the comment period, EPA will hold one public meeting at the agency's Washington, D.C. headquarters on Dec. 20, 2005, to answer questions about the MSGP.
Greek Shipping Company to Pay $1 Million Fine in Oil Pollution Case
Karlog Shipping Company Ltd., of Piraeus, Greece, pleaded guilty on Nov. 16 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York to obstructing justice by concealing the release of oil into the ocean from the Motor Vessel Friendship. Karlog Shipping was ordered to pay a $1 million fine, develop a fleet-wide court-monitored environmental management system and serve three years' probation.
In addition, Panagiotis Kokkinos, the ship's chief engineer, and Athanasios Chalkias, the ship's fitter, have also each pleaded guilty in connection with their role in ordering crew members to make false statements to the Coast Guard regarding discharges of oil from the ship. Each man was sentenced on Oct. 6 to 30 days in prison and three years' probation.
In November 2004, a routine Coast Guard investigation discovered evidence that a bypass pipe had been used on the M/V Friendship to route oil around the ship's oil-water separator. Evidence also indicated that the pollution was concealed by maintaining a false oil record book that made it appear that the ship was being operated properly.
EPA Cites Lehigh Cement for Clean-Air Violations
EPA Region 5 has cited Lehigh Cement Co. for alleged clean-air violations at the company's portland cement plant in Mitchell, Ind. EPA alleges that Lehigh failed to maintain cement kiln exhaust gas temperatures at levels that ensure compliance with dioxin and furan emission limits, failed to submit complete emissions reports and failed to comply with limits on opacity or the amount of light obscured by dust emissions. "EPA's mission is to protect public health and the environment," said Regional Administrator Thomas V. Skinner. "We will take whatever steps are needed to ensure compliance with the Clean Air Act."
EPA Cites Pilkington North America for Clean-Air Violations
EPA Region 5 has cited Pilkington North America Inc. for alleged clean-air violations at the company's glass manufacturing plant in Rossford, Ohio. EPA said Pilkington modified two glass melting furnaces allowing fuel to be burned in the presence of oxygen rather than normal air. This increased the maximum capacity of the furnaces and increased particulate (ash, dust, soot) emissions. EPA alleges that Pilkington violated performance standards for new sources of air pollution by failing to comply with notification and testing requirements. In addition, EPA alleges that the modified furnaces have discharged excessive particulate emissions into the atmosphere. "EPA's mission is to protect public health and the environment," said Regional Administrator Thomas V. Skinner. "We will take whatever steps are needed to ensure compliance with the Clean Air Act."
Aurora Energy Pays $33,000 for Violation of Clean Water Act
The EPA has reached a settlement with Aurora Energy of Fairbanks, Alaska for violations of the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) at its Aurora Energy Chena Power Plant (Facility), a commercial electric generating facility. During inspections last spring, EPA noted the presence of coal dust on the south banks of the Chena River, Fairbanks, Alaska. Coal dust in water can reduce oxygen levels, which can have a major affect on the surrounding fish and wildlife in the river.
To address discharges of coal dust such as those seen during the inspections, Aurora Energy's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Permit requires Aurora Energy to include measures in the Best Management Practices (BMP) Plan that will be undertaken to prevent or minimize coal and/or coal dust from falling from the coal conveyor line into the Chena River.
Aurora Energy's draft BMP Plan, submitted to EPA prior to the inspections, was incomplete and did not meet the permit requirements. The BMP Plan did not identify any measures to prevent or minimize coal and/or coal dust from falling from the coal conveyor line. Since Aurora Energy did not adequately prepare a BMP Plan, the company failed to comply with the terms of its NPDES Permit in violation of Section 309(g)(2)(B) of the Federal Clean Water Act. EPA and Aurora Energy agreed to settle these violations for $33,000.
Pennsylvania Governor Rendell Marks 25th Anniversary of Federal Superfund Program
Governor Edward G. Rendell said the federal Superfund program, which celebrates its 25th anniversary Sunday, has been one the nation's most effective tools to protect public health and the environment through the cleanup of some of the worst hazardous waste sites in the country, including priority spots in Pennsylvania. He said, however, dedicated funding is critical to ensuring continued success.
"For 25 years, the federal Superfund program has been reshaping the American landscape by cleaning up abandoned and poisoned lands and saving communities from toxic waste," Governor Rendell said. "The federal Superfund program has been a model of success for protecting public health and the environment. Allowing the Superfund to wither because of inadequate funding would endanger citizens and threaten more than two decades of environmental improvements."
Enacted as the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation Liability Act in 1980, the federal Superfund program has been the public's best defense against legacy contamination and remains critical to the country's ability to address immediate and long-term dangers at thousands of sites, as well as to investigate and identify any new threats posed by hazardous substances.
The Superfund program helps pay for the clean up of contaminated sites when ownership is unknown or bankrupt. The program had been financed with modest fees on industries that handle the petroleum and hazardous chemicals most often found on polluted sites, but in 1995, when the Superfund was flush with cash, Congress allowed the fees to expire and has yet to reauthorize them.
Once a self-replenishing pot of $4 billion, the Superfund went bankrupt in 2003. The fund now relies on a yearly appropriation from Congress. Reinstating those fees is important to ensuring the continued cleanup of ongoing and new sites across the country.
There are 1,529 sites on the National Priority List that are either awaiting cleanup or are in some stage of remediation. Pennsylvania has 120 Superfund sites; about one-third of them are orphaned sites whose clean up is being funded through a federal/state partnership. The Superfund program pays 90% of the federal cost and the state's Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund pays the rest, plus any operation and maintenance costs after cleanup.
Sites continue to be added to the NPL. In cases where the party responsible for the contamination cannot be identified, the Superfund program finances cleanup.
The state Department of Environmental Protection and The EPA currently are evaluating five additional NPL-funded cleanups in Pennsylvania over the next two years that will require approximately $20 million in federal funds and at least $1.5 million in state funds.
Governor Rendell previously called for stronger federal support for the federal Superfund program in March 2004 in letters to Pennsylvania Sens. Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum. In May last year, the Governor asked for a tougher response in a letter to then-EPA Administrator Michael O. Leavitt.
"Given the mounting federal budget deficit, we cannot expect to continue financing cleanups out of the general treasury," Governor Rendell said. "Superfund needs dedicated funding to remove environmental harms and public health risks posed by these hazardous waste sites. Each cleanup that gets delayed because of funding constraints puts commonwealth residents and the citizens of this nation in jeopardy."
Aside from providing the state share for Superfund cleanups, the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund is DEP's most important tool to respond immediately and eliminate any threat to public health and safety when toxic chemicals or hazardous substances are spilled, leaked, or otherwise found in the environment.
Prior to Governor Rendell's Growing Greener II initiative, which was enacted in July as Act 45 of 2005, the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Fund was headed toward bankruptcy. With that impending fiscal crisis, DEP stopped new public protection projects and was forced to prioritize current cleanup projects.
Now, Growing Greener II provides at least $50 million to the cleanup fund over the next two years, although funding levels will be lower than previous fiscal years. This short-term infusion represents only stopgap emergency funding and does not address the future financial challenges facing the program. A long-term solution still is needed to keep the program alive beyond the 2006-07 fiscal year.
DEQ Proposes Revised Construction Storm Water General Permit to Commission for December Adoption
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is asking the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission to adopt a revised water quality general permit that regulates storm water runoff to surface waters from construction activities that disturb one or more acres in Oregon. The existing permit, which covers a five-year term, expires on Dec. 31, 2005.
The commission will consider renewal of the permit, known as the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System 1200-C Construction General Permit, at its Dec. 22 meeting in Portland. Federal Clean Water Act regulations require that storm water runoff from construction activities on one or more acres be regulated. These permits affect about 1,500 sites in Oregon.
DEQ has been working on the permit revisions since last spring, meeting with permit holders, environmental advocacy groups, municipalities and others. DEQ concluded a 40-day public comment period Sept. 30 on its public review draft permit. After reviewing and considering all comments, DEQ has made several significant changes to the permit, particularly regarding public review of new permits. The most significant changes will be phased in throughout 2006.
The recommended permit calls for a 14-day public notice and review period on permit applications and Erosion and Sediment Control Plans written by permittees for construction sites disturbing five acres or more of land. This public review requirement affects applications received after May 31, 2006. This process does not include an opportunity for an informational hearing or public notice on any revisions to the plans. This new requirement would affect about 40% of permit registrants and more than 80% of the disturbed land of permitted construction projects in the state, based on current data.
Originally, DEQ had considered making all 1200-C permit applications subject to public notice and review.
Other key changes proposed:
- More stringent requirements for sites discharging stormwater into water bodies listed as "impaired" for turbidity (water clarity) or sedimentation concerns on the 303(d) list of water quality-impaired rivers, lakes or streams, or water bodies covered under state Total Maximum Daily Load pollution limits, effective Oct. 1, 2006. The new requirements require affected permit registrants to either: (1) collect stormwater runoff samples, analyze them for turbidity and compare results to a numeric turbidity benchmark, or (2) implement one or more specified best management practices to treat, control or prevent sediment discharges.
- A new requirement to immediately take corrective actions when signficiant amounts of sediment or turbidity are visually detected in discharges to surface waters or stormwater conveyance systems.
- New procedures for reporting and approving revisions to a permittee's Erosion and Sediment Control Plan. These procedures will minimize paperwork for submitted revisions. The existing 1200-C permit does not address plan revisions other than to state that DEQ may request modification at any time if it deems a plan to be ineffective. The public will not have the opportunity to review revised plans, as had originally been proposed for certain types of plan changes.
- Tightened requirements prohibiting violations of the state's in-stream surface water quality standards. The previous permit stated that the "ultimate goal" of the permit was to comply with state water quality standards.
- DEQ decided not to require new permittees to report quarterly to the agency about visual inspections of their discharge site and discharges or, if applicable, turbidity meter monitoring results, due to limited DEQ staff resources. This requirement was in the earlier draft permit. However, permittees must document all required monitoring and inspections, and keep this documentation on-site and updated. The permittee must also be able to provide this monitoring information to DEQ within three working days if requested.
How existing and new permittees are affected
All 1200-C permittees with existing construction projects will need to submit a permit renewal application to DEQ by Dec. 31, 2005 to continue coverage under the renewed 1200-C permit after that date. DEQ permit officers have been communicating with permittees to make sure permittees receive permit renewal applications. All existing permittees and new permittees applying for the permit before June 1, 2006 will not be subject to the permit application and plan public notice and review requirement. Existing and new permittees will not be subject to the new, more stringent pollution load limit/TMDL requirements until Oct. 1, 2006.
DEQ is making these permit revisions as a result of extensive meetings DEQ held earlier this year with parties interested in or affected by the permit, as well as its review of comments received during the formal public comment period.
Georgia EPD Releases Draft Plan to Manage Coastal Groundwater
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has proposed a plan to help Georgia's coastal communities move toward sustainable management of their groundwater supply, while still meeting the water needs of the rapidly growing region.
The draft Coastal Georgia Water and Wastewater Permitting Plan for Managing Saltwater Intrusion is based on the scientific findings of a seven-year study of groundwater use in the 24-county coastal area. The study, called the Sound Science Initiative, addresses the concern that pumping of groundwater in the region is allowing saltwater to seep into the Floridan aquifer, the principal source of drinking water.
"This plan reflects the input EPD received from citizens during public meetings this past summer," said EPD Director Carol A. Couch. "I believe it strikes a positive balance between the desire to sustain growth in this popular region, and the need to maintain this important source of drinking water."
The draft plan addresses water management issues in three geographical areas:
- Chatham, Bryan, Liberty and portions of Effingham counties
- Glynn County
- The other 19 counties in the coastal region
In Chatham, Bryan, Liberty and portions of Effingham counties, the use of Floridan aquifer water will be restricted to total amounts already permitted for the area, with the goal of reducing water withdrawals through time. Under the proposed plan, requests from municipalities in Chatham and Effingham counties that seek additional water from the Floridan aquifer will be considered, with the condition that they honor existing agreements to also tie into Savannah's surface water pipelines. In Glynn County, no more Upper Floridan wells will be allowed in a small area underlying Brunswick due to an existing saltwater plume in the aquifer. In the remaining 19 counties, applications for additional upper Floridan water will be considered for all uses. However, in all 24 counties, permit holders will need to meet new requirements for water conservation and reuse.
Illinois EPA Announces $597,000 Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program Funding for DuPage River Watersheds
The Illinois EPA (IEPA) announced that it has approved a $597,000 Nonpoint Source Pollution Control Program grant, which will enable a group of concerned communities to continue efforts to extend current study efforts in the DuPage River and Salt Creek Watersheds.
The DuPage River/Salt Creek Workgroup will administer the activities, with the local partners - municipalities, sanitary districts, and county government - providing the remaining $398,000 needed to complete this phase of the project. The project, which will begin January 1, 2006 and run through August 31, 2008, will provide funds for a local project coordinator, expand the local dissolved oxygen monitoring system, and complete a biological habitat assessment and dissolved oxygen improvement feasibility study.
The grant is being provided through the IEPA as part of Section 319 of the Federal Clean Water Act. The purpose of IEPA's Section 319 Program is to work with local government and other organizations to protect water quality in Illinois through the control of non-point source pollution. The program provides funds to implement projects that utilize cost-effective best management practices to protect Illinois' water resources.
"There has been wonderful involvement by municipal partners throughout the watershed," said IEPA Director Doug Scott. "The project will assist the local communities that are involved in water quality protection to better select the best management practices to improve water quality on the East and West Branches of the DuPage River and Salt Creek. In the long run, this project should help communities implement the most cost effective water quality improvement projects possible."
Salt Creek and the East and West Branches of the DuPage River have been listed on the Section 303(d) List of Impaired Waters by the State of Illinois. Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for each of these streams have been prepared by the IEPA and approved by the USEPA. Compliance with the recommendations contained in these TMDL reports would require significant financial commitments on the part of all of the communities in the watersheds. Watershed stakeholders identified early on that considerable economic and environmental benefits could be realized if a coordinated effort was made.
To that end, a group of local communities, publicly owned treatment works, and environmental citizen organizations have come together to form the DuPage River/Salt Creek Workgroup. Their mission is to bring together a diverse coalition of stakeholders to work together to preserve and enhance water quality in the Eas