Environmental Enforcement Up in 2019

February 17, 2020
In Fiscal Year 2019, EPA continued to focus its resources in areas that will have a major environmental or human health impact, support the integrity of environmental regulatory programs, create a deterrent effect, or promote cleanups. In FY 2019, EPA also continued to encourage self-disclosure and correction of violations, resulting in an increase of entities that used this option to return to compliance.
“EPA’s enforcement program is focused on achieving compliance with environmental laws using all tools available,” said EPA Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine. “Our goal is to eliminate inefficient duplication with state programs, and to direct federal resources to help achieve the Agency’s core mission of improving air quality, providing for clean and safe water, revitalizing land and preventing contamination, and ensuring the safety of chemicals in the marketplace.”
Highlights of EPA’s FY 2019 enforcement and compliance achievements include:
  • Voluntary self-disclosed violations at over 1,900 facilities expediting return to compliance, an estimated 20% increase compared to FY 2018.
  • Investment of over $4.4 billion in actions and equipment that achieve compliance with the law and control pollution, an increase of over $400 million from FY 2018.
  • $471.8 million in combined Federal administrative and judicial civil penalties and criminal fines, the highest total of all but four of the past ten years.
  • Commitments to reduce, treat, or eliminate 347.2 million pounds of pollution (air, toxics, and water), the highest value in the past four years.
  • 7.56 million pounds of emissions prevented from mobile sources, an increase of nearly 6.9 million pounds from FY 2018.
  • 170 criminal cases opened, an increase from 128 in FY 2018, continuing to reverse the downward trend that began after 2011.
  • A total of 137 criminal defendants charged, an increase from 107 in FY 2018, reversing a downward trend that began after 2013.
  • Commitments for $570.4 million in new site cleanup work, $283 million in reimbursement of EPA’s costs, and more than $108 million in oversight billed, totaling $961 million, an increase of over $349 million from FY 2018.
  • Cleanups and redevelopment at over 160 sites through use of Superfund enforcement tools, an increase of 6 sites from 2018.
EPA focused its enforcement and compliance resources on the most serious environmental violations by developing and implementing national program priorities, called National Compliance Initiatives (NCIs). EPA’s NCIs focus federal enforcement and compliance resources to advance the Agency Strategic Plan's objectives to improve air quality, provide for clean and safe water, ensure chemical safety, and improve compliance with our nation's environmental laws while enhancing shared accountability between the EPA and states and tribes with authorized environmental programs. Those initiatives are:
In addition to the NCIs, EPA has made reduction of children’s exposure to lead a priority. EPA’s lead paint enforcement activities in FY 2019 are summarized here. EPA completed 117 federal enforcement actions in FY 2019 to ensure that entities such as renovation contractors, landlords, realtors and others comply with rules that protect the public from exposure to lead from lead-based paint. More information on the Agency’s enforcement activities related to lead.
To see EPA’s FY 2019 Annual Environmental Enforcement Results, including case highlights, go to: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/enforcement-annual-results-fiscal-year-2019
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$250,000 Fine for Illegal Discharge of Industrial Wastewater to Sewer
Jeremiah Young, 38, of El Dorado,CA pleaded guilty to unlawful discharge of industrial wastewater, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
Young was an assistant operator for Community Fuels from 2014 to 2016. Community Fuels is registered in San Joaquin County by American Biodiesel Inc. and manufactured biodiesel fuel on property leased from the Port of Stockton
According to court documents, Young participated in a scheme to discharge hundreds of thousands of gallons of polluted wastewater by various unlawful means, including the discharge of wastewater directly into Stockton’s sewer system after tampering with pH readings. Young also caused a discharge on a different date by using an improvised hose system into a floor drain that led to the city’s sewer system.
Young’s older brother and co-defendant, Christopher Young, 41, of El Dorado Hills, was charged with conspiracy, 12 counts of tampering with monitoring equipment, two counts of unlawful discharge of industrial wastewater, one count of false statements, and one count of witness tampering. Christopher Young was the Director of Operations at the Stockton plant. The charges against him are pending; he is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
On July 8, 2019, U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller sentenced American Biodiesel for violations of the Clean Water Act when it allowed the discharge of industrial wastewater into the City of Stockton sewer system. American Biodiesel admitted to tampering with monitoring devices and methods designed to detect such violations, and admitted that employees tampered with pH recordings and flow meters for the purpose of underreporting acid and pollutant levels and volumes that would have exceeded the figures allowed under the city’s regulations.
This case is the product of an investigation by the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office, City of Stockton Municipal Utilities Department, San Joaquin County Environmental Health Department, Port of Stockton, and California Department of Toxic Substances Control. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Philip A. Scarborough and Paul Hemesath are prosecuting the case.
Young is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Mueller on April 27. He faces a maximum statutory penalty of three years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 or more if the court finds that the offense resulted in a pecuniary loss. The actual sentence, however, will be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
Tank Vessel Operator to Pay $1.75 Million for Bilge Waste Discharge
Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (Singapore) PTE LTD. (Bernhard), a vessel operating company, pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of maintaining false and incomplete records relating to the discharge of bilge waste from the tank vessel Topaz Express, a felony violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships.
U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson of the District of Hawaii accepted the guilty plea.  Chief Engineer Skenda Reddy and vessel Second Engineer Padmanaban Samirajan previously pled guilty to their involvement in the offense.
Under the terms of the plea agreement, Bernhard will pay a total fine of $1,750,000 and serve a 4-year term of probation.  This is the largest fine ever imposed in the District of Hawaii for this type of offense.  Bernhard further must implement a robust Environmental Compliance Plan, which applies to all 38 vessels operated by the company that call on U.S. ports.
“The Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice is charged with enforcing federal and international laws designed to protect our oceans from pollutants,” said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.  “Under those laws, vessel operators are required to either properly treat their bilge waste onboard before discharging it into the sea or offload their bilge waste to disposal facilities.  This case should serve as a deterrent to individuals and companies that flout our laws and pollute our oceans.”
“Prosecutions like this one are important because, by holding companies accountable for the harm they cause to the ocean’s ecosystem, we do our part to protect the planet and its finite resources.  In Hawaii, we are surrounded by the beauty of the Pacific Ocean, and companies that intentionally damage the ocean’s ecosystem must be held accountable for their criminal conduct,” said U.S. Attorney Kenji M. Price.  “My office will continue to bring to justice companies that illegally discharge bilge waste into the ocean and then attempt to conceal their misconduct.”
“This case was built on the hard work of Coast Guard inspectors and investigators and we appreciate the strong partnership with the Department of Justice to hold polluters accountable,” said Capt. Arex Avanni, commander, Coast Guard Sector Honolulu.  “All vessel owners and operators are responsible for maintaining their vessels and preventing illegal discharges of oily wastes into the ocean. We are committed to the people of Hawaii to protect our waters and the Pacific Ocean from the damage caused by pollution from illegal dumping.”
According to court documents and information presented in court, the defendants illegally dumped bilge waste from the Topaz Express directly into the ocean, without properly processing it through pollution prevention equipment.  Bilge waste typically contains oil contamination from the operation and cleaning of machinery on the vessel. The defendants admitted that these illegal discharges were not recorded in the vessel’s oil record book as required by law.  Specifically, on three separate occasions between May and July 2019, Bernhard, acting through Chief Engineer Skenda Reddy and Second Engineer Padmanaban Samirajan, its employees, used a portable pneumatic pump and hose to bypass the ship’s pollution prevention equipment and discharge bilge waste directly into the ocean.  They then failed to record the improper overboard discharges in the vessel’s oil record book. 
Additionally, during the U.S. Coast Guard’s inspection of the Topaz Express, Reddy destroyed paper sounding sheets and altered a copy of the vessel’s electronic sounding log, in an effort to conceal how much bilge waste had been discharged overboard without being processed through the vessel’s pollution prevention equipment.
6 Months Jail Term for Illegal Dumping
An Ohio man was sentenced to six months of incarceration for illegally dumping waste that spilled into a waterway in Yellow Creek Township.
“There’s a stiff price for treating our environment like a dumping ground,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said. “This sentence fits the crime.”
Common Pleas Judge Megan Bickerton sentenced Christopher Joy, 35, to six months at the Eastern Ohio Correction Center and three years of probation. He could be imprisoned for two years if he violates probation terms.
Joy pleaded guilty to complicity to illegal open dumping of solid wastes for helping another man, Timothy Patrick, dump 31 drums of waste down a ravine in July 2017.
One of the 55-gallon drums burst open and leaked hydraulic oil into a stream that leads to Yellow Creek and the Ohio River. Emergency response teams from the state and federal environmental protection agencies contained the spill before it reached the river.
Patrick is charged with illegal transportation of hazardous waste and illegal open dumping of solid wastes. His jury trial is scheduled to start on April 21.
Yost’s Environmental Enforcement Section is handling the prosecutions. Both cases were investigated jointly by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Environmental Enforcement Unit, Ohio EPA’s Special Investigations Unit, U.S. EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and the Columbiana County Sheriff’s Office.
Arkansas On-Track Assistance Meeting Program for Air Permits
The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Office of Air Quality (OAQ) has launched a new assistance program for facilities subject to permitting for air emissions. The On-Track Assistance Meeting Program, available through DEQ’s ePortal, allows a facility to request a meeting shortly after issuance of a draft or final permit with an inspector from the facility’s area and an OAQ permit engineer to ensure a common understanding of permit requirements, DEQ policy, and inspector expectations.
By using an online form, facilities can request a meeting shortly after the draft or final issuance of an initial permit, significant modification, or a permit renewal. During the On-Track Assistance meeting, OAQ personnel will discuss permit requirements, how DEQ interprets key provisions, and what the inspector will look for during an inspection. The form to request a meeting is available on DEQ’s website: https://eportal.adeq.state.ar.us/?FormTag=Air_OTA.
The On-Track Assistance meeting ensures that the facility, the OAQ permit branch, and the OAQ compliance branch have a common understanding of how to interpret permit provisions and prevent potential confusion that could result in unintentional violations. DEQ expects that this program will help ensure compliance and foster a mutually beneficial working relationship between regulated entities and the OAQ.
MPCA closes 109 enforcement cases in second half of 2019
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announced it has concluded 109 enforcement cases in the second half of 2019. Environmental enforcement investigations often take several months, in some cases more than a year, to complete the investigation and issue final enforcement documents to regulated parties. Penalties are calculated using several factors, including harm done to the environment, the economic benefit the company gained by failing to comply with environmental rules and laws, or how responsive and cooperative a regulated party was in correcting problems.
Imposing monetary penalties is only part of the MPCA’s enforcement process. Agency staff continue to provide assistance, support, and information on the steps and tools necessary to bring any company, individual, or local government back into compliance.
Enforcement cases with net penalty amounts of $5,000 or more July - December 2019
Public Date
Company or Individual(s)
Net Penalty
Aboveground tanks: Failed to document proper inspection and/or closure of underground piping and storage tanks. Failed to fix or replace broken hoses, which allowed oil to spill on the ground, and used improper leak testing methods.
Air quality: Improper operation and maintenance of pollution control equipment, record keeping, performance testing, and report submissions to the MPCA. Failed to properly manage stormwater, truck traffic dust, and hazardous wastes.
Aboveground tanks: Failed to address excessive corrosion on storage tanks and piping, to properly install overfill prevention and cathodic protection on several storage tanks, and to test for soil contamination under several removed tanks.
Nationwide DI Water Solutions LLC
Industrial wastewater: Failed to properly monitor some wastewater discharges, periodically exceeded discharge limits for copper and zinc, and failed to collect and submit samples from designated monitoring locations.
Mike Thomas
Two Harbors
Construction stormwater: Began a construction project without obtaining required stormwater permits, sediment controls were not installed at the project site, exposed soils were not stabilized as required, and project personnel were not properly trained to inspect and implement stormwater pollution prevention practices.
Pike Hills Dairy LLC
Little Falls
Feedlots: Liquid manure and manure-contaminated runoff flowed from the property to the Mississippi River. The owner did not properly report or attempt to clean up the discharge.
Multiple locations in NE Minnesota
Underground tanks: Failed to complete required notification forms for underground storage tank work at several gas stations in northeastern Minnesota. Failed to perform a tank-system upgrade project at the College of St. Scholastica.
S.J. Louis Construction Inc.
Nobles County
Construction stormwater: Failed to provide required stabilization of exposed soils, install erosion controls, or conduct inspections on water-pipeline construction site, which created a pollution threat to nearby impaired waters, including Okabena Lake, Little Rock Creek, and the Little Rock River.
Lewis & Clark Regional Water Systems
Nobles County
Construction stormwater: Failed to provide required stabilization of exposed soils, install erosion controls, or conduct inspections on water-pipeline construction site, which created a pollution threat to nearby impaired waters, including Okabena Lake, Little Rock Creek, and the Little Rock River.
Meeker County
Construction stormwater: Failed to install required erosion and sediment controls on the site of a highway construction project. The project design did not include proper post-construction stormwater management features.
Rawlings Sporting Goods Inc.
Air quality: Exceeded limit for organic hazardous air pollutant (12-month rolling average) for spray booths at its coating facility.
Kost Materials
Wastewater: Failed to apply for required stormwater permit coverage, caused nuisance conditions to wetlands and Audubon Waterfowl Production Areas, and failed to notify the agency of the nuisance conditions.
Kingswood Properties LLC
Construction stormwater: Failed to apply for required stormwater permit coverage before beginning construction activity. Adversely affected 1.27 acres of wetland with sediment runoff. Failed to develop the required stormwater pollution prevention plan. Failed to install proper stormwater controls.
Angel L Hedlund, Shawn A Hedlund, Hedlund Backhoe Service
Subsurface sewage treatment systems: Completed 10 SSTS designs, eight installations, and 36 inspections in the state without a license. Identified non-compliant septic systems as compliant. Identified two non-compliant systems as compliant in two point-of-sale inspections.
Reconserve of Minnesota Inc.
Air quality: Failed to conduct monthly sawdust analysis for five months in 2017, exceeded limits for refuse-derived and mixed municipal solid waste fuel. Failed to submit semiannual reports on time. Failed to complete performance testing on time and failed to maintain documentation of the corrective actions taken.
National Vision Inc.
St. Cloud
Hazardous waste: Failed fully train employees on proper waste handling and emergency procedures. Failed to properly manage, label and store its hazardous waste. Failed to evaluate waste a hazardous substance. Failed to appoint a hazardous waste emergency coordinator.
Wendell Lorentz & Sons Construction
Construction stormwater: Failed to apply for required stormwater permit coverage before beginning construction activity. Adversely affected 1.27 acres of wetland with sediment runoff. Failed to develop the required stormwater pollution prevention plan. Failed to install proper stormwater controls.
Beemer Well Drilling Inc.
Subsurface sewage treatment systems: Failed to keep proper records relating to residential septic-system maintenance. Land-applied septage excessively, which potentially put groundwater at risk. Failed to properly train employees.
Anderson Coatings
Hazardous waste and solid waste: Operated a Class IV waste combustor and burned approximately 30 gallons of solid waste per month from 1995 to 2013 without the required permits. Produced waste sandblast and paint-related hazardous materials, but failed to obtain a hazardous waste generator license. Failed to evaluate wastes and handle them as hazardous waste. Failed to properly collect, store and transport solid waste accumulated at the facility.
Fiber Commercial Technologies LLC
Air quality: Failed to conduct or document required inspections for baghouses, HEPA filters, and cyclones. Failed to record staff training on control equipment. Failed to record pressure drop or visible emissions for low temperature fabric filters, pressure drops for cyclones, and the condition of filters. Failed to install a pressure drop gauge to conduct required daily pressure drop checks.
Anthony Kangas, Kangas Enterprise Inc.
Subsurface sewage treatment systems: Improper handling and land application of septage, improper record keeping, and inadequate staff training and supervision.
Somme LLC, Verdun LLC
Air quality: Failed to calculate VOC emissions and track particulate matter emissions. Failed to develop a required operation and maintenance plan. Failed to conduct daily visual inspections of the panel filters. Failed to record visual inspections and when panel filters were changed. Failed to submit the initial hood evaluation.
Municipal wastewater: Discharged approximately 3,600 gallons of untreated sewage to waters in the Coon Creek Watershed. Failed to notify the Minnesota Duty Officer of discharge. Didn’t attempt to recover, stop, or minimize the discharge of untreated sewage.
Enforcement cases with net penalty amounts of less than $5,000
July - December 2019
  • Minnerath Construction Inc., for construction stormwater violations in Watkins
  • Voigts Dirt Service LLC, for wastewater violations in Solway
  • Floe Craft LLC, for hazardous waste violations in McGregor
  • Waterous Company, for air quality violations in South St. Paul
  • Gerdau Ameristeel US Inc., for air quality violations in South St. Paul
  • Wheaton-Dumont Co-op Elevator, for solid waste violations in Tenney
  • Associated Milk Producers Inc., for industrial wastewater violations in Paynesville
  • Al-Corn Clean Fuel, for wastewater violations in Claremont
  • CWMF Corp., for hazardous waste violations in Waite Park
  • Olmsted County, for air quality violations in Rochester
  • City of Thief River Falls, for wastewater violations in Thief River Falls
  • Mann Lake LTD, for hazardous waste violations in Hackensack
  • Alex Adams and Danielle Adams, for solid waste violations in Frazee
  • Ronald Wacker, for solid waste violations in New York Mills
  • The Sierra Company LLC, for air quality violations in Minnetonka
  • Assured Septics LLC, for subsurface sewage treatment system violations in Milaca
  • RR Donnelley, for air quality violations in Chanhassen
  • Northern States Power, dba Xcel Energy, for air quality violations in Bayport
  • Retailer Services Corporation, for air quality violations in Anoka
  • Arctic Cat Inc., for air quality violations in Thief River Falls
  • Bruce Levan and Jane Levan, for solid waste violations in Elgin
  • Waste Management of MN Inc., for solid waste violations in Bemidji
  • Corn Plus, for air quality violations in Winnebago
  • Henninger Construction LLC, for construction stormwater violations in Elysian
  • JoAnn Gilbertson, for construction stormwater and solid waste violations in Pelican Rapids
  • Veit & Company Inc., for construction stormwater violations in Eden Prairie
  • Levi Miller and Susan Miller, for subsurface sewage treatment system violations in Canton
  • David Frandle, for subsurface sewage treatment system violations in Blue Earth
  • Dan Swartzentruber and Sarah Swartzentruber, for subsurface sewage treatment system violations in Canton
  • Brett Wirth and Lisa Wirth, for subsurface sewage treatment system violations in Blue Earth
  • Ammon Troyer and Anna Troyer, for subsurface sewage treatment system violations in Mabel
  • City of Eden Prairie, for construction stormwater violations in Eden Prairie
More details on all 109 cases completed during the second half of 2019 can be found on the MPCA’s Compliance and Enforcement web page.
Small Altitude Changes Could Cut the Climate Impact of Aircraft
Contrails — the white, fluffy streaks in the sky that form behind planes — can harm the environment. Now, scientists report in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology that small flight path adjustments could reduce the climate impact of these emissions.
Contrails materialize at cruising altitude when aircraft emit black carbon particles from incomplete fuel combustion, providing a surface on which moisture condenses to form ice particles. Most contrails last only a few minutes. But if the atmosphere is supersaturated with ice, these tracks can spread and mix with other contrails and cirrus clouds, forming “contrail cirrus” that last up to 18 hours. Previous studies suggested contrails and the clouds they induce have as much of a warming impact on climate as planes’ CO2emissions. Marc Stettler and colleagues wanted to refine the models to more accurately predict the characteristics and impact of contrails, and to evaluate mitigation strategies, such as altering flight paths.
The team combined their recently developed model to estimate black carbon emissions for specific aircraft engine types and power with a model to estimate the characteristics and climate impact of contrails from individual flights and detailed weather information. In a study of Japan’s airspace, they showed that 80% of warming caused by contrails could be traced to a mere 2.2% of flights. They then showed that making only 1.7% of aircraft fly 2,000 feet higher or lower than their originally planned flight path could limit formation of contrails, thereby reducing their warming effect by 59.3%. Unfortunately, diversions can also make flight paths less efficient, leading to increased CO2 emissions, and previous studies that considered lateral diversions indicated this could offset any reduction in contrails. But by targeting the few flights that cause the most warming contrails and only making small altitude changes, the team found the reduction in contrail warming outweighed the CO2 penalty. In the long term, if conventional engines were also replaced with cleaner-burning engines, overall contrail impact could be reduced by 91.8%, the researchers say.
The authors acknowledged funding from the Lloyd's Register Foundation and Imperial College London.
‘Rehab Addict’ and ‘Bargain Mansions’ Cited for Lead Paint Violations
EPA has reached settlements with Detroit Renovations LLC and Growing Days LLC to resolve alleged violations of federal regulations intended to reduce the hazards of lead paint exposure during renovations.
The companies are respectively affiliated with two home renovation television programs, “Rehab Addict” and “Bargain Mansions.” The alleged violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act’s Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP Rule) depicted on the shows include performing home renovations for compensation without obtaining EPA renovation firm certification and failure to comply with several work practice standards required for the safe handling and disposal of lead-based paint.
“It’s important that consumers and contractors understand that renovating older homes can expose residents and workers to hazardous lead dust,” said Susan Bodine, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Through these settlements, these companies are putting safeguards in place to ensure the safety of their renovation work and helping to protect children from exposure to lead-based paint.”
Under the terms of the settlements, the companies have agreed to pay civil penalties. Further, the companies and their hosts, Nicole Curtis of “Rehab Addict” and Tamara Day of “Bargain Mansions,” will take steps to ensure compliance with lead-based paint regulations in future renovation projects and to educate the public about lead-based paint hazards and appropriate renovation procedures in self-produced videos, social media postings, and public events.
EPA also reached separate settlements with four Kansas City area contractors for multiple alleged RRP Rule violations identified with renovation work completed on various “Bargain Mansions” episodes. Remco Demolition LLC, Open Door Homes Inc., Homoly and Associates Inc., and KC Demo Inc. have each come into compliance with the RRP Rule and agreed to pay civil penalties.
For all the alleged renovation violations associated with the two television programs, EPA will collect combined civil penalties of $59,000.
Lead-contaminated dust from chipped or peeling lead-based paint in homes built prior to 1978 is one of the most common causes of elevated blood lead levels in children. Infants and children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure because their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults do, and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead. They can be exposed from multiple sources and may experience irreversible and lifelong health effects. Lead dust can be generated when lead-based paint deteriorates or is disturbed.
About 3.6 million American households have children under 6 years of age who live in homes with lead exposure hazards. According to the CDC, about 500,000 American children ages 1-5 have blood lead levels at or above the CDC blood lead reference value (level at which CDC recommends public health actions begin).
Reducing childhood lead exposure and its associated health impacts is a top priority for EPA. See these EPA websites for additional lead paint information:
Eaton Corporation (Cooper Power Systems LLC) Showcased by EPA for Lead Reductions
At an event in Greenwood, S.C., EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker announced the 2018 Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) National Analysis. Findings from this publicly available report show an increase in recycling of TRI chemical wastes nationwide and indicate that companies continue to find ways to implement new source reduction activities and reduce the quantities of TRI chemicals that they release into the environment. Eaton Corporation (Cooper Power Systems LLC) has made a concerted effort, beginning in 2012, to eliminate lead from its capacitor cover joints by replacing the material with non-leaded solders and an epoxy bonded cover.  The facility aims to have eliminated lead from all products manufactured at this site by the end of 2020.
“By providing the data in the TRI National Analysis, EPA is empowering communities to protect their environment and providing companies with the information they need to work toward a stronger future,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “The latest TRI data continue to demonstrate that under President Trump environmental stewardship and economic growth continue to go hand in hand.”
“Eaton Corporation’s lead and chromium reductions show that it is possible to be a good steward of the environment while remaining economically competitive,” said Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “EPA encourages facilities to learn from their counterparts’ best practices and adopt additional methods for reducing pollution.”
“Lead elimination has been a priority for our facility for the past several years and we’re pleased to say we are on pace to remove lead from products manufactured at this site in 2020,” said Robert Schoenberger, EHS Manager, Eaton. “This directly contributes to achievement of our vision for improving the quality of life and the environment.”
In 2018, facilities in Region 4 reported managing 6.3 billion pounds of production-related chemical waste, 61% of which was managed through recycling. In 2018, 5% of TRI facilities in Region 4 implemented new source reduction activities. Source reduction reporting rates were among the highest in the computers and electronics sector, where 18% of facilities reported at least one source reduction activity.
This year’s National Analysis expands the focus on geographical trends in chemical waste management across the country. New features include profiles exploring the diversity of industrial operations in each EPA region and a closer look at data from the hazardous waste management sector and the aerospace manufacturing sector.
The National Analysis showcases industry practices for managing waste and reducing pollution at nearly 22,000 facilities that submitted TRI data for calendar year 2018. EPA encourages facilities to learn from their counterparts’ best practices and adopt additional methods for reducing pollution.
To further highlight these industry best practices, EPA is holding events in EPA regions at facilities that implemented new source reduction activities. These facilities demonstrate how innovative projects can help industry reduce the generation of chemical pollution and improve their environmental performance.
2018 highlights:
  • Releases of TRI-covered chemicals into the environment from the manufacturing sector were lower than expected based on economic activity.
  • Facilities initiated 3,120 new activities to prevent or reduce the creation of chemical waste.
  • Nationally, the percent of industrial chemical waste that is recycled instead of released continued to increase.
Under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), facilities must report their annual releases of TRI chemicals for the prior calendar year to EPA by July 1. EPA, states and tribes receive TRI data from facilities in industry sectors such as manufacturing, mining, electric utilities and commercial hazardous waste management. The Pollution Prevention Act also requires facilities to submit information on pollution prevention and other waste management activities of TRI chemicals.
To access the 2018 TRI National Analysis, including local data and analyses, visit www.epa.gov/trinationalanalysis.  Information on facility efforts to reduce TRI chemical releases is available at www.epa.gov/tri/p2.
Air Pollution’s Tiny Particles May Trigger Nonfatal Heart Attacks
A Yale-affiliated scientist finds that even a few hours’ exposure to ambient ultrafine particles common in air pollution may potentially trigger a nonfatal heart attack.
Myocardial infarction is a major form of cardiovascular disease worldwide. Ultrafine particles (UFP) are 100 nanometers or smaller in size. In urban areas, automobile emissions are the primary source of UFP.
The study in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives is believed to be the first epidemiological investigation of the effects of UFP exposure and heart attacks using the number of particles and the particle length and surface area concentrations at hourly intervals of exposure.
“This study confirms something that has long been suspected—air pollution’s tiny particles can play a role in serious heart disease. This is particularly true within the first few hours of exposure,” said Kai Chen, Ph.D., assistant professor at Yale School of Public Health and the study’s first author. “Elevated levels of UFP are a serious public health concern.”
UFP constitute a health risk due to their small size, large surface areas per unit of mass, and their ability to penetrate the cells and get into the blood system. “We were the first to demonstrate the effects of UFP on the health of asthmatics in an epidemiological study in the 1990s,” said Annette Peters, director of the Institute of Epidemiology at Helmholtz Center Munich and a co-author of this paper. “Since then approximately 200 additional studies have been published. However, epidemiological evidence remains inconsistent and insufficient to infer a causal relationship.”
This study confirms something that has long been suspected—air pollution’s tiny particles can play a role in serious heart disease. The lack of consistent findings across epidemiological studies may be in part because of the different size ranges and exposure metrics examined to characterize ambient UFP exposure. Chen and his co-authors were interested in whether transient UFP exposure could trigger heart attacks and whether alternative metrics such as particle length and surface area concentrations could improve the investigation of UFP-related health effects.
With colleagues from Helmholtz Center Munich, Augsburg University Hospital and Nördlingen Hospital, Chen examined data from a registry of all nonfatal MI cases in Augsburg, Germany. The study looked at more than 5, 898 nonfatal heart attack patients between 2005 and 2015. The individual heart attacks were compared against air pollution UFP data on the hour of the heart attack and adjusted for a range of additional factors, such as the day of the week, long-term time trend and socioeconomic status.
“This represents an important step toward understanding the appropriate indicator of ultrafine particles exposure in determining the short-term health effects, as the effects of particle length and surface concentrations were stronger than the ones of particle number concentration and remained similar after adjustment for other air pollutants,” said Chen. “Our future analyses will examine the combined hourly exposures to both air pollution and extreme temperature. We will also identify vulnerable subpopulations regarding pre-existing diseases and medication intake.”
Other study authors include Alexandra Schneider, Josef Cyrys, Kathrin Wolf, Margit Heier, and Susanne Breitner of Helmholtz Center Munich, Christa Meisinger and Wolfgang von Scheidt of Augsburg University Hospital, Bernhard Kuch of Nördlingen Hospital, and Mike Pitz of Bavarian State Office for the Environment.
Eco-Friendly Way to Stop Mosquitoes
University of New Mexico scientists may have found a way to do just that with a simple hack that uses ordinary baker's yeast and orange oil to kill mosquito larvae before they grow into the buzzing, biting scourge of humanity.
In a paper published this month in the journal Parasites & Vectors, they report their method is effective against Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which transmit dengue, chikunguya and Zika.
Essential oils from plants like orange oil have known insecticidal properties, said Ivy Hurwitz, PhD, a research associate professor in UNM's Center for Global Health.
"Plants use it to protect themselves against predators," she says, "so we're just using it in a different way."
Simply put, Hurwitz and her collaborators have found a way to inject orange oil into yeast cells. The oil kills the yeast, but tiny droplets of oil remain contained inside the yeast's tough cell wall.
Using a proprietary method, oil residue is washed from the outside of the yeast cells, which are then be dried into a powder -- and later mixed with water to create a solution that can be sprayed on the ponds and puddles where larvae hatch and grow.
It turns out mosquito larvae love to munch on yeast, Hurwitz says, but they succumb when they ingest the oil-laden fungal cells.
The team's patented technology solves the problem of introducing toxic chemicals into the environment that can harm humans and other creatures and tend to lose their effectiveness over time, Hurwitz says.
"It's a step away from using the larvicides that are more harmful to humans, like organophosphates," she says. "A lot of mosquitoes are starting to develop resistance to these things."
And it's a more effective than simply spraying essential oils into the environment, because the oils can be toxic in high concentrations, and they rapidly break down when exposed to sunlight. (The yeast cells protect the oil droplets from degrading in the sun, Hurwitz says.)
In addition, getting the larvae to eat oil-laden yeast means much lower concentrations of oil are required to eradicate them, she says.
Hurwitz and her team started working on the project for about four years ago, when there were worldwide concerns about the newly identified Zika virus. They knew that larvae ate yeast -- and when grown in the lab they were fed fish flakes, which are mostly yeast.
"We thought, 'Why don't we put the essential oil into the yeast?'" Hurwitz says.
Now, collaborators in Brazil are testing the yeast larvicide in controlled field studies with local strains of mosquito larvae. The team has shown in the lab that the method eradicates virtually all of the larvae, but it remains to be seen whether that will be as effective in a natural setting, Hurwitz says.
Further work is being done to test the effectiveness of the method on other mosquito species, she says. Meanwhile, she hopes to see the technology, which uses simple, inexpensive ingredients, adopted in tropical regions where mosquitoes are especially prevalent.
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