EPA Adds Nine New Hazardous Waste Sites to Superfund National Priorities List

July 23, 2004

EPA has addednine final sites to the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). EPA's selection of the sites was based on various factors including risk to human health and the environment; the response urgency needed; maintenance of a strong enforcement program; leverage of other cleanups (polluters wanting to avoid NPL listing can choose to participate in the Superfund Alternative Site cleanup program or enter into a voluntary cleanup agreement with the State); and program management and resource considerations.

The nine sites were proposed in the Federal Register on March 8 for a 60 day public comment period. The proposals received only comments in favor of this NPL listing. The nine sites being added are: Jacobsville Neighborhood Soil Contamination, Evansville, Ind.; Annapolis Lead Mine, Annapolis, Mo.; Picayune Wood Treating, Picayune, Miss.; Grants Chlorinated Solvents Plume, Grants, N. M.; Diaz Chemical Corporation, Holley, N.Y.; Peninsula Boulevard Ground Water Plume, Hewlett, N.Y.; Ryeland Road Arsenic, Heidelberg Township, Pa.; Cidra Ground Water Contamination, Cidra, Puerto Rico; and Pike Hill Copper Mine, Corinth, Vt.

With the addition of nine new sites to the NPL, there are now 1,245 final sites on the NPL (1,087 non-Federal sites and 158 Federal facility sites). Additionally, EPA has proposed 56 sites now waiting final agency action (50 non-federal sites and 6 federal facility sites). If these sites are eventually funded, EPA will work with states, tribes, local communities and other partners in identifying land reuse options and opportunities at these sites. Under its Land Revitalization Agenda announced last year, EPA made a commitment that revitalization and reuse will now be a formal part of planning at every site.

Nationally, more than 70 percent of all Superfund sites are cleaned up by those responsible for the pollution; even when EPA has to fund cleanup, the Agency works to get reimbursed from polluters under its cost recovery program. Since the beginning of the Superfund program, more than $22 billion in cleanup commitments and funding have been provided by the parties responsible for toxic waste sites. The NPL serves primarily informational purposes, identifying for the states and the public those sites that appear to warrant remedial actions. For Federal Register notices and supporting documents for the nine new sites, go to http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/current.htm.

Former Holland American Line Executive Pleads Guilty and is Sentenced for False Compliance Reporting

Richard K. Softye of Seattle, Wash., former Vice President-Operating Line Compliance at Holland America Line and a former career Coast Guard Officer, pled guilty and was sentenced on charges that he falsely reported that the Holland America Line was implementing its portion of a court-ordered environmental compliance plan (ECP). The Court ordered Softye to pay a $10,000 fine, serve three years probation and perform 450 hours of community service.

The ECP was required of Carnival Corporation, the parent company of Holland America. In April 2002, Carnival pled guilty to charges that it made false entries in its Oil Record Books and was ordered to pay $18 million in fines and environmental service projects. Carnival was also ordered to institute an environmental compliance program in all of its lines, including Holland America.

Oil Record Books are required to account for the disposal of waste oil aboard ships. The release of waste oil into the sea can harm fish and other aquatic life. By falsely reporting that Holland America was implementing an environmental compliance audit program, Softye compromised the integrity of Carnival’s ECP and hindered the Court’s ability to oversee Holland America’s compliance.

Sentencing was handed down on June 29 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Miami. The case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division Office in Miami and the FBI. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami.

Weyerhaeuser Co. Settles Air Pollution Violations at Pulp and Paper Plant

Weyerhaeuser Company has settled alleged violations of federal and state air pollution control laws at its pulp and paper plant in northwestern Pennsylvania.

In legal papers filed in federal court in Pittsburgh, the Washington state-based Weyerheauser Company has agreed to pay a $900,000 penalty and improve air pollution controls at its kraft pulp and paper mill in Johnsonburg, Elk County, Pa. This enforcement action began in April 1999, when EPA issued a Clean Air Act violation notice to former plant owner Willamette Industries Inc. Weyerhaeuser acquired this plant in June 2002 after the company’s merger with Williamette.

The federal and state complaints, filed together with a proposed consent decree, alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act and the Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control Act. Specifically, the U.S. and Pennsylvania alleged that Weyerhaeuser modified and operated two coal-fired power boilers without required upgrades to air pollution control equipment. The complaints also alleged that Weyerheauser failed to obtain required state-issued permits limiting sulfur dioxide emissions, and violated Clean Air Act standards applicable to fossil-fuel-fired steam generating units.

As part of the settlement, Weyerhaeuser did not admit liability for the alleged violations.

In the proposed consent decree, which is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval, Weyerhaeuser has agreed to pay a $900,000 penalty ($675,000 to the U.S. and $225,000 to Pennsylvania). In October 2003, the company completed installation of state-of-the-art sulfur dioxide (SO2) scrubbers on the plant’s power boilers, at a cost of about $5.5 million. The consent decree requires Weyerhaeuser to operate these scrubbers in accordance with standards designed to reduce SO2 air emissions by up to 95 percent.

Sulfur dioxide contributes to acid rain which destroys lakes, rivers, streams, and crops, and may aggravate existing respiratory diseases such as asthma and emphysema. In addition, sulfur compounds in the air contribute to impaired visibility July 22, 2004 in large parts of the country.

U.S. Announces Settlement with United Airlines to Resolve Hazardous Waste Violations

The Department of Justice, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the State of California announced that United Airlines, Inc. has agreed to a $850,000 civil penalty to resolve its violations of state and federal hazardous waste laws at its San Francisco International Airport facility.

During inspections conducted by the EPA in 1999 and 2001, inspectors found widespread violations of hazardous waste regulations throughout the United aircraft maintenance center. The violations included failure to close hazardous waste containers, improper labeling of hazardous waste containers, and storage of hazardous waste for longer than the allowable limits.

The facility -- which is United’s only aircraft maintenance center in the nation -- currently employs 5,200 people and operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

As part of the settlement, United worked with the EPA to develop an environmental compliance management system for the facility.

The settlement agreement is subject to approval by a federal bankruptcy court.

Norwegian Shipping Company Sentenced to Pay $3.5 Million Fine

Hoegh Fleet Services, a Norwegian operator of ocean-going cargo ships, was sentenced to pay a $3.5 million fine for seven felony violations of U.S. federal law. Hoegh’s was found guilty of keeping a falsified Oil Record Book, obstruction of justice and making false statements to the U.S. Coast Guard. Hoegh was ordered to develop a comprehensive environmental plan for all 38 of its ships that visit U.S. waters and ordered to serve four years probation.

According to court documents, the investigation began in September 2003 after a whistleblower from the crew of the vessel Hoegh Minerva informed authorities that members of the crew had allegedly used a bypass pipe to route waste oil around the oil-water separator in the ship’s pollution control system. Investigators later uncovered evidence indicating that the ship’s Oil Record Book contained false entries.

Falsifying Oil Record Books can prevent regulators from determining if ships are in compliance with federal law.

Sentencing was handed down on June 29 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The case was investigated by the Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle offices of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and the Los Angeles and Portland Offices of U.S. Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Office with assistance from the Coast Guard Investigative Service and the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Spill Prevention, Preparedness and Response Program. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.

EPA Awarded Highest Marks for E-Government Efforts from OMB

EPA was rated "green" in both status and progress for the Agency's implementation of the E-Government initiatives on the President's Management Agenda (PMA) Scorecard from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Green is the highest level an Agency can achieve and signifies that EPA has met all the standards for success in this category.

The PMA was launched by President Bush in 2001, and is aimed at improving management throughout the federal government. PMA focuses on five areas of government management where significant improvement and progress can be made: human capital, competitive sourcing, improving financial management, E-Government, and budget and performance integration.

In 2003, EPA was selected by OMB to be the lead agency on the government-wide E-Rulemaking initiative, which created an online portal (http://www.regulations.gov) that gives citizens ready access to proposed regulations across all agencies and a streamlined method for submitting comments. Other areas where EPA has made significant strides in E-Government include the National Environmental Information Exchange Network, enterprise architecture, Central Data Exchange, and E-dockets.

To use the new federal electronic rulemaking system, go to http://www.regulations.gov/. The PMA scorecard is available at http://www.results.gov/agenda/scorecard.html.