EPA, DOJ settle with Mobil for over $5.5 million for Clean Water Act violations on Navajo lands

August 27, 2004

The EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice have announced a $5.5 million settlement with Mobil Exploration and Producing U.S. Inc., for numerous spills from its oil production activities on the Navajo Nation lands in southeastern Utah.

The settlement includes a $515,000 penalty and requires the company to spend about $4.7 million on field operation improvements to reduce spill incidents. Mobil will also spend approximately $327,000 on environmental projects which include sanitation facilities and construction of a drinking water supply line extension that will provide running water to 17 of the remote residences located on the oil production fields. Currently, local residents may drive as long as an hour to fill 55-gallon drums with drinking water.

In March 1998, the EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit claiming that between December 1991 and March 1999 approximately 83 spills at Mobil's oil fields reached tributaries of the San Juan River, a violation of the federal Clean Water Act. Mobil's other violations include failure to prepare and fully implement an adequate spill prevention and control plan, failure to implement existing plans, failure to prepare a facility response plan or conduct drills and training, and failure to notify the EPA of discharge events.

California EPA Air Resources Board approves sale of "Exhaustonator"

The California EPA Air Resources Board has approved the sale of the "Exhaustonator," distributed by KHS Distributors of Toms River, NJ. The Exhaustonator provides enhanced fuel combustion, maximizes fuel efficiency, restores original engine horsepower, and reduces emissions of hydrocarbons (HC), carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) when used on cars, trucks, and buses.

The Exhaustonator can help vehicles meet tailpipe emissions standards, both in California and nationwide.

More information, including an emissions inspection report, is available on the manufacturer's Website at www.JCWhitney.com.

FMCSA Issues Limitations on Issuance of Commercial Driver's Licenses With Hazardous Materials Endorsement

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a rule to amend the compliance date in its May 2003 Interim final rule (69 FR 51391) regarding limitations on state issuance of a commercial driver's license with a hazardous materials endorsement.

States must not issue, renew, transfer or upgrade a CDL with a hazardous materials endorsement unless the Transportation Security Administration has first conducted a background records check of the applicant and determined that the applicant does not pose a security risk warranting denial of the hazardous materials endorsement.

FMCSA is changing the date for compliance with the new regulations to January 31, 2005.

Ohio EPA, Trutec Settle Hazardous Waste Violations for $40,000

Ohio EPA and Trutec have reached an agreement involving hazardous waste violations at the company's Springfield and Urbana locations. As part of the $40,000 settlement, Trutec paid Ohio EPA $25,000. Trutec will receive a $15,000 credit for purchasing and installing a $214,000 degreaser unit, which is expected to reduce the amount of hazardous waste generated by the company.

Trutec operates two facilities in Ohio: a heat treatment plant in Springfield and an electro-deposition plant in Urbana. In November and December 2000, Ohio EPA inspectors at the Springfield facility found hazardous waste violations, which included failure to: train employees about managing hazardous waste, conduct weekly inspections of emergency equipment, keep hazardous waste containers closed, and date and label hazardous waste containers. Similar hazardous waste violations also were discovered at Trutec's Urbana facility.

Trutec has since come into compliance with hazardous waste regulations. The $25,000 civil penalty will be deposited into the hazardous waste cleanup fund administered by Ohio EPA.

EPA Awards Largest-Ever Grant To Study Health Effects of Air Pollution

The University of Washington was awarded a $30 million grant by the EPA to study the connection between air pollution and cardiovascular disease. The grant is the largest ever awarded by the EPA for scientific research, and will contribute to a better understanding of the long-term health effects of breathing air contaminated by particulate matter and other pollutants.

In a recent evaluation of the EPAÆs research on particulate matter (PM), the National Research Council highlighted the need for a prospective epidemiology study to extend the governmentÆs knowledge of long-term PM exposure. This grant responds to this need by examining the association between ambient air pollution, including fine particles and other pollutants, and the progression of cardiovascular disease in 8,700 people ages 50 to 89.

The study will track people from varied ethnic groups who live in cities across the country. Researchers will evaluate whether long-term exposure to fine particles is associated with specific changes in atherosclerosis (buildup of plaque in the arteries) and other factors associated with heart disease. The University of Washington will provide EPA with an annual scientific report of data and findings which will in turn be used to inform research and regulatory decisions.

Particulates come from a variety of sources including: coal-burning power plants, factories, construction sites, cars, trucks, buses, tilled fields, unpaved roads, stone crushing, and the burning of wood. Other particles may be formed in the air when gases emitted from burning fuels react with sunlight and water vapor. Premature death and other health problems are strongly related to sulfates in the air and ambient concentrations of fine particles less than 2.5 micrograms. Long-term exposure to ambient, airborne particulate matter is associated with increased mortality, largely due to cardiovascular causes and serious respiratory problems. In addition, chronic exposure to particulates can cause decreased development of lung function among school-age children.

For more information about this grant, visit: http://www.epa.gov/pmresearch/pm_grant.

Pennsylvania DEP Revises Notice of Intent/Application Form for NPDES Construction Stormwater Permit

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has revised the Notice of Intent/Application for Coverage under a general or individual NPDES permit for stormwater discharges associated with construction activities. These revisions are primarily in response to the environmental issues posed by problematic geology, soils, waste or fill materials that may be present during construction activities. In addition, other revisions were necessary to reflect new department guidance and policies, and to facilitate the departmentÆs data collection and monitoring needs. This revised NOI/application, document number 3930-PM-WM0035 Rev. 8/2004, replaces all previous versions of the NOI/application and can be obtained from DEP Regional Offices, County Conservation District Offices and on the DEP website.

Revisions to the NOI/application include new requirements for project location information and their method of collection, identification of geologic conditions that provide a potential for contaminated runoff from project sites, compliance coordination with the DEPÆs Management of Fill Policy, and clarification of the requirements of the PCSM plan to ensure that applicants supply adequate information on the planned post-construction stormwater management BMPs.

DEP recommends that applicants review and become familiar with the revised form and instructions prior to submitting new applications. Questions regarding the use of the revised NOI/application should be referred to the appropriate County Conservation District Office or DEP Regional Office.

For more information, visit the DEP website at www.dep.state.pa.us by entering the keyword "stormwater". The revised NOI/application can be found under the subject "General Permit."