Implementing one of the key tools under the Clean Water Act for cleaning up the nation's waters, called the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program, could cost between $900 million and $4.3 billion dollars annually, based on a draft cost study released by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and on which public comment is being requested.
The study complements a report issued on June 19 by the National Academy of Sciences recommending changes to the TMDL program. One key finding of the NAS report was that many states lack sufficient data to develop TMDLs for all of their impaired waters. The EPA cost study estimates the costs to states of additional data gathering to support the TMDL program at $17 million per year. Once states have collected good data, they will need to spend up to $69 million annually over the next 15 years to develop plans to clean up some 20,000 impaired waters currently on state lists, according to the cost study.
State costs to develop a cleanup plan for each of these 20,000 waters are projected to average about $52,000 per plan. EPA provides grants to states, tribes and interstate agencies to implement provisions of the Clean Water Act. In the current year, up to $210 million is available to states for TMDL and related clean water work, including monitoring.
Finally, the study projects implementation costs (i.e., costs of installing measures to reduce pollution) of $900 million up to $4.3 billion (an unlikely worst-case scenario) per year. These costs, which would be borne primarily by dischargers, include about 90 percent of the waters currently on state lists. For the remaining waters (such as waters impaired by mining or air deposition), EPA does not have sufficient data to estimate cleanup costs at this time.
EPA also notes that the high-end estimate of more than $4 billion to fully implement the cleanup is a fraction of current national expenditures for clean water.
TMDLs are pollution limits set for a waterway, depending on its use. The limits are used to allocate any needed controls among all the pollutant sources, both point sources (industrial and municipal dischargers) and non-point sources (agriculture and urban runoff).
EPA issued a national rule in July 2000 to revise the existing TMDL program. This rule was scheduled to go into effect in October 2001, but has been the source of considerable debate, as well as a number of law suits. EPA Administrator Christie Whitman announced on July 16 that she is convening a consensus-building process to engage the full spectrum of affected parties in developing a successful TMDL program. The consensus-building process will consider new information, including the recommendations in the recent NAS Report, in an effort to speed up the cleanup of the nation's impaired waters by developing a workable program with broad stakeholder support. To ensure full consideration of new information in an expeditious time frame, she proposed to delay the effective date of the July 2000 rule for 18 months.
EPA expects that more TMDLs will be developed during 2001 than in any prior year in the history of the TMDL program. Many states are beginning to find more efficient approaches for developing TMDLs, including bundling plans for different pollutants in the same water body, or for all water bodies within the same watershed, into a single TMDL. The cost study projects increasing efficiencies as states gain additional experience in TMDL development.
The report was requested in Congressional appropriations language
last fall. EPA is taking public comment for 120 days on the draft
report. A copy of the report and additional information is
available at: http://www.epa.gov/owow/tmdl .
EPA'S IRIS WEBSITE HAS BEEN REDESIGNED
Integrated Risk Information System or IRIS is a database of human health effects that may result from exposure to various substances found in the environment. IRIS was initially developed for EPA staff in response to a growing demand for consistent information on chemical substances for use in risk assessments, decision-making and regulatory activities. The information in IRIS is intended for those without extensive training in toxicology, but with some knowledge of health sciences.
To view the redesigned site and search the IRIS database, visit
5 CHARGED IN MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR SCHEME TO ILLEGALLY IMPORT OZONE-DEPLETING SUBSTANCES INTO THE U.S.
A federal grand jury in New Haven, Conn. has returned an indictment charging five men for allegedly engaging in a scheme to trade in chemicals that deplete the Earth's ozone layer and that are strictly regulated in the United States.
The U.S. District Court in New Haven unsealed the indictment charging Barry Himes of Lyme, Connecticut; John Mucha of Guilford, Connecticut; Richard Pelletier of Bolton, Connecticut.; Douglas Castle of Huntington, New York; and Alfredo Vega of Hato Rey, Puerto Rico.
The men are charged with several felonies related to the importation and sale of hundreds of tons of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) from 1995 to 1998, including conspiracy to make false statements to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Customs Service; conspiracy to defraud the IRS; filing false tax returns; money laundering; and conspiracy to obstruct a federal grand jury. According to the indictment, the defendants developed a complicated importation and sale scheme with the purpose of bringing CFCs into the United States from China, Russia and Canada, and concealing the sales proceeds.
CFCs are subject to strict regulation under the Clean Air Act, because their airborne release damages the Earth's ozone layer. The United States has international treaty obligations under the Montreal Protocol to reduce the production and consumption of ozone depleting chemicals, and the importation of CFCs into the United States is generally limited to already-used CFCs. In addition, CFCs are subject to a substantial excise tax upon sale within the United States.
The indictment alleges that Himes, Mucha, Pelletier and Vega arranged to import CFCs into the United States in the name of shell corporations, in order to impede the IRS in its effort to collect more than $20 million in excise taxes. Himes, Mucha, Pelletier and Castle concealed millions of dollars in profits from the sale of CFCs, according to the indictment. Himes, Mucha and Pelletier are alleged to have concealed about $4.5 million of income received, principally through the diversion of CFC sales proceeds to offshore accounts and shell entities. In turn, dozens of wire transfers and checks were made payable to contractors building a multimillion dollar home for Himes, to a boat dealer for Himes' purchase of a 45-foot cruiser, to a jeweler for a diamond ring and other diamond jewelry for Himes, and to car dealerships for the purchase of vehicles for Himes, Mucha and Pelletier.
Four other individuals in connection with this investigation already have pled guilty to federal charges. Pavel Perlov of Chelsea, Massachusetts pled guilty in February 2001 to conspiracy to obstruct a grand jury investigation. In April 2001, Rudi Endres of Berwyn, Pennsylvania pled guilty to income tax evasion and Juan Carlos Gorbea of San Juan, Puerto Rico pled guilty to conspiracy to defraud the IRS. In May 2001, Alicia Keigwin of Berwyn, Pennsylvania admitted to a misdemeanor tax charge.
Those defendants charged with the false statements conspiracy, the conspiracy to defraud the IRS, the interstate wire fraud, or the conspiracy to obstruct a federal grand jury investigation each face up to five years' imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for each count, if convicted. If Himes, Mucha and Pelletier are convicted on the individual false tax return counts in which they are charged, each face up to three years' imprisonment and $100,000 in fines for each count. If convicted on the money laundering charges, Himes Mucha and Pelletier each face up to twenty years' imprisonment and a $500,000 fine or twice the value of the proceeds they laundered. Himes and Pelletier are charged with fifteen money laundering transactions involving nearly $2 million. Mucha is charged with nine money laundering transactions involving more than $1.8 million.
The case is being investigated by the U.S. EPA, the IRS and the
U.S. Customs Service. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S.
Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut and the
Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department.
TWO MEN INDICTED IN CONSPIRACY TO USE HOMELESS MEN FOR ILLEGAL ASBESTOS REMOVAL IN VIRGINIA
A federal grand jury in Charlottesville, Va., returned an indictment charging two men with conspiring to illegally remove asbestos from aging buildings. The defendants recruited untrained homeless men to remove asbestos from properties in Staunton, Va., without providing the necessary safety equipment or training.
The indictment charges David Stephen Klein, 47, of Heathrow, Fla., with illegally removing and disposing of asbestos, failing to notify federal and state regulators of the asbestos work; and conspiracy to commit those offenses. Klein operated Davold Real Estate Partnership, which owned commercial buildings in the Staunton area, including the Masonic and the Towne Centre buildings.
The indictment also charges Josef Gene Weiss, Jr., 48, of Harrisonburg, Va.., with identical counts. Weiss was employed by Klein to oversee the renovations, according to the indictment.
From about 1996 to 1998, Weiss is alleged to have recruited workers from the Staunton Valley Mission, a shelter for homeless individuals, to remove asbestos from buildings owned by Klein and Davold Partnership. These individuals had no training in proper asbestos abatement methods and they lacked proper safety equipment, according to the indictment.
Asbestos is regulated under the Clean Air Act as a hazardous air pollutant. Exposure to asbestos can cause life-threatening diseases, including lung cancer, scarring of the lungs, and mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the thin membrane lining of the lungs, chest, abdomen, and heart.
Under Clean Air Act regulations, asbestos-containing materials must be removed from demolition and renovation sites in accordance with specific procedures and work practices. Among other things, workers must wet asbestos insulation before stripping it off pipes; seal asbestos debris in leak-tight containers while still wet, to prevent the release of asbestos dust; and dispose of asbestos-contaminated material at an approved hazardous waste facility.
According to the indictment, Klein and Weiss routinely oversaw the progress of the asbestos removal in Klein's buildings. Weiss allegedly directed workers to improperly gather the asbestos waste after it was removed and to put it into plastic trash bags. He then told the workers to dump the bags in Dumpsters and other locations in and around Staunton, Va., in violation of federal asbestos-disposal regulations.
This investigation was conducted by the U.S. EPA Criminal
Investigation Division and the Staunton, Va. Police Department.
The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office for
the Western District of Virginia and the Environment Division of
the Justice Department.
FAA PROPOSES $50,000 CIVIL PENALTY AGAINST SIKORSKY SUPPORT SERVICES FOR HAZARDOUS MATERIALS VIOLATIONS
The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed to assess a $50,000 civil penalty against Sikorsky Support Services, Inc., of Stratford, Conn., for allegedly violating Department of Transportation hazardous materials regulations.
FAA alleged that on October 30, 2000, Sikorsky Support Services, Inc., offered three aviation fuel control units containing residual amounts of a flammable liquid to Federal Express Corporation for transportation by air from Alabama to New Mexico. Residual fuel in the units is considered "dangerous goods in machinery" under the rules and is classified as a hazardous material.
The shipment was discovered by an FAA special security agent at the Federal Express air cargo facility in Albuquerque, three days later. Leaking fuel had saturated a corner of the shipment's outer packing. FAA alleged that Sikorsky Support Services, Inc. offered the shipment of hazardous material when it was not properly classed, described, packaged, labeled, marked or in condition for shipment as required by the regulations. In addition, Sikorsky failed to make emergency response information available.
Sikorsky Support Services, Inc. has 30 days from receipt of the
FAA's enforcement letter to respond to the agency.
PA DEP EXECUTES SEARCH WARRANT TO COLLECT SAMPLES FROM DUMP SITE IN PITTSBURGH
Inspectors from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) collected samples and took photographs of waste stored at 29th St. and Penn Ave. in Pittsburgh's Strip District neighborhood, according to Regional Emergency Response Manager Donald Bialosky.
Earlier this year a DEP contractor secured leaking drums and cleaned up contaminated soil, and property owners Ernest and Despina Smalis were ordered to properly dispose of the waste.
"We had to execute a search warrant to enter the property to take samples because the site's owners denied us access and refused to take samples themselves," Bialosky said. "Once the results of the sampling are known, we will take appropriate action to ensure that the waste is removed."
Bialosky said that DEP is concerned about this site because it can be accessed through an open gate and holes in the fence.
In March, DEP secured more than 40, 55-gallon drums and more than 100, 5-gallon buckets of unknown liquids that were leaking an unknown material onto the ground after receiving a complaint from the City of Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire. All of the wastes and visibly contaminated soil were cleaned up by DEP's contractor and left on site for disposal by the owners.
The material is believed to be from the Smalis' bridge painting operation and is believed to be hazardous. The samples are needed to determine if it is hazardous so it can be disposed properly.
Ernest Smalis currently is serving time at the State Correctional Institution at Pittsburgh for improper disposal of hazardous waste.
The actions taken by DEP are being conducted under the authority
of the PA Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act, a 1988 law that authorizes
it to perform cleanups of hazardous waste sites and recover the
costs from the responsible parties.
Clean Air Act
- August 14: Each producer, importer, or exporter of a Class II controlled
substance must submit a report to EPA providing information on
the production, imports, and exports of such chemicals during the
- September 15: Reformulated gasoline standards detailed under 40 CFR
80.78(a)(1)(v) expire until the following summer.