The agency believes that with this information, states, users of mercury-containing lamps, and lamp recyclers will be able to make more informed decisions when managing fluorescent lamps.
Drum-top mercury lamp crushers are used to improve waste lamp storage and transport, and reduce costs associated with lamp recycling.
Hazardous waste lamps were added to the federal list of universal wastes on January 6, 2000 (64 FR 36465). The preamble to the rule identifies lamp crushing as RCRA treatment and specifically prohibits the use of DTCs for management of fluorescent lamps as universal waste unless an equivalency determination is made. The purpose of the study is to make information available to states and regions that could eventually be used to provide “a demonstration of equivalency to the federal prohibition [on treatment of universal waste without a permit]”
Three of the four devices included the Study usually maintained mercury levels within a containment structure, constructed for the Study, below the OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL) of 0.1 mg/m3. One device generally maintained mercury levels below the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) threshold limit value (TLV) of 0.025 mg/m3 during normal lamp crushing operations. The fourth device failed to maintain mercury levels below the OSHA PEL, even when only low-mercury lamps were crushed (nine of the 12 air samples collected for this device were above the PEL and four of the 12 air samples were more than three times the PEL). This device was eliminated from the Study after two rounds of testing because of concerns about operator health and safety.
EPA’s study demonstrated that during operation of the three DTCs that completed the study, the operator was, at times, exposed to levels of mercury above the TLV and PEL values. Higher exposures typically occurred when a DTC had to be taken off of a drum because the drum was full. This procedure allowed the drum to be open to the room for several minutes.
Goo Gone Might be Needed to Remove Goo Gone Label
EPA fined Orchard Supply Hardware, based in San Jose, Calif., for allegedly selling a pesticide that has not been registered with the federal government. OSH has agreed to pay a $21,960 penalty in this case.
Goo Gone All Purpose Cleaner,” whose label at the time made claims it “washes away germs and bacteria,was found at OSH’s Turlock store in January 2004. When a product is said to control bacteria, viruses or fungi it is being sold with a pesticidal claim. Products making pesticidal claims must be registered as pesticides under federal law.
After the inspector notified the store manager that this product was being sold in violation of law, the product was found at other retail locations in Fresno, Modesto, Capitola and Merced during subsequent inspections in 2004 and 2005.
Pesticide producers and retailers have a responsibility to ensure that the pesticides they sell are registered with the EPA,” said Enrique Manzanilla, the Community and Ecosystems Director for the Pacific Southwest region. “Companies selling or distributing pesticides must ensure that those products are legal or face penalties for federal violations.”
The sale or distribution of an unregistered pesticide is a violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. This federal law requires registration of pesticide products and pesticide production facilities, as well as proper pesticide labeling.
This enforcement action was based on inspections performed by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation.
Consumer Electronics Recycled at No Cost in Arkansas
You, Federal Express, and UNICOR are part of a special effort diverting scrap household electronics from landfills. Send your old or broken electronics for recycling through a free program called Project Green~Fed. Here’s how:
Measure the size of your television, monitor, or other large items for recycling. Then call 1~866~896~8528 to request shipping boxes sent to your home. This is a residential program for Arkansans only. When your shipping box arrives, fill it with computers, monitors, cell phones, or other electronic waste.
Next, call Federal Express at 1~888~777~6040 for no-cost pick-up. Reorder as often as you want, but don’t wait. This is a pilot program, and it lasts only until September 30, 2006.
Recycling reduces the amount of toxic and hazardous substances that may enter the environment through improper disposal. Recycling conserves energy and raw materials by reducing the need to manufacture new products.
What happens next? Your package will be shipped to Texarkana, where parts will be salvaged and used again. UNICOR is committed to recycling and protecting the environment, and ADEQ is proud to support this electronics recycling program
New York DEC Announces Final Model Rule to Help States Implement RGGI
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan announced that the model set of regulations to implement the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) has been finalized. The model rule will now be proposed in each participating state, with New York planning to propose a draft regulation by this fall. The RGGI States also released an amendment to their December 2005 Memorandum of Understanding.
"The finalization of the model rule is another important step towards implementing the RGGI initiative and achieving our goals of reducing emissions that cause global climate change," Commissioner Sheehan said. "Governor George Pataki and all of us at the DEC have been very pleased with the collaborative, public process that has gone into developing this model rule and we look forward to the continuing cooperation with the other RGGI states and our stakeholders on the rulemaking process here in our State."
Under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative ), seven Northeast states agreed to implement a cap-and-trade program to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which are a major contributor to global warming. This will be the first mandatory cap-and-trade program for CO2 emissions in United States history. The states participating in RGGI are: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont. The State of Maryland recently adopted legislation that requires Maryland to join RGGI by June 2007.
In December 2005, the governors from the seven states entered into a historic memorandum of understanding specifying the general framework of the program. On March 23, 2005, the states released draft model regulations that outlined proposed specific requirements for the program. The draft rule was the subject of a 60-day comment period and two public meetings were held. The model set of regulations released today reflects and incorporates many of the comments received and provides detailed rules for the program. Each state will use the model rule as a starting point for obtaining legislative or regulatory approval of the program.
In response to public comments received, the states also agreed to make certain minor modifications to their December 2005 memorandum of understanding. The states agreed to simplify the way the program will incorporate so-called "offset credits"– of greenhouse gas emissions that are achieved outside the electricity sector such as at landfills, farming operations or certain other project sites.
In 2003, Governor George Pataki initiated the RGGI process by sending a letter to the governors of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states inviting them to pursue "a course of cooperation" and work together "to develop a strategy that will help the region lead the nation in the effort to fight global climate change." Since then, State representatives have been working to develop the program, which relies on a flexible, market-based approach to curb power plant emissions, while also promoting greater energy efficiency and energy independence.
The seven RGGI states will launch a regional cap-and-trade system that utilizes emissions credits or allowances to limit the total amount of CO2 emissions. Beginning in 2009, emissions of CO2 from power plants in the region would be capped at current levels – approximately 121 million tons annually – with this cap remaining in place until 2015. The states would then begin reducing emissions incrementally over a four-year period to achieve a 10 percent reduction by 2019. Compared to the emissions increases the region would see from the sector without the program, RGGI will result in an approximately 35 percent reduction by 2020.
Under the cap-and-trade program, the states will issue one allowance, or permit, for each ton of CO2 emissions allowed by the cap. Each plant will be required to have enough allowances to cover its reported emissions. The plants may buy or sell allowances, but an individual plant's emissions cannot exceed the amount of allowances it possesses. The total amount of the allowances will be equal to the emissions cap for the region. with a capacity of 25 megawatts or more will be included under RGGI.
The RGGI states have agreed that at least 25% of a state's allowances are to be dedicated to strategic energy or consumer benefit purposes, such as energy efficiency, new clean energy technologies and ratepayer rebates. A power plant also could purchase these allowances for its own use. The funds generated from these sales will be used for beneficial energy programs.
The RGGI program allows power plants to utilize "offsets" – greenhouse gas emission reduction projects from outside the electricity sector– to account for up to 3.3% of their overall emissions. Offset projects provide generators with additional flexibility to meet their compliance obligations at the lowest cost. A power plant owner/operator will be allowed to select the lowest cost emission reductions and apply them to a portion of the plant's emissions requirement. Examples of offset projects include: natural gas end-use efficiency, landfill gas recovery, reforestation, and methane capture from farming facilities.
Under the model regulations and the MOU amendment, offset credits may come from anywhere in the United States, provided offset projects from outside of the participating states must take place under the regulatory watch of a cooperating agency in that state. States or other U.S. jurisdictions not participating in RGGI will need to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the RGGI state agencies and agree to take on certain administrative obligations to ensure the credibility of the offset projects.
The model regulations and the MOU amendment also streamline and simplify the so-called "safety valve" provisions of RGGI program, which are designed to ensure that the cost of allowances remains affordable. Under the program, if the average annual price of an emission allowance were to rise above $7, sources will be permitted to use offsets for up to 5 percent of a plant's reported emissions. If the average price rises above $10, then sources will be permitted to use offsets for up to 10 percent of a plant's reported emissions and offsets from international trading programs will be allowed. By allowing offsets to account for a greater percentage of emissions, the program will keep energy prices low while also achieving real reductions in climate changing emissions.
Any price impacts of this program are expected to be minimal, with estimates projecting that average household bills could increase by approximately $3-21 annually. However, it also is anticipated that RGGI will generate significant new investments in innovative and cleaner technologies and energy efficiency, which could lower electricity rates.
The participating states will next proceed with the required legislative or regulatory approvals to adopt the program. Pending the completion of this process, the RGGI program will take effect on January 1, 2009.
Entegris, Inc. Fined $14,375 for Failing to Report Dichloroethylene Release
A materials testing company, Entegris, Inc, has been penalized $14,375 for failing to notify the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) in a timely manner following a September 30, 2005 release of an estimated 415 to 815 pounds of 1,2-dichloroethylene (DCE), a hazardous material, from the company's process equipment at 80 Ashby Road in Bedford.
The release of DCE initially impacted indoor air and was subsequently vented outside. After the solvent vapors were dispersed, Entegris conducted limited containment and recovery operations within the facility. Entegris, however, failed to notify MassDEP until the following day.
Under state regulations, chemical releases require notification to MassDEP as soon as possible but no later than two-hours after they occur. Entegris also failed to provide MassDEP with accurate details concerning the release in a written document submitted describing the incident.
"Failing to notify MassDEP of a hazardous material spill, and failing to provide accurate information concerning the spill are serious issues," said Richard Chalpin, director of MassDEP's Northeast Regional Office in Wilmington. "MassDEP emergency response services are available 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. Immediate notification is required so that that MassDEP emergency response staff can work with companies to ensure that releases are cleaned up quickly and properly and that workers and the public are not put at risk."
Since the date of the violation, the company has submitted the required documentation demonstrating the release has been cleaned up to MassDEP's standards. MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills, and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources. MassDEP's 24-hour release/spill notification number is (888) 304-1133.
Lafarge Agrees to Reduce Mercury Emissions
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Steven E. Chester announced that the agency has reached an agreement with Lafarge Midwest over allowable mercury levels from the company’s Alpena site. In the proposed agreement, Lafarge will cap mercury emissions at 567 pounds per year until January 1, 2010, or completion of permitted modifications to its kilns, whichever comes first. Following that, the company will substantially reduce its emissions to a cap of 390 pounds of mercury per year.
“We are pleased to reach an agreement with Lafarge that will both protect human health and the environment and allow the company to prosper economically,” said Director Chester. “The interim limit gives the company time to expand their operations, while at the same time making improvements at their facility to significantly reduce mercury being emitted to the environment.”
The agreement will bring to closure a lawsuit filed by the company against the DEQ for establishing mercury emission restrictions in its air use permit issued in June 2005. The permit authorized an expansion of the cement manufacturing facility but also, for the first time, established a mercury limit based upon Lafarge's projected emissions after the expansion, as well as the level of emissions believed to be protective of public health and the environment.
In the proposed consent order, Lafarge has agreed to the restrictions on its emissions of mercury into the environment, and will conduct scheduled interim and final emissions testing to verify compliance with those limits to ensure that the company is meeting the requirements of the Clean Air Act and Michigan's Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act.
Listening Sessions on Cooperative Conservation Announced
The Secretaries of Interior, Commerce and Agriculture, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality announced the dates and locations of the next set of listening sessions on cooperative conservation and environmental partnerships.
These sessions, the third group of some two dozen to be held around the country, are scheduled at the following locations:
Corpus Christi, Texas, 1 p.m., Sept. 5, 2006, Omni Marina Hotel, Riviera Ballroom. Commerce Deputy Secretary David Sampson will attend.
Honolulu, Hawaii, 9 a.m., Sept 7, 2006, place to be determined. CEQ Chairman James Connaughton and Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle will attend.
Show Low, Ariz., 10 a.m., Sept. 12, 2006, Northland Pioneer College, Silver Creek Campus (Snowflake), Performing Arts Center Theatre (PAC-103).
Agriculture Under Secretary Mark Rey will attend.
South Florida, Time and place to be determined. Sept 15, 2006. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez will attend.
Pottstown, Pa., 10 a.m., Sept. 18, 2006, Montgomery County Community College – Community Room, 101 College Dr. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen L. Johnson will attend.
Pinedale, Wyo., 1 p.m., Sept. 19, 2006; Sublette County Library, Lovatt Room, 156 S. Tyler. Michael Bogert, Counselor to the Secretary of the Interior, will attend.
Orlando, Fla., Time to be determined, Sept. 25, 2006, Orange County Convention Center.
Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Johnson will attend.
Waco, Texas, 10 a.m., Sept. 27, 2006, Waco Convention Center.
Deputy Assistant Interior Secretary David Verhey and Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense Alex Beehler will attend.
The listening sessions will give citizens an opportunity to exchange ideas on incentives, partnership programs, and regulations that can improve results and promote cooperative conservation and environmental partnerships.
The meetings are the latest in a series of discussions the administration has hosted since the President’s Conference on Cooperative Conservation in August 2005. The conference identified three broad approaches to improving conservation results: promoting cooperation within the federal government, promoting cooperation between the federal government and others, and eliminating barriers to cooperation in existing policy. Some aspects of these ideas are reflected in a recently released summary of new legislation. Other aspects will be explored in the listening sessions.
The meetings will focus on issues, programs, and policies mentioned frequently at the White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation. Discussion topics will include:
- How can the federal government enhance wildlife habitat, species protection, and other conservation outcomes through regulatory and voluntary conservation programs?
- How can the federal government enhance cooperation among federal agencies and with states, tribes, and local communities in the application of environmental protection and conservation laws?
- How can the federal government work with states, tribes, and other public- and private-sector partners to improve science used in environmental protection and conservation?
- How can the federal government work cooperatively with businesses and landowners to protect the environment and promote conservation?
- How can the federal government better respect the interests of people with ownership in land, water, and other natural resources?
Other upcoming listening sessions that were previously announced include the following:
Omaha, Neb., 1 p.m., Aug. 24, 2006, Qwest Center Omaha-Convention Center Junior Ballroom, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Dale Hall will attend.
Muncie, Ind., 10 a.m., Aug. 26, 2006, Horizon Convention Center Exhibition Hall, Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett will attend.
Fairbanks, Alaska, 10 a.m., Aug. 28, 2006, The Carlson Center, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne will attend.
Jefferson City, Mo., 1 p.m., Aug. 29, 2006, Runge Conservation Nature Center, Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary Natural Resources and Environment Dave Tenny to attend. (Note: time changed from previous announcement.)
Enid, Okla., 1 p.m. Aug. 30, 2006, Cherokee Strip Conference Center, Piner Hall, Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary Dave Tenny will attend.
Redding, Calif., 1 p.m., Sept. 13, 2006, Cascade Theater, Agriculture Under Secretary, Natural Resources and Environment Mark Rey will attend.
Colorado Springs, Colo., 9 a.m., Sept. 15, 2006, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, the gymnasium, Agriculture Under Secretary Mark Rey will attend.
Brewer, Maine, 4 p.m., Sept. 20, 2006, Jeff’s Catering Banquet and Convention Center, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne will attend.
Brunswick, Ga., 1 p.m., Sept. 21, 2006, Coastal Georgia Community College, SE Georgia Conference Center, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Director Dale Hall will attend.
Colton, Calif., 10 a.m., Sept. 28, 2006, Colton High School Auditorium, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne will attend
Jiffy Lube to Pay $35,000 for Improper Disposal of Used Oil
Jiffy Lube International agreed to pay Santa Clara County $35,000 to settle a civil lawsuit filed against it by the county for violation of environmental regulations at one of its Palo Alto, CA locations.
Inspectors from the County Department of Environmental Health responded to a customer complaint on June 25 about improperly disposed hazardous wastes at its station at 4201 Middlefield Road. The inspectors found spilled oil and shop towels saturated with used oil. Those items, which are subject to the California hazardous waste regulations were not disposed of properly, the inspectors found.
"Although the current violations were confined to a single store, and Jiffy Lube International cooperated in this investigation, the violations represent a step backward in environmental compliance by the company," Assistant District Attorney David Tomkins said. Jiffy Lube agreed to pay $35,795 in civil penalties, investigative costs and filing fees
Cleaner Burning Diesel Introduced by EPA
At a new fueling terminal near Sacramento, EPA Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri joined state and local air quality regulators, engine manufacturers and fuel providers in heralding the introduction of cleaner burning diesel to service stations throughout Calif. beginning Sept. 1.
Nationwide, the EPA is now requiring refiners and fuel importers to cut the sulfur content of highway diesel fuel 97%, from 500 ppm to 15. The California Air Resources Board is requiring service stations to offer ultra-low sulfur diesel a month and a half before the federal deadline of Oct. 15.
The EPA estimates that ultra-low sulfur diesel will prevent nearly 8,300 premature deaths and tens of thousands of cases of respiratory ailments such as bronchitis and asthma nationwide.
“The diesel rules will provide even more public health benefits than when we took the lead out of gasoline 25 years ago,” Nastri said. "Drastically cutting the emissions that cause soot and smog, the EPA is delivering cleaner engines, cleaner air and cleaner lungs."
"It’s good news for Sacramento that diesel truck fuel will now contain lower levels of sulfur. This means particulate matter will be decreased in our air and the health of our community will improve," said Larry Greene, Executive Director of the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District.
"The introduction of this ultra clean fuel is a giant leap forward in our combined efforts to improve California's air quality. All of the indications we have are that refiners and fuel providers in California are well positioned to meet the September 1 deadline,” said Cathy Reheis-Boyd, chief operating officer of the Western States Petroleum Association.
Ultra-low sulfur diesel enables advanced pollution control technology for cars, trucks and buses. Truck owners will be able to purchase ultra low sulfur diesel and vehicles with clean diesel technology later this year. The agency expects a smooth transition and will closely monitor the industry as it transitions to ultra low sulfur diesel, making this historic milestone a reality that will benefit Americans' health and the environment.
By addressing diesel fuel and engines as a single system, this action will produce the clean air equivalent of eliminating air pollution from 90% -- or about 13 million -- of today's trucks and buses.
New Guidance to Help Public Water Systems Evaluate Treatment Changes
As they work to provide safe drinking water, operators of public water systems must evaluate the effects that changes in the treatment process could have on their ability to meet multiple drinking water standards. "This is an important step in completing our lead reduction action plan and helping utilities meet existing and new requirements under the Safe Drinking Water Act," said Benjamin H. Grumbles, Assistant Administrator for Water. The failure to carefully consider these effects can result in problems that affect public health. For example, treatment changes to reduce disinfection byproducts could increase the corrosivity of drinking water, which, in the absence of adequate corrosion control, could result in an increase in lead in drinking water.
This revised manual builds on a similar manual developed for the Stage 1 Disinfection Byproduct Rule. It incorporates new research and case studies and is presented in a more user-friendly manner. Release of the guidance supports the Stage 2 Disinfection Byproduct Rule and is an action item in the Agency’s 2005 Drinking Water Lead Reduction Plan. EPA is soliciting suggestions and recommendations to make this draft guidance manual more complete and user-friendly and also plans to hold a public meeting in September to discuss the guidance.
Head Back to School with the Environment in Mind and Save Money
Time for school means time to shop. Students starting the new year need everything from clothes to computers. The National Retail Federation estimates that families will spend an average of $527.00 per child readying them for school.
Here are some tips from the EPA that can save you money and help the environment by reducing waste.
- Choose products made from recycled materials: buy pencils made from old blue jeans, binders made from old shipping boxes, and of course recycled paper products. You can also reuse items like refillable pens, rechargeable batteries, and scrap paper for notes.
- Sort through the current materials in your home first. Many supplies can be reused or recycled. Backpacks, notebooks, folders, and binders can all be reused.
- Buy school supplies wrapped with minimal packaging; or buy products that come in bulk sizes. Packaging accounts for more than 30% of all the waste generated each year.
- Do you have clothes that you’ve outgrown that are still in good shape? Donate them to a local charity or shelter so someone else can put them to use, and earn a possible tax deduction at the same time.
- Buying a new computer, cell phone, or other electronic device? E-cycle your old one! Many retailers participate in an electronics recycling program. You can also donate your old computer to a local school, library or charity. If you have to throw your old electronics away, do it right! Check with your local health and sanitation agencies for the proper way to dispose of electronics safely. Proper disposal keeps dangerous materials such as lead, cadmium, mercury, and chromium out of the environment.
- Share your used books with friends, relatives, or younger schoolchildren. Many schools reuse text books to save money and reduce waste. Covering your textbooks with cut-up shopping bags helps reduce waste and keeps your books in good condition.
- If you bring your lunch to school, package it in reusable containers instead of disposable ones. Bring drinks in a thermos instead of disposable bottles or cartons. This saves money and reduces waste.
- If you drive to school, try carpooling, public transportation, walking or biking instead. By doing so you help reduce wasted fuel, lower air pollution levels, and decrease traffic in your community.
Work with your teachers and friends to find ways to encourage everyone in your community to make reducing waste a part of every day.
EPA to Begin Controlling Air Pollution from Farm Country Animal Feeding Operations
EPA has just gotten approval to take the next important step to gather air emissions data from agricultural animal feeding operations (AFOs) and to ensure compliance with environmental laws. This step consists of certain AFOs voluntarily taking part in a nationwide monitoring study to evaluate their air emissions.
. "This innovative approach will provide the best available science to guide EPA's decision making in a way that is good for the environment, good for agriculture and good for the American people."
EPA began to realize in the late 1990's that it didn't have sufficient air emissions data to determine potential regulatory requirements for AFOs under the Clean Air Act (CAA), so to resolve the situation it began discussions with AFOs owners in 2001.
These discussions led to a Jan. 31, 2005 EPA Federal Register notice offering individual AFOs an opportunity to voluntarily sign - by Aug. 12, 2005 - a consent agreement committing them to conduct a nationwide study to monitor and get a better handle on the nature of their air emissions. This consent agreement also resolves certain air violations under the Clean Air Act, as well as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) – also known as Superfund – and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).
EPA's Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) just approved the two final voluntary agreements, making a total of 2,568, representing 1,856 swine, 468 dairy, 204 egg-laying, and 40 broiler chicken (meat-bird) operations. These 2,568 agreements represent 6,267 farms (an AFO can include more than one farm). Now the industry-led monitoring survey can proceed; it is expected to begin this winter.
Within 18 months following the monitoring study's conclusion, EPA will evaluate all data and publish emission-estimating methods for AFOs. These methods will allow AFOs to estimate their emissions and comply with applicable federal regulatory requirements as appropriate. This approach will achieve compliance with environmental laws much faster than any other enforcement mechanism.
As an incentive for AFOs to participate, EPA agreed not to bring certain enforcement actions against participating AFOs during the course of the monitoring survey; however, all participants must pay a penalty that is based on the number of animals maintained at the operation and must assure compliance with the CAA, CERCLA, and EPCRA once EPA publishes the emissions methodology.
The EAB is an impartial, independent body that acts as the final decision maker on administrative appeals under all major environmental statutes that EPA administers.
Blacksburg, Va. First U.S. Town to Join New National Environmental Program
EPA mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Donald S. Welsh recognized the town of Blacksburg, Va., for being the first municipality in the country to enroll in the voluntary National Partnership for Environmental Priorities. The program challenges businesses and manufacturers to become more environmentally aware and to adopt a resource conservation ethic that results in less waste, more recycling, and more environmentally sound products.
The Town of Blacksburg has demonstrated its progressive environmental leadership in the past, but today a bigger challenge has been met, Welsh said. By enrolling in this national program, the town of Blacksburg serves as a model for other cities and towns across the country by addressing chemical risks within the community and increasing the conservation of resources.
These priority chemicals have been targeted because they can accumulate in living organisms or have high toxicity levels. EPA, working in conjunction with the public and various industries, has set a goal to reduce the use or release of four million pounds of priority chemicals by 2011.
As a new waste minimization partner, Blacksburg has committed to reduce electronic waste by eliminating the use of lead weights on town vehicles. Lead weights are clipped to the wheel rims of every automobile in the United States to balance the tires. An estimated 13% of these weights come loose and fall off, entering the environment. When they do, they have the potential to contaminate soil and groundwater. As a new partner, the Towns commitment represents the elimination of 325 pounds of lead by December 2007.
In addition to becoming a waste minimization partner, the Town of Blacksburg is also the recipient of a $95,000 Resource Conservation Challenge grant to implement programs and create partnerships to conserve resources through waste reduction.
Participating in EPA’s Resource Conservation Challenge through this grant program has already brought together over two dozen community groups with shared goals who are eager to partner and bring about local solutions to national environmental issues, said Marc Verneil, Blacksburg town manager.
Blacksburg will also encourage commercial property managers to recycle mercury containing fluorescent lights, and raise community awareness of the importance of recycling rechargeable cadmium batteries.
By recycling fluorescent lights, the amount of potential mercury released into the environment is reduced. Mercury is a neurotoxin which can negatively impact on human health. Especially sensitive to the effects of mercury exposure are children and pregnant women.
Improperly disposed of cadmium batteries, such as those used in cell phones, cordless telephones, video cameras, and cordless power tools can leach into and contaminate soil and groundwater. Exposure to high levels of cadmium in water and food can cause severe stomach irritation, vomiting and diarrhea. Because cadmium accumulates in the body, long term exposure even at low levels can lead to kidney and skeletal damage.
Blacksburg also has agreed to form a collaborative partnership with groups representing all aspects of the community, including citizen groups, businesses, government, academic institutions, and non-profits, called Sustainable Blacksburg. The voluntary partnership the town has created has a mission to develop a collaborative network that works to create a greener community.
Partnership members will participate in the development and implementation of programs to reduce resource usage, recycle materials, and create re-use initiatives. Partners will work with the community to provide outreach, educational assistance and raise awareness.
Blacksburg also received the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality’s Virginia Environmental Excellence Award.
EPA Names Wisconsin Wastewater Treatment Plants among Best-Operated
EPA Region 5 has named three Wisconsin wastewater facilities among the best-operated in the Great Lakes states for 2006. They are the Clark County Health Care Center, Tomah and Valders facilities. EPA Region 5 covers Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin
EPA Guidance to Reduce Exposure to Asbestos
The brochure contains information for both automotive professionals and home mechanics. EPA is providing the public 60 days to comment on the brochure.
The brochure includes work practices that may be used to avoid asbestos exposure. It also summarizes existing OSHA regulatory requirements for professional automotive mechanics. When finalized, the brochure will supersede the existing Guidance for Preventing Asbestos Disease Among Auto Mechanics, known as the "Gold Book."
Because of these properties, asbestos fibers have been used in a number of products, including automobile clutch and brake parts.
Exposure to asbestos is potentially harmful to human health if microscopic asbestos fibers, released into the air when asbestos is disturbed or in poor condition, are inhaled into the lungs. Asbestos exposure has been associated with a number of serious health problems and diseases, including asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
EPA welcomes all suggestions for improving the draft brochure and will, where appropriate, incorporate changes to the final brochure. EPA will announce the availability of the final brochure through a future Federal Register notice.
$30,000 Penalty for Discharging without NPDES Permit
As part of an ongoing campaign to improve compliance with the Clean Water Act, EPA has reached a $30,000 settlement with Inlet Fish Producers, an Alaskan seafood processor based in Kenai, Alaska. Following an inspection at their facility, the company was cited for discharge of seafood processing waste without authorization from a national pollutant discharge elimination system (NPDES) permit.
Although the previous operator of the facility, Inlet Fisheries, Inc. was authorized under the General Permit for Seafood Processors in Alaska, the new operators did not obtain permit coverage in accordance with the requirements of the permit. Inlet Fish Producers, Inc. discharged without permit coverage from 2002-2004. Furthermore, EPA and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation inspectors observed deficiencies in the facility’s seafood waste treatment process during inspections on July 31, 2002 and July 26, 2004.
“Our message to the seafood processing industry is clear,” said Kim Ogle, EPA’s regional NPDES compliance manager. “Operators need to obtain and follow federal discharge permits or face penalties. We take protecting Alaska’s water quality very seriously.”
In response to this action, Inlet Fish Producers, Inc. applied for and received authorization to discharge from its Kenai facility on June 3, 2005.
Equipment Modifications without Air Permit to Cost Finkl Almost $700,000
EPA and U.S. Department of Justice have reached an agreement with A. Finkl & Sons Co. on alleged Clean Air Act violations at the company's steel forging plant in Chicago. The company agreed to do two environmental projects totaling $620,000, to pay a $75,000 penalty and to comply with the Clean Air Act.
For one of its environmental projects, Finkl will spend $545,000 to install burners on one of its gas-fired furnaces that will cut smog-producing nitrogen oxide emissions by at least five tons a year. The company will also spend $75,000 to retrofit approximately 34 city of Chicago vehicles with diesel emission reduction devices.
"Exposure to diesel emissions is the leading public health risk in the six states that make up EPA Region 5," said acting regional administrator Bharat Mathur. "One of our priorities is to reduce diesel emissions through retrofits and other technologies. By retrofitting city of Chicago vehicles, Finkl is helping us meet that goal."
The agreement resolves EPA allegations that Finkl violated performance standards for new sources of air pollution by making equipment modifications that caused an increase in particulate (smoke, dust, ash) emissions and by not getting permits that would have required better controls.
In addition, EPA said the company failed to comply with operational and equipment standards as well as maintenance, record-keeping and reporting requirements.
Water Authority Fined for Lead Sampling Errors
EPA has cited the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority for violations of a Safe Drinking Water Act consent order addressing past problems with lead in the district’s drinking water.
In the June 2004 consent order, WASA agreed to several measures to address elevated lead levels found in samples of tap water taken from D.C. homes with lead service lines. These safeguards included WASA’s replacement of lead service lines, improvements to how WASA reported and managed drinking water and sampling data, WASA’s provision of filters to residents with lead service lines, and an improved public education program.
WASA’s noncompliance delayed EPA’s ability to confirm WASA’s report that the district’s drinking water was below EPA’s action level for lead. EPA is filing the administrative complaint to ensure the integrity of the reporting and data management for future compliance reports.
The 2004 order required WASA to sample drinking water from 100 homes that are at higher risk of lead-contaminated drinking water due to lead service lines or pipes with lead solder. According to EPA, for the July to December 2005 monitoring period, 12 of the 103 drinking water samples submitted were not taken from high-risk residences. These 12 samples were either taken from homes that never had lead service lines or homes where the lead service lines had already been replaced. The penalty order notes that WASA submitted these samples despite having additional information that indicated these were not high risk residences. The order also notes other occasions when WASA reported inconsistent information to EPA regarding lead service line replacements.
EPA invalidated the 12 samples, and required WASA to obtain replacement samples. Most recent sampling data continues to show that lead levels in tap water have declined to a level at or below the EPA’s action level for lead (15 ppb
EPA Takes Legal Action against Safety Waste Incineration for Violations of Clean Air Act
The Department of Justice has filed a complaint against the owners of a Wasilla, Alaska medical waste incinerator alleging that the incinerator’s emissions of toxic pollutants violate federal Clean Air Act standards and EPA regulations.
The complaint was filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ), on behalf of the EPA against Nancy and James Oliver who are doing business as Safety Waste Incineration (SWI). The complaint was filed in federal district court in Anchorage.
The complaint alleges that SWI’s Wasilla incinerator produces emissions of dioxins/furans, hydrogen chloride, heavy metals, and other pollutants in excess of federal pollution standards. The complaint also alleges that the Olivers violated Clean Air Act monitoring and recordkeeping requirements that apply to hospital, medical, and infectious waste incinerators.
“The hazards posed by uncontrolled incineration of medical waste are well documented,” said Mike Bussell, drector of EPA’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle. “We hope that the Olivers can remain in business, but our first priority is to protect human health and the environment and ensure compliance with existing standards.”
The United States alleges that SWI is violating the Federal Plan Requirements for Hospital/Medical/Infectious Waste Incinerators Constructed on or Before June 20, 1996, 40 CFR. Part 62, Subpart HHH, also known as the “Hazardous/Medical/Infectious Waste Incinerator Rule,” or “the HMIWI Rule.”
In the lawsuit, EPA and DOJ are seeking a court order requiring the Olivers to comply with the HMIWI Rule. The government also seeks a civil penalty for the Olivers’ past and continuing violations of the rule.
EPA issued a Notice of Noncompliance to SWI in July 2004 and a Compliance Order in October 2004 requiring SWI to come into compliance with the regulations. SWI denies it is in violation of the regulations and continues to operate the incinerator.
EPA Requests Comments on Hazardous Waste MACT Rule
The final technology-based standards that were issued in 2005 reduce emissions of hazardous pollutants, including lead, mercury, arsenic, dioxin and furans, and hydrogen chloride and chlorine gas. The NESHAPs are based on the maximum achievable control technology (MACT) for hazardous waste combustors. These standards are based on emission levels that are already being achieved by the better-performing sources within the group.
The combustors affected by this rule detoxify waste and recover energy from hazardous waste and include incinerators, cement kilns, lightweight aggregate kilns, boilers and process heaters, and hydrochloric acid production furnaces. EPA estimates about 145 facilities operate 265 devices that burn hazardous waste.
Florida Awards First Solar Energy Rebates
The rebate recipients are located in Deltona and Crawfordville.
“Through grant programs and incentives, the state is encouraging investment in alternative energy technologies, such as solar, to diversify fuel sources, reduce dependence on imported oil and increase protection for the environment,” said FEO Director Allan Guyet. “Florida’s growing economy and quality of life depend on a safe, reliable supply, and diverse source of energy.”
As part of the 2006 Florida Energy Act, Florida is providing incentives to encourage citizens and companies to invest in alternative energy technologies. The Deltona recipient will receive a rebate for installing a solar water heater in their home and the Crawfordville recipient will receive a rebate for installing a solar electric system that converts sunlight into electricity in his home.
The 2006 Florida Energy Act takes the first comprehensive step toward a diverse, reliable and secure energy future by reducing regulatory barriers to expedite electric generation capacity and providing rebates, grants and tax incentives to drive the development of alternative fuel technologies. As part of the legislation, Renewable Energy Technologies Tax Incentives will provide sales tax exemptions and corporate income tax credits for the production of clean energy; the Solar Energy Systems Incentives Program provides rebates for solar system installation in homes and businesses.
The FEO is the state’s primary center for energy policy under Governor Bush. In addition to developing and implementing Florida’s energy policy, the Energy Office coordinates all federal energy programs delegated to the state, including energy supply, demand, conservation and allocation.
Illinois Unveils Ambitious Energy Independence Plan
Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich unveiled a comprehensive, long-term energy plan to replace Illinois’ dependence on foreign oil with homegrown alternatives. The governor’s plan sets a goal of replacing 50% of the state’s energy supply with homegrown fuels by 2017. Illinois would be the first state to reach this level of energy independence.
The plan would provide new incentives to help triple Illinois’ production of ethanol and other biofuels, and build up to ten new coal gasification plants to convert Illinois coal into natural gas, diesel fuel and electricity. The plan also includes construction of a pipeline from central to southeastern Illinois to transport carbon dioxide produced by new energy plants to where it can be pumped underground to extract more oil and gas that sits underground in Illinois. Trapping carbon dioxide underground will permanently prevent this greenhouse gas from being emitted into the atmosphere. The plan calls for a dramatic expansion of renewable energy production as well as significant reductions in energy use through investments in energy efficiency and conservation. Specifically, the plan will:
- Invest in renewable biofuels by providing financial incentives to build up to 20 new ethanol plants and five new biodiesel plants. These increases in ethanol and biofuels production would allow Illinois to replace 50% of its current supply of imported oil with renewable homegrown biofuels.
- Increase the number of gas stations that sell biofuels, so that all gas stations offer 85% ethanol fuel (E-85) by 2017 and help the auto industry to produce more and better flexible fuels vehicles that can run on either E-85 or regular gasoline.
- Invest $775 million to help build up to ten new coal gasification plants that use Illinois coal to meet 25% of Illinois’ diesel fuel needs, 25% of natural gas needs and 10% of electricity needs by 2017.
- Build a pipeline to move carbon dioxide captured from coal gasification plants to oilfields in Southeastern Illinois to extract more oil and natural gas and permanently store the carbon dioxide underground.
- Meet 10% of the state’s electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2015, greatly boost investment in energy efficiency, while finding ways to cut emissions and reduce motor fuel consumption by 10% in 2017.
“No other state has the combination of natural resources that we have here in Illinois. We’re the nation’s leading producer of soybeans. We’re the #2 producer of corn. And we have the nation’s third largest reserves of coal. That means opportunity – opportunity to turn more corn into ethanol and more soybeans into diesel fuel. And it means turning coal into home heating fuel and electricity. It means creating 30,000 new jobs downstate. It means helping consumers save billions of dollars in energy costs. And it means finding ways to help drivers use less gas and help homeowners cut their utility bills. Our plan will allow us to meet 50% of our fuel needs with alternative, homegrown sources of fuel by 2017,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
The plan calls for a $25 million revolving loan fund to support energy efficiency investments in public buildings to reduce government energy usage. The governor also proposes a $25 million revolving loan fund to support energy efficiency investments by small businesses and manufacturers. Finally, the governor’s plan includes adopting a building code for single-family homes similar to the code already adopted for commercial buildings to meet modern energy efficiency standards. Forty-two other states have already adopted such residential efficiency codes.
The governor’s plan will cost an estimated $27 million annually in general revenue to support $1.2 billion of total capital investment.
Dynegy Has Signed on to Multi-pollutant Reduction Plan
Dynegy, Illinois’ third largest electric power company, has agreed to dramatically cut dangerous power plant emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury beyond what the federal government requires. Dynegy’s agreement to adopt the governor’s multi-pollutant reduction plan comes less than two weeks after the Ameren Company, the state’s second largest power producer, agreed to the plan. Today’s announcement builds momentum toward achieving Gov. Blagojevich’s goal of making Illinois the nation’s clean energy leader by reducing harmful emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Under the plan, Dynegy will:
- Install equipment designed to reduce mercury emissions by 90%, for 96% of their capacity, by 2009; the remaining 4% of capacity will receive these controls in 2012.
- Dramatically reduce its emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides – two of the most harmful pollutants from power plants – significantly beyond federal requirements.
- Agree not to trade emissions credits needed for compliance with sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides standards outside of Illinois or with other companies in Illinois, which means that reductions in emissions are the result of actual pollution reductions in Illinois and not credits purchased from other states.
- Accelerate the installation of pollution controls required under a consent degree with the State of Illinois and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
“This agreement with Dynegy means that now two of the state’s largest power companies have signed on to dramatically cut harmful emissions and help protect the health of the people of Illinois,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “We are reducing pollution in our air, lakes, rivers, and streams throughout the state. Over time, that means fewer health problems for children, for senior citizens, and for adults. It means fewer cases of asthma, bronchitis, lung disease and even developmental disabilities like cerebral palsy. Dynegy deserves a lot of credit for doing the right thing and working with us to make our air and our rivers and lakes cleaner and safer.”
Under the agreement, 96% of Dynegy’s capacity will utilize pollution control equipment by 2009, and is designed to achieve the mercury standards proposed by the governor earlier this year. The remaining 4% will install controls able to meet the standards by 2012. In addition, Dynegy will make major reductions in sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, again surpassing federal standards.
Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides contribute to fine air pollution particles and nitrogen oxides chemically contribute to ground-level ozone that can lead to respiratory illness, particularly in children and the elderly, and aggravate heart and lung diseases. Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides can also contribute to acid rain, reduced visibility and damage to sensitive ecosystems.
The state standards will cut toxic mercury emissions faster and more thoroughly than new federal restrictions adopted last spring and will achieve the largest amount of mercury reduction of any state.
In March, Gov. Blagojevich filed rules with the Illinois Pollution Control Board that would cut mercury emissions from coal-burning power plants by 90% by 2009. Illinois' mercury rule will achieve reductions of toxic mercury emissions from power plants faster and more thoroughly than federal restrictions.
According to the IEPA, in the U.S., an estimated 43% of mercury emissions come from power plants, making them the largest man-made source of mercury emissions. The agency estimates that the state’s coal-fired power plants emit 3.5 tons of mercury into the air every year.
Ohio EPA Extends Comment Period for Rules to Control Emission of Mercury and Nitrogen Oxides
In order to allow adequate time for public review and comment, Ohio EPA has extended the public comment period until Wednesday, August 30, 2006, for draft rules to control emissions of mercury and nitrogen oxides from air pollution sources in Ohio.
- Draft rules to control mercury emissions from large coal-burning electric utilities
- The rules are Ohio's implementation of the federal "Clean Air Mercury Rules" (CAMR) published by U.S. EPA in May 2005. The rules establish a cap and trade program for emissions of mercury and set a total mercury emissions "cap" for the state of Ohio. When fully implemented, these rules would result in an 86% reduction in mercury from utility-burned coal.
- Draft rules to control nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from large fossil-fuel-burning electrical generating units and industrial boilers
- The rules are Ohio's implementation of the federal "Clean Air Interstate Rules" (CAIR) published by U.S. EPA in May 2005. The rules establish a cap and trade for nitrogen oxide emissions and set a total nitrogen oxide emissions "cap" for the state of Ohio. The rules also establish a mechanism for discounting sulfur dioxide allowances under the existing acid rain program.
Written comments may be mailed to Ohio EPA Division of Air Pollution Control, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, Ohio 43216-1049, no later than August 30, 2006. Ohio EPA will consider all comments before it formally proposes rules. When rules are formally proposed, Ohio EPA will hold a public hearing and offer another public comment period before any rule changes are adopted.
Wicket & Craig of America Fined $23,284 for Wastewater Discharge Violations
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has fined Wicket & Craig of America $23,284 for industrial wastewater treatment plant discharge violations at its leather tannery in Curwensville Borough.
“There were a number of problems that caused the company to violate its DEP discharge permit,” DEP Northcentral Regional Director Robert Yowell said. “Wicket & Craig has acted responsibly and corrected those problems so that the violations don’t recur.”
Almost all the discharge violations were for biochemical oxygen demand, or the amount of dissolved oxygen required to decompose organic matter in water. It is a measure of pollution since heavy waste loads have a high demand for oxygen.
At a meeting with DEP in March, company officials confirmed that increased hide production and discharge flows contributed to the problem, along with their use of a caustic in the hide tumblers. The caustic is no longer being used.
The Wicket & Craig treatment plant also had two violations in June for Phenol. A company investigation determined that a drum of Phenol was hit by a lift truck. Phenol leaked from the drum and entered a drain that went to the treatment plant, which discharges to the West Branch of the Susquehanna River.
Phenol is an organic compound formed as a byproduct of the leather tanning process. High concentrations can kill fish and other aquatic life.
Electroplater Fined $125,000 for Heavy Metal Discharge
Santa Clara County District Attorney George Kennedy today announced that his office settled a civil lawsuit against Hammon Plating involving various environmental regulations. The complaint filed by his office, and subsequently joined by the City of Palo Alto, alleges that for several years Hammon Plating discharged excess amounts of heavy metals into the Palo Alto Regional Water Quality Control Plant, the wastewater treatment facility which prevents impurities from local businesses from reaching San Francisco Bay. The complaint also alleges that Palo Alto Fire Department inspectors found additional violations of environmental regulations during an inspection of Hammon Plating.
Subsequently, the complaint was amended to add allegations that a fire at Hammon Plating’s facility on October 1, 2005, was the result of the company’s failure to equip an immersion heater with a working shut-off control as required by the California Fire Code.
Hammon Plating admitted a negligent disposal