EPA Finalizes Emission Standards for New Spark-Ignition Engines, Equipment, and Boats

September 08, 2008

 EPA is also adopting evaporative emission standards for equipment and vessels using these engines. These standards apply only to newly manufactured products. The standards will reduce the harmful health effects of ozone and carbon monoxide from these engines, equipment, and vessels.

 The regulations will take effect in 2010 and 2011.

"EPA's new small engine standards will allow Americans to cut air pollution as well as grass," EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson said. "These standards help fight smog in our neighborhoods and waterways as we continue to improve the environmental landscape."

When fully implemented, the rule will yield annual emission reductions of 600,000 tons of hydrocarbons, 130,000 tons of nitrogen oxide (NOx), 5,500 tons of direct particulate matter, and 1.5 million tons of carbon monoxide (CO). EPA expects the new standards to save approximately 190 million gallons of gasoline each year.

The rule kicks into gear in 2011 for lawn and garden equipment of 25 horsepower or less. For a full range of gas-powered personal watercraft and inboard and outboard engines, the rule powers up in 2010.

To meet the new exhaust emission standards, manufacturers will likely employ catalytic converters for the first time in many small watercraft and lawn and garden equipment. After rigorous analysis and work with stakeholders, EPA determined this strategy was feasible and safe. This regulation also includes the first national standards for boats powered by stern-drive or inboard engines and carbon monoxide standards for gasoline-powered engines used in recreational watercraft.

Non-road gasoline-powered engines, such as those used in lawn and garden equipment, will see an additional 35% reduction in smog-forming hydrocarbon (HC) and NOx emissions. These cuts go beyond the 60% reduction that saw final implementation two years ago under an earlier rulemaking. The updated engines will also achieve a 45% reduction in fuel evaporative emissions.

Recreational watercraft powered by gasoline engines will incur a 70% reduction in HC and NOx emissions, a 20% reduction in CO, and a 70% reduction in fuel evaporative emissions.

Each year, Americans spend more than 3 billion hours using lawn and garden equipment and more than 500 million hours in recreational boating. As a result, the total estimated public health benefits range between $1.6 and $4.4 billion by 2030. These benefits outweigh estimated costs by at least eight to one, while preventing more than 300 premature deaths, 1,700 hospitalizations, and 23,000 lost workdays annually.

The rule opens another chapter in EPA's success story of curbing emissions from non-road sources. EPA has recently set stringent emission standards for farm and construction equipment, off-road recreational vehicles, and for locomotives and commercial marine sources.

New “Chemical Radar” Among Several New Innovations

As the anniversary of the September 11 attacks approaches, the American Chemical Society (ACS) has issued a new podcast describing an array of technologies to help assure personal safety and national security. The podcast is the sixth episode in ACS’s acclaimed Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions series.

With new episodes posted twice monthly, Global Challenges examines daunting problems facing society in the 21st Century and explains how chemists and other scientists are making strides toward solutions.

The podcast, entitled Promoting Personal Safety and National Security, describes 2008 scientific advances toward protecting society from future terrorist attacks and individuals from common everyday threats such as disease-causing bacteria on keyboards, kitchen countertops, and other environmental surfaces.

One segment, for instance, focuses on scientific advances toward early detection of bioterrorism attacks with biological threats that the National Institutes of Health calls Category A agents. Those materials include biological agents such as botulism toxin and infectious agents such as anthrax and smallpox.

Global Challenges recalls the introduction of radar, which gave 20th century society its first method for early detection of incoming enemy ships and planes. “Today, researchers are developing what might be called chemical radar,” the podcast notes. “Instead of using radio waves to see distant bombers and battleships, these new technologies use laser beams to detect atmospheric chemical weapons.” The technology could be useful for detecting nerve agents drifting into an area in a suspicious-looking cloud and distinguishing them from chemically similar but harmless pesticides that might have been sprayed on a farm field, the podcast notes.

Other research featured in this episode of Global Challenges includes:

  • Development of an “optical fingerprinting” technique for early detection of smallpox, anthrax, and other bioterrorism agents. The device could be used in football stadiums, airports, shopping malls, and areas where large numbers of people might be exposed to attacks.
  • A new rapid detection method for ricin, a dangerous plant toxin found in castor beans with no known antidote. With 100 million pounds of castor bean waste produced annually, a potential source of the toxin is readily available. The test detects minute quantities of castor bean DNA.
  • A rugged antibacterial coating made of carbon nanotubes coated with a natural microbe-fighting substance known as lysozyme that scientists long have dreamed of using to battle pathogens. The coating can be applied to a variety of surfaces and withstands common household cleaners.


The site provides audio links and full transcripts of each podcast. Additional resources on each Global Challenges topic also are available, on the site, including information for consumers, students, and educators.

Other Global Challenges topics to date include:

  • Providing safe drinking water. Scientific advances promise to help almost 1.2 billion people in developing countries who lack access to pure water, and ensure safe water supplies for people in developed countries.
  • Fresh water from the sea. Almost 97% of the Earth’s water is salty water in the oceans and brackish water inland. Advances in water desalination technology are making more of this water available for drinking, agriculture, and industry.
  • Confronting climate change now. Stopgap measures offer the potential for near-term responses to global warming. They include technology for capturing carbon dioxide from smoke stacks and socking it away in deep ocean repositories.
  • Confronting climate change tomorrow. Permanent solutions to global warming include advances toward harnessing the chemical magic of plants—photosynthesis—to turn water and sunlight into an abundant supply of clean fuel.
  • Our sustainable future. New scientific discoveries are paving the way toward a society that provides for the needs of people today, while assuring that natural resources and a healthy environment is there for future generations.

Proper Handling of Treated Wood Waste

The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) will hold a public workshop in Sacramento on the release of a draft report Sampling and Analysis Study on Treated Wood. DTSC staff will present methods for treated wood sampling, collection, and preparation along with analytical results from three types of treated wood: copper azole, alkaline copper quaternary, and creosote-treated wood. After the presentation, DTSC will solicit comments, questions, and suggestions on the draft report.

The workshop will be held from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on September 11 at the Cal/EPA Headquarters, Byron Sher Auditorium, located at 1001 “I” Street, 2nd Floor, Sacramento, CA 95814.

DTSC is accepting comments on the report until September 25. 


Lead Test Kit Evaluation

EPA is evaluating the effectiveness of lead test kits by asking vendors to submit test kits for review to ensure fewer false negatives. 

EPA Provides Incentives for Clean Water Permit Fee Programs

EPA is issuing a new rule that will provide financial incentives for states to use fees when administering a clean water permit program. EPA can give up to a total of $5.1 million to states that have adequate permit fees for their National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) programs.

This rule is designed to encourage states to voluntarily implement adequate fee programs and shift part of the financial burden to those who benefit from the permits. It will also allow states to move funds to other critical water quality program activities.

The increased cost of administering water permit programs has already prompted some states to implement permit fee programs to cover some costs. A number of states, however, still operate with little or no reliance on permit fees.

 Therefore, state grants will not decrease as a result of this rulemaking. The rule will be in effect for the fiscal year 2009 grant cycle and beyond.

As authorized by the Clean Water Act, the NPDES permit program controls water pollution by regulating municipal, industrial, and related sources that discharge pollutants into U.S. waters.

Tucson Pool Company Removing Chlorine Gas from Operations after Environmental Violations

The EPA recently settled with Splash Pool Chemicals, Inc., for failing to prepare written emergency operation procedures and failing to submit an annual chemical inventory, violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know-Act (EPCRA), respectively.

Splash Pool Chemicals, Inc., of Tucson, Ariz., will pay a $4,000 penalty in addition to spending approximately $17,000 on an environmental project. The company will remove chlorine gas from its operations and replace it with sodium hypochlorite, an alternative, less toxic means of pool chlorination.

“Splash Pool Chemicals violated laws that protect and inform communities near facilities that use hazardous substances and other chemicals,” said Daniel Meer, the EPA’s assistant Superfund director for the Pacific Southwest region. “As a result of this settlement, the company has agreed not only to pay fines but also to use an alternative product that will significantly reduce the potential for chlorine releases into the environment—lowering the threat of chlorine gas exposure to workers and the public.”

The company also settled a Clean Air Act violation, paying a $337 fine for failing to prepare and submit emergency operation procedures for its on-site chlorine gas storage tank.

The CAA requires registered facilities to prepare written procedures to manage risk, including procedures for normal and emergency shut-down operations.

EPCRA requires all facilities using hazardous substances above specified threshold quantities to provide annual chemical inventory information to local emergency planners for inclusion in the community emergency plan.

Vermont Dairy Farmers Pay Consequences for Filling 41 Acres of Wetlands

An EPA investigation concluded that the dairy farmers filled slightly more than 40 acres of wetlands between 1998 and 2002, during the course of expanding forage acres to support their dairy herd. The St. Pierres did not seek or obtain environmental review of permits for these actions, violating the federal Clean Water Act by illegally discharging dredged and fill material into approximately 41 acres of wetlands and a stream.

“Losing more than 40 acres of wetlands in New England is significant,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Wetlands are incredibly productive and important ecological areas. All property owners can be good stewards of the land by following appropriate steps before altering wetlands, to ensure that these valuable areas are protected."

Undisturbed wetlands provide many environmental benefits, including wildlife habitat, groundwater discharge and recharge areas, sediment and toxin removal and flood water storage. The wetlands filled were located in the watersheds of the Missisquoi and Pike Rivers, both of which flow into Lake Champlain. These wetlands likely helped stabilize stream banks, detained nutrients and sediments, filtered pollutants, and helped absorb flood waters.

The St. Pierres’ violation was more than double the largest permitted fill in Vermont in almost 15 years. Under the settlement with EPA and DOJ, the St. Pierres will pay a civil penalty, restore most of the damaged wetlands, restore additional areas as compensatory mitigation, and perform a supplemental environmental project. The combined value of the penalty restoration, compensatory mitigation, and supplemental environmental project exceeds $100,000.

The settlement requires complete restoration of approximately 29 acres of wetlands, while allowing the St. Pierres to retain approximately 12 acres of wetlands that had been converted to hay fields at several different sites in the course of squaring off existing hay fields and where the impacts of converting the wetlands were minimal. The St. Pierres must provide compensatory mitigation for the acreage that will not be restored, including restoration of wetlands—currently in corn production—within the floodplain of the Pike River.

Further, the supplemental project under the settlement will require the St. Pierres to restore approximately 9.4 acres of wetlands—currently in corn production and adjacent to the Missisquoi River—which are next to two of the sites filled by the St. Pierres. The settlement also requires these additional restored areas to be protected through a conservation easement.

Brownlee Construction to Pay $27,500 for Damages to Big Sioux River Wetlands

The EPA has reached an agreement with Randy L. Brownlee, Rita Brownlee, and Brownlee Construction, Inc., requiring a $27,500 civil penalty for violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA). The penalty is for discharges of dredged and/or fill material to wetlands adjacent to the Big Sioux River in Watertown, Codington County, S.D.

“EPA is taking this action to deter future violations of laws that protect South Dakota's water resources,” said Michael Gaydosh, EPA's assistant regional administrator in Denver. "In addition to providing habitat for birds and wildlife, wetlands along the Big Sioux River play important roles in water quality enhancement, water storage and retention, and flood attenuation."

The civil penalty resolves CWA violations that occurred in 2005 when the Brownlees illegally discharged material into 0.30 acres of wetlands to prepare the site for commercial use. This activity was completed without a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). The Clean Water Act prohibits discharges to wetlands and other U.S. waters unless authorized by a permit. During their investigation, the Corps found that a total of 0.65 acres of wetlands had been filled with dredged and/or fill material without authorization, including approximately 0.35 acres of wetlands in 1991. The Corps subsequently referred the case to EPA for enforcement. In March 2008, EPA approved Brownlee Construction's wetland restoration and mitigation plan, which is currently being implemented in accordance with an approved schedule.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit is required before performing any work that results in discharges of dredged or fill material into U.S. waters, which includes lakes, rivers, streams, and certain wetlands. Property owners, contractors, or developers planning to do any work in such waters should always contact the Corps in Pierre, South Dakota, at 605-224-8531 to determine if they need a permit before they begin work.

Borton and Sons, Inc. Agrees to Pay EPA More Than $16,000 for CAA Risk Management Program Violations

EPA announced that Borton & Sons, Inc. (Borton & Sons) has agreed to pay $16,746 for alleged federal Clean Air Act (CAA) Risk Management Program violations. The alleged violations occurred between June 21, 2004, and June 30, 2006.

As part of the settlement with the EPA, Borton & Sons also has corrected all alleged violations, and agreed to spend at least $53,544 on implementing a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) within the next 12 months. The SEP involves taking steps to reduce the risk of release of anhydrous ammonia from pipes in its facility. These steps include:

  • Removing Rubatex foam rubber insulation from the steel pipes, which transport anhydrous ammonia to its refrigerated storage facility
  • Replacing insulation with an insulation system that provides a better fit and more reliable moisture seal
  • Replacing any damaged, pitted, or rusted pipes

EPA was particularly concerned about the lack of:

  • Safety information pertaining to the hazards of ammonia
  • Procedures for identifying, evaluating, and controlling the hazards involved in the cold storage process
  • Sufficient operating procedures and operator training
  • Documentation regarding process equipment maintenance


According to Mike Bussell, director of EPA’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle, the Risk Management Program is designed to protect public health and the environment from accidental releases of harmful chemicals.

"We can't take chances with public health," Bussell said. "Preventing a release of something as potentially dangerous as anhydrous ammonia protects the lives of workers, responders, and nearby residents."

Borton & Sons owns and operates a cold storage warehouse in Yakima, Wash., where it utilizes more than 10,000 lbs of anhydrous ammonia for refrigeration purposes. At that level of use, the Clean Air Act requires Borton & Sons to implement a Risk Management Program (RMP). Specifically, Section 112(r) requires all public and private facilities that manufacture, process, use, store, or otherwise handle greater than a threshold amount of a regulated substance(s) to develop a "Risk Management Program" and submit Risk Management Plans. Toxic chemicals, such as ammonia and chlorine, are covered by the program.

Anhydrous ammonia is one of the most dangerous chemicals used in refrigeration and agriculture today. Few problems occur when ammonia is being handled as intended; most accidents with anhydrous ammonia are due to uncontrolled releases. It is used and stored under high pressure, which requires specially designed and well-maintained equipment. Those who work with anhydrous ammonia must be trained to follow exact handling procedures. The primary causes of uncontrolled releases are improper handling procedures, careless or untrained workers, or faulty equipment.

Mayor Bloomberg Signs First-of-its-Kind Energy Conservation Law

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed a first of its kind law prohibiting businesses from wasting energy by blasting air conditioning out open doors and onto city sidewalks to attract customers. This new energy conservation measure could become a model for municipalities across the country that are seeking to conserve energy, reduce local global warming pollution, and relieve summer peak demands on their power supplies.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) assisted City Council staff on technical aspects of this legislation (Intro. 264) and pushed for it to become law. An analysis commissioned by the NRDC found that a business with a typical 6-foot by 7-foot doorway in New York City wastes up to $1,000 and about a ton of CO2 in a summer if it leaves it’s door open with the air conditioning on.

“Businesses that try to entice passersby into their stores by opening their doors in the summer heat and spilling air conditioning out onto city sidewalks have been doing so at steep energy and environmental costs,” said Eric A. Goldstein, director of the New York Urban Program at NRDC.

“The innovative bill Mayor Bloomberg is expected to sign will require New York City businesses to keep their doors closed to conserve energy, curb air pollution, and reduce the demand on our overstressed power grid. The Long Island Power Authority has estimated that stores engaging in this practice waste 20%–25% of the air-conditioning they use. This practice is foolish; it inflates these stores’ electric bills and it puts city neighborhoods at an increased risk for blackouts.

“Over the past several summers, the city’s peak electricity demand has reached record levels, causing power outages and brownouts. Already this summer, drain on the city’s power grid has caused several Brooklyn and Manhattan neighborhoods to lose power, and slowed transit on five subway lines. Wasting air conditioning through this widespread practice also jeopardizes the reliability of the city’s power supply on the hottest summer days, when the city is struggling to keep its power service reliable.

EPA Provides Water Well Precautions and Actions

Homeowners with water wells need to take special precautions and actions in the aftermath of hurricanes. What follows is a "how to" concerning the steps homeowners should take to ensure a safe return to water well operation. Because of the extensive flood area and the speed and direction of ground water flow, your well may not be a safe source of water for many months after the flood. The well can become contaminated with bacteria or other contaminants.

Waste water from malfunctioning septic tanks or chemicals seeping into the ground can contaminate the ground water even after the water was tested and found to be safe. It will be necessary to take long range precautions, including repeated testing, to protect the safety of drinking water.

Swiftly moving flood water can carry large debris that could loosen well hardware, dislodge well construction materials, or distort casing. Coarse sediment in the flood waters could erode pump components. If the well is not tightly capped, sediment and flood water could enter the well and contaminate it. Wells that are more than 10 years old or less than 50 feet deep are likely to be contaminated, even if there is no apparent damage. Floods may cause some wells to collapse.

Also, after flood waters have receded and the pump and electrical system have dried, do not turn on the equipment until the wiring system has been checked by a qualified electrician, well contractor, or pump contractor. If the pump's control box was submerged during the flood, all electrical components must be dry before electrical service can be restored. Get assistance in turning the pump on from a well or pump contractor.

All pumps and their electrical components can be damaged by sediment and flood water. The pump including the valves and gears will need to be cleaned of silt and sand. If pumps are not cleaned and properly lubricated they can burn out. Get assistance from a well or pump contractor who will be able to clean, repair, or maintain different types of pumps.

Turning on the pump poses danger of electrical shock and damage to your well or pump if they have been flooded. Also, do not wash with well water. People drinking or washing with water from a private well that has been flooded risk getting sick.

Drilled, driven, or bored wells are best disinfected by a well or pump contractor, because it is difficult for the private owner to thoroughly disinfect these wells.

If you suspect that your well may be contaminated, contact your local or state health department or agriculture extension agent for specific advice on disinfecting your well. The suggestions below are intended to supplement food precautions issued by state and local health authorities.

The EPA offers the following instructions for the emergency disinfection of wells that have been flooded. First, before disinfecting the well: Check the condition of your well. Make sure there is no exposed or damaged wiring. If you notice any damage, call a professional before the disinfection process.

  • Step 1: If your water is muddy or cloudy, run the water from an outside spigot with a hose attached until the water becomes clear and free of sediments.
  • Step 2: Determine what type of well you have and how to pour bleach into the well. Some wells have a sanitary seal with either an air vent or a plug that can be removed. If it is a bored or dug well, the entire cover can be lifted off to provide a space for pouring bleach into the well.
  • Step 3: Take the gallon of bleach and funnel (if needed) and carefully pour the bleach down into the well casing.
  • Step 4: After the bleach has been added, run water from an outside hose into the well casing until you smell chlorine coming from the hose. Then turn off the outside hose.
  • Step 5: Turn on all cold water faucets, inside and outside of the house, until the chlorine odor is detected in each faucet, then shut them all off. If you have a water treatment system, switch it to bypass before turning on the indoor faucets.
  • Step 6: Wait 6 to 24 hours before turning the faucets back on. It is important not to drink, cook, bathe, or wash with this water during the time period—it contains high amounts of chlorine.
  • Step 7: Once the waiting period is up, turn on an outside spigot with hose attached and run the water into a safe area where it will not disturb plants, lakes, streams or septic tanks. Run the water until there is no longer a chlorine odor. Turn the water off.
  • Step 8: The system should now be disinfected, and you can now use the water.
  • Step 9: Have your water tested for bacteria 7 to 10 days after disinfection.

Materials needed include one gallon of non-scented household liquid bleach, rubber gloves, eye protection, old clothes, and a funnel.

Contact your local health department to have well water sampled and tested for contamination. Or, call your state laboratory certification officer to find a certified lab near you. You can get this number from the Safe Drinking Water Hotline (1-800-426-4791).

If the health department issues sterile bottles for the private well owner to collect water samples, follow all instructions for the use of these bottles. After the pump is back in operation, the health department should sample and test the water at regular intervals.

If in doubt about the well water supply, follow health department drinking and bathing advisories. Remember that there is a danger of electrical shock from any electrical device that has been flooded; consult a certified electrician. Rubber boots and gloves are not adequate protection from electric shock.

Well disinfection will not provide protection from pesticides, heavy metals, and other types of non-biological contamination. If such contamination is suspected, due to the nearness of these contaminant sources, special treatment is required.

If you observe chemical containers (including barrels and drums) that have moved to your property, call your state or county health department or the Superfund Hotline (1-800-424-9346).

Well owners may have information about the construction or testing of their well, and this information will be helpful to the health department in determining water quality conditions.

Utah Gold and Silver Refining Company Pleads Guilty to Clean Water Act Violation

Johnson Matthey Inc., the owner and operator of a gold and silver refining facility in Salt Lake City, Utah, pleaded guilty to a felony violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA) for failing to properly report wastewater discharges at the facility, the Justice Department announced. The former plant manager and former general manager both pleaded guilty to making false statements and were sentenced by Dee Benson, U.S. District Judge for the District of Utah.

Federal prosecutors and the corporation have agreed, as a part of today’s plea agreement, to a total fine of $3 million. U.S. District Judge Dee Benson set sentencing for the corporation for Dec. 2, 2008, at 2:30 p.m.

Former plant manager Paul Greaves and former general manager John McKelvie admitted to one felony violation for making false statements in relation to requirements for reporting pollutants under the Clean Water Act at the precious metals refining facility. Greaves was sentenced to 1 year probation, a $500 fine, and 20 hours community service; McKelvie was sentenced to 1 year probation, a $1,000 fine, and 20 hours community service.

The case arose out of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) investigation into JMI’s discharge monitoring reports required under the CWA. The Salt Lake City facility opened in 1982 and refines both gold and silver from a semi-refined product called dore. As part of the refining process, pollutants such as selenium, among other materials, accumulated in the wastewater. JMI’s wastewater was treated at several steps in the facility to remove selenium before JMI discharged the wastewater to a sewer leading to Central Valley Water Reclamation Facility (Central Valley), where it was subsequently treated and discharged to the Jordan River.

From approximately 1996 through 2002, JMI had difficulty consistently limiting selenium discharges to meet its permit limit. An internal audit conducted by JMI’s auditor in 1999 discovered that the facility had exceeded its permit limit for selenium and that employees had screened samples before submitting them to an outside laboratory for analysis. The auditor warned the general manager that this violated the terms of JMI’s industrial discharge permit, which required that samples be representative of the reported discharge.

In January 2000, to avoid disclosing true concentrations of the selenium-contaminated wastewater discharged from the facility, employees again screened the samples they reported to Central Valley by analyzing in-house the selenium concentrations and then submitting samples with low selenium concentrations to an outside laboratory for eventual reporting to Central Valley.

"Greaves and McKelvie knowingly submitted false reports to environmental regulators and today they are facing the consequences of their actions,” said Ronald J. Tenpas, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Today’s penalty is a reminder that the Justice Department is committed to protecting the environment and ensuring a level playing field for corporations that follow the law.”

“This case reaffirms the United States’ commitment to work with local governments to ensure that industry honors the community’s rights to clean water and accurate information about industry’s activities that impact the environment,” said Brett L. Tolman, U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah. “When, as in this case, industry fails to honor either of these commitments, the United States will take the necessary civil or criminal actions to help industry remember its commitments to the community.”

The case was investigated by the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard Lambert and Jared Bennett and Trial Attorney J. Ronald Sutcliffe of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section.

EPA Orders Illinois Dairy to Stop Discharges, Apply for Permit

EPA Region 5 has ordered Mondt Dairy Farm in Aviston, Ill., in Clinton County, to stop discharging stormwater and process wastewater, apply for a wastewater discharge permit from Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and come into compliance with the Clean Water Act (CWA).

Mondt Dairy Farm is a medium-sized confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) with a capacity for 350 cows. EPA conducted a flyover and subsequent inspection of the dairy and found several CWA violations. EPA determined the need for a wastewater discharge permit and the installation of waste containment structures to prevent the discharge of process wastewater to Sugar Creek.

Stormwater run-off and production area discharges from CAFOs typically contain very high levels of nutrients and pathogens that can pose a threat to public health and harm aquatic life. The CWA requires CAFOs that discharge to obtain and comply with Clean Water Act permits.

EPA Taking Public Comment on Fine Particle Recommendations

EPA is opening a 30-day public comment period on its recommendations for areas to be designated as out of compliance with the Agency’s 24-hour fine particle air quality standards. Comments must be received on or before Oct. 2, 2008. The 30-day period began with the Sept. 2 Federal Register notice of the national comment period.

On August 19 and 20, EPA notified states and tribes of its recommendations for areas to be designated as “attainment” or “nonattainment” for fine particle pollution, also called PM2.5. Exposure to fine particle pollution is linked to a variety of serious health problems, including aggravated asthma, chronic bronchitis, nonfatal heart attacks, and premature death.


King Foods Fined for Violating Pennsylvania Storage Tank Act

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued a $24,000 penalty recently against the owners of King Foods in Harrisburg for the company’s ongoing failure to test its underground fuel storage tanks as required.

DEP’s investigations found that Mohammed and Shabana Swati, owners of the store at 1300 N. Second St., committed multiple violations of the state’s Storage Tank Act, including a failure to perform necessary monitoring activities, such as a cathodic protection test that is required at three-year intervals. The owners also did not perform tank- and piping-release detection tests.

As part of a consent order and agreement, the Swatis are also required to enter into a five-year contract with a DEP-certified tank handling company, which will provide compliance assistance at four King Food stores housing underground storage tanks.

The other Harrisburg store locations with past violations are: King Food, 2727 N. Sixth St.; King Food, 2013 N. Seventh St.; and Kings Food Mart 2, 1423 N. Sixth St.

In the past four years, the Swatis have paid more than $57,000 in civil penalties for regulatory violations of the Storage Tank Act, which protects the public by allowing DEP to develop environmental protection and monitoring programs that prevent and clean up storage tank releases and spills.

DEP Southcentral Regional Director Rachel Diamond said the Swati’s compliance history and the environmental threat created by the violations warranted the department’s action.

“Due to the numerous and repeated violations, the department felt the compliance assistance by a third-party vendor was necessary,” Diamond said. “By failing to comply with the state’s monitoring regulations, the owners and the public face the risk that a leak could go undetected, causing serious harm to the environment and public health.”

New Workgroup Focuses on Carbon Capture Regs

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has created the Carbon Capture and Geologic Sequestration Workgroup that will develop state regulations governing ways to capture carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants.

Carbon Capture and Geologic Sequestration (CCGS) is an approach for mitigating greenhouse gas emissions by capturing carbon dioxide from large stationary sources, such as coal-fired power plants and storing it in deep rock formations instead of releasing it to the atmosphere. The first meeting of the CCGS Workgroup is scheduled for 9 a.m. September 8 in Room 101 at DEQ, 168 North 1950 West, Salt Lake City.

The 2008 Legislature passed Senate Bill 202 that amended the Utah Energy Resource Procurement Act, requiring the Division of Water Quality and the Division of Air Quality, in collaboration with the Public Service Commission, the Division of Oil, Gas and Mining, and the Utah Geological Survey to develop rules for the capture, transportation, and geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide (CO2).

“There will be a concerted effort among all the agencies involved to develop these rules and prepare comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule regulating underground carbon sequestration,” said Candace Cady, a Water Quality scientist who will chair the CO2 Injection Well Subcommittee of the CCGS Workgroup. “The proposed EPA rule only addresses federal requirements for the injection wells; it does not address requirements for the capture of carbon dioxide at its source or its transportation to the injection well.”

The CCGS Workgroup is comprised of local government, state and federal regulators, land managers, attorneys, state and national environmental groups, public health officials as well as power generators and those from the oil and gas industry. The Workgroup consists of a steering committee, three subcommittees, an advisory committee and a stakeholder group, all of which will provide input in the rules development process. 

San Francisco Adopts Green Building Standards

"If we want to get serious about addressing the root causes of global warming, then let’s draw down the empty rhetoric and start taking concrete actions," Mayor Newsom said. "A lot of people don’t realize that their homes and businesses create a significant portion of our carbon footprint, so today, by signing these strict green building standards into law, we’re saying enough is enough. Let’s end the stale promises, emphasize conservation, and tackle climate change on all fronts."

The City's Climate Action Plan found that energy use in buildings and facilities is responsible for approximately 50% of San Francisco's greenhouse gas emissions. In 1990, San Francisco's energy use resulted in a total of approximately 4.5 million tons of CO2 emissions released into the atmosphere, making green building a critical component in the fight against climate change.

Some of the significant cumulative benefits this ordinance is expected to achieve through 2012 are: reducing CO2 emissions by 60,000 tons, saving 220,000 megawatt hours of power, saving 100 million gallons of drinking water, reducing waste and storm water by 90 million gallons of water, reducing construction and demolition waste by 700 million pounds, increasing the valuations of recycled materials by $200 million, reducing automobile trips by 540,000, and increasing green power generation by 37,000 megawatt hours.

This ordinance also continues San Francisco's efforts to reduce the city's greenhouse gas emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by the year 2012, a goal outlined in the City's 2004 Climate Action Plan. In addition, by reducing San Francisco's emissions, this ordinance also furthers the state's efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions statewide as mandated by the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

In 2007, Mayor Gavin Newsom established a Task Force on Green Buildings for the city comprised of 10 members from San Francisco's ownership, developer, financial, architectural, engineering, and construction community.

The mission of the Task Force was to advise and recommend to the city's policy makers: mandates, incentives, education, and outreach in order to increase the number and improve the quality of green buildings in San Francisco, and to assess the impacts of the Task Force's recommendations.

The Task Force issued its report and recommendations in June 2007. This legislation is based upon the Task Force's findings.

Propane Distribution Firm Pays $36,375 for Diesel Emission Violations

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has fined a Cameron Park, Calif., propane distributor $36,375 this month for diesel truck emission violations.

An ARB audit of Suburban Propane found that the company did not annually inspect its heavy-duty diesel vehicles in 2006 and 2007 at fleet centers in Placerville, Rancho Cordova, Redding, Yreka, Grass Valley, Clearlake, Lancaster, Santa Cruz, Marina, Turlock, Oakhurst, Fresno, Escondido, Lake Isabella, San Jose, and Concord.

"ARB's diesel inspection program keeps dirty trucks off the roadways so communities can breathe easier," ARB Chief Counsel Ellen Peter said. "We will continue to ferret out and assess penalties against companies failing to inspect their vehicles."

As part of the settlement, Suburban Propane must comply with the following:

  • Guarantee employees that are responsible for conducting the inspections attend a mandatory class on diesel emissions and provide certificates of completion within one year
  • Provide documentation to ARB that the inspections are being carried out for the next four years
  • Revise truck engine software with the latest Low-NOx programming
  • Ensure that all diesel trucks are up to federal emissions standards for the vehicle model year and are properly labeled with an engine certification label


The company will pay $36,375 in penalties: $27,281.25 will go to the California Air Pollution Control Fund, which provides funding for projects and research to improve California's air quality, with the remaining $9,093.75 going to Peralta Community College District to fund emission education classes.

A decade ago, the ARB listed diesel particulate matter as a toxic air contaminant in order to protect public health. Exposure to unsafe levels of diesel emissions can increase the risk of asthma, bronchitis, and other respiratory diseases. California has aggressively worked to cut diesel emissions by cleaning up diesel fuel, requiring cleaner engines for trucks, buses, and off-road equipment, and limiting unnecessary idling.

Man Pleads Guilty to Illegal Pesticide Sales

An investigation by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation has led to a guilty plea on criminal charges that involved illegal pesticide sales to consumers, including Internet sales.

Appearing in Riverside Superior Court last week, Orrin William Tanke, 67, of Riverside, pleaded guilty to five felonies and five misdemeanors. The Riverside District Attorney’s Office charged Tanke with the illegal manufacture and sale of pesticides—including highly toxic chemicals—to consumers online and through the mail.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, Tanke faces potential penalties ranging up to about $300,000 or a prison term. DPR officials said it is one of the few pesticide cases to be criminally prosecuted in California history.

“The Web has become a conduit for all kinds of commerce, including the illegal sale of pesticides,” said DPR Director Mary-Ann Warmerdam. “As state regulators, we have very limited resources and authority to pursue internet crime, but the violations in this case were flagrant. They presented a real threat to public health and safety.”

Online pesticide sales are legal in California, but all out-of-state vendors, and most in-state sellers, must be licensed by DPR. They also must comply with state regulations that prevent consumers from purchasing professional products, which may be more toxic than over-the-counter products.

DPR investigators said Tanke obtained pesticides never intended for consumer use; repackaged pesticides with his own, phony label and inadequate safety instructions; placed false advertising for pesticides on his website; illegally stored pesticides; and sold pesticides that weren’t approved for legal use.

DPR opened the case in May 2007, when the Department received a complaint from a consumer who mail-ordered the insecticide diazinon from Tanke. Diazinon is an older-generation organophosphate that disrupts the nervous system. Even highly diluted diazinon formulations were phased out of consumer products in 2004 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, under a federal law to protect children’s health.

On Tanke’s website, a professional-strength diazinon product was described as “totally safe to be used around humans, pets, and food areas.” DPR had samples tested that showed the product as sold contained nearly 50% of the highly toxic chemical, a much higher concentration than considered safe for non-professional users. However, testing on some other pesticide products sold by Tanke showed they were so diluted as to be practically ineffective.

Subsequent investigation of Tanke—who operated under the business name, “Quality Supply Company”—unraveled aliases and Internet sales transactions that initially made it difficult to trace his business activities. DPR investigators say the actual volume of his illegal pesticide sales in California and other states may never be known, because it appeared that he kept few sales records for years.

In 2004, DPR had begun a civil investigation of Quality Supply Company, located at the same Riverside address where Tanke resides. In 2006, DPR charged that Quality Supply and an individual who identified himself as “Bill Johnson” illegally sold an organophosphate pesticide via the Web. The case resulted in a $25,000 default judgment in DPR’s favor, but Johnson could not be located and the penalty went uncollected.

Riverside Police served a warrant at Quality Supply, which also was Tanke’s residence. In the process, police were forced to break down the front door. Tanke attempted to flee but was detained for questioning.

Inside the residence, investigators found weapons, along with evidence that Tanke was conducting an illegal pesticide business—including some invoices, shipping records, credit card receipts, and printouts from a website—but no pesticides. A DPR investigator then began canvassing local self-storage units and found one rented by Tanke.

Several days later, a second warrant was executed on the storage unit and investigators found restricted-use pesticides, unregistered pesticides packaged and ready for shipment, and boxes of invoices. DPR seized the chemicals under its authority to quarantine hazardous and illegal pesticides. As investigators worked at the scene, Tanke pulled up in a vehicle and was recognized by a DPR investigator before he sped away.

DPR worked closely with the Riverside District Attorney’s Office, which filed the unusual criminal complaint against Tanke last May, leading to his arrest and the recent plea. Tanke is scheduled for sentencing in October.

One of six departments and boards within the California Environmental Protection Agency, DPR regulates the sale and use of pesticides to protect people and the environment.

Company Fined $30,000 for Improper Handling of Bakery Waste

Endres Processing LLC, of Rosemount, Minn., has paid a $30,000 civil penalty to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for, among other alleged violations, storing approximately 600 tons of solid waste outdoors, uncovered and without a permit. The violations occurred between September 2006 and March 2007.

Endres Processing's Rosemount facility is located on a bluff above the Mississippi River, about eight miles upstream of Hastings. The facility processes discarded food products, such as baked goods, dried foods, snack foods, candy, and dairy and grain products, and converts them into animal feed.

According to the MPCA, Endres needed a solid waste permit to store these waste materials. Nevertheless, the company stored them outdoors without cover or containment, allowing polluted water from the waste to drain to the river.

In addition, Endres did not satisfactorily collect and transport solid waste to a permitted solid waste facility. Instead, Endres sent waste to the Great Western Terminal in St. Paul, which did not hold a permit to store, transfer, or dispose of solid waste. Responding to a complaint on Nov. 3, 2006, the MPCA documented 1,200 tons of rotting bakery waste at the terminal, stored outdoors, close to the Mississippi River, and with no system in place to prevent polluted water from leaving the site.

On March 19, 2007, MPCA staff inspected the Rosemount facility and documented the outdoor storage of food waste—approximately 600 tons of the waste observed the previous week was still present outside the processing building. In at least two locations, food waste was piled up on unprotected ground. MPCA inspectors also observed water that had been in contact with the waste pooled on a clogged storm-sewer inlet.

In addition to paying the $30,000 civil penalty, Endres has agreed to remove and properly manage all solid waste stored outside at its processing facility by delivering the material to a facility that is authorized to handle it. Endres also agreed to abide by a housekeeping program (that it agreed to in a 2003 stipulation agreement with the MPCA) that involves daily cleanup and removal of waste from outdoor areas.

A stipulation agreement is one of the tools the MPCA uses to achieve compliance with environmental laws. When calculating penalties, the agency takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it is a first-time or repeat violation, and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. The MPCA also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.

Localized Pollution Potentially Plays Large Role in Future Climate Change

 The report also says that while these pollutants are generated locally they will have global climate implications.

Such short-lived pollution includes black carbon (soot), low-altitude ozone, nitrates, and sulfates. Each type of pollution influences surface temperatures differently—from the cooling influence of sulfate particles, which tend to reflect sunlight, to the warming characteristics of heat-absorbing black carbon.

The full CCSP report, Climate Projections Based on Emissions Scenarios for Long-Lived and Short-Lived Radiatively Active Gases and Aerosols, and a companion summary brochure are available online.

“Previous research suggests that the warming of the surface climate by increasing levels of long-lived greenhouse gases has been partially offset by increasing levels of those short-lived particles that reflect sunlight. T
While short-lived pollutants are generated locally and tend to be concentrated close to their source, they exert a global influence. The report cites a climate model projection of emissions and pollutant levels over Asia that results in a rise in temperature and a decline in rainfall over the continental United States during the summer throughout the second half of this century.

“By 2050, projected changes in short-lived pollutant concentrations in two of the three studies are responsible for approximately 20% of the simulated global-mean annual average warming. By 2100, changes in the levels of short-lived gases and particles could account for a significant portion of the predicted warming, due to a projected increase in black carbon and ozone and a decrease in sulfate,” said Drew Shindell, Ph.D., climate scientist at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York and co-author of the new CCSP report. “However, these climate impacts depend on emission forecasts far into the future, and the range of reasonable emissions projections is very large, even for a single economic and technology storyline.”

“This report finds that reducing black carbon emissions in the domestic energy/power sector in Asia appears to offer the greatest potential for substantial, simultaneous improvements in local air quality and global climate. Reduction in emissions from ground transportation in North America could have similar beneficial impacts,” said Alice Gilliland, Ph.D., a lead author of the new CCSP report and previously a physical scientist with NOAA’s Air Resources Laboratory. “To assess potential impacts of air quality management actions on future climate, current decision-making tools must be extended to consider local and global scales concurrently. There is a critical need for integrated decision-making with respect to air quality and climate mitigation.”

Take a Five-Second Flight to Top Environmental Hot Spots

Here they can witness at first hand in 3D the impacts of climate change and other destructive human activities on the earth’s environment and natural resources.

Highlights include the appearance of road networks in the remote rainforests of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the dramatic expansion of many West African cities.

Other highlights, presented as a series of ‘before and after’ images include the surprising changes in the glaciers of Greenland and Alaska and the loss of biodiversity-rich spiny forests to farms in Madagascar.

“If we are to change the hearts and minds of the global public we need to surprise, to excite and occasionally perhaps to shock. These images, allied to modern computer technology, do all three,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director. “But these ‘fly-by’ satellite sets do more. They also show humanity is equally capable of positive, intelligent, and empowering change—from the re-forestation of parts of Niger to a new management plan for the Itezhi-tezhi Dam in Zambia, which is helping to restore natural and seasonal flooding.”

Environmental News Links

Trivia Question of the Week

According to the U.S. Snow and Ice Data Center, the ice cover in the Arctic Ocean retreated the most in August 2008, as compared to August of any prior year on record. The ice cover retreated:

a. 1,000 square kilometers
b. 10,000 square kilometers
c. 100,000 square kilometers
d. 2.5 million square kilometers