Given the legal constraints within the Clean Air Act, EPA cannot approve the State of California's request to waive the federal oxygen content requirement for reformulated gasoline (RFG), Administrator Christie Whitman announced.
After an extensive analysis, the Agency concluded that there is significant uncertainty over the change in emissions that would result from a waiver. California has not clearly demonstrated what the impact on smog would be from a waiver of the oxygen mandate. "We cannot grant a waiver for California since there is no clear evidence that a waiver will help California to reduce harmful levels of air pollutants," said Whitman.
In April 1999, California Governor Gray Davis requested a waiver from the oxygen requirement, contending that the oxygen mandate impeded California's ability to further reduce smog-forming nitrogen oxides. Governor Davis' request for a waiver closely followed his announcement that the state would ban the use of the oxygenate methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) starting in 2003.
The Clean Air Act requires that RFG contain oxygen to reduce harmful emissions of ozone, a major component of smog. RFG is a cleaner-burning gasoline required by federal law to be used in certain major metropolitan areas of the United States with the worst ozone air pollution problems. MTBE is an additive in gasoline used by many refiners to meet oxygen level requirements.
Whitman added, "The Administration is concerned about the risks of MTBE in drinking water in California and other states. Clean air and clean water are equally important. We do not want to pursue one at the expense of the other. As it currently stands, the Clean Air Act provisions limit the Agency's ability to address these concerns. We are exploring all options and currently assessing the health risks of MTBE."
EPA says that it is committed to working with Congress to address
concerns about MTBE, while maintaining the air quality and other
benefits of the RFG program.
EPA TAKES OVER RCRA ENFORCEMENT AT CERTAIN COLORADO SITES
EPA Region 8 has assumed Direct Implementation (DI) responsibility for managing the hazardous waste permitting and corrective action activities at the nine facilities listed below.
Alliant Techsystems, Littleton, CO
Approved Oil Service, Commerce City, CO
Colorado Refining Company, Commerce City, CO
Conoco, Commerce City, CO
Ensign-Bickford Co., Louviers, CO
Hamilton Sundstrand, Denver, CO
Koppers Industries, Denver, CO
Raytheon Aircraft Company, Boulder, CO
Remelt Metals, Englewood, CO
Fact sheets on the these RCRA waste sites are available at
EPA WAIVES $345,105 IN PENALTIES FOR SEVEN COMPANIES AFTER VOLUNTARY DISCLOSURE OF VIOLATIONS
EPA is waiving a potential $345,105 in penalties against seven companies - six in Pennsylvania and one in Virginia -- after they voluntarily reported and rectified their own environmental violations, the agency's mid-Atlantic office recently announced.
Acting under policies that reward companies for voluntarily reporting their own environmental violations, EPA is waiving $345,105 in total penalties against the following companies: Armstrong World Industries, Lancaster, Pa.; Cabot Corp., Boyertown, Pa.; Encor Coatings, Inc., Montgomeryville, Pa.; Pyramid Industries II, Inc., Erie, Pa.; Shenandoah's Pride LLC, Springfield, Va.; SinterMet LLC, Kittanning, Pa.; and Southco, Inc., Concordville, Pa.
EPA's audit policy substantially reduces, and often eliminates, penalties for violations discovered and corrected by a company. The policy does not cover criminal violations, or violations resulting in significant harm to public health or the environment.
Six cases involved alleged violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) - the federal law requiring companies to file annual reports of releases of toxic chemicals. EPCRA requires companies that manufacture, process or use more than a threshold amount of regulated chemicals to report both routine and accidental releases of these chemicals.
In the Cabot Corp. case, the company reported that for 37 days between September 1999 and February 2000, it had failed to properly monitor and record the operations of an air pollution control device, as required by the Clean Air Act permit for the company's research and development pilot plant in Boyertown.
In their own environmental compliance audits, the companies discovered failures to file required reports on various chemicals used or stored at their facilities. Note: the EPCRA violations involved in the announcement involved non-compliance with reporting requirements and not unlawful releases of toxic chemicals.
According to Acting Regional Administrator Thomas C. Voltaggio, EPA regularly collects substantial penalties for violations similar to those reported by these companies. "As shown by these penalty waivers, companies can protect the environment and their own bottom lines by closely monitoring their regulatory compliance, promptly reporting and correcting violations, and acting to prevent future problems," Voltaggio said.
Voltaggio noted that if EPA had uncovered the EPCRA violations - either through investigations or from information provided by other sources - the companies would have faced potential penalties totaling $345,105, as follows: Armstrong World Industries ($163,000), Cabot Corp. ($44,550), Encor Coatings Inc. ($8,565), Pyramid Industries II, Inc. ($15,090), Shenandoah's Pride LLC ($40,800), and Southco., Inc. ($73,100). (EPA determined that a penalty against SinterMet was not required under the EPCRA enforcement policies.)
As of December 2000, 35 companies in EPA's mid-Atlantic region
have disclosed environmental violations at over 140 facilities.
EPA's regional office has reduced or waived nearly $3 million in
penalties under the audit policy. EPA's audit policy is posted at
SAMPLE STORM WATER POLLUTION PREVENTION PLANS AVAILABLE FROM EPA REGION 3
All NPDES storm water permits (individual, group, multi-sector, or general) require storm water pollution prevention plans (SWP3). This plan consists of steps to identify potential sources of pollution or contamination and carry out actions that prevent or control the pollution of storm water.
The steps are grouped into five phases:
- Planning and organization
- Best Management Practice (BMP) identification
The plan should also address any special requirements in your
facility's permit. EPA recently published some sample plans at
FAA PROPOSES $72,000 PENALTY AGAINST HOUSTON COMPANY FOR HAZMAT VIOLATIONS
The Federal Aviation Administration, Southern Region, has proposed to assess a $72,000 civil penalty against Nutrition for Life International, Inc., of Houston, Tex., for allegedly violating Department of Transportation hazardous materials regulations.
FAA alleges that Nutrition for Life improperly offered a fiberboard box containing two one-pint plastic bottles of "Nutrition for Life, Virahol Enviro Defense System" to UPS for transportation by air. This substance is denatured alcohol, which is a flammable liquid and is classified as a hazardous material. Ground handling employees at the UPS sort facility in Louisville, Ky., discovered the shipment leaking.
Nutrition for Life offered the hazardous materials for
transportation when they were not packaged, labeled, marked,
classed, described, documented, or in condition for shipment as
required by regulations. Nutrition for Life also failed to ensure
employees were trained to properly package and handle hazardous
materials, and did not make available at all times the required
emergency response information.
Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act
- July 1
- Form Rs or Form As are due for Section 313 toxic chemicals (40 CFR 327). Voluntary revisions to these forms are due by July 31
Toxic Substances Control Act
- July 1
- Written annual document log must be prepared for facilities that, at any one time, use or store at least 45 kg of PCBs in containers or transformers or 50 or more large high or low voltage capacitors (40 CFR 761.180).