EPA Issues New Industrial Stormwater General Permit

September 29, 2008

EPA has published a new Stormwater Multi-Sector General Permit () for an estimated 4,100 industrial facilities in 29 different sectors, requiring the implementation of site-specific stormwater pollution prevention plans to protect water quality. Facilities are required to install control measures that meet established technology- and water quality-based effluent limits and must develop a stormwater pollution prevention plan.

“These new controls will help prevent stormwater pollution, one of the country’s greatest threats to water, and improve reporting and accountability at industrial sites,” said Benjamin H. Grumbles, EPA’s assistant administrator for water.

The new permit offers several improvements from the previous MSGP, including easier to understand discharge requirements; fast and easy electronic filing of Notices of Intent (NOIs) and monitoring reports; Web-based tools for locating waterbodies and determining impairment status; and updated monitoring, inspection, and corrective action schedules.

The MSGP applies to facilities in states and territories not authorized to implement EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program, including Alaska, Idaho, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Mexico, parts of Texas and Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia, and the territories of Guam, American Samoa, Johnston Atoll, and Midway and Wake Islands. The MSGP also applies to facilities located in Indian Country lands in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona, California, Nevada, Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, as well as to industrial activities taking place on federal facilities in Vermont, Delaware, and Washington.

Under the Clean Water Act, all facilities that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States must obtain an NPDES permit. 

EPA Launches New Chemical Assessment and Management Efforts

As part of the EPA's Chemical Assessment and Management Program (ChAMP), EPA has announced its intent to update the current Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Inventory of industrial chemicals by "resetting" it to more accurately reflect the chemicals in commerce. EPA also plans to develop a program to challenge the U.S. chemical industry to provide health and safety information on inorganic high-production volume (HPV) chemicals. These efforts will enhance the agency's efforts to assess and manage the chemicals presently in commerce and are based on feedback from a broad group of stakeholders.

"Chemicals are used every day in all types of settings—from science labs to our homes," EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson said. "The more we know about the chemicals we use today, the more we can ensure a healthier, safer tomorrow."

EPA will seek additional stakeholder and public input on specific plans for resetting the TSCA Inventory and for developing a phased, multi-year approach for challenging the chemical industry to provide EPA with health and safety information on HPV inorganic chemicals. Of the more than 83,000 chemicals on the TSCA Inventory, many are no longer manufactured or imported. EPA has already collected information on 2,200 organic chemical HPV chemicals. HPV chemicals account for more than 90% of the production volume on the TSCA Inventory.

These new efforts are in addition to EPA's ongoing work to assess and manage 6,750 high and moderate volume chemicals. To date, EPA has posted assessments on more than 100 HPV chemicals, which are manufactured or imported above one million pounds a year. The agency recently posted assessments on an initial set of moderate volume chemicals—those manufactured or imported between 25,000 and one million pounds a year.

REACH Pre-Registration Ends in 62 Days

If you are reading this on September 29, you have only 62 days to preregister products and chemicals that you sell in Europe for REACH. Without preregistration, and ultimate registration, your products will not be allowed in the European market. 

Senate Passes Clean Energy Tax Incentives Bill

On September 23, the U.S. Senate passed the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008 that will extend federal tax incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that have expired or will expire at the end of this year. The bill includes renewable energy incentives, funding for carbon capture, credits for plug-in electric vehicles, and incentives for biofuels and energy conservation. 

Who Had the Biggest DOT Hazmat Civil Penalty in 2007?

In calendar year 2007, DOT issued penalties in 169 civil cases, totaling $893,133.04. 

The largest penalty was issued to Coastline Industrial Coatings of Stafford, Texas. The company was cited for the following violations:

  • Failed to develop and adhere to a security plan
  • Offered paint and paint-related material in packages that were not marked with the proper shipping name and UN identification number for the materials
  • Failed to label packages of hazardous materials
  • Failed to register with RSPA
  • Offered hazardous materials, accompanied by shipping papers that variously:
    • Failed to provide an emergency response telephone number
    • Included an unauthorized emergency response telephone number
    • Failed to provide the proper shipping name, hazard class, and UN identification number for the material
    • Failed to include a legibly signed shipper's certification

New Measures to Cut Gas Emissions From Boats

New regulations adopted on September 25 by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) will reduce toxic gasoline emissions from outboard marine tanks and components by up to 4.2 tons per day by 2020, saving consumers about 4.6 gallons of gasoline per year in lost fuel.

"These regulations are another effective weapon in our arsenal to fight poor air quality," said Barbara Riordan, acting ARB Chairman. "They are cost-saving measures that use existing technology to help protect boaters and clean our air."

Gasoline vapors contain smog-forming pollutants along with toxics such as benzene, which have long been associated with cancer and other negative health effects.

Scheduled for implementation starting Jan. 1, 2010, the regulations impose standards on tanks, fuel hoses, primer bulbs and caps, and incorporate tools already used by ARB to limit gasoline emissions from portable fuel containers and small off-road engines and equipment. ARB staff worked with representatives of tank and fuel hose manufacturers to develop the new performance standards, and has held public workshops to discuss and develop the rule.

The regulations will cost consumers about $10 more when they purchase a new tank and components, but the new products will save consumers more than $16 per tank per year, assuming gasoline costs of $3.50 per gallon. The end result is an estimated overall reduction of about 90 million pounds of gasoline emissions from the state's estimated 200,000 outboard marine tanks over the next 18 years (the time it will take to replace existing tanks and components).

The ARB is also developing an enforcement program to ensure compliance with the new regulations.

Ohio EPA Offers New Online Business Service Center

Ohio EPA has opened its new eBusiness Center, a secure web portal for online business services. This site is the entry point for the regulated community and consultants to electronically complete and file reports and environmental permit applications as well as to pay fees.

The eBusiness Center currently offers capabilities for air permitting and wastewater discharge monitoring reports. Over the next several months, Ohio EPA will add services related to drinking water, solid waste, and hazardous waste. 

"Regulatory agencies like Ohio EPA recognize that today's competitive environment makes it critical to provide ways to speed business transactions," Ohio EPA Director Chris Korleski said. "Our new eBusiness Center will make it faster and cheaper to do business with Ohio EPA, while lowering our costs as well."

When fully operational, the Center will provide access to various reporting functions, enabling authorized users to apply for new permits and permit modifications and streamline the payment process. This integrated system will also improve the validity and coordination of Ohio EPA's data.

Using the secure site, facility representatives can: enter and submit data at any time; save partially completed applications and reports for later submittal; verify successful submissions or track the status of applications without contacting a live person; reduce paperwork; and save postage and copying costs. They will also no longer need to download and install special data reporting and application software.

Recycler Faces Million Dollar Fine for Failure to Obtain Air Permit

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has fined a Mercer County wood and mulch recycler more than $1 million for operating various pieces of diesel-powered equipment at its facility without the necessary air permits, announced Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson last week.

Britton Recycling, located on Bakers Basin Road in Lawrence Township, also faces an order to cease operations if it does not immediately secure the necessary air permits and equipment operating certificates.

“The company has repeatedly snubbed DEP orders to obtain the proper permits. No company, even a recycler, is above the laws and regulations of this state,” Commissioner Jackson said. “The company even added new equipment while under DEP orders to secure permits for existing equipment. As a result, this company faces stiff fines and potentially being shut down.”

The DEP has issued administrative orders stemming from a host of violations involving the operations of equipment including wood grinders, tree chippers, mulch-baggers, screening machines, and conveyer belts.

The equipment operates on diesel fuel, which emits pollutants that cause ozone-smog pollution and particulates. These pollutants are linked to numerous respiratory ailments.

The company was further cited with failure to comply with previous administrative orders regarding lack of permits as well as failure to maintain emission statements. Based on information available about the equipment used at the facility, the DEP estimates Britton Recycling has the potential to emit 319 tons of nitrogen oxides and 27 tons of particulates in a year. This means the company would be categorized as a major source of air pollutants under state and federal laws.

The enforcement actions result from inspections this year by the central region office of the DEP’s Air Compliance and Enforcement program. The penalty calculation is based on the company’s operation of equipment without permits on 105 days between April 24 and August 8.

Cement Company Fined for Clean Air and Emergency Right-to-Know Act Violations

EPA alleged that Dragon Products LLC violated National Emissions Standards for hazardous air pollutants required under the CAA by failing to comply with regulations designed to reduce emissions of air toxics, including arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, benzene, toluene, dioxins/furans, hexane, and formaldehyde. The regulation also is designed to reduce emissions of particulate matter and hydrocarbons, some of which are volatile organic compounds that contribute to the formation of smog. The adverse environmental and health effects associated with all of these substances are well-documented.

EPA also alleged that Dragon violated EPCRA by failing to submit to EPA Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI) Forms for lead, nickel, polycyclic aromatic compounds, manganese compounds, and nitrate compounds. Dragon manufactured, processed, or otherwise used those chemicals in quantities exceeding the established reporting thresholds.

TRI requires facilities to report chemical releases to the environment in individual communities and is an important “right-to-know” tool. The reported information is also used to assist research and aid in the development of regulations, guidelines, and emissions standards.

Dragon Products will spend at least $298,000 to take measures that will reduce the emission of fine dust particles from its facility. Exposure to fine dust particles is a serious threat to human health and has been a concern in the community surrounding Dragon’s facility.

California Adopts New Protocols for Climate Change

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) recently adopted three separate greenhouse gas emission accounting protocols to quantify emissions from local government operations and urban forest and manure digester projects.

"Today's board adoption marks yet another important step forward in California's goal to cut greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2020," ARB Acting Chairman Barbara Riordan said. "These protocols will give municipalities, as well as farmers and others, the guidance they need in moving ahead in their voluntary efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

The local government operations protocol provides a consistent methodology to develop greenhouse gas emission inventories for California's local governments, including cities and towns. The protocol lays out specific guidelines in how local governments can assess emissions from buildings and facilities; streetlights and traffic signals; water delivery and wastewater treatment facilities; ports and airports; vehicle and transit fleets; power generation facilities; solid waste facilities; and other process and fugitive emissions. ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability and several other stakeholders assisted in developing the protocol.

The urban forest protocol provide cities, counties, agencies, utilities, and educational campuses specific guidance on how their tree planting and maintenance efforts, if properly conducted, can maximize carbon storage. The protocol offers guidance on evaluating location, numbers and types of trees planted, and how to account for tree maintenance-related emissions generated by trucks, chainsaws, and clippers. Cal Fire, the USDA-Forest Service, and experts from academia, government, utilities, and nongovernmental organizations also helped in crafting the protocol.

The manure digester project protocol provides standardized accounting methodology for projects that reduce greenhouse gases, such as methane and carbon dioxide, through optimal waste management practices, from storage, disposal, and transport. By using data on a facility's animals, manure handling processes, environmental conditions, carbon-dioxide combustion, and digester-related equipment and biogas, the protocol calculates the amount of methane that would have been otherwise released if the digester had not been capturing and destroying the gas.

ARB worked with the California Climate Action Registry and a number of other stakeholder groups in developing the protocols to quantify greenhouse gas emissions and emissions reduction projects throughout the state for use in voluntary actions, while specifics of the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32) are still being developed. ARB staff is working to determine how emission reductions from early voluntary actions, including any from the recently adopted protocols, could eventually be used officially for compliance purposes as part of the state's implementation of AB32.

Simple Device Uses Electrical Field to Boost Gas Efficiency

With the high cost of gasoline and diesel fuel impacting costs for automobiles, trucks, buses, and the overall economy, a Temple University physics professor has developed a simple device that could dramatically improve fuel efficiency by as much as 20%.

According to Rongjia Tao, chair of Temple's Physics Department, the small device consists of an electrically charged tube that can be attached to the fuel line of a car's engine near the fuel injector. With the use of a power supply from the vehicle's battery, the device creates an electric field that thins fuel, or reduces its viscosity, so that smaller droplets are injected into the engine. That leads to more efficient and cleaner combustion than a standard fuel injector, Tao concludes.

Six months of road testing in a diesel-powered Mercedes-Benz automobile showed that the device increased highway fuel from 32 miles per gallon (mpg) to 38 mpg, a 20% boost, and a 12%–15% gain in city driving.

The laboratory results and road tests verifying that this simple device can boost gas mileage was published in Energy & Fuels, a bimonthly journal published by the American Chemical Society.

"We expect the device will have wide applications on all types of internal combustion engines, present ones and future ones," Tao wrote in the published study, "Electrorheology Leads to Efficient Combustion."

Further improvements in the device could lead to even better mileage, he suggests, and cited engines powered by gasoline, biodiesel, and kerosene as having potential use of the device.

Temple has applied for a patent on this technology, which has been licensed to California-based Save The World Air (STWA), Inc., an environmentally conscientious enterprise focused on the design, development, and commercialization of revolutionary technologies targeted at reducing emissions from internal combustion engines.

According to Joe Dell, vice president of Marketing for STWA, the company is currently working with a trucking company near Reading, Pa., to test the device on diesel-powered trucks, where he estimates it could increase fuel efficiency as much as 6%–12%.

Dell predicts this type of increased fuel efficiency could save tens of billions of dollars in the trucking industry and have a major impact on the economy through the lowering of costs to deliver goods and services.

"Temple University is very excited about the translation of this new important technology from the research laboratory to the marketplace," said Larry F. Lemanski, senior vice president for Research and Strategic Initiatives at Temple. "This discovery promises to significantly improve fuel efficiency in all types of internal combustion engine-powered vehicles and at the same time will have far-reaching effects in reducing pollution of our environment."

Ohio EPA Extends Comment Period on Air Emissions Banking Program

Ohio EPA has extended the comment period on new rules to establish a voluntary emissions credit banking system, which will make it easier for companies to build or expand in Ohio counties that don't meet federal air quality standards without jeopardizing progress toward clean air goals.

The Agency held a public hearing to take comments on the proposed rules on Sept. 23, 2008. More time to review the rule was requested, so Ohio EPA will accept written comments until the close of business, September 30. Written statements submitted after that date may be considered as time and circumstances permit, but will not be part of the official public record.

Foam Reactor is Ten Times More Energy Efficient

There is considerable worldwide demand for new types of reactors for the rapid and well-controlled production of high value chemicals. Charl Stemmet has developed the porous foam reactor, which has an energy efficiency ten times higher than traditional reactors at comparable production rates. Industrial partners such as BASF, DSM, and Shell will make use of the research results. The project was funded by Technology Foundation STW.

In this project, Charl Stemmet investigated a new, structured support for catalysts for use in gas-liquid reactors. He used a highly porous solid foam as the support material, having up to 97% open space available and a very large surface area per reactor volume. This large surface area is important for mass-transfer-limited, gas-liquid reactions; the larger the surface area, the greater the production per unit reactor volume.

To make a good reactor design with this new catalyst support, Stemmet first examined the flow behavior of gas and liquid, and experimentally determined the design equations. He then compared the foam reactor with the current standard for gas-liquid reactions using a solid catalyst: a so-called packed bed of stacked catalyst particles.

The foam reactor has a volume 1.5 times larger than that of the packed bed for the same gas and liquid flows and the same production rate. However, the energy efficiency of the foam reactor is ten times higher than that of the packed bed. The results will be used by the industrial partners in this project: BASF Nederland B.V. (formerly Engelhard), DSM Research B.V., Ecoceramics B.V., Lummus Technology (formerly ABB Lummus Global Inc.), Recemat B.V., and Shell Global Solutions International B.V.

Growth in the Global Carbon Budget

On September 25, the new Global Carbon Budget was launched simultaneously by Global Carbon Project Cochair Michael Raupach in France at the Paris Observatory and in the United States at Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., by GCP Executive Director Pep Canadell.

The Global Carbon Project posted the most recent figures for the worlds' carbon budget, a key to understanding the balance of carbon added to the atmosphere, the underpinning of human-induced climate change. Despite the increasing international sense of urgency, the growth rate of emissions continued to speed up, bringing the atmospheric CO2 concentration to 383 parts per million (ppm) in 2007.

Anthropogenic CO2 emissions have been growing about four times faster since 2000 than during the previous decade, despite efforts to curb emissions in a number of Kyoto Protocol signatory countries. Emissions from the combustion of fossil fuel and land use change reached 10 billion tons of carbon in 2007. Natural CO2 sinks are growing but at a slower rate than the atmospheric CO2 growth, which has been increasing at 2 ppm since 2000 or 33% faster than the previous 20 years.

"This new update of the carbon budget shows the acceleration of both CO2 emissions and atmospheric accumulation are unprecedented and most astonishing during a decade of intense international developments to address climate change," Canadell said.

Emissions growth for 2000–2007 was above even the most fossil fuel intensive scenario of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (SRES-IPCC). While the developing nations of China and India continue to increase emissions, China has improved the carbon intensity of their economy since 2005, based on data from the National Energy Administration in China.

Decreasing forest cover, almost exclusively from deforestation in tropical countries, was responsible for an estimated 1.5 billion tons of emissions to the atmosphere above what was gained through new plantings. Although the oceans carbon uptake was expected to rise with the higher atmospheric concentration of CO2 in 2007, it was reduced by a net 10 million tons.

Natural land and ocean CO2 sinks, which have removed 54% (or 4.8 billion tons per year) of all CO2 emitted from human activities during the period 2000–2007, are now becoming less efficient. While the size of these sinks continues to grow in response to greater concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, they are losing efficiency as feedbacks between the carbon cycle and climate increase.

The Global Carbon Budget is the result of an international collaboration through the Global Carbon Project by Corinne Le Qu?r? (University of East Anglia/British Antarctic Survey, UK); Mike Raupach (CSIRO, Australia)*; Philippe Ciais (Commissariat a L'Energie Atomique, France); Thomas Conway (NOOA, USA); Chris Field (Carnegie Institution of Washington, USA); Skee Houghton (Woods Hole Research Center, USA); Gregg Marland (Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, USA); and Pep Canadell (CSIRO, Australia).

Bakery Pays $305,000 for Failure to Inspect Diesel Trucks

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) last week fined Bimbo Bakeries USA of Fort Worth, Texas, $305,250 for air quality violations that occurred in 2006 and 2007.

ARB fleet inspectors cited Bimbo Bakeries, part of Grupo Bimbo, an international bakery leader, for failing to test their diesel trucks for excess emissions at 58 fleet facilities around the state.

"All businesses—including large conglomerates—that operate in California must adhere to clean-air laws," ARB Chairman Mary Nichols said. "Businesses stand to lose money, customers, and good will if they skirt air quality laws."

As part of the settlement, Bimbo Bakeries must:

  • Guarantee employees that are responsible for conducting the inspections attend a mandatory class on diesel emissions testing and recordkeeping and provide certificates of completion within one year.
  • Provide documentation to ARB that the inspections are being carried out for the next four years.
  • Instruct vehicle operators to comply with the state's idling regulations.
  • 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.

Bimbo Bakeries paid $305,250 in penalties; $228,937.50 to the California Air Pollution Fund, which provides funding for projects and research to improve California's air quality, and $76,312.50 to the Peralta Community College District to fund diesel emissions education courses.

There are 900,000 diesel trucks that operate in California. The ARB is working to cut the health risks posed by dirty diesel engines; the goal is an 85% reduction in diesel emissions from 2000 levels by 2020. Diesel exhaust contains a variety of harmful gases and more than 40 other known cancer-causing compounds. Exposure can cause cancer, respiratory, and cardiovascular problems as well as premature death.

Del Monte Fined for Hazardous Waste Violations

In August 2007, EPA inspectors found open and unlabeled containers of hazardous waste at the facility and evidence of a used oil release.

“Companies must properly store and handle hazardous waste to protect the community, workers, and the environment,” said Jeff Scott, director of Waste Programs for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “I am pleased that Del Monte has corrected the violations and that the facility no longer presents a potential risk to human health and the environment.”

Additionally, the EPA found the facility had stored containers of hazardous waste without a permit and stored hazardous waste for longer than the 90 days allowed by the EPA’s hazardous waste storage rules. At the time of the inspection, the company had ceased its pineapple growing operations.

The facility also failed to:

  • Have a response plan for hazardous waste and used oil spills and have an emergency response coordinator.
  • Properly manage other wastes, such as lead-acid batteries.
  • Properly store used oil and label the containers.
  • Respond to releases of used oil, and comply with oil pollution control requirements.


The EPA’s hazardous waste rules require facilities to properly store, label, and seal hazardous waste containers. Facilities must also employ trained staff, as improperly stored hazardous waste can potentially spill and pose a risk to workers and the environment. Proper disposal of hazardous waste is required at a permitted disposal site, with the required permits and notifications made to the EPA.

EPA Releases 2008 Report on the Environment

EPA has released its 2008 Report on the Environment Highlights, a valuable resource citizens can use to easily understand broad trends in the condition of the air, water, and land and related changes in human health and the environment in the United States.

In the Pacific Southwest, state-wide measures have in many cases shown improvement, but these changes are not uniform across the region. Much work remains to be done to ensure that vulnerable communities in the outer Pacific Islands, U.S./Mexico Border Region, tribal communities, and environmental justice areas make progress in improving public health and environmental conditions.

Locally, the EPA continues to work with states, tribes, and local partners in the Pacific Southwest to address environmental issues at the community level. An example of this effort is the collapse of open-water fish species in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta coupled with critically dry conditions in California affecting water supplies throughout the state. This focus on the biology of at-risk fish populations has generated high-quality, useful science that synthesizes the impacts of diverse stressors of ecosystems and suggests more effective ways to use permits to protect ecological values.

A recent report by the Earth Engineering Center at Columbia University shows the majority of states in EPA Region 9 recycle nearly 37% of their municipal solid wastes—surpassing the 35% goal set by the EPA’s national Resource Conservation Challenge. To continue to improve recycling in the Pacific Southwest, the EPA remains committed to coordinating with local governments and other partners to identify waste management trends and target materials management priorities.

Written for a general audience, the EPA’s 2008 Report on the Environment: Highlights of National Trends, summarizes some of the more important findings from a more comprehensive companion report, the EPA’s 2008 Report on the Environment: Science Report.

Quantifiable environmental indicators were used to develop the report, providing valuable information on the condition of air, land, water, human health, and ecological systems.

Highlights of National Trends is organized around 25 topics that are important to the EPA and to the public. Each topic page includes a brief summary of what we know—and don’t know—about trends in the nation’s air, water, land, ecological status, and human health.

The ‘highlights’ document features a subset of indicators from the more comprehensive Science Report and were selected based on their importance to the public and scientists, as well as their ability to answer a series of key questions about the environment. The EPA’s 2008 Report on the Environment could also lead to the development of new indicators, new monitoring strategies, and new programs and policies in areas EPA determines to be important based on measured environmental trends.

Dovex Fruit Company, Inc., Agrees to Pay EPA $98,241 for RMP Violations

The Dovex Fruit Company, owner of a fruit processing facility in Wenatchee, Wash., will pay the EPA $98,241 to settle alleged federal Risk Management Program (RMP) Violations.

On Feb. 4, 2008, EPA inspected Dovex’s operations located at 2809, 2811, and 2833 Euclid Road in Wenatchee, Wash. During the inspection, EPA personnel discovered that Dovex’s stored quantity of anhydrous ammonia exceeded the threshold that triggers federal planning requirements.

Under the law, any facility that uses, stores, manufactures, or handles more than 10,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia is required to prepare and submit a RMP to EPA. As a result of this enforcement action, Dovex has corrected the violation and submitted a risk management plan.

According to Kelly Huynh, prevention team leader in EPA’s Emergency Response program, having a solid prevention program in place can help a facility avoid having things go from "bad" to "worse" if a workplace accident occurs.

“Companies with large amounts of ammonia on-site must have a solid, comprehensive leak prevention program in place,” Huynh said. “They have a responsibility to workers, emergency responders, and the community to make sure a serious accident doesn’t become a senseless tragedy.”

RMPs have been required for facilities that use, handle, or store more than 10,000 lb. of anhydrous ammonia since June 21, 1999.

Western States Announce Program to Reduce Greenhouse Gases

Members of the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) announced recommendations for the design of a regional market-based, cap-and-trade program. The program will slash climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions, spur growth in new green technologies, help build a strong clean-energy economy, and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

The cap-and-trade design is a key element of a regional effort by the governors of seven U.S. states and premiers of four Canadian provinces to promote environmental sustainability and economic growth by reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 15% below 2005 levels by 2020.

In Washington state, the impacts of climate change are now far reaching and observable. More serious floods, harsher droughts, and more intense forest fires are occurring, consistent with the changes of a warmer climate. Water supply for people, farms, and fish is highly dependent on winter snow and spring runoff, both of which will be increasingly affected. The costs of inaction and crisis response far outweigh the costs of taking action now.

“I am not waiting for the federal government to take the lead on climate change. Waiting keeps us tied to a future of high oil prices and certain damage to our environment,” Washington Governor Chris Gregoire said. “Taking on the challenge of climate change will promote a thriving economy and create new jobs. We can do that while protecting the environment and our most vulnerable citizens. By working together, our 11 states and provinces have demonstrated the leadership required to do this job. There’s still more work to do with the Legislature and Washington’s businesses and citizens to move forward. It’s time to roll up our sleeves, and get the job done.”

Gregoire delivered the opening remarks at the Green Jobs Symposium in Bellevue. She harkened back to March of 2008, when she signed the “Climate Action and Green Jobs” bill. The bill made Washington just the fourth state in the country to adopt comprehensive limits on global warming pollution and commits Washington to creating 25,000 “green” collar jobs by the year 2020.

“Governor Gregoire has become a real leader on the environment, helping not only to spearhead the Western Climate Initiative but also the Puget Sound Partnership,” said former Vice President Al Gore. “Of course, we all need to do more to solve the climate crisis, but the Western governors have begun to put together a plan that will have ripple effects around the country.”

The new, multi-sector program will be the most comprehensive carbon-reduction strategy designed to date. It will cover nearly 90% of the region’s emissions, including those from electricity, industry, transportation, and residential and commercial fuel use. Together, the seven states and four provinces represent more than 70% of the Canadian economy and 20% of the U.S. economy.

The cap-and-trade program will require emitters to cut their pollution by setting a limit (“cap”) on emissions and then allow the market to identify the least-expensive ways to achieve the limit. Through extensive collaboration and consultation with a broad range of stakeholders, the WCI partners decided upon recommendations for the design of a regional program that maximizes total benefits throughout the area. These include reducing air pollutants, diversifying energy sources, and advancing economic, environmental, and public health objectives, while avoiding localized or disproportionate environmental or economic impacts.

The cap-and-trade program design is a significant milestone in the WCI’s effort to reduce global warming pollution. Intense study of existing programs, economic analysis, and extensive stakeholder consultation were instrumental in the design of a program that will permit the WCI partners to achieve reductions.

The WCI partners have agreed to begin reporting emissions in 2011 for emissions that occur in 2010. The first phase of the cap-and-trade program will begin on Jan. 1, 2012, with a three-year compliance period. The second phase will begin in 2015, when the program is expanded to include transportation fuels and residential, commercial, and industrial fuels not covered in the first phase.

The WCI is one of several greenhouse gas cap-and-trade programs being designed and implemented around the world, including the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the Midwestern Greenhouse Gas Reduction Accord in the Northeastern and Midwest United States.

The Western Climate Initiative is a collaboration launched in February 2007 by the governors of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington to develop regional strategies to address climate change. The initiative expanded to include Montana and Utah and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec.

Formal observers of the WCI include Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, and Wyoming; the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, and the Mexican states of Baja California, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Sonora, and Tamaulipas.

$7,700 Penalty for Discharging Wastewater Without Permit

Triumph Leasing Corporation, an office trailer and container leasing facility located in Littleton, Mass., has been assessed a $7,700 penalty by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) for violating air pollution control, industrial wastewater, and hazardous waste management regulations.

After receiving a complaint, MassDEP personnel conducted an inspection last November and the company was found to be discharging trailer-cleaning wastewaters to the ground without a groundwater discharge permit. The same trailer-cleaning activity used chemicals that had the potential to discharge more than one ton per year of pollutants to the air, also requiring a permit that the company did not possess.

In a consent order, the company agreed to comply with applicable environmental regulations and pay the penalty.

"Every company must properly manage its hazardous wastes, industrial wastewater discharges, and air emissions,” said Lee Dillard Adams, deputy director for MassDEP's Central Regional Office in Worcester. “When this does not occur, MassDEP assesses penalties for violations of these requirements that are designed to protect public health and the environment."

OFS Fitel Pays $10,000 Penalty for Several Environmental Violations

OFS Fitel, LLC, which operates a fiber-optic wire manufacturing plant in Sturbridge, Mass., has been assessed a $10,000 penalty by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) for violating air pollution control, hazardous waste management, industrial wastewater, and Toxics Use Reduction Act regulations.

In a consent order, the company agreed to comply with all applicable environmental regulations, apply for a new Air Quality plan approval that will cover all of its operations, and pay the penalty.

"Agreeing to apply for and obtain a new Comprehensive Air Quality plan approval will help consolidate and clarify all of the company's Air Quality requirements going forward," said Martin Suuberg, director of MassDEP's Central Regional Office in Worcester.

Missouri Issues 2008 Impaired Waters List

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) published a draft 2008 303(d) List. It includes 177 listings on 148 separate waters. Some waters are listed more than once because they have multiple pollutants that affected different sections of the water. Seventy-three of these listings are carried over from the proposed 2004/2006 list. The draft 2008 303(d) List is open to the public for review and comment until January 16.

Section 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) requires that each state identify waters that are not meeting water quality standards and where requirements are not yet in place to restore water quality. Water quality standards protect beneficial uses of water for whole body contact, such as swimming, maintaining fish and other aquatic life, and providing drinking water for people, livestock, and wildlife.

 Supporting water quality data, the Listing Methodology document, which contains the procedures used to develop these lists, and other information are available on the department's website. If unable to access the information through the Web, individuals may request copies of the lists from the department's Water Protection Program by calling 800-361-4827 or 573-751-1300.

The department will hold three meetings to answer questions and accept comments on the proposed 2008 list:

  • October 10 at 10 a.m. in the Nightingale Creek Conference Room at the Lewis and Clark State Office Building, 1101 Riverside Dr., Jefferson City.
  • November 13 at 5 p.m. in the Gasconade Camp Conference Room at the Lewis and Clark State Office Building, 1101 Riverside Dr., Jefferson City.
  • November 24 at 10 a.m. in the Nightingale Creek Conference Room at the Lewis and Clark State Office Building, 1101 Riverside Dr., Jefferson City.

The department will accept written comments on the proposed list until 5 p.m., January 16. The public can submit comments in writing to the Department of Natural Resources, Attention John Ford, Water Protection Program, P.O. Box 176, Jefferson City, MO 65102; or by e-mail to john.ford@dnr.mo.gov or by fax to 573-522-9920.

Washington Beef to Pay at Least $115,942 to Settle EPA RMP Violations

Washington Beef, a beef processing facility in Toppenish, Wash., will spend at least $115,942 to settle alleged risk management program (RMP) violations under the federal Clean Air Act (CAA).

The Washington Beef facility uses more than 10,000 lbs of anhydrous ammonia for refrigeration purposes. At that level of use, section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act requires the company to implement a RMP.

Under the terms of the settlement, the company will pay a penalty of $25,942 and spend at least $90,000 to implement a supplemental environmental project (within a year) that requires the purchase and installation of a new internal ammonia alarm system and related safety equipment. In the event of an ammonia release at the facility, this system is expected to improve both response time and safety for employees, emergency responders, and the local community.

“Companies with large amounts of ammonia on-site must have a solid, comprehensive leak prevention program in place,” said Kelly Huynh, prevention team leader in EPA’s Emergency Response program. “They have a responsibility to workers, emergency responders, and the community to make sure a serious accident doesn’t become a senseless tragedy.”

According to legal documents filed with the case, an inspection took place on June 21, 2006 at Washington Beef’s cold storage warehouse in Toppenish, Wash., within the Yakama Indian Reservation. Based on the EPA inspection and follow-up information provided by the company, EPA determined that Washington Beef failed to comply with several RMP requirements from at least August 2, 2004, through June 1, 2007. The violations have since been corrected.

Master Chrome Fined for Hazardous Waste Violations

The company has addressed the violations and now operates in compliance with Ohio's hazardous waste laws.

During a February 2008 facility inspection, an Ohio EPA inspector found Master Chrome Service violated Ohio's hazardous waste laws by storing six drums of hazardous waste for more than 180 days without a permit. Other violations included failing to: properly place the start of accumulation date on seven drums of waste; conduct emergency equipment inspections; and properly package fluorescent lamps. Ohio EPA did not observe any releases of hazardous waste.

The facility performs hard chrome plating on all metals and is a small-quantity generator of hazardous wastes, including acetone, trichloroethylene, lead chromate, sodium hydroxide, and chrome-plating tank wastes.

The penalty includes $18,400 to Ohio's hazardous waste cleanup fund and $4,600 to Ohio EPA's clean diesel school bus program.

U.S. Global Warming Plan for Power Plants Launches

In a move to build a clean energy economy and cut global warming pollution, Northeastern states have kicked off the world’s first emissions trading market that will promote efficiency and cut pollution from power plants. The new approach will reduce carbon-dioxide pollution to a level 10% below current emissions by 2019, while rewarding smart companies that outperform new pollution limits and lowering energy costs for consumers.

“Today is a bold step forward for our clean energy future and the fight against global warming. The new system is good for consumers, good for the economy, and good for our climate,” said Dale Bryk, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “This new energy plan is straight-forward, highly cost-effective, and creates a clean energy pathway for the rest of the country to follow. It is the shape of things to come.”

Known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), this system creates a pollution trading market that sets new limits on the amount of global warming pollution power plants can emit. Plants will need to hold permits for every ton of pollution; those that find low-cost ways to reduce emissions will need to purchase fewer permits, or allowances, and can sell any unused allowances to less-efficient plants that need them.

This is the first mandatory cap-and-trade energy system for global warming pollution ever implemented in the United States, and the first time in the world this kind of system has put allowances up for sale, rather than distributing them for free. The structure gives power plant owners a financial incentive to reduce pollution and will encourage the development of cleaner sources of energy. Almost all of the revenue generated by the auction of allowances will be directed to state energy efficiency programs, thereby further developing a cleaner power sector and lowering energy bills for residential, commercial, and industrial energy consumers.

The first quarterly auction of pollution allowances takes place today, and power plants in all participating states will be fully operating under the new system by 2009. Participation in RGGI offers companies in the Northeast a competitive edge as the federal government pollution limits take shape. Although the Bush administration has steadfastly rejected concrete cuts in emissions, there is pressure in both parties to adopt national legislation to curb global warming pollution.

“RGGI provides a competitive advantage to Northeastern companies,” said Luis Martinez, attorney with NRDC's energy program. “These companies are leapfrogging competition both at home and abroad by getting more productivity out of less energy. It’s smart business, and they will reap the rewards as will consumers in the region.”

RGGI is expected to lower utility bills by helping consumers and businesses use energy more efficiently. In fact, an analysis commissioned by RGGI states concluded that the state climate accord would save typical residential customers more than $100 per year on their energy bills.

“Consumers will not have to make a choice between environmental preservation and their pocketbooks,” Bryk said. “This system is designed to protect both.”

RGGI sets an example for the federal government to establish an energy-efficiency plan for the entire country, and similar multi-state climate pacts are in development among western states and Midwestern states. California is on the cusp of creating an economy-wide pollution reduction plan.

Six of the 10 states participating in the new system recently held their first allowances auction—Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The remaining participating states will hold their first auction in December—Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New York. Today’s auction will be the first of 14 auctions that will take place before the end of the first three-year compliance period. Auctions will continue on a quarterly basis thereafter.

Leading companies operating in the region that have backed the new system include Bank of America, Staples, National Grid, Pfizer, PSEG, and the association of large energy users called The Energy Consortium.

The new approach is similar to the highly successful program introduced by President George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s to address the acid rain problem. That program has achieved better results at a much lower cost than even optimists estimated at the time of its launch.

The Northeast program would also allow states outside of the region to participate and might eventually be extended to cover not just power plants but all stationary global warming pollution sources, as well as additional global warming pollution, such as methane and sulfur dioxide.

DOE Zero-Energy Home Initiative

The U.S. Department of Energy's goal of a zero-energy household took a major step toward becoming a reality with the formation of the Zero Energy Building Research Alliance (ZEBRAlliance).

The initiative is a partnership between Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Schaad Companies, along with their architects BarberMcMurry, to develop and demonstrate new energy-efficiency technologies for homes and help homeowners learn more about them.

The announcement was made at a groundbreaking ceremony for four research homes being built in Oak Ridge by Schaad Companies, who is building the houses at its own expense, and DOE and TVA who are sponsoring ORNL to conduct the research and educate consumers.

"Working together, the ZEBRAlliance is changing the future of home building today," said Jennifer Banner, CEO of Schaad Companies.

Banner also described how new construction methods and materials are needed in the building industry the same way new types of smarter, more fuel-efficient engines are needed for automobiles. "Intelligent, cost effective innovation is powering the ZEBRAlliance," she said.

The homes, located in a residential community only minutes from ORNL, will be the first to field test several new products over the next two years, such as the ClimateMaster ground-source integrated heat pump—a single unit in lieu of separate heating and cooling, water heater and dehumidifier—and new appliances from the Whirlpool Corporation.

After construction of the homes is completed, ORNL researchers will collect data and "tweak and validate" the technological components to achieve optimal quality and efficiency of the homes.

"This collaborative effort will serve the Tennessee Valley consumer with technologies and building techniques that will help them reduce their energy consumption, saving them money and reducing electricity demand across the Valley," said Jeromy Cotten, TVA Research Project Manager. "TVA's goal is to reduce the Valley's electricity consumption by 1,400 megawatts by the end of 2012 and these new, efficient homes will help us meet that goal."

This initial ZEBRAlliance project marks a significant step of moving the zero-energy homes effort by ORNL, funded from the beginning by DOE and TVA, from Habitat for Humanity in Lenoir City, Tenn., to homes more typical of the region's mass market. The collaboration with Habitat for Humanity resulted in construction of five near zero energy houses from 2002 to 2007 and produced valuable information for improving future homes.

Through development of new technologies, fine-tuning existing ones and combining partners' resources, the ZEBRAlliance seeks to continue to lower energy costs and make the technologies more affordable. The goal is to eventually lay groundwork for a home that could generate more energy than it consumes over a year but cost the same to purchase and own as a typical house.

The ZEBRAlliance demonstration homes will consist of about 2,800 square feet of living space. Construction of a home's shell or envelope—the part that separates the inside from outside—can have an enormous impact on energy use. Each home will evaluate the affordability and performance of one of the following strategies:

  • Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) consisting of a foam core of insulating material with oriented strand board skins.
  • An advanced stick-built wood framing system designed to reduce thermal short circuiting through structural members, provide cavities for ample thicknesses of insulation, incorporate a radiant barrier in the attic, and achieve air tightness through use of a Henry liquid applied weather resistive barrier.
  • An insulating system that stores solar energy, shaving peak cooling loads by day and passively heating by night, coupled with other envelope features to achieve air tightness and weather resistance.
  • A conventional wood framing system with the insulation wrapped around the outside to eliminate thermal short circuiting through structural members, and use of a trowel applied weather-resistive barrier.

Hospital Fined for Violating Radiation Protection Act

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has fined the Mount Nittany Medical Center $17,500 for violating state radiation protection regulations that are designed and enforced to protect the public’s health and safety.

“These state regulations are in place to ensure that medical facilities follow proper procedures and take the appropriate steps to safeguard its employees and members of the public it serves,” said DEP Southcentral Regional Director Rusty Diamond.

Diamond said the violations occurred during a 12-month period and included radiation therapists inadvertently delivering a dose of radiation to the wrong patient and, on two occasions, to incorrect parts of patients’ bodies.

Contract employees performing work on the roof of the center may also have been exposed to radiation levels greater than public dose limits.

The medical center, located in State College, paid its fines earlier this month and has taken corrective action. The center is in the process of hiring an additional management position to provide more oversight of the radiation therapists in the oncology department.

DEP will continue to monitor the corrective actions and will increase the frequency of inspections to ensure no further radiological health and safety violations exist.

Marine Debris Will Likely Worsen in the 21st Century; Goal of Zero Waste Discharge Should Be Adopted

The United States and the international maritime community should adopt a goal of "zero discharge" of waste into the marine environment, and a system to assess the effectiveness of existing and future marine debris prevention and reduction actions should be implemented. In addition, better leadership, coordination, and integration of mandates and resources are needed, as responsibilities for preventing and mitigating marine debris are scattered across federal organizations and management regimes.

"The committee found that despite all the regulations and limitations over the last 20 years, there are still large quantities of waste and litter in the oceans," said Keith Criddle, chair of the committee that wrote the report and the Ted Stevens Distinguished Professor of Marine Policy at the Juneau Center for Fisheries and Ocean Science, University of Alaska, Fairbanks. "We concluded that the United States must take the lead and coordinate with other coastal countries, as well as with local and state governments, to better manage marine debris and try to achieve zero discharge."

An NRC committee was convened at the request of Congress to assess the effectiveness of international and national measures to prevent and reduce marine debris and its impact. Marine debris—man-made materials that intentionally or accidentally enter and pollute the ocean—can cause significant harm. For instance, birds, fish, and marine mammals ingest debris, especially plastics, which can lead to digestive problems and uptake of toxic compounds. Animals can also suffer injuries or die after becoming entangled in fishing-related debris, such as plastic net fragments, rope, and packing straps. Marine debris also poses a health and safety hazard to beachgoers and divers, and could impact coastal recreation and tourism revenue. While marine debris comes from sources both on land and at sea, the committee focused on debris discharged at sea for the purposes of this report.

Although Congress previously called for federal interagency coordination to address the marine debris problem, leadership and governance remain inefficient and current mitigation efforts are episodic and crisis driven, the committee found. A national framework to identify priorities for dealing with marine debris and its removal efforts should be established. Additionally, Congress should designate a lead agency to expand programs to comprehensively address the problem, including land-based marine litter, derelict fishing gear, shipborne waste, and abandoned vessels.

Under the International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL) Annex V, which entered into force in 1988, many discharges from ships are permissible at sea. The committee said this approach does not encourage innovation or measures to minimize waste. It suggested that MARPOL Annex V be amended to include a prohibition on discharge of garbage at sea, allowing for limited exceptions based on specific vessel-operation scenarios. In order to discourage waste disposal at sea, ships also need to have access to adequate shoreside waste-reception facilities for garbage and should be provided incentives, such as low disposal fees to use them, the report adds.

Nevertheless, some ships have already adopted zero or minimal discharge practices. The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should disseminate best management practices for how vessels can attain zero discharge, source reduction, and waste minimization, the committee urged. EPA should also take the lead to work with academia, industry, and nongovernmental organizations to develop industry standards and guidelines for source reduction, reuse, and recycling for solid wastes that are generated during ship operations.

The committee was specifically asked to address the challenges surrounding derelict fishing gear. While regulated under MARPOL Annex V and domestic implementing laws, it is a persistent problem because of accidental losses and legal loopholes. Also, current regulations do not include accountability measures for commercial and recreational fishing vessels for loss of their fishing gear, offering few incentives to take responsibility for cleanup.

Effective marking of fishing gear is critical for identifying the sources or fisheries that may have deployed the gear, and NOAA should develop marking protocols, the report claims. Fishery management organizations should also adopt a "no fault" policy regarding the documentation and recovery of lost fishing gear. Under this policy, local fishermen, state officials, and t