October 10, 2022
The EPA recently announced two new online tools available to the public that provide additional information on environmental enforcement and compliance in their communities. Through improved transparency, advanced technologies and community participation, these tools empower the public to help EPA assure compliance nationwide and protect public health and the environment.
Environmental Justice metrics integrated with ECHO
Members of the public can use EPA's Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO)
website to search for facilities in their community to assess their compliance with environmental regulations. In addition, EPA has now integrated Environmental Justice (EJ) metrics in the basic ECHO facility features, allowing users to:
- Search for Facilities in Areas with Possible EJ Concerns
- Investigate Pollution Sources in Areas with Possible EJ Concerns
- Examine and Create EJ Enforcement-Related Maps
- Analyze Trends in Compliance & Enforcement EJ Data
Benzene Fenceline Monitoring Dashboard
Beginning in 2015, petroleum refineries were required to install air monitors around the perimeter of their facilities. Petroleum refineries must monitor benzene concentrations and report the results to EPA on a quarterly basis. Those results are now accessible to the public on EPA’s Benzene Fenceline Monitoring Dashboard
The Dashboard improves public access to program data concerning benzene emissions along refinery fencelines and allows for a more detailed analysis of that data. Public access to this information advances public transparency and environmental justice.
WHO, ILO Push for Policies to Address Mental Health Issues at Work
The World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization are jointly calling on employers and governments to address mental health concerns in the working population. Noting that depression and anxiety account for an estimated 12 billion workdays lost each year, the two organizations recommend that employers incorporate the mitigation of psychosocial risks as an essential element of their occupational health and safety management system.
This recommendation appears in a “policy brief” that offers examples of interventions that organizations can use to address several potential psychosocial risks. For example, in organizations where jobs lack variety or where workers feel their skills are underused, employers can rotate tasks among workers or adopt participatory approaches to job design. For jobs that involve long, inflexible hours or shift work, employers can implement flexible working arrangements, planned breaks, and participatory approaches to scheduling. Other psychosocial risks addressed in the document include unsafe equipment, a discriminatory or abusive culture, social or physical isolation, harassment, job insecurity, and a punitive approach to sickness or absences.
The document also recommends mental health training for both managers and workers, noting that building awareness of mental health is necessary to reduce stigma against people with mental health conditions. To support workers with mental health conditions, organizations give them flexible hours or extra time to complete tasks, or develop return-to-work programs and vocational support initiatives.
California Bans PFAS in Apparel, Textiles, Cosmetics
Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law last week legislation that prohibits the manufacture, distribution, and sale of textiles and cosmetics containing PFAS in California beginning in 2025—just over two years from now. The textiles law broadly defines textiles to include apparel, accessories, bags, bedding and upholstery, as well as other household fabric products.
The California market for many of the banned products is among the largest in the United States, putting pressure on manufacturers and retailers of those products to end their sale nationally. Several states have already enacted similar legislation to ban product categories or mandate reporting on PFAS in products. Product manufacturers and distributors who sell PFAS containing products are generally not subject to penalties under product bans, but, with increasing frequency, they are being sued in class action and other litigation.
Baltimore County Police Cited for Hazardous Waste Violations at Firing Range
The Baltimore County Police Department will pay a $15,800 penalty for hazardous waste
violations associated with the improper management of lead-contaminated soil at an outdoor firing range in Timonium, Maryland, the EPA announced recently.
The outdoor firing range is used by county police officers for firing practice of primarily handguns, which use bullets made of lead and a copper alloy. The soil at the firing range is considered hazardous waste due to lead concentrations from bullets, and it must be handled and disposed of in accordance with EPA regulations.
Exposure to high levels of lead may cause serious health problems. Lead is toxic and exposure to lead can affect almost every organ and system in your body. Children six years old and younger are most susceptible to the effects of lead, but it can also be harmful to adults. EPA efforts to reduce lead exposure have contributed to blood lead levels in U.S. children steadily dropping over the past four decades, but lead exposure persists in communities throughout the country.
EPA cited the police department for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
(RCRA), the federal law governing the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. RCRA is designed to protect public health and the environment, and avoid long and extensive cleanups, by requiring the safe, environmentally sound storage and disposal of hazardous waste.
Alleged violations included: operation of a hazardous waste management facility without a permit, failure to provide hazardous waste management training
to staff, failure to provide hazardous waste responsibilities in written job descriptions, and failure to have a hazardous waste contingency plan.
Hazardous Waste and Clean Water Act Violations Lead to $127,000 Penalty
The EPA recently announced a settlement with Seaport Refining & Environmental, LLC, the owner and operator of a petroleum refinery in Redwood City, California, over claims of violations of the Clean Water Act
and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
. The refinery, which receives and processes waste fuel including gasoline, diesel and jet fuel, is located near Redwood Creek and First Slough, which flow to the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Seaport Refining produces approximately 2,200 pounds of hazardous waste per month.
As a result of EPA’s findings, the company will pay $127,192 in civil penalties and implement compliance tasks, including developing an air emission monitoring plan, submitting quarterly air emission monitoring results, and inspecting and repairing the facility’s tanks.
“It is paramount that oil processing facilities, including refineries like the Seaport Refining facility in Redwood City, properly handle hazardous substances,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “When companies do not effectively manage a dangerous substance, in accordance with the law, the local community and workers are endangered. EPA will not hesitate to levy significant penalties.”
U.S. law requires the safe management of hazardous waste to protect public health and the environment and to prevent the need for costly and extensive cleanups. This settlement is part of a national EPA initiative aimed at reducing hazardous air emissions at hazardous waste facilities.
The settlement also addresses violation of the Clean Water Act’s Oil Pollution Prevention Regulations. These aim to prevent oil from reaching navigable waters and adjoining shorelines and to ensure containment of oil discharges in the event of a spill. Specific prevention measures called for in the regulations include developing and implementing spill prevention plans, training staff, and installing physical controls to contain and clean up oil spills.
Contractor Settles Penalty for Water Quality Violations
A contractor will pay a reduced penalty, provide additional employee training, and contribute to a water quality improvement project under a settlement agreement with the Washington Department of Ecology to resolve water quality violations that took place during construction at a Lacey subdivision.
Ecology fined Milestone, LLC
$72,000 in January 2022 for 12 violations inspectors found at the Woodbrook Townhomes construction site between September of 2020 and October of 2021. Ecology and City of Lacey inspectors documented numerous instances of polluted stormwater
leaving the construction site, including some stormwater mixed with paint and concrete. Other violations included failing to notify Ecology of high sediment discharges, unprotected catch basins, unmaintained silt fences, destabilized soils, and discharge of unpermitted septic waste to ground waters.
In the settlement
, Milestone, LLC agreed to contribute $47,600 toward an Ecology-approved water quality improvement project in the greater Olympia/Lacey area, pay a $14,400 fine, and have a key employee complete a stormwater compliance training course by Dec. 31, 2022.
Stormwater runoff from construction sites can carry muddy water, debris, and chemicals into local waterways like the Deschutes River and Chambers Ditch. Sediments, chemicals, and debris can harm aquatic life and reduce water quality. Ecology requires regulated construction projects like Woodland Townhomes to obtain coverage under the Construction Stormwater General Permit.
Water quality penalty payments to Ecology are placed into the state’s Coastal Protection Fund,
which provides grants to public agencies and Tribes for water quality restoration projects.
U.S. Attorney Announces New Initiative for Addressing Environmental Justice and Public Health Concerns
U.S. Attorney Clifford D. Johnson announced a new initiative to address environmental justice and public health concerns. U.S. Attorney Johnson has designated an Environmental Justice Coordinator to coordinate the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s efforts to address those concerns. Members of the public may visit the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office
for information regarding where to report environmental violations or public health issues; and also how to report such concerns to the Environmental Justice Coordinator.
U.S. Attorney Johnson stated: "Strong and fair enforcement of environmental and public health laws protects our precious natural resources, including Lake Michigan and the Indiana Dunes National Park, and ensures a healthy environment for everyone to live, learn, play, and work. Your reporting of environmental and public health concerns supports environmental protection and environmental justice and helps us protect the community from harmful violations of federal health and safety laws."
The Office’s reporting procedures are part of the Department of Justice’s Comprehensive Environmental Justice Enforcement Strategy, which seeks to advance environmental justice through timely and effective remedies for environmental violations and injuries to natural resources in “underserved communities that have been historically marginalized and overburdened, including low-income communities, communities of color, and Tribal and Indigenous communities.” The Department of Justice enforces the Nation’s civil and criminal environmental laws, including the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and hazardous waste laws. The Department also protects natural resources and handles cases relating to tribal rights and resources. Working with its Department of Justice partners, the U.S. Attorney’s Office seeks to secure environmental justice for all communities, to ensure that everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards, and to protect equal access to a healthy environment in which to live, learn, play, and work.
The Office’s reporting procedures are in addition to other methods of reporting environmental concerns to the federal government, such as the online portal
maintained by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Additional points of contact for federal agencies may be found on the Office’s website.
U.S. Department of Labor Cites Missouri Contractor in Fatal Trench Collapse
A federal workplace safety investigation alleges that a Dexter construction contractor might have prevented a pipelayer’s fatal injuries in a trench collapse on April 8, 2022, if the company had used trench safety protection measures as required by law.
The worker was installing storm water drainage in an 8-foot-deep trench along Old Highway 60 in Dudley when the tragedy occurred.
Trench collapses are among the construction industry’s most lethal hazards. In the first six months of 2022, OSHA reports 22 workers suffered fatal injuries in trenching and excavation work.
Following its investigation, OSHA determined Brown Construction Co., Inc. failed to use a trench box, or to shore or slope the trench walls to prevent collapse. The company did not provide a required means to exit the 80-foot-long trench. It also failed to train employees about excavation hazards and safety precautions and did not have a competent person inspect the trench daily for potential hazards.
"A collapse takes just seconds and often ends a life forever," explained U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration Area Director Bill McDonald in St. Louis. "Employers are legally responsible for following required safety measures and training workers so they recognize hazards and potentially hazardous situations. Sadly, tragedy has struck again for a worker trapped in a trench, and their family, friends and co-workers are left to grieve."
Each June, the National Utility Contractors Assoc. recognizes Trench Safety Month
. OSHA collaborates with the association for "Trench Safety Stand-Downs" throughout the month.
Pennsylvania Manufacturer Prioritized Safety, Health at One Facility, While Hazards at New Jersey Site Led to 21 Violations
A Pennsylvania-based metal coatings company that enacted a comprehensive safety and health program to protect workers at its corporate headquarters failed to do the same for employees at a manufacturing facility it opened in the fall of 2021 in Millville, a federal workplace safety investigation has found.
Responding to a complaint, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration
opened an investigation at Regal Industrial Corp. on April 18, 2022, and later identified 21 violations of federal workplace safety standards. Specifically, the company failed to:
As a result, OSHA cited Regal Industrial Corp. for five willful, 15 serious and one other-than-serious violations, and proposed $573,681 in penalties. The willful citations relate to the respirator, written hazard communication program, safety data sheet, fall protection and chemical hazard violations, and the serious and other-than-serious citations address the remaining safety violations.
"While Regal Industrial Corp. put safety and health measures in place at its Pennsylvania manufacturing facility, the company exposed workers at its Millville facility – in some cases willfully – to serious hazards," explained OSHA Area Director Paula Dixon-Roderick in Marlton, New Jersey. "Prioritizing production over worker safety is never acceptable and can lead to serious injuries or worse."
Founded in 1974 in Donora, Regal Industries Corp. provides abrasive blasting, metallizing and coating applications for steel and concrete structures such as bridges, marine structures, piping and railings.
EPA Recognizes WaterSense Partners Promoting Water Efficiency, Cost-Savings
The EPA presented 34 awards to WaterSense partners at the WaterSmart Innovations (WSI) Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas, Nevada, to recognize their support of WaterSense and water efficiency in 2021. Together, WaterSense partners helped communities save a total of more than 6.4 trillion gallons of water and more than $135 billion on utility bills since 2006.
“By working to promote the value of water efficiency, our WaterSense partners helped people save water, energy, and money—all while protecting life’s most precious resource during times of drought,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “EPA appreciates WaterSense partners’ commitment to being good stewards of water.”
Award winners include utilities, manufacturers, builders, a retailer, and other organizations that promote and sell WaterSense labeled products, build WaterSense labeled homes, and operate WaterSense labeled certification programs. The awardees initiated a variety of new programs, outreach, and education activities to engage customers and promote water conservation with WaterSense.
2022 Sustained Excellence Award Winners
The Sustained Excellence Awards are the highest level of achievement for WaterSense. This year, WaterSense added three new WaterSense partners to this category.
- Athens-Clarke County Public Utilities (Georgia)
- Citrus County Utilities (Florida)
- City of Charlottesville (Virginia)
- City of Plano (Texas)
- City of Sacramento Dept of Water (California)—First-time winner
- Cobb County Water System (Georgia)
- Irvine Ranch Water District (California)—First-time winner
- KB Home (California)
- Kohler Co (Wisconsin)
- Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District
- Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership (California)
- Upper San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District (California)—First-time winner
2022 Partner of the Year Awards
The Partner of the Year awards go to those WaterSense partners who have achieved success in all of the judging categories—strategic collaboration, education and outreach, and promoting WaterSense labeled products and programs.
- Builder: Fulton Homes (Arizona)
- Utility: Big Bear Lake Dept of Water and Power (California), City of Durham Water Management (North Carolina), Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District (Colorado), City of Fort Worth (Texas), Harris-Galveston Subsidence District (Texas), Houston Public Works (Texas), and City of Round Rock (Texas)
- Manufacturer: Niagara® (Texas)
- Promotional: Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership (California)
- Retailer: The Home Depot (Georgia)
2022 Excellence Award Winners
Excellence awards recognize those WaterSense partners who have excelled in a specific area.
- Excellence in Education and Outreach - American Water (New Jersey), Department of Water, County of Kaua‘i (Hawaii), Tarrant (Texas) Regional Water District, and Walnut Valley (California) Water District
- Excellence in Engagement and Outreach - The Toro Company (Minnesota)
- Excellence in Outreach and Collaboration - Rancho California Water District
- Excellence in Promoting the EPA Multifamily Water Score - Santa Clarita Valley (California) Water Agency
- Excellence in Promoting WaterSense Labeled Products - The Broward Water Partnership (Florida)
- Excellence for Promoting WaterSense Labeled Products in the Marketplace - Smart Rain (Utah) and Sloan Valve Company (Illinois)
- Excellence in WaterSense Promotion and Outreach - G3, Green Gardens Group (California)
Free Amazon HD 10 Tablet with RCRA and DOT Training
Annual training is required by 40 CFR 262.17(a)(7). Learn how to complete EPA’s new electronic hazardous waste manifest, and the more than 60 changes in EPA’s Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule. Environmental Resource Center’s Hazardous Waste Training
is available at nationwide locations, and via live webcasts. If you plan to also attend DOT Hazardous Materials Training
, call 800-537-2372 to find out how can get your course materials on an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet at no extra charge.
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