EPA Marks Chemical Safety Milestone on 1st Anniversary of Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act

June 28, 2017

Update on Lautenberg Chemical Safety Act

On the one-year anniversary of the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act, Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that EPA has met its first-year statutory responsibilities under the law. This includes issuing three new rules, providing a guidance document for external parties, and releasing the scoping documents for the first 10 risk evaluations that will be conducted.

The Act amends the nation’s primary chemicals management law known as the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The legislation received bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate, and provides significant new responsibilities and authorities to EPA to advance chemical safety.

EPA has completed the following implementation activities at this one-year anniversary:

  • Finalized a rule to establish EPA’s process and criteria for identifying high priority chemicals for risk evaluation and low priority chemicals for which risk evaluation is not needed. In response to public comments, this final rule affirms EPA’s commitment to following the best available science, engaging stakeholders in the prioritization process, and recognizing the value of designating chemicals as low priority when appropriate.
  • Finalized a rule to establish EPA’s process for evaluating high priority chemicals to determine whether or not they present an unreasonable risk to health or the environment. In response to public comments, this final rule clearly defines important scientific terms to ensure transparency and confidence in the risk evaluation process while retaining flexibility to allow for new scientific approaches to be incorporated as they are developed. Additionally, the final rule clarifies EPA’s authority to determine what uses of a chemical are appropriate for risk evaluation, ensuring that the Agency’s resources are focused on those uses that may pose the greatest risk. Read more: https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/risk-evaluations-chemicals-under-tsca
  • Finalized a rule to require industry reporting of chemicals manufactured or processed in the U.S. over the past 10 years. This reporting will be used to identify which chemical substances on the TSCA Inventory are active in U.S. commerce and will help inform the chemicals EPA prioritizes for risk evaluation. In response to public comments, EPA streamlined the reporting requirements for manufacturers and processors in the final rule to help reduce regulatory burden. Read more: https://www.epa.gov/tsca-inventory/tsca-inventory-notification-active-inactive-rule
  • Released scope documents for the initial ten chemicals for risk evaluation under the amended law. These documents identify what uses of the chemicals will be evaluated and how the evaluation will be conducted. Read more: https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/risk-evaluations-chemicals-under-tsca - ten
  • Released guidance for external parties interested in submitting draft risk evaluations to the EPA for consideration. Read more: https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/guidance-assist-interested-persons-developing-and

New California Air Emission

Requirements for Forklifts, Sweeps/Scrubbers, Industrial Tow Tractors, or Airport Ground Support Equipment

California Health and Safety Code sections 43013 and 43018 direct the Air Resources Board (ARB or Board) to achieve the maximum feasible and cost-effective emission reductions from all mobile source categories, including large spark-ignition (LSI) engines, by establishing emission standards and other related requirements that will accomplish attainment of state standards.

LSI engines, which are defined as spark-ignition (i.e., Otto-cycle) engines greater than or equal to 25 horsepower, are a source of hydrocarbons (HC) and oxides of nitrogen (NOx). They are used in a variety of equipment, including, but not limited to, forklifts, airport ground support equipment (GSE), sweeper/scrubbers, industrial tow tractors, generator sets, and irrigation pumps. LSI equipment is found in approximately 2,000 fleets throughout California operating at warehouses and distribution centers, seaports, airports, railyards, manufacturing plants, and many other commercial and industrial facilities.

In this rulemaking, the Board has approved proposed revisions to the Large Spark-Ignition Engine Fleet Requirements Regulation (California Code of Regulations, title 13, sections 2775, 2775.1, and 2775.2 (LSI Fleet Regulation). The approved amendments consist of three major elements: 1) establishing a reporting requirement starting June 30, 2017, and annually thereafter; 2) establishing a labeling requirement starting in June 30, 2017; and 3) continuation of the existing recordkeeping requirements. The recordkeeping, reporting, and labeling requirements will all sunset on June 30, 2023.

Pharmaceutical Waste Labeling Requirements Revised in Washington

The Washington State Department of Ecology’s Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction Program (HWTR) has revised the “Interim Pharmaceutical Waste Policy – Pharmaceutical Waste Management in Healthcare.” It was updated to match the container labeling requirement in the draft dangerous waste pharmaceutical rule, WAC 173-303-555(3)(e). Containers must now be labeled with the words “Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals” or “Dangerous Waste Pharmaceuticals.” A notice of correction was filed in the state register June 21, 2017, to be published at the latest by July 5, 2017.

Five Ways You Can Save Water Inside Your Home This Summer

You might often assume that the heat of summer will lead to more water consumption. That’s because lawns, gardens, and even swimming pools demand a lot of it. But the truth is during summer even indoor water costs are still 50 to 70% of your monthly water bill. Take Care of Texas has provided the following tips for reducing your indoor water use this summer:

Replace your toilet

If you have an old water hog of a toilet, it uses a lot more water than it really needs to. A newer, more efficient toilet you can save 13,000 gallons of water a year. That’s about $110 in savings for the average household.

Use the dishwasher wisely

Washing dishes by hand consumes nearly 5,000 more gallons of water a year. Operating automatic dishwashers with a full load can help you save water. Instead of rinsing dirty dishes, try scraping food waste from them. Using a light wash feature also conserves water. An ENERGY STAR dishwasher is, on average, 30% more water efficient than standard models and will save about 3,870 gallons of water over its lifetime.

Fix leaks

Check your faucets, and fix any leaks you find. A faucet leaking at a rate of one drop per second can waste up to 3,000 gallons of water per year. That’s the amount of water needed to take more than 180 showers!

Trade up to an ENERGY STAR clothes washer

A full-sized ENERGY STAR clothes washer uses 13 gallons of water per load, compared to the 23 gallons used by a standard machine. That saves 3,000 gallons of water per year. They also use about 25% less energy, which could save you $45 per year on your utility bill.

Install water-efficient showerheads and faucet aerators

Standard showerheads use 2.5 gallons per minute, but a showerhead that earned the WaterSense label uses no more than 2 gallons per minute. This adds up to a savings of about 2,900 gallons of water per year. And replacing old, inefficient faucets and aerators can save the average family 700 gallons of water per year. Using less hot water also means your water heater uses less energy.

Portland Cement NESHAP to be Revised

The EPA is taking direct final action to amend the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants from the Portland Cement Manufacturing Industry. The direct final rule provides a compliance alternative for sources that would otherwise be required to use a hydrogen chloride (HCl) continuous emissions monitoring system (CEMS) to demonstrate compliance with the HCl emissions limit. This compliance alternative is needed due to the current unavailability of the HCl calibration gases used for CEMS quality assurance purposes.

This rule will go into effect on July 5.

Over $150,000 in Penalties Issued by Washington Department of Ecology

The Washington Department of Ecology issued $150,500 in penalties of $1,000 or more January through March in 2017. A complete list of the penalties can be found here. The money owed from penalties may be reduced from the issued amount due to settlement or court rulings. Funds collected go to the state’s general fund or to dedicated pollution prevention accounts.

Ecology works with thousands of businesses and individuals to help them comply with state laws. Penalties are issued in cases where non-compliance continues after Ecology has provided technical assistance or warnings, or for particularly serious violations.

Ecology strives to protect, preserve and enhance Washington’s environment and promote wise management for current and future generations. When someone pollutes Washington’s land, air or waters, Ecology enforces state and federal regulations in hopes of changing behavior and deterring future violations.

Coalition of Attorneys General File Suit Against EPA to Secure Reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

A coalition of 14 attorneys general and the City of Chicago Filed a motion in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to intervene in a lawsuit against EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s actions to halt regulation of leaks of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and other harmful air pollutants from new sources in the oil and gas industry.

The motion to intervene in the case—Clean Air Council v. Pruitt—is in support of a group of environmental organizations seeking to immediately stop the EPA’s unlawful administrative stay of a rule, finalized in 2016 (the 2016 Rule), that would prevent emissions of thousands of tons of the potent GHG methane, smog-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and hazardous air pollutants including benzene and formaldehyde from facilities constructed after September 2015. Administrator Pruitt announced in April 2017 that the EPA would halt the 2016 Rule, and on June 5 implemented a 90-day administrative stay of the Rule’s key leak detection and repair requirements, along with an order to reconsider aspects of the 2016 Rule, which has been in place for nearly one year.

The motion to intervene includes attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the City of Chicago.

The 2016 Rule requires oil and gas companies to monitor sources of emissions at well sites and compressor stations constructed after September 2015 in order to detect air pollutant leaks and repair them at regular intervals. According to testimony filed by scientific experts in the case, during the 90-day term of the administrative stay alone, more than 5,300 tons of methane, 1,475 tons of VOCs, and 56 tons of hazardous air pollutants will be emitted that would otherwise have been prevented had the EPA not put the brakes on the 2016 Rule.

Administrator Pruitt and the EPA have signaled that they will seek to further stay the 2016 Rule for an additional 27 months. If those further stays are implemented, experts predict at least 48,000 additional tons of methane, 13,000 tons of VOCs, and over 500 tons of hazardous air pollutants will be emitted that would have otherwise been prevented by the Rule.

Methane is a particularly powerful agent of climate change; pound-for-pound, methane warms the climate about 34 times more than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period, and in a 20-year timeframe, has about 86 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide. According to the EPA, the oil and gas sector is the largest emitter of methane in the U.S., accounting for a third of total U.S. methane emissions.

EPA to Adopt ASTM Revisions to Phase I Environmental Assessments

EPA has taken direct final action to amend the Standards and Practices for All Appropriate Inquiries to update an existing reference to a standard practice recently revised by ASTM International, a widely recognized standards development organization.

In a direct final rule published in the June 20 Federal Register, EPA amended the All Appropriate Inquiries Rule to reference ASTM International's E2247-16 “Standard Practice for Environmental Site Assessments: Phase I Environmental Site Assessment Process for Forestland or Rural Property” and allow for its use to satisfy the statutory requirements for conducting all appropriate inquiries under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).

The rule will become effective on September 18, 2017, unless EPA receives adverse comment by July 20, 2017. If EPA receives such comment, the Agency will publish a timely withdrawal in the Federal Register informing the public that this direct final rule will not take effect.

B&K Development Fined $46,400 for Violation of Waste Site Cleanup Regulations

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has assessed a $46,400 penalty against B&K Development Corp. of Charlton, MA for violating oil and hazardous materials cleanup regulations following reported hazardous materials releases at the former Charlton Woolen Mill, 12 South Sturbridge St., in Charlton.

Over a number of years, the corporation failed to conduct an Immediate Response Action to address historic groundwater contamination and to submit required documentation to MassDEP, including Immediate Response Action Status Reports and a Tier Classification Submittal or Permanent Solution Statement. MassDEP has also issued a unilateral administrative order requiring B&K Development to demonstrate that there is no significant risk from the reported releases of metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons at the site.

"Businesses operating within the Commonwealth must provide all necessary documents and submittals to MassDEP until a demonstration of no significant risk to public health, safety, welfare and the environment are present from a reported release of oil or hazardous material," said Mary Jude Pigsley, director of MassDEP's Central Regional Office in Worcester. "They are obligated to do so by the deadlines in the regulations in the interest of public health, safety, welfare and the environment."

As part of the order, the company must submit to MassDEP a status report on any cleanup actions taken at the site or submit a report that outlines that the site cleanup has been completed and a permanent solution to the issues there has been implemented.

Four Importers Convicted for Illegal Import of Hazardous E-Waste to Hong King

7th Space News Service reported that four importers who illegally imported hazardous electronic waste (e-waste) from the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, and Mainland China were convicted and fined a total of $94,000 by Fanling Magistrates' Courts on June 20 for violating Hong Kong’s Waste Disposal Ordinance (WDO).

In collaboration with the Customs and Excise Department, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) intercepted 10 imported containers at the Kwai Chung Container Terminals in November and December last year and found hazardous e-waste comprising waste flat panel displays, waste batteries, waste printed circuit boards and waste toner cartridges inside them. They were intended for import into Hong Kong or transshipment to Singapore and the Mainland. The total market value of the intercepted hazardous e-waste was about $630,000.

The 10 intercepted containers were immediately returned to the states of origin and the EPD also notified the relevant local enforcement authorities.

The EPD spokesman added that the intercepted hazardous e-waste contains heavy metals (such as mercury, lead, and nickel) and other toxic chemicals. Improper handling of such waste can cause harm to the environment and public health. The EPD strictly controls the import and export of hazardous waste according to the WDO and is committed to combating the illegal import of hazardous waste into Hong Kong.

All illegally imported containers that are intercepted will be returned to the states of origin following international practice and the offenders will be prosecuted.

The spokesman reminded importers of the waste recycling trade not to illegally import hazardous waste into Hong Kong for whatever purpose, including import into or transshipment through Hong Kong. In accordance with the WDO, it is an offense for anyone to import (including transshipment) or export hazardous waste without valid permits.

First-time offenders are subject to a maximum fine of $200,000 and six months' imprisonment. Repeat offenders are subject to a maximum fine of $500,000 and two years' imprisonment.

EPA Orders County of Hawaii to Close Large Cesspools in Pahala and Naalehu

The EPA recently announced an agreement with the County of Hawaii to close seven large capacity cesspools (LCCs) that serve the Pahala and Naalehu communities. The County will replace the cesspools with wastewater treatment systems approved by the Hawaii Department of Health.

In a separate action, EPA reached an agreement with Aloha Petroleum, Ltd., requiring the company to pay a civil penalty of $57,500 for its operation of an LCC at its Aloha Island Mart convenience store and gas station in Captain Cook on the Big Island. EPA found that Aloha Island Mart operated an illegal LCC until 2014. Aloha Petroleum has since closed the non-compliant cesspool and replaced it with an approved wastewater system.

An LCC is a cesspool that serves multiple residential dwellings or a commercial facility with the capacity to serve 20 or more people per day. Cesspools collect and discharge waterborne pollutants like untreated raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens can contaminate groundwater, streams and the ocean. LCCs were banned under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act in April 2005.

The agreement with the County of Hawaii requires the closure of two LCCs serving the Pahala community, three LCCs serving the Naalehu community, and two LCCs serving the Pahala Elderly Apartments. Combined, the seven cesspools serve about 280 households.

“EPA and the County of Hawaii are taking important steps to close these banned cesspools and replace them with modern wastewater treatment systems,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “These actions will protect Hawaii’s drinking water and coastal resources, as we seek to modernize Big Island water infrastructure.”

In the Pahala and Naalehu communities, the County has developed closure and replacement plans for the cesspools. Newly-constructed secondary wastewater treatment facilities and updated collection systems will come online in 2021 for Pahala and in 2022 for Naalehu. Cesspools serving the Pahala Elderly Apartments will be closed by September 2018 and replaced with septic systems. The agreement also includes specific reporting requirements and allows for stipulated penalties should the county fail to meet agreed-upon deadlines.

Construction of the new treatment and disposal facilities will be financed in part with federal grants and low-interest loans from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund loan program. Under the agreement, an additional 95 properties in the Pahala and Naalehu communities not currently served by the LCCs will also be connected to the new county sewer systems.

Cesspools are used more widely in Hawaii than in any other state, despite the fact that 95% of all drinking water in Hawaii comes from groundwater sources. over 3,000 large capacity cesspools have been closed state-wide, many through voluntary compliance.

Two International Shipping Companies Pay $1.9 Million for Covering Up Vessel Pollution

Two shipping companies based in Egypt and Singapore pleaded guilty recently in federal court in Beaumont, Texas, to violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS) and obstruction of justice for covering up the illegal dumping of oil-contaminated bilge water and garbage from one of their ships into the sea.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood for the Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division and Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston for the Eastern District of Texas, announced the plea agreement. The agreement includes a $1.9 million dollar penalty and requires marine and coastal restoration efforts at three National Wildlife Refuges located on the Gulf of Mexico in East Texas, where the offending vessel transited and made port stops.

“This case involved egregious violations of U.S. and international laws that are key to protecting the oceans from pollution, and deliberate efforts to mislead U.S. Coast Guard officials about these criminal acts,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Wood. “The Department of Justice will continue to aggressively prosecute criminal acts that pollute the oceans.”

“Intentional acts of pollution in the Gulf of Mexico and Texas wetlands will not be tolerated, and violators such as defendants, Egyptian Tanker Company and Thome Ship Management, will be held responsible for their conduct,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston for the Eastern District of Texas. “Our citizens depend on clean water for their recreation and their livelihood. This kind of irresponsible conduct threatens both.”

Defendants Egyptian Tanker Company and Thome Ship Management are the owner and operator of the 57,920 gross ton, 809-foot long, ocean-going, oil tank ship called the M/T ETC MENA. Large ships like the M/T ETC MENA generate oil-contaminated bilge waste when water mixes in the bottom or bilges of the ship with oil that has leaked from the ship’s engines and other areas. This waste must be processed to separate the water from the oil and other wastes by using pollution prevention equipment, including an Oily Water Separator (OWS), before being discharged into the sea. These large ships also generate garbage, including ash from the incinerators, steel, and other non-organic wastes, which are collected in plastic bags and stored onboard until they can be disposed of properly at shore-side facilities. APPS requires that the disposal of the ship’s bilge waste and garbage be fully recorded in the ship’s Oil Record Book and Garbage Record Book.

The investigation began on April 26, 2016, when the U.S. Coast Guard’s Marine Safety Unit in Port Arthur, Texas, received information from a crew member on the M/T ETC MENA that the ship had illegally dumped bilge waste overboard into the ocean. The crewmember provided a written statement, photographs, and video of the alleged conduct. During the inspection of the ship that same day, the Coast Guard found a pump covered in oil submerged in the ship’s bilge primary tank that looked similar to the pump that the crew member said was used to pump the bilge waste overboard.

“Environmental crimes put the marine environment and our natural resources at risk,” said Rear Admiral Dave Callahan, Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District. “This case serves as another example that the United States will not tolerate these actions and violators will be held accountable. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Port Arthur, the Coast Guard Investigative Service, and the Department of Justice should be commended for their tireless efforts and cooperation in investigating and prosecuting this case.”

In pleading guilty, the companies admitted that its crew members bypassed the ships OWS and discharged bilge water into the ocean in March 2016 without it first passing through this pollution prevention equipment. The government’s investigation also revealed that crew members were instructed to throw plastic garbage bags filled with metal and incinerator ash into the sea in March 2016. The discharge of bilge water without using the OWS and of plastic garbage into the ocean was not entered into the ship’s Oil Record Book and Garbage Record Book in violation of APPS. The companies also pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for presenting these false documents to the Coast Guard during the inspection in Port Arthur, Texas.

The companies will be placed on a four-year term of probation that includes a comprehensive environmental compliance plan to ensure, among other things, that all of ships operated by Thome Ship Management that come to the United States fully comply with all applicable marine environmental protection requirements established by national and international laws. The compliance plan will be implemented by an independent auditing company and supervised by a court-appointed monitor.

Five People Receive California’s Premier Air Quality Award 

The California Air Resources Board recently honored recipients of the 2016 Haagen-Smit Clean Air Awards, California’s premier award recognizing individuals who have made outstanding contributions to improving air quality. The contributions of this year’s award winners will have lasting impacts not only for air quality and climate goals in California, but on an international scale.

“The Haagen-Smit Award is our way of honoring individuals who have championed public health with extraordinary contributions to air pollution research, science and clean air technology,” CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols said. “From shaping our understanding of air pollutants and informing policy on climate health, to advocating for the right to clean air in severely polluted cities, their long and distinguished careers have changed how we address climate change and fight air pollution around the world.”

Considered the “Nobel Prize” in air quality achievement, the Haagen-Smit Clean Air Awards are given annually to individuals who have made significant lifetime contributions toward improving air quality and climate change science, technology and policy, furthering the protection of public health. 

In light of the global connection between air quality and climate change, the scope of the Haagen-Smit Clean Air Awards program is now international, with an added focus on climate change science and mitigation.

The 2016 Award Recipients:

·         Chet France, former Director, Assessment and Standards Division, Office of Transportation and Air Quality, U.S. EPA – Mr. Chester “Chet” France is being recognized for his leadership in developing and implementing advanced technology programs that have significantly reduced mobile source emissions and resulted in significant public health and climate benefits. He not only spearheaded federal motor vehicle and fuel emission control programs, he was responsible for developing and maintaining national computer models that estimate the emissions of transportation sources. Because of the programs that Mr. France has managed at the national level, today’s cars and trucks are 99% cleaner than a decade ago.

·         Dan Greenbaum, President and CEO, Health Effects Institute (HEI) – Mr. Dan Greenbaum is being recognized for his sustained leadership on air pollution health science, communication and policies at the state, national and international levels. During Mr. Greenbaum’s tenure as president, HEI has provided key science to inform decisions on national ambient air quality standards, air toxics, fuels and technologies and has undertaken several key challenges at the science-policy interface. Mr. Greenbaum’s leadership and vision have extended HEI’s influence beyond U.S. borders, and HEI now provides trusted science for decisions on four continents.

·         Joyce Penner, Professor, Atmospheric Science, University of Michigan – Dr. Joyce Penner is being recognized for her pioneering air pollution research that has transformed our understanding of the diverse range of atmospheric aerosols associated with human activities, their interactions with clouds, and their role in climate change. Over her career, Joyce Penner’s innovative and sustained scientific contributions have demonstrated the full extent of aerosols’ impact on the global atmosphere, their relationship to human activities, and their complex interactions with the climate system. Dr. Penner’s scientific contributions and her work on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessments are fundamental to the scientific community’s confidence that the observed climate change is attributable to human activities.

·         V. “Ram” Ramanathan, Distinguished Professor, Climate and Atmospheric Sciences, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego – Dr. Veerabhadran “Ram” Ramanathan is being recognized for his sustained and innovative contributions to understanding complex linkages between manmade emissions and climate change, especially the need for simultaneous and deep reductions of short- and long-lived climate pollutants in order to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of global warming. Dr. Ramanathan’s historic research on climate and atmospheric science has been widely recognized around the world. Because of his research, atmospheric physics was linked to atmospheric chemistry, leading to a paradigm shift in the way climate scientists approached the problem of global warming.

·         Anumita Roychowdhury, Executive Director, Centre for Science and Environment, India – Anumita Roychowdhury is being recognized for her notable work on a suite of emission control strategies to mitigate severe air pollution. Ms. Roychowdhury has a long list of success stories for clean air and public health in India. Her most recent policy victory was the national adoption of sweeping new emission standards for cars, trucks, buses, two-wheelers and three-wheelers. Anumita remains a central force in air pollution control in India and throughout the developing world.

California’s premier air quality award is named for the late Dr. Arie Haagen-Smit — known as the "father" of air pollution science and control. The award recognizes those who continue his legacy through perseverance, leadership and innovation in the areas of research, environmental policy, science and technology, public education and community service. Dr. Haagen-Smit’s breakthrough research, which became the foundation upon which today's air pollution standards are based, concluded that most of California's smog is the result of photochemistry — the reaction of sunlight with industrial and motor vehicle exhaust to create ozone. The selection committee is comprised of past award winners.


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