EPA Offers New Online Chemical Health Assessments Tracking Tool

December 06, 2004

The EPA has introduced a new online resource that allows the public to follow the development and review of agency chemical health assessments in the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS). IRIS Track is a key database of information on the potential adverse human health effects from exposure to chemical substances in the environment. The database currently contains information on potential health effects for more than 500 chemicals.

By displaying major milestone dates for chemical health assessments development and review regarding the status of IRIS assessments in progress, the new IRIS Track feature provides greater transparency to the public. Users will be able to monitor current status and view projected dates for future milestones for each chemical assessment.

Ione Company Penalized $9,800 for Pesticides Violations

The EPA recently announced that Morrow County Grain Growers (MCGG), a farm supply company in Ione, OR, agreed to pay $9,800 in penalties for violating federal pesticide laws.

An Oregon Department of Agriculture inspector discovered the violations during inspections of MCGG's facility in February 2004 and at a farm in the Dalles, OR, in April 2004.

MCGG violated the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act when it improperly repackaged and sold bulk pesticides and improperly reported annual production of bulk pesticides.

The EPA requires dealers to ensure the product integrity of repackaged bulk pesticides. This includes getting written permission from the registrant (the party who ensures that the pesticide has met all EPA labeling and testing requirements), labeling the product correctly so that it contains the most up-to-date information, and size requirements for containers used to repackage bulk pesticides.

Because the EPA cannot ensure their integrity, products that are improperly repackaged and sold are treated by the agency as unregistered pesticides. Selling unregistered pesticides may lead to penalties of up to $6,500 per violation.

Waste Agency Receives $35,805 in EPA Fines for Methane Emissions

Gas leaks from the Cherry Island Landfill will cost the Delaware Solid Waste Authority $35,805 under a federal pollution penalty compromise. The landfill, located east of Wilmington, DE, is the state's busiest solid waste disposal site.

The EPA sanctions settled an earlier, $75,000 proposed fine for extended methane emissions. State and federal environmental officials have targeted Cherry Island for a series of enforcement actions in recent years, focused on odors and release of methane, a gas that contributes to global warming.

Federal officials cited the authority in March for two violations involving uncontrolled methane leaks in November 2003. The consent decree reduced the case to a single count.

Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) has not resolved separate state actions involving a potential $135,000 fine in addition to the EPA's fine. The agencyÆs state penalty action included an order for an overhaul of the waste authority's methane gas control system at Cherry Island.

DNREC has yet to rule on an authority proposal for a scaled-back expansion and stabilization at Cherry Island. Authority managers said they need the project in part to reduce risks that the riverside disposal area will begin to slump - with some of its contents possibly sliding into the Delaware River or onto neighboring land - if current use rates continue.

The agency will attempt to recover the penalty payment from Cereza Energy Inc., which owns and operates equipment at Cherry Island that collects methane from decomposing waste and pipes it to a nearby power plant.

The authority has already expanded the gas control systems at Cherry Island, and has proposed a major overhaul of the collection system used by Cereza. That plan would include the use of impermeable blankets on top of the landfill; it would also reduce terracing, or a stair-stepped usage pattern, in favor of a smoother fabric-covered slope in some parts of the disposal site. Officials indicated that the change in slope would allow better management of drainage, gas leaks and odors at the landfill, and provide a slight gain in Cherry Island's overall capacity.

A variety of harmful pollutants may escape from decaying wastes in landfills. The most common of these, methane, can create fire and explosion hazards, in addition to contributing to global climate change. Other smog-forming and hazardous air pollutants, including mercury, may also trickle out of landfills.

EPA rules oblige large municipal landfills built after May 1991 to have landfill gas and treatment systems.

Rhode Island Company Agrees to Pay $46,000 for PCB Violations

Gilbane Building Co., based in Providence, RI, has agreed to pay $46,750 to settle charges by the EPA of improper handling and disposal of PCBs in soils during a construction project in New Haven, CT in December 2003.

According to the agency's complaint, the company improperly disposed of soil containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Gilbane, a national company with offices around the country and in Glastonbury, CT, was construction manager for the New Haven project to install underground storage tanks used for preventing sewer overflows. The company was responsible for excavating and disposing of contaminated material from the site, including 2,750 tons of material in an area with elevated PCB concentrations. In the settlement, Gilbane does not admit the factual allegations of the complaint.

According to EPA, on the project Gilbane was overseeing, soils with lower concentrations of PCBs were allegedly mixed with soils containing higher concentrations, in violation of rules that do not allow dilution of contaminated materials. Some of the soil excavated contained PCB concentrations of 191 parts per million, more than seven times the 25 ppm concentration allowed at the disposal site where the mixed soils were sent for disposal.

The action was taken under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) which regulates the manufacture, processing, distribution in commerce, use and disposal of PCBs.

Moab is Nation's first Green Power Community

The EPA Agency recently recognized UtahÆs Greater Moab Area Community as the nationÆs first Green Power Community. During a public ceremony, the agency presented the mayors of Castle Valley and the City of Moab with a street sign highlighting the milestone.

In August 2004, Moab, including the areas of Castle Valley, Park Creek Ranch, and Spanish Valley, became the first community in the nation to meet and exceed the EPA Green Power PartnershipÆs minimum benchmark for green power usage with voluntary purchases. By having 4 percent of the Moab Area CommunityÆs electricity offset by renewable power, EPA estimates the environmental benefit is equivalent to avoiding the generation of four million pounds of carbon dioxide.

Green Power Communities are a new type of partner for EPAÆs Green Power Partnership, which provides assistance and recognition to organizations that demonstrate environmental leadership by choosing green power. Green Power Communities are recognized by EPAÆs Green Power Partnership for having area homes, businesses, organizations and local governments voluntarily commit to switch a portion of their collective electric power usage to green power through individual and organizational purchases.

The Green Power Campaign in the Greater Moab Area was led by the Moab Green Power Steering Committee, which is made up of citizens, business leaders and public officials and was aided by Utah Clean Energy and Utah Power. Green power is electricity generated from renewable energy sources û wind, solar, geothermal, eligible biomass and eligible hydropower. The Moab Area Community is purchasing green power generated from wind power.

Massachusetts College to Pay Penalty, Complete Environmental Projects

Wheaton College in Norton, MA has agreed to pay a $75,000 penalty and make environmental improvements worth $155,500 to settle claims by the EPA that it violated the Clean Water Act and caused harm to a nearby river.

The college discharged wastewater from its wastewater treatment plant over many years into the Rumford River in violation of its permit limits. Those discharges regularly exceeded the standards for levels of biochemical oxygen demand, total settleable solids, and fecal coliform bacteria. The violations indicated that the collegeÆs treatment plant, built in the late 1950s, was not providing adequate treatment before discharging to the Rumford River.

The treatment plant at Wheaton College, which enrolls about 1,500 students, discharges an average of 85,000 gallons of treated wastewater a day into the Rumford River.

Wheaton College agreed to pay a cash penalty of $75,000 for its Clean Water Act violations. The college also agreed to install a new stormwater treatment system to prevent sediment from draining into Peacock Pond, which is located on WheatonÆs campus. This system, expected to cost $155,500, will improve the quality of water in Peacock Pond. The pond has been degraded by runoff entering from urban roadways. In negotiating the settlement, EPA agreed to a smaller cash penalty in exchange for the college investing in this environmentally beneficial project.

Wheaton College was initially issued a National Pollutant Discharge Eliminate System permit in 1978 and recently reissued a new permit in August. The permit allows the school to discharge pollutants from the treatment plant subject to certain conditions, including pollution limits and monitoring requirements. The college spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to upgrade its treatment plant during the summer of 2004 to ensure that discharges from the plant would be in compliance with its new permit. The college has worked cooperatively with EPA and Mass. Department of Environmental Protection officials throughout the case.

EPA Accepts Clean Air Faster Pledge from Tennessee and Arkansas

EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt recently announced that he would approve the ozone nonattainment area reclassification petitions submitted by Crittenden County, AK, and Shelby County, TN.

"Because the Memphis area has shown it will achieve clean air standards 3 years earlier than required, I intend to approve their request and classify the area as a marginal nonattainment area under the new, more protective national air quality standard for ground-level ozone," EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt said. "This action recognizes the hard work of local and state leaders over the past 4 months and their renewed pledge to employ innovative local emissions control program to ensure our clean air milestones are met."

State and local leaders from Arkansas and Tennessee joined Leavitt in recognizing collaborative efforts to achieve clean air standards three years earlier than the agency required.

For example, in order to bring clean air to Crittenden and Shelby counties, the area has proven to be committed to local regulations that will control emissions from heavy-duty diesel trucks and industrial NOx emissions in Shelby County. A monitor study and control measures evaluation is also planned in Marion.

Earlier this summer, both states petitioned EPA to designate the Memphis area as Marginal under the Clean Air Act. Marginal nonattainment areas must implement pollution control measures to achieve clean air sooner than Moderate areas. Moderate areas must attain national 8-hour ozone air quality standards no later than June 2010. Marginal areas must attain by June 2007.

HUD and EPA Settle in Lead-Safety Case affecting Seven States

In one of the largest enforcement actions of its kind, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and EPA announced that a Boston-based real estate company has agreed to remove lead paint hazards from approximately 10,400 apartments in seven states and the District of Columbia, and to pay a monetary penalty.

HUD and EPA claims WinnResidential Limited Partnership failed to notify its tenants that their homes may contain potentially dangerous amounts of lead. The apartments that will be made lead-safe under this agreement are located in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, California, New York, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Virginia and the District of Columbia. More than 7,000 apartments are located in Massachusetts alone (see attached list).

WinnResidential and its affiliates own and manage more than 235 housing projects across the country. The company agreed to pay a $105,000 civil monetary penalty and the company has further agreed to test for and clean up all existing lead-based paint hazards in its units. The EPA estimates that the cost of lead abatement projects associated with this settlement are likely to be as high as $3.7 million.

In 2001, there were approximately 1,100 children in Boston alone with elevated blood lead levels. The majority of cases are in the CityÆs lower-income, most diverse neighborhoods.

Since 2001, Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly, in conjunction with HUD, EPA, and the state Department of Public Health, has reached two agreements with Winn addressing environmental and civil rights issues. The first, filed by his Environmental Protection Division, mirrors the national settlement and requires the company, to comply with the stateÆs lead law. The second, negotiated by the Attorney GeneralÆs Civil Rights Division, requires the company to put detailed policy and procedures in place to prevent discrimination against families with children under the age of six, who are most vulnerable to lead paint poisoning.