EPA Proposes Approval of Groundbreaking Rule To Reduce Southern California Air Pollution

October 16, 2023
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to approve a rule by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) that is serving to protect communities from air pollution generated by warehouse operations, including freight vehicle trips to and from warehouses. The South Coast AQMD area covers large areas of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, including the Coachella Valley, and is home to more than 17 million people, approximately 44% of the population of the entire state of California.
By proposing approval of the South Coast rule, we are seeking to better protect overburdened communities from the harmful effects of air pollution,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “I have travelled to the Inland Empire and throughout the South Coast and seen firsthand how Black and Brown communities are bearing the brunt of goods moving through our country, with damaging impacts such as asthma, missed days of school or work, and increased medical bills. This rule is an essential step toward protecting Californians that continue to shoulder a large burden of air pollution for all of us.”
In 2021, the South Coast AQMD adopted a rule that requires large warehouses to offset pollution from the truck traffic they attract. The South Coast rule, known as the Warehouse Indirect Source Rule, serves to reduce harmful air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, from warehouse operations. The rule also addresses related mobile sources of pollution, such as trucks that deliver goods to and from the facilities, yard trucks, and transport refrigeration units. Additional emissions sources can include onsite stationary equipment such as diesel backup generators or manufacturing equipment.
The South Coast rule creates a point system known as Warehouse Actions and Investments to Reduce Emissions (WAIRE). The rule allows warehouses to earn WAIRE points by completing actions such as investing in zero emission (ZE) and/or near-zero emission technologies, using solar power, installing onsite ZE charging or fueling infrastructure, or installing filtration systems in qualified buildings such as schools. Other options to earn WAIRE points include developing a custom WAIRE plan or paying mitigation fees. By 2025, all warehouses over 100,000 square feet will be subject to the rule.
Pollution from mobile sources – ships, trucks, and trains – contribute to poor air quality in the greater Los Angeles region. If finalized as proposed, the Warehouse Indirect Source Rule, which is part of a larger multi-prong strategy to reduce emissions from mobile sources and improve public health, will become federally enforceable.
In addition to this rule from the local air district, EPA’s national-level actions to tighten engine emission standards for new vehicles, including heavy duty trucks, will improve Southern California’s air quality. These regulatory actions to bring about cleaner air are complemented by unprecedented federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, which together are making historic investments in accelerating the country towards a zero-emission economy, tackling climate change, and creating a more equitable future.
The proposed approval reflects EPA Pacific Southwest Region’s commitment to environmental justice and civil rights -- to make progress in historically overburdened and underserved communities, ensuring fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income in developing and implementing environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
Massachusetts Alloys Manufacturer Cited for Failing To Protect Employees Against Toxic Exposure
A Wilmington fabricator of advanced alloys failed to adequately protect its employees against exposure to the toxic substance beryllium adequately, a U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspection has revealed.
OSHA inspectors found IBC Engineered Materials Inc., doing business as IBC Advanced Alloys Inc., overexposed employees to airborne concentrations of beryllium as they performed handheld grinding and parts fabrication operations on beryllium aerospace components in the plant's foundry and grinding room.
In addition, OSHA determined the Massachusetts company failed to do the following:
  • Conduct follow-up beryllium exposure monitoring in a timely manner.
  • Implement a proper exposure control plan and maintain adequate engineering controls to reduce and minimize employees' exposures to beryllium.
  • Allowed storage of beryllium-contaminated clothing in a personal locker with employees' street clothes.
  • Make sure reused and laundered protective coveralls were free of beryllium contamination.
  • Provide an adequate change room for employees required to change into personal protective equipment.
  • Keep workbench surfaces as free of beryllium as practicable.
  • Dispose of rags, gloves, paper towels and other beryllium-contaminated items properly.
  • Post an adequate warning sign.
OSHA has cited IBC for 11 serious violations and one other-than-serious violation for these hazardous conditions and proposed $69,251 in proposed penalties. View the citations.
"Beryllium is an important material needed in aerospace, defense and other industries, but is a highly toxic metal. Workers who inhale beryllium are at an increased risk of developing serious adverse health effects including chronic beryllium disease and lung cancer," explained OSHA Area Director Sarah Carle in Andover, Massachusetts. "OSHA's inspection found IBC Advanced Alloys Inc. failed to provide adequate and effective safeguards required to protect employees against this harmful hazard."
Based in Franklin, Indiana, IBC Advanced Alloys is a leading advanced alloys company serving the defense, aerospace, automotive, telecommunications, precision manufacturing industries, among others. Its Engineered Materials Division makes alloys, which can be precision cast and are used in an increasing number of defense, aerospace, and other systems, including the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. IBC has production facilities in Indiana and Massachusetts.
EPA Urges Consumers To Beware of Misbranded Antimicrobial Household Products
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a settlement with Tzumi Electronics LLC and Enchante Accessories, Inc. for violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) committed during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Under the settlement the companies will make a $1.5 million combined penalty payment.
“Consumers should exercise caution when purchasing  devices that claim to kill germs or pests.  EPA requires these devices have an EPA establishment number. In this case, the devices were rushed to market during the pandemic by companies unfamiliar with EPA’s regulations and failed to meet even these very basic requirements,” said Lisa F. Garcia, EPA Regional Administrator. “This settlement demonstrates the consequences of acting in haste and ignorance of federal environmental laws and regulations.”
Tzumi Electronics and Enchante Accessories engaged in the distribution and sale of pesticide devices. Between May 5, 2020 and September 17, 2020, at the height of the pandemic, Enchante, a large manufacturer and wholesaler of consumer goods, was the importer of record for numerous shipments of 15 distinct Tzumi-branded ultraviolet (UV) devices imported into the United States from China. The labels of the Tzumi-branded UV devices displayed pesticidal claims that UV lights kill microbes -- and did not include an EPA establishment number for the producing establishment, as required by FIFRA. Enchante further imported these shipments into the U.S. without filing proper paperwork (Notices of Arrival) prior to arrival, in violation of the law. Upon entry into the U.S., each of the shipments was then transferred to Tzumi Electronics, which held and distributed the misbranded UV devices to domestic retailers.
Among the goals of FIFRA is to minimize risks to the public and the environment from the use of  pesticides and pesticide devices. Pesticide devices are not subject to registration or any other form of premarket review by EPA and are therefore not evaluated for safety and efficacy by EPA. However, EPA may review device labels and labeling during compliance monitoring of domestic, imported or exported device products, or as part of voluntary, fee-based, regulatory determination submission. FIFRA requires all pesticide devices imported into the U.S. to be produced in an EPA registered establishment and include on the label an EPA establishment number, which the agency assigns to each establishment that produces any pesticide, active ingredient, or device. The EPA establishment number allows pesticide devices to be traced to the facility of manufacture in the event of an issue with the product’s use.
EPA does not routinely review the safety or efficacy of UV light devices and as a result, EPA has not conducted a human health risk assessment to determine the safety of these products. For the same reason, EPA cannot confirm whether, or under what circumstances, UV light devices might be effective against any pest, including viruses and bacteria. Device manufacturers, sellers, and/or distributors are responsible for maintaining records and data to support their claims and consumers can request these records from these entities directly.
Slack Chemical Company Fine $231,300 for Violations of Toxic Chemical Reporting Rules
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced a settlement with Slack Chemical Company Inc. to resolve alleged violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA) at the company’s facilities in Carthage and Saratoga Springs, New York. The settlement includes a $231,300 civil penalty.
"EPA is working to ensure that regulated facilities comply with the “Right to Know” requirements to ensure companies properly report their storage, use, and releases of certain chemicals to federal, state, tribal, territorial and local governments,” said EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. "These reporting requirements are important because they are used to help communities prepare for and protect against potential risks posed by potentially dangerous chemicals.”
Slack Chemical Company, Inc. is a supplier of bulk chemicals. The company stores, repackages, and distributes bulk chemicals to municipalities and industry across the Northeast from three New York facilities using a substantial delivery fleet of tractor trailers.
According to EPA, the company failed to properly submit forms required by EPA and New York State with information about how much ammonia, methanol, nitric acid, and toluene were managed at and released from the company’s facilities during 2019 and 2021.
Under the terms of the consent agreement and final order with EPA, Slack has voluntarily instituted a corporate compliance plan to prevent recurrence of EPCRA reporting violations. For example, to improve compliance, the company will add a written procedure detailing the steps required to identify Toxic Release Inventory chemicals, calculating reportable quantities and subsequent submittal.
EPCRA increases the public's knowledge and access to information about chemicals at certain regulated facilities which must report on the identity of their chemicals, quantities of chemical releases into the environment, and waste management activities. States and communities, working with facilities, can use the information to improve chemical safety and protect public health and the environment.
Federal Investigation Finds RM Palmer Did Not Evacuate Candy Plant Before Gas Leak Explosion
The U.S. Department of Labor has found a well-known Pennsylvania candy maker failed to evacuate employees after some reported smelling gas before a March 2023 explosion that killed seven workers at the company's West Reading facility.
The department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an investigation and learned R.M. Palmer Co. did not remove workers from the manufacturing plant despite workers' concerns about what OSHA later determined was a natural gas leak. The agency cited the company under its general duty clause for not evacuating workers. OSHA also cited R.M. Palmer for not marking emergency exit signs clearly, using flexible cords improperly and for recordkeeping violations.
"Seven workers will never return home because the R.M. Palmer Co. did not evacuate the facility after being told of a suspected gas leak," said OSHA Area Director Kevin T. Chambers in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. "Ensuring the safety of a workplace is expected of employers and required by law. The company could have prevented this horrific tragedy by following required safety procedures." 
Headquartered in West Reading, R.M. Palmer Co. has manufactured chocolate and other confections at its Pennsylvania facility since 1948. The company produces, packages and ships more than 500 types of products to retail locations throughout North America and employs about 850 employees.
EPA Penalizes Oregon Lumber Company Nearly $50,000 for Clean Water Act Violations
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that D.R. Johnson of Riddle, Oregon, will pay $49,948 for violations of the Clean Water Act.
Under the Clean Water Act, Oregon lumber facilities like D.R. Johnson are required to comply with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) Industrial Stormwater Discharge Permit which includes having a Stormwater Pollution Control Plan (SWPCP).
As part of EPA’s collaborative effort to help oversee the industrial stormwater sector with ODEQ, EPA targeted inspections of predominant industries covered by the Permit. As a result, during a 2021 inspection, EPA found an area that discharged stormwater directly off-site and was not included in D.R. Johnson’s SWPCP. EPA discussed the unmonitored point of discharge with the facility, and the facility agreed to start quarterly water quality sampling as required by the permit. Sampling results indicated the facility exceeded the permitted water quality benchmarks.   
D.R. Johnson took immediate action by installing treatment and updating their SWPCP.  
“Industrial facilities must have stormwater pollution controls in place to protect our waters,” said EPA Region 10 Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Director Ed Kowalski. “We are pleased the company took swift action to improve their operations and prevent pollution — actions that will ultimately help our water quality in the Pacific Northwest.” 
Stormwater runoff from lumber facilities containing, zinc, copper and other pollutants when not treated and discharged directly into nearby waterbodies can cause significant harm to rivers, lakes and coastal waters.
ECHA To Prepare Restriction Proposal on Chromium (VI) Substances
ECHA has received a mandate from the European Commission to prepare an Annex XV report for possible restriction of at least the chromium (VI) substances that are currently in entries 16 and 17 of the REACH Authorisation List (Annex XIV). ECHA will submit the proposal by 4 October 2024.
The restriction proposal aims to address the challenges posed by the current and possible future workload both for ECHA and the Commission. This workload stems from the high number of applications for authorisation to use these substances, already submitted or potentially coming from hundreds of companies. For ECHA, evaluating the applications and concluding opinions on them would go beyond the available resources of the committees for Risk Assessment (RAC) and Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC) and would affect their work in regulating other hazardous chemicals.
If ECHA identifies a potential risk of regrettable substitution to other chromium (VI) substances during the preparation of the restriction proposal, an extension of the mandate to cover additional chromium (VI) substances is possible. However, this will need to be discussed and agreed with the Commission.
The preparation of the restriction proposal and its evaluation by RAC and SEAC will follow the standard REACH restrictions process. In preparing the proposal, ECHA will consider the knowledge and experience it has gained from processing applications for authorisation for these substances.
Once the Commission adopts the restriction, the substances in scope will be removed from the Authorisation List. This would mark the first time in REACH’s history where such an action would be done.
EPA Fines Safety-Kleen for Hazardous Waste Violations in Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska
Safety-Kleen Systems Inc. will pay a $95,781 civil penalty to resolve alleged violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which is the federal law that requires safe handling of hazardous wastes.
“Mismanagement of hazardous waste threatens human health and the environment,” said David Cozad, director of EPA Region 7’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division. “EPA is committed to protecting communities from harmful chemical waste releases and leveling the playing field for companies that comply with the law.”
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Safety-Kleen is a nationwide provider of environmental services and operates permitted hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facilities in multiple states.
EPA conducted inspections of Safety-Kleen facilities in 2022 in Des Moines, Iowa, Grand Island, Nebraska, and Wichita, Kansas, and alleges that the company failed to comply with terms of hazardous waste permits at these locations, including:
  • Failure to adequately manage hazardous waste containers, including labeling of hazardous waste, conducting inspections, and separating incompatible wastes.
  • Failure to properly manage used oil.
  • Failure to maintain adequate records of hazardous waste.
Upon notification to Safety-Kleen of the alleged violations, the company took immediate steps to return to compliance.
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