EPA Proposes Exemption for Automotive Hazardous Waste

January 15, 2007

The EPA is proposing to amend the F019 hazardous waste listing to facilitate the use of aluminum in automobiles, light trucks, and utility vehicles. This action will encourage the production of more fuel-efficient vehicles by reducing the barriers to producing vehicles using lighter aluminum parts.

F019 is one of EPA's F-code RCRA hazardous waste listings, which includes waste that is generated from common industrial and manufacturing processes. The proposed amendment exempts F019 waste generated in the auto manufacturing industry from regulation on the condition that the waste is disposed of in a landfill unit that meets certain liner design criteria. Using aluminum parts instead of heavier steel or iron parts produces lighter vehicles capable of decreased exhaust air emissions and increased gas mileage. EPA expects to publish the proposal in the Federal Register in about two weeks.


New Global Warming Bill Signals Momentum Growing for Effective Reductions


On January 12, Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced the Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2007. The new bill contains a “declining cap” provision that cuts emissions steadily over time, allowing industry to manage costs while effectively reducing pollution.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) proposed such a declining cap in the November 2006 issue of Science. The Lieberman-McCain bill, modeled on the hugely successful acid rain program signed by the first President Bush, puts a cap on carbon pollution and lets the free market find the best solutions. It requires that emissions be reduced to 2004 levels by 2012, 1990 levels by 2020, and 60 below 1990 by 2050; these are stronger targets than included in the previous version of the legislation. The plan also sets up a market to trade emissions allowances, allowing the needed reductions to be achieved in the most efficient way possible.

NRDC President Frances G. Beinecke said, “This first global warming bill of the new Congress shows our leaders in Washington are declaring that the era of delay has ended and the year of action has begun. They know what the American public already knows: to protect the climate, the United States must start cutting global warming pollution now and reduce emissions steadily over the coming decades.”

NOAA Reports General Warming and El Nio Contribute to Warmest Year on Record


The 2006 average annual temperature for the contiguous United States was the warmest on record and nearly identical to the record set in 1998, according to scientists at the NOAA National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. Seven months in 2006 were much warmer than average, including December, which ended as the fourth warmest December since records began in 1895.

Based on preliminary data, the 2006 annual average temperature was 55F—2.2F (1.2C) above the 20th Century mean and 0.07F (0.04C) warmer than 1998. NOAA originally estimated in mid-December that the 2006 annual average temperature for the contiguous United States would likely be 2F (1.1C) above the 20th Century mean, which would have made 2006 the third warmest year on record, slightly cooler than 1998 and 1934, according to preliminary data. Further analysis of annual temperatures and an unusually warm December caused the change in records.

These values were calculated using a network of more than 1,200 U.S. Historical Climatology Network stations. These data, primarily from rural stations, have been adjusted to remove artificial effects resulting from factors such as urbanization and station and instrument changes, which occurred during the period of record.

After a cold start to December, the persistence of spring-like temperatures in the eastern two-thirds of the country during the final two to three weeks of 2006 made this the fourth warmest December on record in the nation and helped bring the annual average to record high levels. For example, the monthly average temperature in Boston was 8F above average, and in Minneapolis-St Paul, the temperature was 17F above average for the last three weeks of December. Even in Denver, which had its third snowiest December on record and endured a major blizzard that brought the city to a standstill during the holiday travel season, the temperature for the month was 1.4F warmer than the 1971–2000 average.

Five states had their warmest December on record (Minnesota, New York, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire) and no state was colder than average in December.

The unusually warm start to this winter reflected the rarity of Arctic outbreaks across the country as an El Nio episode continued in the equatorial Pacific. A contributing factor to the unusually warm temperatures throughout 2006 also is the long-term warming trend, which has been linked to increases in greenhouse gases. This has made warmer-than-average conditions more common in the U.S. and other parts of the world. It is unclear how much of the recent anomalous warmth was due to greenhouse-gas-induced warming and how much was due to the El Nio-related circulation pattern. It is known that El Nio is playing a major role in this winter's short-term warm period.

U.S. and global annual temperatures are now approximately 1.0F warmer than at the start of the 20th century, and the rate of warming has accelerated over the past 30 years, increasing globally since the mid-1970s at a rate approximately three times faster than the century-scale trend. The past nine years have all been among the 25 warmest years on record for the contiguous U.S., a streak which is unprecedented in the historical record.

EPA Fines Screen Printer $5,000 for Hazardous Waste Violations

The EPA recently settled with Everbright Company, Ltd. for $5,000 for hazardous waste violations on its facility located in the Fina Sisu Village, Saipan.


“Any operation that generates hazardous wastes needs to manage the waste properly to protect public health and the environment,” said Jeff Scott, director of Waste Programs for the EPA Pacific Southwest Region. “The company also needs to make the proper notification of its hazardous waste activities as required by the law. Most important, the waste needs to be disposed at an approved and permitted hazardous waste disposal facility.”

The company was fined for:

  • Storing, treating, and disposing of hazardous waste without a permit
  • Failing to identify its hazardous waste
  • Failing to notify the EPA that it owned or operated a hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal facility, and was a hazardous waste generator
  • Failing to stop releases of hazardous waste and keep the waste in the proper containers
  • Failing to conduct weekly inspections of the hazardous waste storage area


The facility is a full-service screen printing business and generates wastes such as toluene, turpentine, naphtha-based and other cleaning solvents, and waste ink. The waste found at the facility has since been disposed at an off island hazardous waste disposal facility.

In October 2005, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands’ Division of Environmental Quality at the request of the EPA, conducted an unannounced inspection of the Everbright Facility and found the company failing to collect all of its chemical wastes. Instead, it was discharging the wastes to its septic tank, which in turn discharges into the soil via an outlet pipe. Any wastes in the septic tank that are not discharged into the soil are removed and discharged into CNMI’s sewer system.

Inspectors also found the company was discharging solid and hazardous wastes to a stormwater ponding basin. They found evidence of a release of waste from a break in the waste storage area containment berm. The company also added a new, unauthorized wash-water discharge to the facility that discharges to the ground, and the company continues to dispose of waste ink by air-drying and evaporation.

The EPA’s hazardous waste rules require facilities to properly store, label, and seal hazardous waste containers. Facilities also must have properly 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 proper permits and notifications made to the EPA.


California Announces World’s First Global Warming Pollution Standard for Motor Fuels


Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced on January 9 the first big step to implement California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32). Through an executive order that will direct the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to begin the process of adopting the world’s first global warming pollution standard for motor vehicle fuels, the governor is accelerating action to reduce one of the leading sources of heat-trapping pollution.

The executive order requires CARB to develop rules for oil companies and other providers of passenger vehicle fuels sold in California to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other global warming pollutants by 10% by 2020. The order clarifies oil companies’ responsibility to help the state meet the requirement to reduce its total emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Transportation fuels account for more than 40% of California’s global warming emissions.

“We can’t solve global warming without reducing our dependence on oil,” said Roland Hwang, NRDC’s vehicles policy director. “A low-carbon fuel standard is a critical step in ensuring the state will meet its targets for reducing global warming pollution.”

Companies would be able to comply with the standard using existing and emerging clean-fuel technologies. These include cellulosic ethanol; electricity used to charge plug-in hybrid vehicles; compressed natural gas; and hydrogen for fuel-cell vehicles. Alternatively, companies could purchase credits, either from traditional fuel suppliers that exceed the standard, or from a new class of low-carbon fuel suppliers, such as electric utilities, ethanol producers, and hydrogen manufacturers.

“Not only will California continue to drive the nation in combating global warming, but California drivers will benefit from greater choices at the pump and reduced exposure to gasoline price shocks,” said Hwang. “Since California is the largest transportation fuels market in the country, investments are likely to shift immediately from more oil drilling to commercializing the clean fuels of the future.”

NRDC estimates the benefits of the “low-carbon fuel standard” in 2020 will be to:

  • Cut global warming pollution from passenger vehicles by more than 13 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, equal to the emissions from three million cars.
  • Displace 20% of on-road gasoline consumption with low-carbon fuels, reducing consumption by roughly 3 billion gallons of gasoline per year, equivalent to the output of 2.5 average-sized California refineries.
  • Triple, quadruple, or even quintuple the California renewable fuels market–already the largest in the nation–to up to 4.5 billion gallons of ethanol, with more than half being made from extremely low-carbon, cellulosic materials, such as agricultural waste and switchgrass.
  • Put more than 7 million alternative fuel, plug-in hybrid, battery electric, and fuel cell vehicles on the road.

The low-carbon fuel standard would be measured in terms of global warming emissions per unit of energy sold. Emissions would be measured on a well-to-wheel basis, which takes into account the pollution impacts of producing and using the fuel. CARB rulemakings typically take two years to complete, which would provide sufficient lead time for the standard to be enforced beginning in 2010. It likely would be phased in over a 10-year period.

The Global Warming Solutions Act by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) and former assembly member Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills) passed the legislature in August 2006 and was signed into law the following month.

EPA Rules Out Wood Preservative ACC for Residential Use


Maintaining the highest standards in the world for pesticide safety, EPA is taking legal action to deny the registration of acid copper chromate, commonly known as ACC, for residential use.

"The U.S. continues to set the gold standard for pesticide safety," said EPA Assistant Administrator Jim Gulliford. "Today's decision protects American families, workers, and the environment."

EPA's scientific review process concluded that the risks associated with residential uses of ACC outweigh the minimal benefits. The proposed residential uses of ACC would pose a cancer risk to treatment and manufacturing workers, as well as noncancer risks to homeowners, children, and contractors.

In addition, disposal of the ACC-treated wood could require that it be handled and disposed of as a hazardous waste because the wood may contain high levels of chromium. ACC contains hexavalent chromium, a known human carcinogen when inhaled and a dermal irritant and sensitizer.

Under the federal pesticide law, EPA is following the administrative process to finalize this decision.

EPA Fines Gas Station for Underground Storage Tank Violations



The EPA alleges that Seaside Service Station failed to meet federal requirements by not conducting line tightness tests or using a monthly leak detection method on its petroleum piping and by not adequately monitoring the underground tanks for leaks. The company’s facility includes five underground tanks, two of which are already temporarily closed, with unleaded and diesel fuel stored in its three operating tanks.

“We expect tank owners to properly maintain their tanks to prevent them from leaking,” said Jeff Scott, director for the EPA Pacific Southwest Region’s Waste Division. “Taking this action will help ensure American Samoa's fresh water supply and coral reefs are not damaged by negligence.”

As part of the settlement agreement, the EPA is requiring Seaside Service Station to conduct a site assessment to determine if a release of petroleum product has occurred underground.

A December 1998 federal deadline required regulated underground storage tanks to have spill and overfill equipment, corrosion protection, and release detection methods to prevent releases and protect underground water sources.

The EPA frequently conducts unannounced tank inspections.


M.G. Waldbaum Company Will Pay $1 Million Penalty to Resolve Clean Water Act Violations


M.G. Waldbaum Company, a subsidiary of Minnesota-based Michael Foods Inc., has agreed to pay a $1.05 million penalty to resolve allegations that the company violated the Clean Water Act. This settlement, which is a joint federal-state effort, involves a large egg processing facility and seven associated poultry farms near the City of Wakefield, Neb. The civil penalty will be divided equally between the state and the federal government.

The Clean Water Act violations concern allegations of overloading the wastewater treatment lagoons at the City of Wakefield’s publicly owned treatment works (POTW); discharging pollutants from a large pile of poultry waste into Logan Creek without a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Permit (NPDES) at its Husker Pride poultry concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO); and improperly dumping process sludge waste from its egg processing facility at two of its other poultry farms rather than spreading it on the ground in accordance with state standards.

As part of this settlement, Waldbaum has committed to comply with a schedule in its current NPDES permit for construction of a wastewater treatment plant to treat the effluent from its egg processing facility. Construction of the new plant will be completed in 2009 at an estimated cost of $16 million.

“This settlement underscores the Justice Department’s commitment to enforce vigorously the nation’s laws that protect the public and the environment from pollution,” said Sue Ellen Wooldridge, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “I am particularly pleased by the federal/state partnership that brought about this outstanding resolution of serious environmental violations.”

As part of the settlement, Waldbaum has also agreed to apply for a NPDES permit for its Husker Pride poultry farm CAFO and to develop and implement manure management plans at its other six poultry farms. The corrective actions are designed to protect the integrity of the City of Wakefield POTW’s lagoon system and surface water quality with better treatment of egg processing effluent and improved poultry manure management practices. EPA estimates that actions under this agreement will result in annual reductions of 60 pounds of phosphorus, 18,250 pounds of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), 61,000 pounds of total suspended solids (TSS), and 41,600 pounds of ammonia.

Ammonia is a component of poultry manure. Excessive amounts of ammonia in wastewater can be harmful to wildlife—particularly to fish and other aquatic organisms. Excessive amounts of phosphorous, BOD, and TSS in wastewater harms waterways by depleting dissolved oxygen needed by aquatic life to live.

Concurrent with this settlement, a Clean Water Act settlement with the City of Wakefield, Neb., is being filed for numerous NPDES permit violations at its POTW–many due to overloading of its lagoons by effluent from Waldbaum’s egg processing facility. Under the agreement, the City of Wakefield will pay a civil penalty of $20,000, comply with the Clean Water Act and its NPDES permit, prohibit POTW treatment of wastewater from Waldbaum, and conduct increased influent and effluent monitoring and reporting.


EPA Supports Electronics Recycling


 The program is a voluntary partnership between EPA and electronics manufacturers and retailers to offer consumers more opportunities to donate or recycle their used electronics. Since 2003, Plug-In partners have recycled more than 95 million pounds of electronics.

"Our Plug-in partners have energized the industry to give consumers practical alternatives for recycling their used electronics," said Scott Sherman, EPA's associate assistant administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. "When these materials are reused and recycled, it is a win-win for both the community and the environment."

Electronics are made with valuable resources such as precious metals, engineered plastics, glass, and other materials, all of which require energy to manufacture. Conserving resources helps reduce emissions and pollution otherwise generated by extracting virgin materials. As a result, Plug-In partner recycling efforts last year generated energy savings equal to the energy needed to power more than 7,000 U.S. homes and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to annual emissions from 12,000 cars.

Plug-In partners have taken various approaches—either national or regional—to give individuals ecycling options. Partners may offer online take back or trade-in programs, create partnerships with local organizations to facilitate collections or host collection events at retail locations, and support local recycling events with cities and municipalities. Plug-In partner initiatives are successful because they share responsibility for recycling among manufacturers, retailers, governments, and consumers. These efforts often complement local recycling efforts.

EPA's Plug-In to eCycling Partners include: Apple, Best Buy, Cingular, Dell, eBay's Rethink initiative, HP, Intel, JVC, Lexmark, NEC Display, Office Depot, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Staples, and Toshiba.

Construction Company to Pay $20,000 for Storm Water Violations


Pinewood Lakes, LLC, and Superior Construction & Excavating, Inc., have agreed to pay a $20,000 penalty to settle alleged Clean Water Act violations. According to the EPA, the violations occurred at the Pinewood Lakes Subdivision construction site, which is located near State Highway 44 in Star, Idaho.

The settlement resolves alleged Clean Water Act violations that include the failure to obtain permit coverage under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System () Construction Storm Water General Permit and the failure to install adequate best management practices to prevent the discharge of sediment from the construction site into the Lawrence-Kennedy Canal, which flows to the Lower Boise River.

“Storm water runoff from construction sites can significantly harm water quality,” said Kim Ogle, manager of EPA’s Northwest Regional Office’s NPDES Compliance Unit. “Managing storm water responsibly at construction sites should be a key part of every developer’s site plan.”

The NPDES permit program, established under the federal Clean Water Act, controls water pollution by regulating sources that discharge pollutants to waters in the United States.

$40,000 Penalty for Failure to Test Furnace for Dioxin and Furan Emissions



The agreement, which includes a $40,000 penalty, resolves EPA allegations that Del's Metal failed to test its furnace emissions for dioxins and furans. EPA also alleged that the company did not comply with planning, notification, and recordkeeping requirements. Del's Metal no longer operates the furnaces.

Bus Companies Will Pay More Than $237,000, Settling Environmental Violations


Three bus companies in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts, jointly owned and operated by Peter Pan Bus Lines, will pay $237,179 in penalties and will install new filters on most of their buses to settle violations of federal clean air and clean water rules.

The settlement with EPA involves violations by Arrow Line Acquisition in Conn., Bonanza Acquisition in R.I., and Peter Pan Bus Lines in Mass.–all of which are owned by Peter Pan Bus Lines Trust of Springfield, Mass. All three companies violated Clean Water Act storm water permit requirements, federal oil spill prevention regulations, and associated spill prevention plan requirements. Further, Peter Pan violated Massachusetts’ vehicle idling limitations.

A Massachusetts anti-idling regulation prohibits vehicle engine idling for more than five minutes, with certain exceptions. According to the settlement consent agreement, Peter Pan violated this Clean Air Act regulation at least 45 times from February through April 2006 in and around Boston and Springfield, Mass. This action is part of a larger EPA effort to minimize diesel idling, particularly in urban areas.

“Diesel pollution is very harmful, especially for sensitive populations such as the young, elderly, and people who suffer from asthma,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England Office. “Companies like Peter Pan can play a big role in improving New England’s air quality by ensuring their vehicles don’t idle for long periods of time.”

The companies’ bus maintenance garages in Providence, R.I., and Chelsea, Mass., failed to obtain a storm water discharge permit and to prepare and fully implement an oil spill prevention plan. Storm water permits are critical to reducing pollutants in storm water runoff. Fuel spills and oil leaks from maintenance activities at these garages can contaminate storm water runoff and nearby rivers.

The three bus maintenance garages in Milford, Waterford, and East Hartford, Conn. all had storm water permit coverage through prior owners, but the company failed to conduct monthly inspections and site evaluations, thus increasing the chance that potential storm water pollution sources would not be identified in a timely manner. The Milford garage also lacked secondary containment for various oil storage tanks, and it failed to adequately respond to a June 2006 bus fueling accident that spilled about 156 gallons of diesel fuel oil in an outside parking lot.

“Oil spills can do significant damage to the environment, including to neighboring wetlands and surface waters,” continued regional administrator Varney. “EPA will continue to ensure that facilities handling oil follow established procedures to minimize risks of oil spills.”

In addition to monetary fines, Peter Pan also agreed to perform an environmental project. As part of the settlement, Peter Pan will equip most of its New England passenger bus fleet with new crankcase filters that will minimize potential storm water pollution from bus oil leaks. The new filters will reduce each bus’s leaks by one to six gallons of oil per year, thereby shrinking a significant source of storm water runoff contamination from the company’s outdoor bus parking lots. Peter Pan will install the filters on 268 buses by the end of December 2007, and EPA will require documentation to confirm that the work is performed.

After EPA contacted Peter Pan regarding its air and water compliance, the company moved to strengthen its anti-idling program for its passenger buses. Specifically, the company strengthened its internal anti-idling program by implementing an innovative tracking system for monitoring bus idling in real time. Peter Pan also corrected its water violations at the Chelsea bus garage and at the other bus garages in Rhode Island and Connecticut.

This settlement involving the bus companies is contained in three consent agreements between EPA and Peter Pan in Mass.; EPA and Bonanza Acquisition in R.I.; and EPA and Arrow Line Acquisition in Conn. The consent agreements are available for public comment until January 29.

EPA Cites Lesaffre Yeast for Unpermitted Air Emissions


 EPA said the violations occurred before the plant was closed in December 2005.

The EPA complaint alleges that major changes were made to the plant in 1996 and 2000 that increased ozone-producing volatile organic compound emissions without obtaining permits requiring additional pollution controls.

The complaint also alleges a series of incidents between March 2002 and December 2003 during which the plant violated limits on volatile organic compound emissions.

Lesaffre has 30 days from receipt of the complaint to file an answer and request a hearing. The company may request an informal conference with EPA at any time to discuss resolving the allegations.

Volatile organic compounds contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog. Smog can cause a variety of respiratory problems, including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest pain. People with asthma, children, and the elderly are especially at risk, but these health concerns are important to everyone. The Milwaukee area does not meet national outdoor air quality standards for ozone.

More Than 100 Drums of Hazardous Wastes Found in Wooded Area


A waste site assessment required by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has uncovered more than 100 drums containing hazardous materials that were buried beneath a wooded section near an industrial building at 7 Essex Park Road in the town of Essex, Mass.

Approximately 100 barrels–most containing various solvents, pigments, and solidified resins–have been removed from the site to date by the property owner's environmental consultant, and more drums are expected to be uncovered as the site investigation continues.

Many of the drums are damaged and broken by age, and MassDEP estimates that these barrels have been buried there for more than 20 years. There are no active private drinking water wells in the area, based on information available to MassDEP, and all nearby residents are connected to the town water supply. However, the site is approximately 15 feet from the Alewife Brook.

"MassDEP's waste site cleanup regulations ensured that, once the first drums were uncovered, a full environmental assessment was conducted to determine the extent of the contamination at this site," said MassDEP Acting Commissioner Arleen O'Donnell. "The site investigation is still ongoing, but we will make sure that all drums and contaminated soils are properly removed and require testing that will help protect water resources and ambient air quality for residents near the site."

The current owner of the property is Perkins Realty Trust, LLC, of Rochester, N.H. As owner, MassDEP has designated Perkins Realty Trust as the responsible party, and they are required to hire the environmental firms that are performing the assessment and drum removal on the site.

MassDEP has required Perkins Realty Trust and its consultants to install proper controls to prevent any potential for contamination to migrate toward the nearby Alewife Brook. They also must have an ambient air monitoring plan for the nearby residences and develop a storm water runoff system to protect the area before further drum removal efforts move forward.

Massachusetts Resident Assessed $12,500 Penalty for Wetland Violations


Peter Sares of 849 Main Street, Wilbraham, has been assessed a $12,500 penalty by MassDEP for undertaking site work in a wetland and stream in violation the Massachusetts Wetlands Protection Act. MassDEP also issued a unilateral administrative order (UAO) to Mr. Sares that requires restoration of the impacted wetland and stream areas.

MassDEP inspected the site in response to a request for assistance by the Town of Wilbraham Conservation Commission. The Town of Wilbraham Conservation Commission had attempted to stop the alteration of the site and compel restoration. During MassDEP's inspection, it was determined that Mr. Sares had undertaken cutting and clearing of vegetation, and deposited fill within the wetland and stream without filing a notice of intent as required by the act. MassDEP's UAO requires that Mr. Sares fully restore the wetland and stream by June 1.

"MassDEP had sought to resolve this matter through a mutual agreement with Mr. Sares," said Michael Gorski, director of MassDEP's Western Regional Office in Springfield. "When it became clear that an agreement would not be reached, MassDEP elected to unilaterally assess a penalty and require the restoration of the site."

MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills, and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.

National Lime and Stone Fined for Air Permit Violations


In separate settlements with Ohio EPA, a Findlay-based company agreed to make major changes at its plant in Carey, and pay a total civil penalty of $274,800 for air pollution violations at its facilities in Carey and Bucyrus.

National Lime and Stone Co., 551 Lake Cascades Parkway, Findlay, had numerous violations of its air pollution control permits at both facilities in 2003.

At the Carey plants, the company produced stone and lime at two facilities. Violations involved air pollution emission limits, monitoring, testing, recordkeeping, and reporting. The company also failed to obtain permits to install two portable generators and three portable crusher engines.

At the Bucyrus plant, the company mines and produces broken limestone and various aggregate products. Violations involved air pollution emission limits, monitoring, testing, recordkeeping, and reporting.


Of the combined $274,800 penalty, the company will pay $45,040 to Ohio EPA's Environmental Education Fund and air pollution control programs. The company also will contribute $54,960 to Ohio EPA's Clean Diesel School Bus Program.

The remaining $174,800 will be credited to the company for a project to reconfigure part of its Carey plant to reduce fugitive particulate emissions beyond what is required by regulations. The company will install conveyors to move raw materials rather than employing trucks for that purpose. Particulate emissions include dust from the stone processing and truck traffic on plant roadways and parking areas.

The project at the Carey plant is expected to reduce fugitive particulate emissions by about 55 tons a year. Total cost of the project is estimated at more than $3 million. The project must be completed by December 2008. The company shut down the Carey lime plant in January 2006.

PPL Holtwood Ordered to Stop Discharge of Coal Bottom Ash into Susquehanna River


The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) ordered PPL Holtwood, LLC, to cease the unpermitted discharge of coal bottom ash into the Susquehanna River at its hydroelectric power generating station in Martic Township, Lancaster County, Pa.

Bottom ash is an incombustible byproduct created when coal is burned in the generation of electricity and is used by the company to seal water intake valves during annual turbine maintenance outages.

“Bottom ash contributes to sediment pollution that can affect aquatic life and water quality, and we do not allow unregulated discharges from industrial facilities into the Susquehanna River,” said DEP Southcentral Regional Director Rachel Diamond. “The department has ordered PPL Holtwood to stop discharging this material and immediately explore other methods of sealing the intake valves at this facility.”

PPL Holtwood uses, on average, 15 to 20 tons of the bottom ash per year during maintenance operations. When maintenance work is completed, the gates are opened and the bottom ash is discharged into the river.

The company has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $85,000 to the Clean Water Fund for the un-permitted discharge of material into the river. PPL Holtwood must also explore the use of alternative sealing methods and materials and submit a proposal to the department for review and approval by March 1. The proposal must include the results of the company’s investigation and/or plans to modify the intake valves, along with a time frame for implementing the terms of the proposal. The company cannot commence work that can result in the discharge of any sealing material until a proposal is approved by the department.

If no alternate method of sealing the intake valves is found, PPL Holtwood must apply for an NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit amendment that allows the discharge of the material into the river. NPDES permits regulate discharges into surface waters of the commonwealth under strict federal water pollution standards.

$657,040 Penalty for Environmental Damage in Allegheny National Forest


The Pennsylvania DEP is seeking a civil penalty of $657,040 from Stephen and Cynthia Ford of Lakewood, N.Y., owners of Synd Enterprises Inc. and Vertical Resources, for 98 violations of environmental laws and regulations at the couple’s oil and gas well operations.

The companies have been actively drilling oil and gas wells in Forest County for many years in and around the Allegheny National Forest, and in environmentally sensitive areas known as special protection watersheds.

“The Fords and their companies operated in a manner that has resulted in the contamination of soil and water in one of Pennsylvania’s most pristine areas,” DEP Regional Director Kelly Burch said. “DEP inspectors have recorded numerous violations of the companies’ drilling permits and Pennsylvania law. The Fords’ failure to comply with standards that protect these environmentally sensitive areas cannot be allowed.”

On Dec. 12, 2006, DEP issued an order to the Fords, Synd Enterprises, and Vertical Resources to cease all oil and gas well drilling, earth disturbance, and well stimulation activities in Pennsylvania because of continued and numerous violations of the state Oil and Gas Act, Solid Waste Management Act, Dam Safety and Encroachments Act, and the Clean Streams Law.

DEP had determined that the Fords and their companies had shown a lack of ability or intention to comply with the provisions of the commonwealth’s environmental laws.

Violations included: over-pressured wells that cause gas migration and contaminate groundwater; failure to implement erosion and sedimentation controls at well sites which has caused accelerated erosion; unpermitted discharges of brine onto the ground; and encroachments into floodways and streams without permits.

In addition, the order mandated that the Fords allow DEP immediate access to all well sites. The Fords have obstructed DEP from conducting inspections by manipulating equipment and by denying state inspectors access through gated areas.

The department is seeking civil penalties before the state Environmental Hearing Board against Stephen and Cynthia Ford for violations discovered during the course of the investigation into the Ford’s operating practices.

Oil and gas permitting, exploration, and development is regulated in Pennsylvania under the Oil and Gas Act of 1984.

EPA to Require Monitoring for Unregulated Contaminants


Approximately 4,000 public water systems will monitor drinking water for up to 25 unregulated chemicals to inform EPA about the frequency and levels at which these contaminants are found in drinking water systems across the United States. The information will help determine whether regulations are needed to protect public health. This is the second scheduled review under the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 2).

"Through continuous monitoring and research, EPA collects the information needed to make effective policy decisions," said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles. "Good policy is fundamental to protecting public health and the environment."

EPA currently has regulations for more than 90 contaminants. The Safe Drinking Water Act requires EPA to identify up to 30 contaminants for monitoring every five years. The first cycle, UCMR 1, was published in 1999 and covered 25 chemicals and one microorganism. The new rule requires systems to monitor for contaminants that are not regulated under existing law. EPA selected the contaminants that will be monitored through a process that included a review of:

  • EPA's Contaminant Candidate List, which contains priority contaminants that are researched to make decisions about whether regulations are needed. The contaminants on the list are known or anticipated to occur in public water systems. However, they are unregulated by existing national drinking water regulations.
  • Additional contaminants of concern based on current research about occurrence and various health-risk factors.

Costs for the five-year UCMR 2 will total about $44.3 million. EPA will conduct and pay for the monitoring for those water systems serving 10,000 people or fewer at a cost of $9 million. 

Incentives Proposed for Clean Water Permit Fees


 EPA's rule would allot up to three percent of state water pollution control grant funds to states that have adequate NPDES permit fee programs.

"We encourage states to use permit fees for additional funding for their clean water programs," said EPA Assistant Administrator of Water Benjamin H. Grumbles. "A variety of tools and funding approaches are needed for a strong program, including having permitted facilities share the cost of keeping water clean."

The increased cost of administering water permit programs has prompted some states to levy permit fees to cover shortfalls. Certain states, however, still operate with little or no reliance on permit fees. The proposed NPDES Permit Fee Incentive for Clean Water Act Section 106 Grants; Allotment Formula is designed to create financial incentives to prompt more states to implement adequate fee programs and shift part of the financial burden to those who benefit from the permits. It will also allow states to move funds to other critical water quality program activities. The proposed rule would not take effect until after Oct. 1, 2007. The proposed rulemaking includes a 60-day public comment period.

Sterilogic and Hospital fined for Infectious Waste Shipping Violations


The PA DEP fined Sterilogic Waste Systems Inc. of Syracuse, N.Y., $10,000, and Robert Packer Hospital’s Guthrie Dialysis Lab of Towanda, Pa., $6,000 for infectious waste shipping manifest violations committed by both parties between January and July 2006. A shipping manifest is a detailed list of the type and quantity of waste that is transported.

“A DEP inspection of infectious waste manifests conducted in early August 2006 at the Guthrie Dialysis Lab revealed that Sterilogic had accepted eight unsigned manifests and two others signed by unauthorized individuals,” DEP North Central Regional Office Director Robert Yowell said. “By accepting these unsigned and improperly signed manifests, Sterilogic violated the Pennsylvania Solid Waste Management Act and DEP’s municipal waste regulations.”

Infectious waste is municipal waste generated in the medical diagnosis and treatment of humans or animals, or in the production and testing of biological materials. It can include cultures and stocks, pathological waste, and human blood and body fluid. Generators are usually hospitals, clinics, and other facilities, like nursing homes.

“Robert Packer Hospital also showed a disregard for properly documenting the specific types of infectious wastes it was disposing by having unauthorized individuals sign manifests or, worse, leaving them unsigned,” Yowell said.

EPA Announces System Partnership Solutions to Improve Public Health Protection


As part of its ongoing efforts to promote sustainable water infrastructure, EPA has released a new pamphlet to assist state drinking water personnel, drinking water system owners and operators, and technical assistance providers by providing successful case studies in partnership solutions. This pamphlet was developed to highlight successful examples in one-page case studies and to help EPA and its stakeholders when working with small systems in the area of capacity development by providing alternative solutions to small system challenges.

Small public water systems face many constraints not typically faced by larger systems. Financing limits, shortages of skilled personnel, and physical isolation are among the most severe. These systems in turn are supported by outside water professionals: engineers, scientists, regulators, technical assistance providers, and others. All of these entities operate within an environment of changing regulations and competition for funding, better technology, and for trained workers. Each entity needs to be able to make the best informed decision possible when addressing sustainability challenges.

It is EPA’s intent that stakeholders will be able to gain new ideas, perspectives, and possibly valuable insight, on best management practices and solutions by exploring the successes of others. The pamphlet will be made available to water utility staff, state regulators, and technical assistance providers. 

EPA to Judge Rain Barrel Competition


EPA Region 3 personnel will act as judges at an upcoming Philadelphia University of Engineering and Textiles student design competition on January 29. The competition aims to entice competitors to rethink rain barrels as self-watering planters. Rain barrels reduce runoff to sewer systems and the water can be used to water a lawn, container garden, or trees. 

Connecticut Asks Court to Overturn EPA Power Plant Mercury Emission Rules


Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and 15 other states last week filed a brief urging a federal appeals court to overturn EPA rules creating a cap-and-trade mercury emission system for power plants, which will result in dangerous "hot spots" of the deadly neurotoxin.

The suit, filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, also challenges an EPA decision to stop classifying power plant mercury emissions as hazardous. The change was necessary to implement the cap-and-trade system because federal law prohibits such programs for hazardous emissions.

"The EPA has once again violated the law, adopting rules that permit power plants to spew deadly mercury emissions, causing more birth defects and neurological disease," Blumenthal said. "This rule undermines public health by creating mercury hot spots that will sicken citizens and despoil our environment. We are fighting to stop these rule changes because mercury is a proven killer and crippler, and the new rule gives power plants a free pass to pump this deadly neurotoxin into our air and water."

Under the cap-and-trade system, utilities can buy, sell, and trade the right to emit mercury pollution. Such a system is acceptable for certain pollutants, but not for mercury, because it will lead to high concentrations of the deadly toxin in certain areas, Blumenthal said.

Residents of such "hot spots" will face an increased and unacceptable risk of neurological illnesses and birth defects, he said. Exposure to mercury also impairs speech, concentration, memory, vision, and motor functions.

Other states in the case are New Jersey, California, Delaware, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

Energy Conservation Standards for Battery Chargers and External Power Supplies


The Department of Energy (DOE) is holding an informal public meeting on January 24 to discuss and receive comments on its plans for developing energy conservation standards for battery chargers and external power supplies.