EPA has revised the standards for ozone and has proposed the most stringent 8-hour ozone standard ever, they announced March 12. EPA says that the agency based the changes on the most recent scientific evidence about the effects of ozone, the primary component of smog.
“America’s air is cleaner today than it was a generation ago. By meeting the requirement of the Clean Air Act and strengthening the national standard for ozone, EPA is keeping our clean air progress moving forward,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson.
The previous primary and secondary standards were identical 8-hour standards, set at 0.08 ppm. Because ozone is measured out to three decimal places, the standard effectively became 0.084 ppm, and areas with ozone levels as high as 0.084 ppm were considered as meeting the 0.08 ppm standard, because of rounding.
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said that the new ground level ozone standards ignore the recommendations of the agency’s own Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, and consequently, do not go far enough in protecting human health and the environment. Pennsylvania has urged the EPA to adopt the committee’s recommendations in setting the new acceptable levels for ozone. “I am disappointed the EPA administrator ignored the advice of his own scientific advisory committee in setting the new ozone level that is intended to protect people’s health,” said McGinty. “Sound science must be used in setting public policy, and that has not happened in this case. Unfortunately, this action is in keeping with the EPA’s track record of ignoring science and making decisions based on politics.”
The EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, which includes members from academia and private research institutions, recommended the standard be set between 60 and 70 ppb of ozone in order to protect human health. The federal agency today set the standard above that recommendation at 75 ppb. “Last fall, the commonwealth offered testimony before the EPA that the decision on new ozone standards should be based on scientific advisory committee’s recommendations,” said McGinty. “The federal Clean Air Act is clear that protecting the public’s health must be the driving force in setting primary standards, but EPA has not adhered to that requirement.” Pennsylvania and other states must monitor the air for ozone and other pollutants, and take steps to meet the EPA-set standards. Air containing ozone measured at 84 ppb meets the present standard.
EPA Administrator Johnson said, “The Clean Air Act is not a relic to be displayed in the Smithsonian, but a living document that must be modernized to continue realizing results. So while the standards I signed may be strict, we have a responsibility to overhaul and enhance the Clean Air Act to ensure it translates from paper promises into cleaner air.”
Ozone can harm people’s lungs, and EPA is particularly concerned about individuals with asthma or other lung diseases, as well as those who spend a lot of time outside, such as children. Ozone exposure can aggravate asthma, resulting in increased medication use and emergency room visits, and it can increase susceptibility to respiratory infections.
Ground-level ozone is not emitted directly into the air, but forms when emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) “cook” in the sun. Power plants, motor vehicle exhaust, industrial facilities, gasoline vapors and chemical solvents are the major human-made sources of these emissions.
EPA estimates that the final standards will yield health benefits valued between $2 billion and $19 billion. Those benefits include preventing cases of bronchitis, aggravated asthma, hospital and emergency room visits, nonfatal heart attacks and premature death, among others. EPA’s Regulatory Impact analysis shows that benefits are likely greater than the cost of implementing the standards. Cost estimates range from $7.6 billion to $8.5 billion.
EPA selected the levels for the final standards after reviewing more than 1,700 peer-reviewed scientific studies about the effects of ozone on public health and welfare, and after considering advice from the agency’s external scientific advisors and staff, along with public comment. EPA held five public hearings and received nearly 90,000 written comments.
As part of this action, EPA also has updated the Air Quality Index () for ozone to reflect the change in the health standard. The AQI is EPA’s color-coded tool for communicating daily air quality to the public.
Chemical Facility Antiterrorism Act of 2008 Introduced
According to Thompson, “only through the comprehensive approach laid out in this bill will we improve upon current efforts to close this vulnerability.”
American Chemistry Council (ACC) President & CEO Jack N. Gerard said, “The chemical security bill passed by the House Committee on Homeland Security is an important first step toward establishing a permanent federal regulatory framework for chemical security. We’re pleased to see that the bill reflects many of the security measures already being implemented under the Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) issued last year by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). According to DHS estimates, facilities will need to invest more than $8 billion in additional human, physical, and cyber security resources to meet the stringent security requirements under CFATS.” Gerard stated that ACCs’ primary concern is that, “Certain provisions in the bill will divert the focus away from security and instead, place DHS in the position of mandating changes to chemical processes and products.”
The bill specifies what must be included in vulnerability assessments and site security plans for covered facilities. The bill includes a requirement for the defining roles that employees at the covered facility will play in deterring or responding to a chemical facility terrorist incident. It requires 8 hours of training every year for employees at those covered facilities, which includes:
- Identification of the chemicals of concern at the facility and the risks posed by those chemicals to the employees, emergency responders, and the community.
- The facility’s plan to prevent and prepare for a terrorist attack including off-site consequences.
- Identification of opportunities to reduce or eliminate those consequences through inherently safer technologies.
- Emergency response procedures.
Earth Day is April 22
It was a time when cities were buried under their own smog and polluted rivers caught fire. Now Earth Day is celebrated annually around the globe.
In his comments regarding this year’s recognition of Earth Day, EPA Administrator Steve Johnson stated, “Today, we see America shifting to a ‘green culture,’ where all 300 million citizens are embracing the fact that environmental responsibility is everyone’s responsibility.
Earth Day Photo Contest
Has your community organization cleaned up a stream? Have you enjoyed a day in the woods? Has a wild animal ever sparked your imagination?
If you’ve caught anything like those moments in a photo, share it with EPA! EPA wants to see how you would show EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment. Send them your best photos in three categories:
- Enjoying the environment
- Protecting the environment
- Nature and wildlife
To encourage participation and provide maximum public access, the contest will be hosted on the photo sharing site Flickr.com. People around the world are encouraged to enter.
The contest will run as follows:
- March 24: Entries due
- April 1: Finalists announced, public voting for winners begins
- April 15: Voting ends
- April 22 (Earth Day): Winners announced
Finalist and winning photos will be featured on EPA’s Website.
Missouri Department of Natural Resources Offers Gas Savings Ideas
Gasoline prices shot above the $3 mark across much of the country this week. With the likelihood of even higher fuel prices to come, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Energy Center is renewing its “Saving Green on Gasoline” campaign, offering tips and information to help consumers save on fuel costs.
The U.S. Department of Energy issued new projections on March 11 estimating that higher crude oil costs could push U.S. average retail gasoline prices this spring to peak near $3.50 per gallon, while diesel prices are expected to average around $3.70 per gallon in March and April.
“Many drivers feel helpless in the face of higher fuel costs,” said Anita Randolph, director of the Missouri Energy Center. “The only way most of us can take some control of commuting costs is through more energy-efficient driving. By following fuel economy and conservation measures, many drivers can make dramatic cuts in their transportation costs.”
A few of these tips include:
- Plan driving routes to avoid congested areas. Avoid rush hour and peak traffic times when possible.
- Avoid extended warm-ups. Don’t rev up the engine. Instead, accelerate gently and drive slowly for a mile or so.
- Accelerate smoothly and moderately. Achieve the desired speed and then keep steady pressure on the accelerator.
- Do not let the engine idle for more than a minute. It takes less gasoline to restart the car than it does to let it idle.
- Minimize braking. Anticipate speed changes. Let off the accelerator immediately after noticing a red light or slowed traffic ahead. Observe the posted speed limit. On the highway, most automobiles get about 20% more miles per gallon at 55 mph than they do at 70 mph.
- Have your car tuned at intervals recommended by the manufacturer. Regular tune-ups extend engine life and improve performance. A poorly tuned car can use as much as 3 to 9% more gasoline than a well-tuned one. The tune-up will pay for itself in gasoline savings and car reliability.
- Keep the engine air filter clean. Clogged filters waste gasoline.
- Use the gasoline octane and oil grade recommended for your car. Most cars run fine on regular. Regular grade fuel costs 10% less than premium grade. Look for the best price and limit purchases when prices are high.
- Check tire pressure regularly. Under-inflated tires increase gasoline consumption. Every pound of pressure under the recommended pounds per square inch can cause a 2% loss in fuel economy.
- Where it is available, public transportation may be the least expensive way to commute. One person switching from driving alone to riding the bus or train to work can reduce transportation costs up to $1,500 annually.
- Regularly sharing rides to work with a coworker can effectively cut commuting costs in half.
EPA Finds Leading Greenhouse Gas Bill Won’t Harm Economy
“EPA’s results for the scenario that most resembles the bill confirm what we have seen in every reputable analysis. We can grow our economy and tackle global warming at the same time,” said Nathaniel Keohane, PhD, director of economic policy and analysis at Environmental Defense Fund. “The up-front costs EPA identifies are a sound investment for a strong economy down the road. For clean air, less imported oil, and avoiding the damage of climate change, they are a bargain.”
According to EPA’s analysis of the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act (S. 2191), economic modeling with confident high-technology assumptions shows the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) growing 81% between 2010 and 2030 without a national emissions cap—and virtually the same amount, 80%, with the bill’s limit on greenhouse gases.
Other key findings of the EPA high-technology model run include:
- Under the Climate Security Act, annual household consumption grows by 81 percent from 2010 to 2030—just two percentage points less than what growth would be otherwise.
- Emissions allowances would cost $22‒$35 per ton in 2015 and $28‒$46 in 2030—significantly less than other model runs that do not account for current energy policy and market mechanisms to manage costs.
- National electricity prices would never rise more than 20 percent over 2005 levels—and that change would happen slowly over decades.
“No single model run tells the full story, but we think the high-technology run in this case represents the best single set of assumptions. It underscores the need for continuing technological innovation, and the best way to drive that is by putting a cap and trade market in place,” Keohane said. “He added, “one key question remains unanswered: What it will cost if we don’t act quickly to cap emissions? There are two sides to the ledger.”
According to recent studies by the University of Maryland and Tufts University, unchecked climate change will strain public budgets and impact jobs and competitiveness in every economic sector. According to the University of Maryland study, the most expensive climate policy for the U.S. is not having one.
Standards to Drastically Cut Locomotive and Marine Diesel Pollution
“EPA is fitting another important piece into the clean diesel puzzle by cleaning emissions from our trains and boats,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “As more and more goods flow through our ports and railways, EPA is cutting diesel emissions at their source—keeping our nation on track toward a clean, healthy, productive tomorrow.”
When fully implemented, these new standards will reduce soot or particulate matter (PM) by 90% or 27,000 tons and reduce nitrogen oxides emissions (NOx) by 80% or nearly 800,000 tons. Nationwide this regulation will help prevent 1,400 premature deaths, and 120,000 lost workdays annually in 2030. The estimated annual health benefits are valued between $8.4 billion and $12 billion. When these older locomotive and marine engines reach the end of their useful life, and new engines enter into the nation’s diesel fleet, the benefits of this action will increase.
Working in collaboration with our partners and our commitment to clean technology helps make EPA’s Clean Diesel Locomotive and Marine program possible. The rule cuts emissions from all types of diesel locomotives, including line-haul, switch, and passenger rail, as well as from a wide range of marine sources, including ferries, tugboats, Great Lake freighters and all types of marine auxiliary engines.
For the first time ever, this rule requires remanufacturing standards for marine engines, reductions in engine idling, and the use of after treatment technology that will further reduce diesel emissions. Phasing in tighter long-term standards for PM and NOx will begin in 2014 for marine diesel engines and in 2015 for locomotive engines. Advanced after-treatment technology will apply to both types of engines. The effective dates for NOx will be two years earlier from last year’s proposal, bringing cleaner air sooner.
This action is another achievement in EPA’s efforts to reduce pollution from diesel engines. This new rule complements the Clean Air Nonroad Diesel Rule and the Clean Air Diesel Truck and Bus Rule, currently underway nationwide.
EPA’s Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge: a Prescription for Healthy Great Lakes
EPA Great Lakes region has invited the public to join the Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge to collect at least 1 million pounds of electronic waste and 1 million pills. EPA is encouraging organizations, businesses, and communities in the Great Lakes region to protect the environment by sponsoring collections of unwanted medicines and electronic waste around Earth Day, April 22.
The Great Lakes are an irreplaceable treasure. They are the largest source of fresh drinking water on earth and are vital to commerce and recreation in the upper Midwest. Responsible recycling and disposal of unwanted electronics and medicines will prevent contaminants from polluting the Great Lakes basin.
“Last summer, there was an outpouring of support from thousands of people in the Great Lakes area to protect this national treasure,” said EPA Great Lakes National Program Manager Mary A. Gade. “Participating in the Great Lakes 2008 Earth Day Challenge is a simple way for individuals to take action to protect the lakes. I’m asking people to clear out their desk drawers, medicine cabinets, and basements and properly recycle or dispose of their old and unwanted cell phones, computers, TVs, and medicines at a local collection.”
EPA has partnered with the nonprofit group Earth 911 to launch an online clearinghouse of collection events that will be held between April 19 and 27.
“EPA is pleased that Earth 911 volunteered to work with us on this important project and we welcome other organizations that may wish to join us by sponsoring or publicizing collection events,” said Gade.
The website includes a “Plug-In to E-cycling” tool kit to help plan collection events.
For more information or technical assistance on planning an event, call EPA’s toll-free Earth Day Challenge Hotline at 866-575-8543.
EPA Publishes Proposed Rule Impacting the Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Plating and Polishing Operations
EPA is proposing national emission standards for control of hazardous air pollutants (HAP) for the plating and polishing area source category. This rule proposes emission standards in the form of management practices for new and existing tanks, thermal spraying equipment, and mechanical polishing equipment in certain plating and polishing processes. These proposed standards reflect EPA’s determination regarding the generally achievable control technology (GACT) and/or management practices for the area source category. The regulations would be published in their final form at 40 CFR 63.
Comments must be received on or before April 14, 2008, unless a public hearing is requested by March 24, 2008. If a hearing is requested on this proposed rule, written comments must be received by April 28, 2008. Under the Paperwork Reduction Act, comments on the information collection provisions must be received by OMB on or before April 14, 2008.
Department of Energy Announces Final Determination that Private and Local Government Fleets Not Required to Acquire Alternative Fuel Vehicles
Pursuant to the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct 1992), the Department of Energy (DOE) has determined that a regulatory requirement for the owners and operators of certain private and local government fleets to acquire alternative fueled vehicles (AFVs) is not necessary to achieve the recently modified EPAct 1992 Replacement Fuel Goal. DOE therefore has determined that it cannot issue a requirement for certain private and local government fleets to acquire alternative fueled vehicles.
This announcement of the final determination appeared in the March 14 Federal Register . The DOE determination will be effective April 1, 2008.
W.R. Grace to Pay for Cleanup of Asbestos Contamination in Libby, Montana
W.R. Grace, a global supplier of specialty chemicals, has agreed to pay $250 million, the highest sum in the history of the Superfund program, to reimburse the federal government for the costs of the investigation and cleanup of asbestos contamination in Libby, Mont., the Justice Department and the EPA have announced.
The action settles a bankruptcy claim brought by the federal government to recover money for past and future costs of cleanup of contaminated schools, homes, and businesses in Libby.
EPA has been removing asbestos-contaminated soils and other materials in and near Libby since May 2000. The federal government filed suit against W.R. Grace in March 2001 to recover its investigation and cleanup costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as the “Superfund” law. The lawsuit also named Kootenai Development Corporation—a W.R. Grace subsidiary—as a defendant due to its ownership of three contaminated properties in Libby.
In 2003, the federal district court in Montana awarded EPA over $54 million for cleanup costs incurred by EPA through Dec. 31, 2001. That award has not been paid due to W.R. Grace’s bankruptcy. This settlement resolves the 2003 judgment as well as continuing cleanup costs EPA has incurred since Dec. 31, 2001 and will incur in the future. EPA will place the settlement proceeds into a special account within the Superfund that will be used to finance future cleanup work at the site.
W.R. Grace owned and operated a vermiculite mine and vermiculite processing facilities in and near Libby from 1963 to 1990. The vermiculite ore was contaminated with asbestos. Vermiculite and asbestos have been found in various locations in and around Libby.
Asbestos, a recognized human carcinogen, is known to cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, a lethal tumor of the lining of the chest and abdominal cavities. Exposure to asbestos can also cause asbestosis, a disease characterized by scarring of the lung.
W.R. Grace and 61 affiliated companies filed for bankruptcy in April 2001. In March 2003, EPA filed a bankruptcy claim against the company to recover past and future cleanup costs. W.R. Grace has corporate headquarters in Columbia, Md., and employees in nearly 40 countries. The company manufactures construction chemicals, building materials and chemical additives, among other things.
The settlement requires W.R. Grace to pay the $250 million within 30 days of bankruptcy court approval. The settlement agreement will be lodged in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware and is subject to court approval after a 30-day public comment period.
Lexington, Ky., Agrees to Major Sewer System Upgrades
The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) in Kentucky has agreed to make extensive improvements to its sewer systems, at a cost estimated to exceed $290 million, to eliminate unauthorized overflows of untreated raw sewage, and to reduce pollution levels in urban storm water. In addition, LFUCG will pay a civil penalty of $425,000 to the United States and implement two federal and two state environmental projects valued at $2.73 million that will provide additional environmental benefits to the Lexington community.
The settlement was announced on March 14 jointly by the U.S. Justice Department, the EPA, and Kentucky’s Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet (EPPC). The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky in Lexington, resolves the joint federal and state complaint filed in November 2006.
“Today’s settlement represents a significant commitment by LFUCG to address its aging sewer systems for the long term and bring much needed protection to human health and the environment in the Lexington area,” said Ronald J. Tenpas, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
“Sewage overflows and pollution in urban storm water are major problems that affect water quality in the Southeast and across the entire country,” said EPA Regional Administrator Jimmy Palmer. “Bringing systems like LFUCG’s into compliance is one of EPA’s top enforcement priorities.”
LFUCG owns and operates a sanitary sewer system, which includes two major wastewater treatment plants, serving a population of almost 250,000. It also owns and operates a separate storm sewer system that collects urban storm water. Inadequacies in LFUCG’s sewer systems’ infrastructure and management programs have resulted in unlawful discharges of millions of gallons of untreated sewage, known as sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs), into streams in the Lexington/Fayette County area and increased pollution levels in urban storm water.
These discharges have adversely affected water quality in area streams which ultimately drain to the Kentucky and Ohio Rivers.
EPA Fines Puerto Rico Authority for Contractor Dredging Violations
Demonstrating its strong commitment to protect our oceans and marine life, EPA has announced that it has reached a settlement with the Authority for the Port of the Americas, Puerto Rico, requiring it to pay a penalty of $308,000 for improper disposal of dredged material. On a number of occasions in the spring and summer of 2006, Weeks Marine, Inc., a Port of the Americas contractor, dumped material dredged to create the port in areas other than those designated for ocean disposal by EPA in its federal permit. Sites permitted to receive sediment dredged from harbors and navigational channels are carefully screened before they are designated. The region around the port area in Ponce, Puerto Rico includes coral reefs and other ecologically sensitive areas, which must be avoided.
“The dredged sediment should have been put in the designated area, which was chosen because placing material there has minimal impacts on the ocean environment,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. “Poor communication and oversight on the contractor’s part meant that on numerous occasions the material didn’t make it to the designated spot. To protect our waters, fish habitats, and other marine life, EPA requires dredging contractors to take proper precautions and follow strict placement guidelines or face the consequences.”
Maintaining the navigational depths of ports and harbors is crucial to regional economic well-being, especially in Puerto Rico, where the majority of products and materials are brought to the island by ship.
The Authority for the Port of the Americas was issued a permit by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authorizing the dredging of approximately 5.5 million cubic yards of sediment to improve channels, basins, and berths in the Port of Ponce located in Ponce, Puerto Rico. This sediment was to be placed into a disposal site known as the Ponce Harbor disposal site, an approximately one square nautical mile area located in deep water (329 to 457 meters) about 4.5 nautical miles south of the entrance to Ponce Harbor.
In March 2006, 4,000 cubic yards of dredged material was mistakenly discharged from a Weeks’ barge while it was being serviced outside the Ponce Harbor disposal site. Records indicate that this discharge resulted from a lack of communication and coordination between the two captains and the watch engineer.
In April 2006, a 3,500 cubic yard barge load of dredged material was released outside the Ponce Harbor disposal site. Records indicate that the barge doors delayed in opening and a lack of attention on the part of the captain allowed the load to be discharged after the barge had moved out of the designated site.
In July 2006, the captain prematurely turned off the system used to monitor materials being discharged from the vessel and dropped 4,000 cubic yards of dredged material when the vessel was no longer in the Ponce Harbor disposal site.
Finally, EPA determined that, on various occasions, dredged material was lost from barges while underway and en route to the Ponce Harbor site. These incidents highlight the critical need to ensure that dredging, transportation, and disposal of sediments are carefully performed. It is unlawful to discharge dredged material into the ocean outside designated areas. These spills could have been avoided by paying closer attention to adjusting loading levels to match sea conditions, by properly maintaining the equipment used for transporting dredged material, and byfollowing site management and monitoring plans designed to avoid impacts to ecologically sensitive areas.
Lorain County Settles with Ohio EPA and Agrees to Pay $250,000 Penalty for Clean Water Act Violations
In a settlement with Ohio EPA, the Lorain County Commissioners have agreed to pay a $250,000 penalty for Clean Water Act violations at six county-owned wastewater treatment plants. The enforcement action concludes a multi-year effort to protect human health and the environment by getting the plants to comply with Ohio EPA’s wastewater discharge permits.
The county’s failure to modernize its wastewater treatment plants resulted in numerous discharges of poorly treated sewage to area waterways. In addition, sewage sludge was allowed to accumulate in excess at all six plants, causing sludge to also enter waters of the State.
To address the violations, the county recently completed upgrades at the Brentwood Lakes, Cresthaven Homes, Eaton Homes and Plum Creek plants. The county chose to abandon the Columbia West River and Westview Park plants and connect to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District sewers through newly constructed pump stations and force mains.
The county’s $250,000 penalty includes $100,000 to fund water quality and habitat improvement projects along the Black River. The money will be placed in an interest-bearing escrow account and used for restoration and protection projects identified in the Black River mainstream ecological restoration master plan. The remaining $150,000 penalty will help fund Ohio EPA’s water pollution control efforts, environmental education programs, and clean diesel school bus program.
CERCLA Civil Action Proposes $124,765 Fine for Delaware Superfund Site
EPA filed a notice in the March 13 Federal Register regarding a proposed Supplemental Consent Decree in the case of the United States vs. NCR Corp. and Allfirst Financial Center, National Association, Civil Action No. 01-593-SLR (. The notice was lodged with the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.
In a civil action filed on August 31, 2001, under CERCLA, the U.S. sought recovery of response costs from NCR Corporation and Allfirst Financial Center, National Association (predecessor to Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company), in connection with the NCR Corporation Superfund Site in Millsboro, Delaware. A Consent Decree resolving some of the claims in that civil action was entered by the Court on February 28, 2002. The Consent Decree reserved the right of the U.S. to seek further response costs from the defendants.
Pursuant to that reservation of rights, the U.S. now seeks to recover response costs incurred since February 14, 2001. The proposed Supplemental Consent Decree lodged on March 6, 2008, resolves the liability of the defendants for response costs incurred by the United States in connection with the Site between February 14, 2001 and August 1, 2006, and requires defendants to pay $124,765 in reimbursement of response costs incurred through August 1, 2006. The Supplemental Consent Decree also requires defendants to pay response costs incurred since August 1, 2006 in accordance with the terms of the Supplemental Consent Decree.
The Department of Justice will receive comments relating to the proposed Supplemental Consent Decree for a period of 30 days from the date of this publication. Please address comments to the Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources Division,, or by regular mail to P.O. Box 7611, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, D.C. 20044-7611, and refer to United States v. NCR Corp. and Allfirst Financial Center, National Association, D.J. Ref. 90-11-2-749/1.
Tarome Inc. to Pay $70,000 for Hazardous Waste Violations
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) has announced that Tarome, Inc., a company that makes food supplements for the dairy industry, will pay $70,000 for violations of federal hazardous waste regulations involving improper handling of calcium oxide materials that burst into flames at its Elroy, Arizona site.
“Tarome’s mishandling of these combustible substances presented unacceptable risks to its employees and the surrounding community,” the ADEQ Director said.
ADEQ investigators determined that the company improperly stored a ton of calcium oxide in a dumpster, where it was exposed to rain three times in 2005. When calcium oxide is exposed to water, it undergoes a chemical reaction that releases heat. The dumpster was filled with a variety of combustible materials, resulting in a fire at the site.
The first fire occurred on Aug. 10, 2005, when the Eloy Fire Department responded. Fire personnel also observed large amounts of calcium oxide stored outdoors, including in a water-retention basin. ADEQ inspected the site two days later, but before the company took steps to store the calcium oxide in a safe, dry place, two more fires occurred the following month.
Calcium oxide is mixed with palm oil to produce cattle feed.
Chemsol Products Corporation for Delayed Reporting of Chemical Spill
EPA Region 5 recently settled a case involving hazardous chemical release reporting violations by Chemsol Products Corp., Cleveland, Ohio. The release was subject to the emergency release reporting requirements of Section 304 of SARA Title III as well as release reporting requirements under CERCLA.
Chemsol Products Corp. paid $20,000 to resolve EPA’s enforcement action for failure to provide immediate notification to the National Response Center (NRC) of a 7,133-pound release of sulfuric acid on Oct. 10, 2006. The release was more than seven times the reportable quantity. Although releases of reportable quantities must be reported immediately, national response organizations were notified four days after the spill and local response agencies were notified one day after the spill. Chemsol has cleaned up the area affected by the release.
Sulfuric acid causes burns to the skin and irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat. Federal law requires immediate notification to the NRC, the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), as well as to the local fire department, for sulfuric acid releases equal to or above 1,000 pounds.
House of Flavors, Inc. for Failing to Meet Emergency Release Notification Requirements and Hazardous Chemical Inventory Reporting Requirements of SARA Title III
EPA Region 5 recently settled a case involving hazardous chemical release and inventory reporting violations at House of Flavors Inc., in Ludington, Michigan. House of Flavors, Inc. paid $18,797 to resolve EPA’s enforcement action for failure to provide immediate notification to the NRC, SERC, and LEPC of a 600-pound release of anhydrous ammonia on Jan. 27, 2006. The reportable quantity for a release of ammonia is greater than or equal to 100 pounds.
A required follow-up report was also filed late. Additionally, House of Flavors failed to submit hazardous chemical inventory forms for 2002-2004 to the state of Michigan and local authorities.
Anhydrous ammonia is commonly used in commercial refrigeration systems and causes burns to the skin and irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat. It may be fatal if inhaled for long periods of time.
Federal law under SARA Title III and CERCLA requires immediate notification to the NRC, the SERC, the LEPC, and the local fire department for releases of ammonia in an amount equal to or above 100 pounds.
$18,312 Penalty for Asbestos Removal Violations
The Accolade Environmental Contracting Corporation of Kingston, N.H., has been assessed $18,312 in penalties by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) for asbestos regulation violations at Liberty Properties, located in Worcester, Mass.
In August of 2006, MassDEP personnel conducted an inspection of an asbestos removal project at a Liberty Properties building. MassDEP staff observed that the company had failed to adequately seal the work area and had not employed adequate air filtration units while conducting the asbestos removal work. MassDEP regulations require that asbestos removal contractors properly seal work areas and use air filtration equipment to prevent the exposure of asbestos fibers to building occupants, the general public, and preclude other parts of the building from becoming contaminated.
In a recently finalized consent order, the company agreed to pay a $10,000 penalty to Massachusetts and to follow proper procedures for asbestos removal in the future. MassDEP agreed to suspend the remaining $8,312 penalty, pending compliance with the order and provided that the company does not have repeat violations for one year.
“Licensed asbestos contractors must be aware that strict adherence to the required regulatory abatement practices is crucial to protect their workers, as well as to protect public health and the environment,” said Martin Suuberg, director of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office. “Failures to adequately seal an asbestos removal containment area and utilize sufficient air filtration equipment are serious violations that will result in significant penalty exposure, as well as increased cleanup, decontamination, and monitoring costs.”
Construction Company Fined for Filling Wetlands Without Permit
A Maine construction company and its owner will pay a $16,017 civil fine, donate a conservation easement on a 17-acre property in Ellsworth, Maine to preserve important bald eagle habitat, and fund an invasive species control program at Acadia National Park in Maine, as part of a settlement of an enforcement action brought by the EPA for violations of the federal Clean Water Act.
Robert Ray and Ray Builders, Inc. of Ellsworth owned and developed a 42-lot subdivision in Ellsworth between 1989 and 2003, without first obtaining a permit for filling of wetlands from the Army Corps of Engineers, as is required by the Clean Water Act. The construction of the roads and the development of these lots resulted in the discharge of dredged and fill material into approximately 3.8 acres of valuable forested wetlands adjacent to several streams flowing into Union River Bay, a tidal estuary.
“EPA’s goals in this case were to ensure that wetlands functions and values that were lost as a result of the illegal activities were compensated for, and to obtain an appropriate penalty,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA’s New England Office. “Mr. Ray has worked cooperatively with EPA to achieve these goals by developing and funding an innovative settlement that includes two projects to restore and protect valuable environmental resources in the Ellsworth area.”
In addition to the $16,017 penalty, Mr. Ray has agreed to donate a conservation easement on a 17-acre parcel that he owns in Ellsworth. This parcel had been sub-divided and set for development. It is a valuable mixed wetland/upland habitat. The property to be protected is located within nesting zone of two established bald eagle nests. As part of the settlement, Mr. Ray will donate and fund a conservation easement on this property which will permanently protect the property from development.
Mr. Ray has also agreed to compensate for the wetland losses by funding a 3-year program of invasive species control at the 115-acre Great Meadow, one of the largest freshwater wetlands in Acadia National Park. Mr. Ray and Ray Builders, Inc. have provided $87,154 to remove invasive species from Great Meadow and restore it to ecological health. The National Park Service will implement the project in cooperation with the Friends of Acadia.
Clean Harbors Environmental Services Fined for Hazardous Waste Violations
Ohio EPA has reached a settlement with Clean Harbors Environmental Services for past hazardous waste violations and issued an administrative consent order on March 10, 2008.
The violations, which occurred at a Clean Harbors facility located in Cleveland, Ohio, included:
- Reclassification of hazardous waste as non-hazardous and transporting it without a manifest
- Treatment of hazardous waste in a wastewater treatment system without a hazardous waste treatment permit
The settlement includes a $7,000 penalty, of which, $5,600 will be deposited into the state’s hazardous waste cleanup fund. In lieu of paying the remaining $1,400 of the penalty, Clean Harbors Environmental Services will contribute $1,400 to the Ohio EPA Clean Diesel School Bus Program.
EPA Orders Pennsylvania Company to Clean Up Radioactive Materials from Warehouses
EPA has ordered Strube Inc. to remove all radioactive materials from two adjacent warehouses in Marietta, Pa., where the company stores military aircraft instruments and components including items that contain radium and mercury.
The Marietta property is one of seven locations in Lancaster County operated by Strube that contain dials and instruments containing radium, mercury, and other hazardous substances. EPA is handling the cleanup at the six other locations and will oversee Strube’s cleanup of the Marietta warehouses.
EPA’s administrative order, issued on March 12, will help accelerate the cleanup of the warehouses and gives Strube an opportunity to demonstrate that it has the resources to work with EPA on the cleanup. The order requires Strube to hire qualified contractors, develop an action plan, and follow through with removal of hazardous materials in accordance with deadlines and regulations designed to protect public health and the environment.
The order also allows Strube to continue to operate its business of selling aircraft parts as long as all items are screened for radiological contamination before they are removed from any of the warehouses and supplied to customers.
Atlantic Wire Ordered to Halt Spills into the Branford River
Connecticut’s Attorney General and Connecticut’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner have announced they have obtained an injunction ordering Atlantic Wire of Branford, Conn., to install an automatic shutoff and other equipment, and take other steps to prevent toxic spills into the Branford River.
The shutoff was ordered to be installed within 48 hours and operational within four days.
U.S. Ethanol Production Totaled 6.48 Billion Gallons in 2007
Ethanol fuel production totaled 6.48 billion gallons in 2007, far above the 4.7 billion gallons of renewable fuel required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Ethanol production will have to continue to increase this year, as the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 includes a new Renewable Fuel Standard that requires 8 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be blended into the country’s fuel supply in 2008.
That’s an annual growth rate of more than 23%, but the industry appears ready to meet that challenge. According to the RFA, there are currently 143 ethanol biorefineries with the combined capacity to produce 13.4 billion gallons per year of ethanol fuel, well above that required by the new standard. The industry is also building another 57 biorefineries and expanding seven existing biorefineries, an effort that will boost ethanol production capacity by another 5.2 billion gallons. The additions are yielding economic benefits, as a new report concludes that the ethanol fuel industry created nearly 240,000 new jobs in 2007 and added $47.6 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product.
With U.S. gasoline consumption at about 9 million barrels per day, it’s fair to ask how the U.S. fuel infrastructure will absorb a steadily increasing supply of ethanol. One answer is a greater use of flex-fuel vehicles, which can burn E85, a blend of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline, but most cars are currently burning at most 10% ethanol blends, or E10. Fueling the entire nation with E10 would allow for a doubling of ethanol production from the 2007 production level, but the new fuel standard calls for ethanol consumption to more than double by 2012. The answer may come from Minnesota, which has found that current vehicles and fuel dispensing equipment can handle ethanol blends as high as 20%. The year-long research effort will lead the state and its partners to apply for a waiver from the EPA to allow E20 to be used for all of the state’s gasoline. If approved, such a change could nearly double the ethanol demand in Minnesota, a state where much of the nation’s ethanol is produced, and could serve as a model for other states.
DOE and EPRI to Work Toward Energy Efficiency Goals
DOE and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on March 5 to closely coordinate their research, development, and deployment of energy efficient technologies. The MOU outlines a plan to use energy efficiency and electric energy demand response programs to help meet the nation’s electrical needs.
Specifically, the MOU describes DOE and EPRI’s intention to coordinate their research in energy efficiency and demand response in buildings, industrial processes, electrical devices, and appliances and to develop guidelines and methods that enable utilities to calculate their emissions reductions due to energy efficiency and demand response. DOE and EPRI will also promote digital communication between the electric grid and buildings by testing and developing digital devices that will allow building energy management systems to communicate with smart-grid applications. The two organizations will also analyze utilities’ energy efficiency efforts to catalogue the performance of energy efficiency technologies. EPRI will seek support for the effort from up to 50 electric utilities participating in EPRI’s new Energy Efficiency Initiative.
Pennsylvania Borough First in Nation to Require Energy Star Designation for Tall Buildings
. It is a route for municipal leaders and township managers to follow to ensure their buildings can also become energy efficient. Improving building design reduces energy demand and cuts global warming pollution.
Helpful Guides for Managing Stormwater
The guidelines address the following key program areas: protect impaired waters by addressing Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) requirements, evaluate the effectiveness of stormwater controls, incorporate environmentally sensitive design into municipal stormwater programs, and fund stormwater programs.
California’s “Lead in Jewelry Law” Expanded on March 1
Beginning March 1, a new Calif. state law expanded to limit lead in adult jewelry and body piercing jewelry. The law, which has prohibited high lead levels in children’s jewelry since September 2007, now includes all other jewelry that is manufactured, shipped, offered for sale, or sold for retail sale in the state.
“By expanding the new law, we’re protecting the entire California population from toxic lead levels in jewelry,” explained Maureen Gorsen, Director of Cal/EPA’s Department Toxic Substances Control (DTSC). “Body piercings may be particularly vulnerable to poisoning since the lead enters the bloodstream through the pierced areas.”
Lead is a toxic metal that can cause serious health effects ranging from behavioral problems and learning disabilities, to organ failure and even death—particularly in children.
Brownfields 2008 Conference goes “Carbon Neutral” in Detroit from May 5–7
In a leading-edge effort for a national conference, the Brownfields 2008 Conference is taking steps to be “carbon neutral.” The conference is May 5–7 at Detroit’s Cobo Center. Brownfields 2008 is expected to draw more than 6,000 environmental and economic development officials, finance and insurance providers, risk managers, planners, attorneys, engineers, and students.
Addressing the Nation’s Brownfields—abandoned or underutilized properties stigmatized by past commercial or industrial uses—is a challenge for communities of every size. By focusing on redevelopment, properties are put back into productive use while helping to keep undeveloped lands in a natural state.
To counterbalance the energy consumed at the event, Brownfields 2008 will purchase carbon “offsets” which are investments in new clean and renewable energy projects.
TERP Awards Over $388,000 to Speed Fab-Crete Corporation for Cleaner Trucks
Texas has awarded over $388,000 in rebates to Fort Worth-based Speed Fab-Crete Corporation to replace five aging diesel vehicles under the Texas Emissions Reduction Program (TERP). By upgrading to newer, less polluting vehicles, Speed Fab-Crete will prevent 47.4 tons of nitrogen oxides from polluting North Texas skies.
“We are very pleased with Speed Fab-Crete’s commitment to clean air. We need about 4,500 older diesel engines to be replaced using TERP,” said Leslie Rauscher, EPA Project Manager. “TERP speeds up vehicle replacement and makes good business sense.”
Money for the first-come-first-served rebates is going fast, but there is still time to apply for the Emissions Reduction Incentive Grants (ERIG) with $110 million to award. The application deadline is April 11, 2008.
EPA is working with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and a host of other North Texas partners to upgrade or replace older trucks and equipment as a way to improve air quality in the nine county area. The Texas Emissions Reduction Program approved by the Texas Legislature serves as a national model for replacing and retrofitting older diesel engines. The TCEQ manages the TERP program.
EPA Conducts Compliance Assistance Outreach to Ethnic Marketplaces
Often, languages other than English are spoken at these businesses. The flyer provides information about the risks involved in selling unregistered pesticide products, which might be hazardous to human health, and about the laws associated with knowingly selling such products.
Illegal pesticides are often much more toxic than registered pesticides for use in and around homes. Across the country, EPA has initiated an effort to protect consumers from these products and has increased efforts to raise public awareness of these product dangers.
Operators of ethnic marketplaces that offer a variety of imported products often don’t realize the dangers unregistered pesticides can pose to their customers. Registration of pesticides is important to assure that the formulation, labeling, and packaging of the product have the appropriate protective measures for human health and the environment.
EPA is committed to providing compliance assistance to small businesses. The flyer will be used to aid in conducting compliance assistance at ethnic marketplaces in Region 7 that sell unregistered pesticides. The targeted audience can include the manufacturer, distributor, marketplace, and consumer. The goal is for unregistered pesticides to properly be removed from store shelves.
The six languages that the flyer has been produced in include: English, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Laotian.
. EJ is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income in the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.
EPA Announces State Clean Diesel Grant Program Funding Fiscal Year 2008 and the Request for Applications Under this Program
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 was signed into law on August 8, 2005. This Act incorporates provisions to achieve significant reductions in diesel emissions. EPA supports a grant and loan program administered by States that is designed to achieve significant reductions in diesel emissions through its grant and loan awards.
On March 10, an announcement appeared in the Federal Register calling for applications for the State Clean Diesel Grant Program. EPA expects to have approximately $14.8 million available in fiscal year 2008 in the form of assistance agreements to issue under the State Clean Diesel Grant Program.
National Toxicology Program Requests Comment on Listings of Captafol and Ortho-Nitrotoluene
The Report on Carcinogens (RoC) Office of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) invites public comment on the recommendations from an expert panel on the carcinogen listing status for captafol and ortho-nitrotoluene.
The RoC Office convened a nine-member expert panel of scientists from the public and private sectors on October 15-16, 2007. The panel was asked (1) to apply the RoC listing criteria to the relevant scientific evidence and make a recommendation regarding listing status (i.e., known to be a human carcinogen, reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen, or not to list) for captafol and for ortho-nitrotoluene in the 12th RoC and (2) to provide the scientific justification for the recommendation.
The Expert Panel Report (Part B) for captafol and for ortho- nitrotoluene will be available for public comment by March 3, 2008. Written comments should be submitted by April 24, 2008.
Comments should be sent to Dr. Ruth Lunn, RoC Office, NIEHS, P.O. Box 12233, MD EC-14, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, FAX: 919-541-0144,
EPA Releases New Tools to Improve Drinking Water Monitoring and Reporting Small Water Systems
Small water systems, particularly those that serve very small populations or tribal communities, can be challenged in understanding the regulatory requirements that apply to them. EPA has released a new set of placards that summarize day-to-day monitoring requirements for small drinking water systems. Having monitoring requirements readily available in an easy to read format should improve monitoring and reporting compliance for small systems. These placards provide step by step instructions for conducting monitoring under the Total Coliform Rule, Surface Water Treatment Rules, and Nitrate regulations. The placards are formatted to be printed 11x17 to hang on the wall for quick reference by drinking water operators.
Draft FY 2009 National Water Program Guidance Released for Comments, and FY 2008 Final Measures and Commitments Available
This is the second annual water program guidance to implement the EPA 2006-2011 Strategic Plan. This draft guidance describes water program priorities and strategies, including the suite of water performance measures, for the coming fiscal year. Last summer and fall, regions, states, and tribes worked to develop final commitments for FY 2008 for the measures described in the FY 2008 National Water Program Guidance, published in April 2007. These final FY 2008 commitments, along with supporting measures where program progress is tracked without an annual commitment (i.e., indicator measures), are summarized in the final appendix to the FY 2008 Guidance.
New Technology Report: Wastewater Treatment and In-Plant Wet Weather Management
EPA has released the third in a series of reports on municipal wastewater collection and treatment technologies. It identifies cost effective, innovative, and embryonic technologies as well as established technologies with innovative applications. Technical and cost data for more than 60 innovative technologies and more than 25 embryonic technologies are provided.
The technologies featured in the report can provide more efficient or advanced wastewater treatment or better management of wet weather flows at the treatment plant.
EPA Grants Colorado Final Authorization of State Hazardous Waste Management Program Revisions
RCRA allows EPA to authorize States to operate their hazardous waste management programs in lieu of the federal program. Colorado has applied to EPA for final authorization of the changes to its hazardous waste program under RCRA. EPA has determined that these changes satisfy all requirements needed to qualify for final authorization and is authorizing the State’s changes through this immediate final action.
This final authorization will become effective on May 12, 2008, unless the EPA receives adverse written comments by April 11, 2008. If adverse comments are received, EPA will publish a timely withdrawal of the immediate final rule in the Federal Register informing the public that the rule will not take effect.