EPA Proposes to Allow Water Transfers without Permits

June 05, 2006

 Such transfers include routing water through tunnels, channels, or natural stream courses for public water supplies, irrigation, power generation, flood control, and environmental restoration.


"The Water Transfer Rule gives communities needed flexibility to protect water quality, prevent costly litigation and promote the public good," according to EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles. "President Bush is committed to cleaning and protecting the nation's water resources, and this rule keeps the Clean Water Act focused on water pollution, not water allocation."


Thousands of water transfers currently in place across the country are vital to the water infrastructure. Whether a permit is needed under the Clean Water Act's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) has been an issue in numerous court cases in recent years. The proposed rule would define such transfers as the movement of water between bodies of water without subjecting the water to intervening industrial, municipal or commercial use.


In 2004, the question of whether NPDES permits were necessary for water transfers went before the U.S. Supreme Court in South Florida Water Management District v. Miccosukee Tribe of Indians. The court did not rule directly on the issue, generating uncertainty about the need for a permit. EPA concluded in 2005 that Congress intended water resource-management agencies and other state authorities to oversee water transfers, not the NPDES permitting program. This rulemaking codifies that conclusion.





DOT Revises Rules for Shipping Infectious Substances



The DOT is revising the transportation requirements for infectious substances, including regulated medical waste and sharps, to adopt new classification criteria, new exceptions, and packaging and hazard communication requirements consistent with revised international standards and to clarify existing requirements to promote compliance. These revisions will ensure an acceptable level of safety for the transportation of infectious substances and facilitate domestic and international transportation.




New Rule to Offer Greater Protection to Marine Life



 This action sets standards for cooling water intake structures at new oil and gas extraction facilities either at offshore or coastal locations.


The rule applies to an estimated 124 new rigs and platforms expected to be built over the next two decades. These facilities could require as much as 20 million gallons of water a day to cool the equipment.


Derived from Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act, this is the final action of a three-phase process that began by implementing requirements for new facilities, but did not include offshore or coastal oil and gas facilities. The second rule addressed existing power plants that use more than 50 million gallons of cooling water per day.


Cooling water intake structures at existing manufacturing facilities and certain power generators will continue to abide by section 316(b) requirements established on a case-by-case, best professional judgment basis through the water permitting program. The final rule does not change the regulatory requirements for facilities subject to the first and second regulations.


Grants Available for Business to Use Recyclable Materials



Pennsylvania is taking aggressive steps to make environmental protection an engine for economic growth with a $1 million investment that will help manufacturers increase their use of recyclable materials in the production of finished products.


“Our first priority is a cleaner environment, but we are also looking for ways to create new jobs and spur economic growth,” Governor Rendell said. “This investment will support businesses and nonprofit organizations and increase the demand for recyclable materials.”




“The success of the commonwealth’s recycling programs is directly related to demand for recyclable goods,” said Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty.


Pennsylvania’s recycling and reuse industry is a national leader in employment, payroll and sales numbers. More than 3,240 recycling and reuse businesses and organizations made more than $18 billion in gross annual sales, paid $305 million in taxes and provided jobs for 81,322 employees at an annual payroll of approximately $2.9 billion.


The Recycling Markets Infrastructure Development Grant Program awards grants of up to $500,000 for purchases of machinery or equipment that will increase consumption of recyclable materials recovered in the commonwealth.


The grants are available to startup companies as well as existing businesses and nonprofit organizations that currently are manufacturing a product or engaged in reusing an existing product utilizing recyclable material from Pennsylvania. Applications will be accepted until Aug. 31.


“This grant program is a win for the environment and a win for Pennsylvania’s economy,” McGinty said. “These grants will leverage investments by Pennsylvania businesses and increase demand for recyclable materials.”


The state’s recycling programs are supported by a $2 tipping fee on each ton of waste deposited in Pennsylvania landfills. However, that fee runs only through 2008. Governor Rendell is working with the legislature to extend that deadline so the commonwealth continues to enjoy the economic and environmental benefits of recycling.


Used Oil Management



As gasoline prices go up, the value of used oil tends to rise. Proper management of used oil prevents pollution and helps retain the value of this vital resource. The management standards for used oil generators are relatively easy to follow.


You must:

Keep containers, tanks or drums in good condition

Always label containers, tanks or drums with the words Used Oil

Clean up any spills or leaks to the environment

If you do not self-transport your used oil, use only a transporter with an EPA Identification Number that authorizes them to transport used oil


Although not required, it is a good idea to keep all used oil containers closed to prevent accidents. Moreover, your site’s SPCC Plan may have a similar requirement.


Used oil generators may self-transport up to 55 gallons of their own used oil to either an approved collection center. If you choose to self-transport, you may only transport the used oil in a company owned vehicle or an employee's privately owned vehicle.

Costco Will Pay $75,000 for not Closing Hawaii Cesspools



The EPA reached a settlement that requires Costco to install wastewater treatment and pay a fine of $75,000 for failing to close and replace three large capacity cesspools at its Kona facility on the Big Island.


“Today’s settlement is part of our continuing effort to close large capacity cesspools and protect drinking water sources on the Big Island,” said Alexis Strauss, director for the EPA’s water division for the Pacific Southwest region. “We will continue to encourage all large capacity cesspool owners to meet the requirements by closing large capacity cesspools promptly.”


Costco is being required to:

Install dual chamber septic tanks with effluent filters

Install grease interceptors on their other injection wells that receive food processing wastewater

Monitor wastewater quality before and after treatment for at least six months to determine if treatment is working

Provide periodic reports to the EPA on wastewater quality and injection well operation and maintenance


The 30-day public review and comment period on this proposal ends June 29.


A large capacity cesspool is one that discharges untreated sewage from multiple dwellings, or a non-residential location that serves 20 or more people on any day. The regulations, which prohibit large capacity cesspools as of April 2005, do not apply to single-family homes connected to their own individual cesspools.


Cesspools discharge raw sewage into the ground, which results in disease-causing pathogens and other contaminants – such as nitrates – polluting groundwater, streams and the ocean. Cesspools are used more widely in Hawaii than in any other state. Many are owned by county, state, and federal agencies. However, there are numerous other cesspools serving restaurants, hotels, office complexes, and multiple dwellings, such as duplexes, ohana homes, apartments and condominiums.


Circuitronics Fined for Hazardous Waste Violations



EPA Region 5 has reached an agreement with Circuitronics L.L.C., Wheaton, Ill., to settle alleged hazardous waste violations. A penalty of $21,362 has been paid.


Circuitronics was cited for violating Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) requirements for managing hazardous waste including failure to get a complete design and installation assessment from a registered engineer for its new hazardous waste tank systems, provide a complete description of emergency equipment in its contingency plan, institute annual personnel training, and have an emergency coordinator familiar with all aspects of the contingency plan including location of the plan and training records.


The company manufactures printed circuit boards and performs plating operations at its facility. Under RCRA,


EPA Settles with TWF Industries for Hazardous Waste Violations



EPA Region 5 has settled with TWF Industries Inc., Barrett, Minn., for alleged violations of federal and state rules on the management of hazardous waste. A $57,640 penalty will be paid.


TWF was storing hazardous chromium waste without a permit at its 415 Second St. metal finishing facility. As an EPA-designated small quantity generator, TWF is only allowed to store hazardous waste at its facility for up to 180 days without a permit. The company is now in compliance with hazardous waste regulations.


Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976, EPA regulates hazardous waste from production to final disposal.


EPA Fines Three Hospitals for Medical Waste Incinerator Violations



The mid-Atlantic region of the EPA announced that it has reached settlements with Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC), Charleston, W.Va., Thomas Memorial Hospital, South Charleston, W.Va., and Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, Wilkes-Barre, Pa., for environmental violations involving hospital/medical infectious waste incinerators.


This action was taken as a result of EPA’s on-going Hospital/Medical Waste Incinerator Initiative, started in 2004 because many non-profit hospitals with incinerators were unaware of their responsibilities for the proper operation of incinerators under the Clean Air Act or had failed to implement strategies to comply with the applicable regulations.


Charleston Area Medical Center: During an inspection in 2004, EPA found that CAMC had failed to conduct two annual performance tests over a three-year period to show compliance with emission limits for particulate matter, carbon monoxide and hydrochloric acid. CAMC also failed to establish the appropriate parameter ranges to ensure that the incinerator will be able to continuously operate in compliance with its Title V operating permit emission limits. In addition, the required annual and semi-annual reports on the incinerator operation were not submitted for 2002 and 2003.


While neither admitting nor denying liability, CAMC has agreed to a cash penalty of $11,000 to settle this matter.


Thomas Memorial Hospital: During an inspection in 2004 at Thomas Memorial Hospital (TMH), EPA found that TMH had failed to establish the appropriate parameters for operating the incinerator in order to ensure compliance with Title V operating permit emission limits. EPA also reviewed randomly selected operating data for each of the years 2002, 2003, and 2004. Based on this review, EPA found a variety of violations in the operation of the incinerator. In addition, the required annual and semi-annual reports were not submitted to 2002 through 2004.


While neither admitting nor denying liability, TMH has agreed to a cash penalty of $5,500 to settle this matter.


Wilkes-Barre General Hospital (WBGH): During an inspection in 2004 at Wilkes-Barre General Hospital, EPA found that WBGH had failed to petition EPA for site-specific operating parameters (required because of the type of air pollutant control device used on the incinerator), failed to establish the operating ranges for these parameters during the initial performance test, and as a consequence failed to operate the incinerator in accordance with the established operating parameters in order to ensure that the incinerator stayed in compliance with the emission limits in EPA’s hospital/medical/infectious waste incinerator regulation. In addition, required data was not submitted in annual or semi-annual reports since 2001.


While neither admitting nor denying liability, WBGH has agreed to a cash penalty of $7,700 to settle this matter.


EPA will continue to monitor environmental compliance at other hospital/medical waste incinerators.


$4,500 Penalty for Nitrates in Drinking Water



The City of Torrington, WY has agreed to settle alleged violations of an Administrative Order issued by the EPA addressing the City’s drinking water system by paying a $4,500 penalty.


In January 2001, EPA ordered the City to implement short-term and long-term solutions to nitrate and bacterial contamination problems plaguing the City’s drinking water system. EPA’s Order required continuous disinfection on all raw water source wells and collection of samples every two weeks to determine compliance with the maximum contaminant level (MCL) for nitrate for all drinking water wells currently in use, or that will be in use within the next month. In addition, the Order required that any wells with samples exceeding the nitrate MCL be immediately removed from service and follow a sampling regimen prior to reuse of the well. Due to fluctuating nitrate levels in the underlying aquifer and lack of nitrate treatment units on some City wells, current biweekly nitrate sampling is key to ensuring safe drinking water for the City. The Order remains in effect.


In June 2004, water sampled from well #5 exceeded the nitrate MCL. The City removed the well from the drinking water system and did some sampling through August 31, 2004, but no sampling was performed at well #5 from September 2004 to August 2, 2005. In addition, sometime prior to July 21, 2005 the disinfecting chlorinator had been removed from well #5.


For approximately 12 ½ hours on July 21-22, 2005, the City allowed water from well #5 to enter the drinking water system. EPA alleged that this event violated its Order since well #5 was a raw water source that was added to the Torrington drinking water distribution system without providing continuous disinfection or following required pre-use nitrate sampling. The City has confirmed that all six drinking water source wells now have chlorinators installed.


Studies confirm that the high levels of nitrates in the City’s drinking-water source aquifer are due to local agricultural activities, such as crop fertilization, and urban lawn fertilization. Nitrates in drinking water present an acute health risk for infants. High levels of nitrate are known to cause “blue-baby syndrome,” a well-known human health risk.


Any potential health risk associated with the violations would primarily have been from using infant formula prepared with City water during the time of the violations. However, due to the short 12 ½ hour exposure time, the historical levels of nitrate in this well typically being below the MCL, and lack of bacteriological MCL violations since issuance of the Order, the human health risk likely was low.


475 Effluent Violations Lead to Penalty



The EPA announced a settlement for $22,000 with The City of Cordova, Alaska for violations of its discharge permit for the City’s wastewater treatment plant.


Between February 2002 and August 2005, the facility had 475 effluent violations; routinely exceeding their permit limits for biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), total suspended solids (TSS), dissolved oxygen, pH and fecal coliform bacteria. High-levels of these pollutants can harm or kill aquatic life and cause water borne illnesses in people.


“These National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits are part of the backbone of the nation’s system to protect rivers and lakes from pollution,” said Marcia Combes, EPA’s Alaska Operations Office Director. “Communities need to realize that with wastewater discharge permits comes a responsibility to comply with their conditions.”


The wastewater treatment facility, which the City owns and operates, serves a population of approximately 2,500 and discharges effluent to the Orca Inlet. The Inlet is protected for recreational use and the harvesting of shellfish and other aquatic life.


Sunshine Makers Inc. Fined for $42,120 for Simple Green Pesticide Violations





The EPA cited the company for selling and distributing “Simple Green D” and “Simple Green Antibacterial Disinfectant,” pesticidal disinfectants designed for use in hospitals and medical facilities to eliminate potentially harmful bacteria such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylcoccus aureus. The EPA’s testing of the effectiveness of these two pesticides determined that, contrary to the claims on their labels, Simple Green D was ineffective against P. aeruginosa and Simple Green Antibacterial Disinfectant was ineffective against S. aureus. Due to these testing failures, neither pesticide can meet its claim of being a broad spectrum disinfectant suitable for hospital use.


“In order for a hospital disinfectant to be registered by the EPA, the registrant must submit to the agency data demonstrating the product does what it says it is supposed to do,” said Enrique Manzanilla, the EPA’s Communities and Ecosystems Division director for EPA’s Southwest Region. “If the EPA finds that a company's product fails agency testing for product effectiveness and formulation, the company can expect significant penalties."


Before selling or distributing any pesticide in the United States, a company must register the pesticide with the EPA. As part of the registration process, the company must ensure that the pesticide is effective in meeting the claims on its label. Due to the false statement of effectiveness on the two pesticides’ labels, Sunshine Makers sold and distributed two misbranded pesticides in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, which regulates the sale, distribution, and use of pesticides within the United States.


The enforcement case was based on an inspection performed by the California Department of Pesticide Registration in January 2005 and effectiveness testing obtained by the EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance in September 2005. Sunshine Makers, Inc. has voluntarily recalled these products.



EPA Retains First-Ever Reductions of Mercury from Power Plants





The Clean Air Mercury Rule creates a market-based cap-and-trade program that will permanently cap utility mercury emissions. The first phase of the rule sets a cap of 38 tons and in combination with the Clean Air Interstate Rule will reduce emissions from 48 tons to 31 tons beginning in 2010. Emissions will continue to decline thereafter until they are reduced to the second phase cap of 15 tons when the program is fully implemented. The mandatory declining caps, coupled with significant penalties for noncompliance, will ensure that mercury reduction requirements are achieved and sustained in a cost-effective manner.


In response to petitions for reconsideration, EPA reaffirmed its approach for regulating mercury emissions from power plants and made technical changes and clarifications to the Clean Air Mercury Rule.


This action responds to petitioners' requests for changes to certain aspects of two mercury-related actions:


1. EPA's decision that it is neither necessary nor appropriate to regulate power plant mercury emissions under section 112 of the Clean Air Act (called the 112 Revision Rule)

2. The cap-and-trade Clean Air Mercury Rule

After carefully considering the petitions and the information that was submitted during the public comment period, EPA has determined that its original determination as presented in the final Section 112 Revision Rule was correct and is reaffirming the March 29, 2005 action.


With regard to Clean Air Mercury Rule, EPA is making two technical changes to the rule and finalizing language reaffirming that municipal waste combustors are not covered under this rule, but under a separate rule for air toxics.


EPA claims that this rule, combined with other clean air regulations such as the Clean Air Interstate Rule and the Clean Air Nonroad Diesel Rule will lead to significant benefits for our environment, improve public health and promote development of new technologies.


Green Power Partners Challenged to Do More



Because of increasing demand for large-scale green power purchases, the EPA and Green Power Partnership members will raise the bar to maximize environmental benefits of purchasing green power from renewable sources of energy. Beginning in January 2007, the program will require partners to purchase 100% “new renewables” in meeting their minimum purchase requirements for membership.


According to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson, “voluntarily switching to renewable energy sources, EPA’s environmental partners are showing that it is easy – and rewarding – being green.”


 Green power is electricity generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, low-impact biomass, and low-impact hydro sources. New renewables are eligible renewable generating facilities placed in operation on or after January 1, 1997. The previous threshold for the minimum green power purchase benchmark was 50% “new” renewables.


The Green Power Partnership encourages organizations to voluntarily purchase green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with conventional electricity use. The Green Power Partnership is comprised of Fortune 500 companies, local, state, and federal governments, trade associations, and colleges and universities.


Early Hurricane Preparations Can Save Lives and Property



Hurricane season began on June 1. 


Hurricane season is identified and that allows for early preparations that can minimize injury and property damage. Households and businesses should take this opportunity to start planning at the beginning of the hurricane season and prepare well in advance.

EPA's hurricanes Web site includes information for business operators on preventing and reporting chemical releases due to severe weather - which can be required by law. Local governments and community agencies can find suggestions for preparing and protecting water and wastewater facilities. There is also detailed information for debris planning, since storm debris can occur in enormous amounts that overwhelm local landfills and can also present serious dangers to human health and the environment.

Greka Integrated Inc. Fined $127,500 for Underground Injection Violations



The EPA fined Greka Integrated Inc. of Santa Maria, Calif. $127,500 for unauthorized disposal of oil refinery wastewater into the facility’s injection wells, in violation of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.


The EPA cited Greka for piping refinery wastewater into their Class II underground injection control wells on the Union Sugar and the Morganti lease areas near the refinery. Class II wells are only authorized to receive fluids associated with oil and gas production operations, not industrial wastewater associated with refinery processing. Refinery wastewater can only be disposed of in Class I injection wells, which have more stringent requirements, and are therefore more protective of ground water.


“The UIC program has specific standards and well classifications which were established to ensure that different types of waste are disposed in a safe and effective manner,” said Alexis Strauss, director of the Water Division for the Pacific Southwest region. “Facilities must adhere to these federal standards when disposing of industrial wastewater to ensure protection of our drinking water resources.”


According to the EPA, Greka disposed of refinery wastewater in the Union Sugar lease area from at least April 2001 through December 2003. The California Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources, which oversees Class II UIC operations in the State, notified the EPA of the wastewater injection violations on the Morganti Lease area following inspections in October 2003.


The company, which produces crude oil, processes the oil, and manufactures a variety of asphalt products at its Santa Maria location, was ordered to cease all underground disposal of its refinery wastewater pending any future EPA authorization for such injection.


The Safe Drinking Water Act established the Underground Injection Control Program to provide safeguards so that injection wells do not endanger current and future underground sources of drinking water. The most accessible fresh water is stored in shallow geological formations called aquifers and is the most vulnerable to contamination. These aquifers feed our lakes, provide recharge to our streams and rivers, particularly during dry periods, and serve as resources for 92% of public water systems in the United States.


New Database of Contaminated Sites in California



Want to know how many cleanup sites are in your community? Or how many are contaminated with arsenic, or other pollutants? A Web-based tool is now available that allows the public to learn more about over 5,000 cleanup sites in California.


 For these sites, viewers will find a wealth of information, including the cause of contamination, public health risks posed by the site, and any documents that may be of interest to the community, such as permits and public notices. In addition, viewers can check out final documents and additional information on specific investigations for each site.


You can search for information using a wide range of criteria, such as how many sites are in a particular city, zip code or Senate district. Viewers can also find out how many sites are contaminated with a specific contaminant, and the previous use that caused the contamination. The database does not include active hazardous waste facilities that are currently operating (RCRA sites), however the DTSC plans to incorporate this information into the database in the future.


EPA Publishes Proposed List for Boutique Fuels



 A boutique fuel is a unique fuel specification developed by a state or local air pollution agency and approved by EPA as part of a state plan to meet the nation's air quality standards. The proposed list will help limit the number of different state fuels required around the country and serve as the basis for any future adoption of boutique fuels. EPA is requesting public comment on the proposed list.


The existence of too many fuels or fuel types in a given area may present challenges for production, distribution, and storage during disruptions, such as refinery shutdowns or weather-related incidents. To address this issue, President Bush has directed EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson to convene a Boutique Fuels Task Force in cooperation with Governors. Administrator Johnson will provide the president a report detailing the findings from the Governor's Boutique Fuels Task Force in late June.


Summer Tips for Saving Energy and Money



With summer on the way and energy costs skyrocketing, Americans are looking for ways to cool their homes, stay comfortable and save money. When you reduce the amount of energy used in your home, you save money on energy bills, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are harmful to the environment.

As the summer heat goes up so does the need to take special care on days when ozone pollution, smog, is expected to be high. Listen for air quality advisories that let people know the air quality is unhealthy, especially for people with lung problems, like asthma. Keep in mind, children and even active adults, should be careful about prolonged or heavy exertion outdoors on bad air days.


On a hot summer day, major cities like Baltimore, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia are 6 to 8 degrees hotter than surrounding areas. To keep your home or business cool, EPA encourages you to consider saving money and energy by installing 'cool roofs' - - light-colored roof systems to keep you and your neighborhood cooler. 


Pennsylvania’s Mercury Rule Constitutionally Sound



Pennsylvania’s state-specific proposal to control mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants passes the key test for determining whether a measure violates the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution.


“Pennsylvania’s rule is legally sound and scientifically proven,” Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said.


For a measure to be suspect under the U.S. Commerce Clause, it must impose disparate treatment for enterprises within a state, as compared to out-of-state enterprises.


Pennsylvania’s state-specific rule ensures equal treatment, requiring electric generating units to meet the very same performance standards regardless of whether they use bituminous or sub-bituminous coal in their operations.


The state-specific rule presumes compliance for units that burn 100% bituminous coal with advanced air control technologies. But that presumption of compliance has nothing to do with setting an easier standard for bituminous coal. In fact, the state rule establishes the same standard for bituminous and sub-bituminous coals.


The presumption of compliance only recognizes the established fact that mercury is removed with vastly greater efficiency from scrubbed plants burning bituminous coal than from scrubbed plants burning sub-bituminous coal. Bituminous coal contains more mercury than sub-bituminous coal. But it also contains more chlorine, which enhances the removal efficiency of mercury control technology.


Technical analysis shows that units burning 100% bituminous coal and controlling emissions with a wet flue gas desulfurization and selective catalytic reduction capture 90% of mercury emissions. In contrast, units that burn 100% sub-bituminous coal and control emissions with the same technologies capture only 16% of mercury emissions.


Pennsylvania’s state-specific proposal further is demonstrably even-handed by requiring all plants, whether they use bituminous or sub-bituminous coal, to meet their specified mercury emission cap.


In contrast to the state proposal, the EPA’s rule is quite suspect. The federal rule explicitly sets different standards for different coal types, with the effect that waste coal and bituminous coal are severely and unfairly disadvantaged.


EPA’s rule requires little or no reductions from units using sub-bituminous coal mined in the West and places the most stringent requirements on coal mined in states like Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia.


To appreciate the degree to which the federal rule unjustifiably harms bituminous coal interests, current court filings by the Pennsylvania Coal Association and United Mine Workers of America are instructive.


In ongoing legal proceedings in federal court, PCA and UMWA are claiming EPA’s rule will “result in a vast wealth transfer from bituminous coal users to sub-bituminous and lignite users,” and further will have “adverse and irreversible impacts on the Bituminous Coal Coalition member operations, mine production, mine workers and local economies dependent upon coal mining operations.”


Moreover, PCA and UMWA characterize EPA’s rule as illegal, arbitrary and capricious, wholly unwarranted and flawed, and advise the court that EPA’s Clean Air Mercury Rule will harm “producers of bituminous coal, workers in bituminous coal mines and local economies supported by bituminous coal mining.”


Opponents who question the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s state-specific rule point to a case where the Illinois Coal Act was overturned as a violation of the Commerce Clause. But that proposal aimed to force the use of Illinois-mined coal, cutting off suppliers from other states.


The act required utilities to formulate compliance plans that had to be approved by the Illinois Commerce Commission, which took into account the effect of the local coal industry when approving those plans. It also required the four largest plants in Illinois burning Illinois coal to include the installation of specific technology in their compliance plans so that could continue to burn Illinois coal. In addition, the state’s Commerce Commission had to approve any 10% or greater decrease in the use of Illinois coal by a utility.


Paint Company Ordered to Pay $450,000 for Cleanup Resulting from Fire that Killed Plant Manager



EPA recently ordered Advanced Packaging and Products to pay for a cleanup estimated to cost $450,000 that will address hazardous substances released onto the property following a January fire at the paint company’s facility in Carson, Calif. that killed the plant manager and severely burned two employees.


The Los Angeles County Fire Department put out the fire at the paint and automotive liquids blending and packaging firm. . EPA officials discovered over 400 hazardous substances containers at the site, ranging from 5 gallon cans to a 5,000 gallon tank, containing isopropyl alcohol, toluene, xylene and other flammable materials.


“The potential health threats to neighborhood businesses and residents require a fast, effective cleanup. We expect the company to clean up all hazardous substances, contaminated materials and chemical runoff left behind by this tragic fire,” said Keith Takata, director of the EPA’s Superfund program in San Francisco.


The EPA amended a previous order to include Advanced Packaging and Products, PJH Brands, Inc., Steven Renshaw and Golden Root LLC, to compel a response under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.


California’s Climate Action Team Addresses Biofuels’ Role in Climate Change Emissions



The Climate Action Team held the fourth of five regional presentations in Fresno to discuss the Climate Action Report released last month. Panelists and members of the working group discussed the role of bio-energy in meeting the Governor’s aggressive climate change emission reduction targets.


“As one of the largest contributors of greenhouse gases, it’s our moral responsibility to start implementing strategies to reduce climate change emissions here in California,” said Dr. Alan C. Lloyd, former Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency and chair of the Climate Action Team. “The consequences of climate change on California are significant and may become quite severe. These include an increased threat of wildfires, a decrease in the snowpack, damaged coastlines and an increase in air pollution, disease and pests.”


Bio-energy, generated from abundant, biologically-derived renewable materials has the capacity to produce heat, electric power, transportation fuels and other useful products. Bio-energy helps contribute to the state’s energy supply and is vital to waste and resource management efforts. Biofuels can be a significant part of our energy mix and will play an important role in meeting the Governor’s climate change emission reduction targets.


"The use of renewable biomass residues to produce a varied array of important energy resources and fuels is perhaps the brightest opportunity for California's energy future,” said James Boyd, Commissioner and Chairman of the Bio-energy Interagency Working Group, at the California Energy Commission. “The conversion of these residues for energy can help manage agricultural waste and forest material disposal, reducing the strain on growing landfills. It also produces indigenous sources of needed fuels, which can significantly reduce our dependence on petroleum and cut greenhouse gas emissions. This is a win, win, win proposition."


In June 2005, Governor Schwarzenegger signed Executive Order S-03-05, establishing the most ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction targets of any state or nation in the world. The Order directed Cal/EPA to lead a multi-agency effort to meet the targets, and to report on the progress toward those goals every two years.


New Guidance on Closure of Hazardous Waste Facilities



On May 30, 2006, the Ohio Division of Hazardous Waste Management (DHWM) issued its revised policy entitled Closure Plan Review Guidance for RCRA Facilities . DHWM had been using the 2005 version of the CPRG to convey how Ohio EPA generally expects to exercise its discretion in implementing the hazardous waste closure program. The CPRG is primarily used to assist technical staff with their evaluation of closure plans for hazardous waste management facilities. Facility owners and/or operators may also find it helpful in preparing closure plans for DHWM review.


The document has been updated to include information on post-closure plan content, soil permeability data evaluation, outdoor worker exposure scenarios, and an update to the Generic Cleanup Numbers tables.


DHWM has also revised its lost-standing policy on use of Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) and risk values for defining groundwater cleanup levels. Rather than selecting the lower of either the MCL or risk value for a particular constituent, the policy suggests selecting the most appropriate value based on site conditions to determine cleanup levels.


$32,500 Penalty for Exceeding Air Emission Limits




OSI Sealants, Inc., exceeded emissions limitations for organic compounds 25 times between 2001 and 2003. In addition, the facility was late to conduct required performance tests on emissions units and late in submitting a series of performance and compliance certification reports. 


OSI's facility operates large batch mixers that emit organic compounds to the air. The company indicated the emissions exceedance violations could be due to record-keeping problems, but OSI was unable to provide sufficient documentation to support its assertion.


Johnson & Johnson Wins Environmental Excellence Award



Pennsylvania’s Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty honored Johnson & Johnson’s Pharmaceutical Research and Development Spring House campus for its implementation of a “zero” discharge cooling tower water treatment system that reduces water consumption by 4.8 million gallons per year and saves more than $29,000 annually.


“This member of the Johnson & Johnson family of companies is at the forefront of water conservation in Pennsylvania,” McGinty said during a visit to the facility. “The Spring House plant demonstrates the success of a corporate credo that goes beyond compliance. This company’s efforts protect natural resources.”




As the key project in a five-year water conservation program, Johnson & Johnson implemented a “zero” discharge cooling tower water treatment system that reduces water consumption, wastewater generation and discharges; improves efficiencies; reduces use of water treatment chemicals; and eases the burden on the local water authority and wastewater treatment plant.


In the fourth quarter of 2004, Johnson & Johnson’s Pharmaceutical Research and Development implemented a system that softens the water -- much like a home water softening system -- and makes it possible to reuse water for several additional cycles. By consuming less clean water and reducing the volume of wastewater being discharged to sewers, the new system annually conserves 4.8 million gallons.


“This project demonstrates not only technical innovation, but also the company’s ability to involve stakeholders,” McGinty said. “Johnson & Johnson worked closely with the North Wales Water Authority and Ambler Borough to transition successfully to the implementation of this system.”


DEP received 78 applications for the 2005 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence. The applications were evaluated according to their overall environmental benefit, public service, economic impact, use of innovative technology, teamwork and environmental education and outreach.


Dry Cleaner Virtual Tour



 Spent drycleaning solvents have been found in soils and ground water in approximately three-quarters of existing or former dry cleaning facilities. Because these contaminants are difficult to remove, they present a substantial environmental challenge. You can take a virtial tour of the dry cleaning process which includes the cleaning and recycling of used cleaning solvents.


EPA Extends Comment Period for Polymer TSCA PMN Exemption



EPA had proposed (71 FR 11484) to amend the polymer exemption rule which provides an exemption from the premanufacture notification (PMN) requirements of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), to exclude from eligibility polymers containing as an integral part of their composition, except as impurities, certain perfluoroalkyl moieties consisting of a CF3- or longer chain length.


 The agency decided to reopen the comment period in response to several requests that additional time is need to adequately compile information, coordinate views among like-minded stakeholders, and submit meaningful comments.


Underground Storage Tanks Program Draft Guidelines for Comment



 EPA developed these guidelines for state underground storage tank programs. The agency is accepting comments on the draft guidelines until June 24, 2006.


Making Data Meaningful: A Guide to Writing Stories About Numbers



 It is intended as a practical tool to help managers, statisticians and media relations officers use text, tables, graphics and other information to bring statistics to life using effective writing techniques. It contains suggestions, guidelines and examples – but not golden rules. This publication recognizes that there are many practical and cultural differences among statistical offices, and that approaches vary from country to country.


Environmental Knowledge and Assessment Tool (EKAT)



 EKAT contains a wealth of centralized regulatory information. There are online tools to screen chemicals for federal and state regulatory information, including CERCLA, RCRA, CAA, and CWA. Get NIOSH REL and OSHA PEL information for chemicals in air.


EKAT also includes Hazardous Waste Guides, Physical and Chemical Properties Guides and Toxicology Guides to help with risk assessments. EKAT summarizes, categorizes and links to highly useful resources on major federal regulations such as CERCLA and RCRA, as well as on environmentally pertinent topics such as Coatings, Explosives Safety, the Federal Facilities Compliance Act (FFCA), Military Munitions Rule (MMR), and Solvents Alternatives. Quick access to online resources such as TOXNET, EPI Suite, and the Periodic Table increases efficiency in finding information.


NOAA Issues Greenhouse Gas Index



 This year's AGGI reflects an increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) and nitrous oxide (N2O) but a leveling off of methane (CH4), and a decline in two chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), gases that contribute to the cause of the Antarctic ozone hole. Overall, the AGGI shows a continuing, steady rise in the amount of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.


 "NOAA adds operational value to climate research by observing and quantifying the changes that are occurring around us, and reporting their effects."


The AGGI is referenced to a baseline value of 1.00 for the greenhouse gas levels that were present in the atmosphere in 1990. The value of the AGGI for 2005 is 1.215. This reflects a continuing upward trend in the accumulation of greenhouse gases, as well as the change in the amount of radiative forcing. Radiative forcing indicates the balance between radiation coming into the atmosphere and radiation going out. Positive radiative forcing tends on average to warm the surface of the Earth, and negative forcing tends on average to cool the surface. Radiative forcing, as measured by the index, is calculated from the atmospheric concentration of each contributing gas and the per-molecule climate forcing of each gas.


The constant or declining growth rates of methane and CFCs have slightly slowed the overall growth rate of the AGGI. Methane concentrations have been holding relatively steady since 1990. This is mostly attributed to an equilibrium that has been reached between sources of emission of the gas, its duration in the atmosphere and areas where it is taken out of the atmosphere. Another positive result is the fact that CFCs are continuing to decline. Along with creating the ozone hole over the Antarctic, CFCs are also powerful greenhouse gases.


Most of the increase in radiative forcing measured since 1990 is due to CO2, which now accounts for approximately 62% of the radiative forcing by all long-lived greenhouse gases. During 2005, global CO2 increased from an average of 376.8 parts per million (ppm) in 2004 to 378.9 ppm. This increase of 2.1 ppm means that for every one million air molecules there were slightly more than two new CO2 molecules in the atmosphere. The pre-industrial CO2 level was approximately 278 ppm.


 The NOAA AGGI will be included in the annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin issued by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in November.


The AGGI is based on the analyses of atmospheric levels of all the major and minor long-lived greenhouse gases, and factors in the relative strengths of each gas in its ability to trap heat. The gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, CFCs and the current replacements for CFCs, and have been measured since 1979 by NOAA's global sampling network.


Atmospheric greenhouse gas levels change from year to year depending on natural and human-influenced processes. The largest annual increase in the AGGI, 2.8%, occurred between 1987 and 1988. The smallest was .81% from 1992 to 1993. While the index has increased in every year since NOAA's global measurements began in 1979, the increase during 2005 was 1.25%, which is relatively low.


A recent EPA report to the UN Climate Secretariat in Bonn indicated that total emissions of greenhouse gases have risen by 15.8% from 1990 to 2004. 


Louisiana Issues Revised Stormwater General Permit



Sites in industrial sectors covered by the permit holding individual permits can request coverage under the general permit. Facilities subject to the state’s 2001 general permit are automatically covered by the new permit. Sites with new discharges and new owner/operators of existing discharges must apply for permit coverage within 2 days.


Michigan Envirothon Brings Students and Experts Together



Staff of the Department of Environmental Quality’s Kalamazoo District Office recently attended the regional Envirothon competition at the Fort Custer Training Center near Battle Creek to lend their knowledge of the environment to high school students competing in the event.


The Envirothon is an annual competition for students in the United States and Canada in which teams compete by demonstrating their knowledge in environmental science and natural resource management. The students solve problems related to environmental issues while being trained and tested in six ecologically important categories: Aquatic Ecology, Energy, Forestry, Soils/Geology, Wildlife Management, and Sustainable Agriculture. Students are also presented with a current environmental issue and learn how it relates to each area of ecology. This year’s theme was “Water Stewardship in a Changing Climate,” and in addition to the workshops, the teams also created and implemented a community outreach project that they presented before a panel of judges.


DEQ staff offered presentations on wetland ecosystems and nonpoint source pollution, and discussed with students how NPS pollution impacts water quality and how state programs and regulations are used to keep this type of pollution from entering our lakes and rivers.


Teams that were successful in the regional Envirothon went on to state level competition held in Grayling on May 10 - 11. This year’s state winner that will represent Michigan at the North American Envirothon competition held in July at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg is the Envirothon team from Caro High School in Tuscola County.


“The Caro High School team has demonstrated their growing knowledge of environmental issues and interests in protecting Michigan’s natural resources,” said DEQ Director Steven E. Chester. “I would like to congratulate the Caro students and wish them luck in the North American Envirothon competition.”


New Hampshire Conservationist Awarded for Career Studying and Protecting Wetlands





Dr. Amman was honored with the award for his years of innovative work researching and protecting wetlands. His pioneering work in New Hampshire has been so successful that the wetland evaluation methodologies and guidance he developed are widely used by state agencies and local governments throughout New England. His work includes preparing a new method to evaluate salt marsh wetlands that can be used as a planning tool for communities to conserve key wetland areas.


Over the course of a long career, Dr. Amman identified 700 acres of New Hampshire’s remaining salt marsh as severely impacted, and dedicated himself to helping to restore tidal flow within these wetlands. A long-term employee of the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service, he also was instrumental in the restoration of 600 acres of imperiled salt marsh.


The National Wetlands Awards Program celebrates individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary dedication, innovation or excellence in wetlands conservation. Since 1989, the program has recognized exceptional work on the regional, state and local levels, to educate the people and communities about the value of wetlands and how to protect them.


The award program is co-sponsored by EPA, the Environmental Law Institute, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USDA Forest Service, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, NOAA Fisheries, and the Federal Highway Administration.


At the award ceremony in Washington, D.C. on May 10, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Water programs, Benjamin H. Grumbles, commented: “These wetland champions are restoring and protecting one of America’s greatest natural assets through education, conservation, and dedication. These profiles in courage and stewardship show us all how to meet the President’s national goal of increasing, not simply maintaining, the quantity and quality of our wetlands.”