The regulated community is being given the opportunity to comment on these proposed changes during a 60-day comment period, following publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register.
EPA is requesting comments on the following proposed changes to the Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations:
- All SPCC-regulated facilities would be potentially required to provide:
- Clarity on the general secondary containment requirements
- Flexibility in the security requirements
- Flexibility in the use of industry standards to comply with integrity testing requirements
- Additional flexibility in meeting the facility diagram requirements
- Clarification on the flexibility provided by the definition of “facility”
- In addition to the amendments listed above, EPA is proposing to:
- Exempt the following from SPCC regulations:
- hot-mix asphalt and hot-mix asphalt containers
- pesticide application equipment and related mix containers used at farms
- heating oil containers at single-family residences
- completely buried oil storage tanks at nuclear power generation facilities that meet the Nuclear Regulatory Commission design criteria and quality assurance criteria at 10 CFR Part 50, Appendices A and B
- Differentiate integrity testing requirements for containers that store Animal Fats or Vegetable Oils (AFVO) and meet certain criteria and FDA regulatory requirements
- Define “loading/unloading rack” in order to clarify the equipment subject to the provisions for facility tank car and tank truck loading/unloading racks and exclude farms and oil production facilities from the loading/unloading requirements
- requirements and allow the use of an SPCC plan template for a subset of qualified facilities known as “Tier 1” qualified facilities (i.e., with no individual oil storage container with a capacity greater than 5,000 U.S. gallons up to an aggregate of 10,000 gallons)
- several requirements for oil production facilities, including:
- modify the definition of “production facility,” consistent with the proposed amendments to the definition of “facility”
- extend the time frame by which a new oil production facility must prepare and implement an SPCC plan
- exempt flow-through process vessels at oil production facilities from the sized secondary containment requirements, while maintaining general secondary containment requirements and requiring additional oil spill prevention measures
- exempt flow lines and intra-facility gathering lines at oil production facilities from all secondary containment requirements, while establishing more specific oil spill prevention measures
- clarify the definition of “permanently closed” as it applies to an oil production facility
- clarify that nurse tanks used at farms are included in the December 2006 amendments related to mobile refuelers and therefore exempt from the specifically sized secondary containment requirements for bulk storage containers
All SPCC-regulated facilities are still required to comply with the existing regulations while EPA considers these proposed amendments.
EPA Proposes to Revise Definition of VOCs
This proposed revision would add compounds to the list of those excluded from the VOC definition on the basis that these compounds make a negligible contribution to tropospheric ozone formation.
The compounds under consideration are propylene carbonate and dimethyl carbonate. EPA is inviting comment on an alternative evaluation criteria for exempting propylene carbonate, methods for tracking changes in the use and emissions of both compounds and their potential substitutes, and the potential for health risks that may result from this action.
Super Bowl Will Be Carbon-Neutral
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Director Steve Owens announced that the department is joining forces with the National Football League and the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee to make Super Bowl XLII the “greenest” Super Bowl ever. Super Bowl XLII will be played on Feb. 3, 2008, in Glendale, Ariz. Director Owens said the partnership is the first of its kind between the NFL, a host committee, and a state environmental protection agency.
“We’re very excited about the unique partnership we have created. ADEQ is working hand in hand with the Arizona Host Committee and the NFL to make this an environmentally friendly and carbon-neutral Super Bowl,” Director Owens said. “We want to make Super Bowl XLII the greenest Super Bowl ever. It will (be) good for Arizona’s economy and good for our environment.”
As part of the joint effort, the NFL will use recyclable materials at the game, as well as in the construction of event structures and venues. The NFL also will recycle leftover material from Super Bowl events like lumber, bricks, and decorative fabric and will donate the materials to Valley charities after Super Bowl XLII.
ADEQ will place recycling waste receptacles at various host committee activities, including the 100-Day Countdown to Kickoff event in Glendale’s Westgate City Center on October 27. ADEQ also will have booths with information about recycling and other environmental issues at the events and will provide environmentally focused materials for the estimated 10,000 volunteer workers and at the Super Bowl XLII Media Center in downtown Phoenix.
ADEQ and the NFL also will work to make Super Bowl XLII carbon-neutral. The NFL will use low-emissions vehicles, as well as compact fluorescent lighting, to the greatest extent possible to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with Super Bowl activities. ADEQ and the NFL also will be planting thousands of trees in Arizona to help offset the GHG emissions produced by the events.
Two Documents From TCEQ Assist Development of Environmental Management Systems
Senator Releases Climate Change Data
Senator John Dingle, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Commerce, released the first in a series of climate change white papers. The purpose of the senator’s effort is to focus Congress’s discussion towards the development and eventual passage of comprehensive climate change legislation.
California Asks EPA to Curb Greenhouse Gases From Ocean-Going Vessels
The petition asks the EPA to make specific findings that ships significantly contribute to global warming.
Ocean-going vessels, in total, emit more CO2 emissions than any nation in the world, except for the United States, Russia, China, Japan, India, and Germany. Ominously, these emissions are projected to increase nearly 75% during the next 20 years.
“International law guarantees a right of ‘innocent passage’ for all ocean-going vessels, but this right does not include polluting the air or water near our coastal cities,” Brown said. “If the United States is to do its part in reducing the threat of global climate disruption, then EPA must limit the global warming emissions from ships that enter the ports of the United States.”
Under the Clean Air Act, California has the authority to file a petition asking the EPA to establish CO2 emissions standards. In his petition, Brown asks the EPA to:
- Make a finding that carbon dioxide emissions from ocean-going vessels contribute to air pollution and endanger human health and welfare.
- Set standards for reducing such carbon dioxide emissions.
Brown said that under the reasoning of the United States Supreme Court’s holding in Massachusetts vs. EPA, the agency has the authority to adopt standards for greenhouse gas emissions from vessels that enter U.S. territorial waters.
The United Nations International Maritime Organization (IMO) has authority under international treaties to establish pollution standards for vessels but to date has failed to adopt controls on greenhouse gas emissions. At a recent meeting of the IMO Marine Environment Protection Committee, it was agreed to inventory greenhouse gases by 2009, but no commitment was made to regulate such emissions.
Ozone Transport Commission to Hold Open Meeting
EPA has announced the 2007 Fall Meeting of the Ozone Transport Commission (OTC). This meeting, which will be held on Nov. 14, 2007, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Hyatt Crystal City in Arlington, Va., will explore options available for reducing ground-level ozone precursors in a multi-pollutant context.
2007 Release of Causal Analysis/Diagnosis Decision Information System (CADDIS)
Thousands of U.S. water bodies have been reported to have an ``unknown'' cause of impairment. To formulate appropriate management actions for impaired water bodies, it is critical to identify the causes of biological impairment (e.g., excess fine sediments, nutrients, or toxic substances). Effective causal analyses call for knowledge of the mechanisms, symptoms, and stressor-response relationships for various stressors, as well as the ability to use that knowledge to draw appropriate, defensible conclusions. With the latest update, CADDIS will also help scientists find, access, organize, and share information useful for causal evaluations of impairment in aquatic systems. It is based on EPA's Stressor Identification process, which is an EPA-recommended method for identifying causes of impairments in aquatic environments. The first release of CADDIS included a step-by-step guide to conducting causal analysis, downloadable worksheets and examples, a library of conceptual models, and links to useful information sources.
CADDIS 2007 adds considerable power and usability to the first release:
- Added eight modules, each describing a common stressor or candidate cause of biological impairment; the stressor modules include metals, sediments, nutrients, dissolved oxygen, temperature, ionic strength, flow alteration, and unspecified toxic chemicals
- Added material on data analysis including information on how nine analytical methods (e.g., scatter plots, linear regression, predicting environmental conditions from biological observations, quantile regression, and species sensitivity distributions) can be used to analyze causal relationships
- Greatly expanded the conceptual model library by adding generic conceptual models for common causes of biological impairment
- Developed an interactive Flash-based conceptual model diagram for one common stressor (phosphorus), which provides source citations for cause-and-effect linkages shown in the diagram. (The CADDIS team anticipates this part of the site will expand to include other common stressors and—at some point in the future—harness information collaboratively from the greater scientific community.)
- Updated CADDIS's underlying code, which adheres to EPA's latest Web guidelines, and—similar to the first release—continues to maintain accessibility and 508 compliance
Used Oil Transportation in Missouri
This record is used in lieu of a hazardous waste manifest for shipping used oil that is destined for recycling. In cases where used oil is not intended for recycling or it cannot be recycled because it is contaminated, it is classified as a Missouri D098. Low concentration polychlorinated biphenyl used oil that is destined for disposal retains the D096 hazardous waste. Shipments of D098 or D096 waste must be accompanied by a uniform hazardous waste manifest and must be counted towards your generator status.
Transporters of used oil must meet the following standards:
- Obtain a Missouri Hazardous Waste Transporters License by contacting Missouri Department of Transportation at 573-751-3358
- Determine total halogen content of used oil being transported or stored at a transfer facility and maintain records of determination
- Keep tanks and containers that are exposed to rain closed except when adding or removing used oil
- Process and store used oil in areas with oil-impervious floors
- Provide secondary containment equal to or greater than 10% of the containerized used oil volume or the volume of the largest container, whichever is greater
- Clean up used oil spills or leaks to the environment and notify proper authorities
- Comply with applicable U.S. Department of Transportation requirements
- Deliver used oil to a used oil transporter, a processor or re-refiner, an off-specification used oil burner, or an on-specification used oil burner
- Maintain an inventory log to assure that storage at transfer facilities is limited to 35 days
- Track incoming and outgoing used oil shipments, using the Transporter’s Used Oil Shipment Record (you can purchase the four-part form from the Department of Natural Resources by calling 573-751-2032 or use the electronic version noted above)
- Properly manage residues from used oil storage or transport
- Remove and properly dispose of hazardous waste and hazardous residues at closure of the storage area
Bathroom Sink Faucets to Bear WaterSense Label
Soon, you will be able to identify high-performance, water-efficient sink faucets for bathrooms now that EPA has released a product specification for ones that use about 30% less water than conventional models.
“EPA's WaterSense program just made it easier for consumers and communities to save money, energy, and water one tap at a time," said Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles. "Water efficiency is the wave of the future, and WaterSense bathroom faucets will turn a trickle into a stream of savings without sacrificing performance.”
In order to earn the WaterSense label, faucets must be independently tested and certified by a licensed certifying body to meet EPA’s water-efficiency and performance criteria. To meet the criteria, faucets and accessories such as aerators cannot flow at a rate of more than 1.5 gallons per minute (gpm) or less than 0.8 gpm. Working with stakeholders, EPA chose a rate that ensures both water savings and that the faucet flow rate will continue to meet the needs of the user.
WaterSense labeled faucets not only save water, but they have the added benefit of saving energy used to treat, pump, and heat water. In fact, letting your faucet run for five minutes uses about as much energy as letting a 60-watt light bulb run for 14 hours.
Consumers can already find the WaterSense label on more than 60 high-efficiency toilets. WaterSense labeled toilets use 20% less water than standard models and are independently tested and certified to perform as well as or better than their market counterparts. Working with EPA, retailers are starting to feature WaterSense labeled toilets in their plumbing sections, and bathroom sink faucets should be close behind in 2008.
Bathrooms are, by far, the largest use of water in the home, responsible for about half of total indoor water use. By installing a WaterSense labeled high-efficiency toilet and faucet or aerator, American homes can save more than 11,000 gallons each year.
WaterSense, an EPA partnership program launched in 2006, seeks to enhance the market for water-efficient products and services by building a national brand for water efficiency.
New Tools for Reducing Nitrogen and Phosphorus Pollution
EPA’s Office of Water is rolling out several new tools to help fight nutrient pollution (high loadings of nitrogen and phosphorus) into our waters. It also offers answers to states' questions about how to use the criteria and a clearinghouse of water treatment technologies and land-use practices. You also can visit the website to learn more about this environmental problem and find out what each of us can do about it.
$1.5 Million Penalty for Dumping Hazardous Waste Into Floor Drain
An investigation into illegal dumping of hazardous waste at a site in Riverhead, N.Y., has resulted in a criminal conviction and $1.575 million in penalties, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis announced today. The investigation was launched by DEC and supported by the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office.
Altaire Pharmaceuticals, Inc., signed a consent order with DEC agreeing to pay a $200,000 penalty and a $175,000 suspended penalty, pending cleanup of its contaminated site in Aquebogue. In addition, Sawaya Holding Corp., which is tied to Altaire Pharmaceuticals and other related companies, pleaded guilty to one count of Endangering the Public Health, Safety, and the Environment in the third degree, an E felony. Sawaya Holding Corp. has been ordered to pay an asset forfeiture of $1.2 million and was sentenced to a three-year conditional discharge.
"Th(e) success of this investigation is a result of hard work and cooperation between DEC's law enforcement staff and the Office of the Suffolk County District Attorney," said Regional Director Peter A. Scully. "Forcing violators to pay a stiff price and to clean up the pollution they cause serves as a strong deterrent to others who might consider taking unlawful actions that threaten the sole source aquifer that serves as Long Island's drinking water supply."
"Because someone took the initiative and called the DEC to alert the agency about witnessing the dumping of waste into a floor drain, an investigation began. Without this information, it is very likely that this crime would have gone undetected and the health of families living nearby jeopardized," said Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota. "It is a valuable lesson the impact one person can have to protect the sole source of our drinking water."
The case began in December of 2004 when DEC's Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigations (BECI) received a phone call from a witness claiming that the Altaire Pharmaceuticals, Inc., had dumped the contents of a partially filled 5,000-gallon waste tank into a floor drain at their facility located at 311 West Lane, Aquebogue. In response, BECI began an investigation and subsequently located a second witness who had observed other incidents of mishandling of hazardous waste on the 150,000-square-foot facility under the direction of company president Assad Sawaya.
In April 2005, BECI executed a search warrant on the site in coordination with personnel from the Suffolk County District Attorney's Office (SCDA), Suffolk County Department of Health Services (SCDHS), and the Suffolk County Police Department Emergency Service Unit. During the course of the search, business records and samples of the sewage system were seized. Altaire manufactured hair products, eye drops, and other consumer goods.
The seized samples showed contamination of several areas of the facility including floor drains and septic tanks. Several contaminants were found including selenium, benzene, methylene chloride, acetone, and D001 ignitable waste. Test results to date have not shown an impact to public supply wells.
Following analysis of the seized evidence, the district attorney's Environmental Crimes Unit began prosecution of the leaseholder, Sawaya Holding Corp. This resulted in a guilty plea to one count of 71-2712(4) and Endangering the Public Health, Safety, and the Environment in the 3rd degree, an E felony. The plea agreement calls for Sawaya Holding to pay an asset forfeiture in the amount of $1.2 million.
The consent order dictates Altaire Pharmaceuticals responsibility to abide by all state and local regulations. In addition, Altaire is required to submit a work plan for remediation of the contaminated site within 20 days and begin appropriate remediation of the site within 65 days of the signed consent order.
EPA Fines Reno Personal Care Products Distributor $11,200
Last week, the EPA and Jade Distribution Inc., a Reno-based distributor of locker room amenities and personal care products, agreed to an $11,200 fine for the company’s alleged sale and distribution of an unregistered pesticide.
The EPA determined that Jade Distribution Inc. was selling as an antimicrobial pesticide, a cleaning product it called “Anti-Bac Facility Wipes”, which was not registered with the EPA.
“Companies marketing cleaning products must be careful when naming such products. They cannot use a name that implies pesticidal properties,” said Katherine Taylor, associate director of the Communities and Ecosystems Division in the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “Furthermore, companies must ensure that all products that claim to act as pesticides are registered with the EPA.”
The violation was discovered during October 2006 inspections performed by the Nevada Department of Agriculture at the facility in Reno, Nev.
False, misleading, or unverifiable product claims are prohibited. Before selling or distributing any pesticide in the United States, companies must register the pesticide with the EPA. Each producer, seller, and distributor is required pursuant to federal law to ensure that the registered pesticide is labeled in accordance with agency requirements.
EPA Settles Hazardous Waste Case With Amgen Inc.
"Companies that handle toxic wastes need to manage them properly not only to protect the environment, but to ensure public safety," said Nancy Lindsay, acting waste management division director for the EPA's Pacific Southwest region. "This facility was quick to own up to these infractions and fix the problems to comply with the law."
In November 2005, EPA inspectors observed Amgen had failed to monitor or inspect some of its hazardous waste tanks and equipment, and also failed to comply with recordkeeping requirements as specified by California’s hazardous waste management program. The violations included failure to comply with air emission standards for equipment leaks and failure to comply with air emission standards for tanks and containers.
Firms that handle hazardous waste must engage in proper waste handling and storage to prevent spills and to safeguard worker health. EPA’s RCRA program oversees the safe management and disposal of hazardous waste.
EPA Fines Frozen Vegetable Supplier $31,434 Over Ammonia Release Violations
Although the company contacted the Santa Maria Fire Department, it failed to notify the National Response Center and the State Office of Emergency Services until eight hours after the release, violating EPA reporting requirements.
“Facilities must provide timely and accurate information subsequent to a hazardous substance release,” said Keith Takata, director of the Pacific Southwest region’s Superfund program. “With this information, emergency responders will be able to protect themselves and our communities.”
In July 2006, The Pictsweet Co., located at 732 Hanson Way, Santa Maria, Calif., suffered an equipment failure that released approximately 2,160 pounds of ammonia from one of the freezer units. Exposure to ammonia can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory system; extreme exposure may cause death.
The Pictsweet Company is one of the largest frozen vegetable suppliers in the United States.
Immediate notification is vital for emergency response teams to evaluate the nature and extent of a hazardous substance release, prevent exposure, and minimize consequences.
EPA Settles With Carrier Guam for $63,922 for Illegal Importation of Ozone-Depleting Substances
The EPA recently reached a settlement with Carrier Guam, of Tamuning, a refrigeration and heating equipment services company, for allegedly importing refrigerants regulated by the Clean Air Act.
The company imported 32,356 kilograms of hydrochlorofluorocarbon, an ozone-depleting substance. The EPA’s stratospheric ozone protection regulations limit and regulate the import of the product from sources outside the United States.
“Refrigeration companies in Guam are not excluded from the rules and need to comply with the stratospheric ozone protection regulations in the Clean Air Act,” said Deborah Jordan, director of the EPA’s Air Division for the Pacific Southwest region.
A May 2006 inspection by the Guam EPA, in consultation with the EPA, identified the alleged violations of the stratospheric ozone protection regulations committed by Carrier Guam.
High in the atmosphere, the stratospheric ozone layer is the earth’s protective shield against excessive ultraviolet radiation. Overexposure to ultraviolet radiation has been held responsible for increased risk of skin cancer and cataracts, depressed immune systems, decreased crop output, and the destruction of plankton, a critical link in the oceanic food chain.
The program also regulates the importation of ozone-depleting substances such as hydrochlorofluorocarbon
Oregon Developer and Construction Firm to Pay More Than $37,000 for Asbestos Violations
Two Oregon Companies involved in property rehabilitation and redevelopment—Cook Development Corp. (CDC) and Birch Creek Construction, Inc., (BCC)—have agreed to pay penalties totaling $37,500 to settle with EPA for alleged violations of the asbestos National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (asbestos NESHAP), under the Clean Air Act (CAA), during their extensive renovation of the Commodore Apartments located on Court Street in The Dalles, Ore., in May 2001. CDC paid $30,000 in penalties earlier this year and BCC recently agreed to pay an additional $7,500 in penalties.
In May 2006, the Department of Justice filed a complaint on behalf of EPA in the U.S. District Court in Oregon alleging that the developer CDC and contractor BCC violated the asbestos NESHAP regulations when they gutted the interior of a mixed-use four story building by:
- failing to provide written notification in advance of beginning the asbestos removal in May 2001
- not adequately wetting regulated asbestos-containing materials (RACM) during the stripping operation or sealing it in leak-tight containers
- not having at least one trained supervisor on-site and dumping the waste material without labeling it at an area landfill
- failing to keep records of the wastes removed from the building site, as required by the regulations
“We hope that building owners, developers, and contractors learn from this situation,” said Socorro Rodriguez, EPA’s Director of Oregon Operations. “When you are tearing down or renovating a structure that has asbestos, it is important to notify the proper authorities and follow the asbestos regulations.” In Oregon, the Department of Environmental Quality administers the asbestos NESHAP program and notices are sent to their office.
Federal regulations require a thorough inspection of a facility for the presence of asbestos prior to any demolition or renovation activity, as well as advance notice to EPA or the state or local agency that administers the asbestos NESHAP program. If a threshold amount of asbestos is found, certified asbestos abatement contractors are required to dispose of the material following specific work practices designed to protect public health. These requirements include using water to wet the asbestos during removal; carefully handling, bagging, and labeling of wastes; and their proper disposal.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fiber that was commonly used in building materials prior to the 1980s due to its fire-resistant properties. Exposure to asbestos fibers can lead to respiratory diseases including asbestosis and lung cancer. Owners and operators of a demolition or renovation activity are legally required to remove, handle, and dispose of asbestos according to federal regulations.
Auto Dealer Fined for Using Untrained Workers to Service Air Conditioners
The EPA fined a Sunnyvale, Calif., Ford dealership $37,700 for alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act. Sunnyvale Ford Inc., located at 650 E. El Camino Real in Sunnyvale, failed to comply with federal requirements for mechanics who service and repair automobile air conditioning systems. Mechanics at the facility lacked the EPA-approved training required by Clean Air Act (CAA) regulations.
“We know certain refrigerants deplete the ozone layer. It is important to prevent them from escaping into the atmosphere,” said Deborah Jordan, director of the Air Division in the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “Mechanics who service these systems play a key role in preventing releases, and they must be properly trained.”
While there was no direct evidence of release of Freon into the atmosphere in this case, the CAA requires that air-conditioning mechanics pass an EPA-certified training and testing course. The EPA training is required regardless of any other training or certification mechanics may have. The facility must also maintain adequate records to demonstrate EPA certification of their mechanics and refrigerant recovery and recycling equipment.
The training regulations help ensure the proper handling of ozone-depleting and global warming substances that go into a car’s air conditioner, thereby minimizing the release of these chemicals into the atmosphere. The adverse effects of ultraviolet radiation from a thinning ozone layer include skin cancers, cataracts, and immune system suppression.
This is the fifth such case settled with the EPA’s Pacific Southwest office in the past 13 months. In January 2007, Towne Ford of Redwood City agreed to pay $22,000; and in September 2006, South City Motors of South San Francisco agreed to pay a $20,000 penalty, and Hayward Ford of Hayward agreed to pay a $10,000 penalty; and in August 2006, Broadway Motors of Oakland agreed to pay a $5,416 penalty to settle similar cases with the EPA.
EPA Announces $5 Million CAA Settlement With Northern California Pulp Mill
The EPA, the California Air Resources Board, and North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District has announced a $5 million settlement with Evergreen Pulp, Inc. that will protect air quality in the Eureka, Calif., area by reducing emissions of particulate matter and hazardous air pollutants from its wood pulp mill by approximately 340 tons annually.
Evergreen Pulp allegedly violated the federal emission standard for hazardous air pollutants by approximately 230% and violated monitoring, reporting, and recordkeeping requirements. The company also allegedly violated state air pollution control laws for nuisance, opacity, and air pollution control equipment maintenance requirements.
“Emissions from pulp mills can have a significant impact on air quality in the immediate area around these facilities,” said Deborah Jordan, director of the EPA’s Air Division for the Pacific Southwest region. “Today’s settlement reduces harmful air emissions by nearly 340 tons each year, providing a clear environmental benefit for the surrounding community.”
“The people of Eureka and surrounding communities along Humboldt Bay will breathe easier thanks to this team effort by local, state, and federal regulators,” said ARB Chairman Mary Nichols.
Under the settlement, Evergreen will pay a combined penalty totaling $900,000 to be shared equally among the three regulatory agencies. The company also spent approximately $4 million to install a pollution control device on its lime kiln that uses electric charges to capture and collect tiny particles of air pollution. Recent source tests show that the device is reducing harmful particulate emissions.
The company also spent about $100,000 in 2005 to install and operate an additional pollution control device on its smelt dissolver tank. The company also agreed to continue monitoring the performance of air pollution controls of the company’s smelt dissolver.
“The hard work of all parties to reach a settlement in this case is significant to both air quality conditions and our economy. In particular, I am appreciative of Evergreen’s willingness to work toward much needed improvements and to our local Air District staff who have diligently pursued the necessary resolution to this matter,” said John Woolley, North Coast Air District Board member.
Particulate matter adversely affects humans—principally through inhalation and the deposit of particles in the nose, throat, and lungs. Health effects from chronic exposure to high levels of particulate matter range from nasal irritation to bronchitis to emphysema. Young children and the elderly are the most susceptible to the adverse effects of particulate matter exposure because of their relatively limited ability to eliminate particulate matter once it is deposited in the body.
Pulp mills also emit toxic metals including antimony, arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, lead, manganese, nickel, and selenium. Health effects associated with exposure to these toxics metals can include cancer; reproductive and developmental effects; gastrointestinal effects; damage to the nervous system; and irritation to the eyes, skin, and respiratory system.
Three Massachusetts Developers Face Fines for Storm Water Violations
Discharges of muddy storm water from a construction site, in violation of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), has prompted EPA to file an enforcement action seeking penalties against two residential construction companies and an excavating company.
The three companies, Alden Woods, Inc., C.B. Blair Development, and McManus Excavating, are developing a 124-lot subdivision in Holden, Mass. Sediment laden storm water was repeatedly observed discharging from the construction site to nearby Chaffins Brook, which is ranked as a “Class A” waterway by Massachusetts.
The companies failed to install and maintain controls sufficient to prevent the muddy discharges to the stream. EPA is seeking a proposed penalty of $157,500 from each operator of the Holden subdivision.
“Construction companies play a critical role in protecting our waterways. It is imperative that companies apply for coverage under EPA’s construction storm water permit and fully comply with the permit requirements,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England Office. “EPA will continue enforcing and monitoring storm water requirements that are necessary to improve water quality in our rivers, lakes, and estuaries.”
The permit requires the use of “best management practices” to prevent erosion and sedimentation of waterways that can result from construction activities. Though construction began in 2002, none of the operators applied for an NPDES permit until Feb. 28, 2006.
Rainwater running off construction sites can carry sediments, oil, and other pollutants that contaminate nearby streams, ponds, and rivers. Erosion from a one-acre construction site could discharge as much as 20 to 150 tons of sediment in one year if not properly managed. Sediments reduce the storage capacity of drains and waterways, causing flooding and adversely affecting water quality and fish habitat. Sediments and chemicals also can contribute to fish die-offs, toxic algae blooms, contaminated shellfish beds, and closed swimming beaches.
EPA is working hard to bring developers and builders into compliance with storm water runoff regulations. The effort includes extensive compliance assistance activities, including workshops and training materials, as well as an enforcement sweep. EPA is developing written materials, websites, workshops, and other products to help those involved in construction projects understand how to comply with storm water laws.
Food Processing Company to Pay $125,000 for Unpermitted Air Emissions
In a settlement with Ohio EPA, Pierre Foods, Inc., of Cincinnati has agreed to pay a $125,000 civil penalty for operating without the proper permit and emitting too much particulate matter.
The company owns and operates a food processing facility at 9990 Princeton Road, Cincinnati (Butler County), where it cooks meat products that are later frozen and shipped to commercial and institutional clients. Although the company received air pollution permits in 1992, neighbors complained of smoke and odors coming from the facility after Pierre installed two new cook lines in 2001 and 2002.
In 2005, the Hamilton County Department of Environmental Services (HCDOES) required Pierre to conduct emissions testing at the facility. Pierre exceeded particulate emissions limitations required by its permits. HCDOES works under contract to Ohio EPA to enforce air pollution rules in the area.
Results from HCDOES's air pollution engineering study also showed that the facility should have operated under a Title V permit. Title V operating permits, which can be enforced by both U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA, require facilities to pay emission fees based on the amount of air pollution they create. This comprehensive permit for major sources addresses all emissions units at a single facility and can be quite lengthy—sometimes several hundred pages. More than 700 sources in Ohio require a Title V permit.
During the first quarter of 2007, Pierre Foods installed new air pollution control equipment and reduced its emissions. Because of emissions reductions, both through voluntary production limits and new pollution control equipment, the company no longer is required to have a Title V permit.
Pennsylvania DEP Fines Perry County Trash Hauler $5.7 Million
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has fined Fredrick D. Thebes and his sons, Christopher Thebes and Douglas Thebes—the owners of Fred D. Thebes & Sons Inc. and Dynamite Disposal Inc.—$5.7 million for illegally disposing of waste on their property in Centre Township, Perry County.
“The penalty is based on the amount of waste that was dumped illegally and intentionally on the Thebes’ property,” DEP’s South Central Regional Director Rachel Diamond said. “The Thebes displayed a deliberate intention to use their property as an illegal landfill.”
In early May 2006, DEP received several complaints of burning activity and what appeared to be a dumpsite on Thebes’ property. DEP inspectors found three large trenches, one measuring approximately 12 feet long and 20 feet deep, containing garbage and the distinct blue bags used by Perry County residents to dispose of garbage. Thebes operated a trash collection service, Dynamite Disposal, which was the primary waste hauler for Perry County.
On Nov. 15, 2006, DEP and the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General excavated multiple sites on the Thebes property. Based upon that search—and a subsequent search this past March—DEP estimated that between 4,363 to 15,150 tons of solid waste had been dumped at the Thebes site, in addition to the three trenches discovered in May.
The department filed a complaint in the Perry County Court of Common Pleas citing the illegal transportation and disposal of solid waste and ordered the company to cease hauling operations by Dec. 31, 2006.
On May 4, 2007, the department issued an administrative order to the Thebes requiring the owners to clean up the property. To date, the Thebes have not complied with the order. In June, the state attorney general charged Frederick Thebes with two felony criminal counts of violating the state’s clean streams law and seven misdemeanor counts of violating the solid waste management act.
Douglas and Christopher Thebes were each charged with seven counts of unlawful conduct under the solid waste management act, which are third-degree misdemeanors.
Energy Northwest Fined $120,000 for Hazardous Waste Violations
Washington State Department of Ecology issued a $120,000 penalty and administrative order to the Energy Northwest Columbia Generating Station. Ecology issued a second administrative order to Energy Northwest, Washington Nuclear Project No. 1 (WNP-1) Industrial Development Complex.
During July and August of this year, inspectors from Ecology’s Nuclear Waste Program (NWP) and EPA Region 10 performed joint inspections of Energy Northwest’s Columbia Generating Station and WNP-1 Industrial Development Site.
In addition, serious concerns were identified with programs for training employees to safely handle hazardous waste materials.
“Ecology is issuing the fine and administrative orders because significant improvements in waste management are needed at both of the Energy Northwest sites,” said Ron Skinnarland, manager of Ecology’s Waste Management section. “Fortunately, there have been no accidents or injuries caused by the lack of proper controls, but the training deficiencies are serious and must be addressed.”
Violations included improperly stored industrial hazardous wastes and unlabeled chemicals discovered at several locations inside the Columbia Generating Station facility. At the WNP-1 Industrial Development Site, Energy Northwest had leased property to industrial clients who performed commercial operations such as painting, metal recycling, and heavy equipment storage. The administrative order requires that WNP-1 properly identify, contain, store, and dispose of the various wastes discovered to be improperly stored or otherwise mismanaged.
In both administrative orders, Ecology is requiring Energy Northwest to correct all violations by the end of 2007. Some of those corrections include rewriting training programs and identifying chemicals with proper labels and placing them into safe storage. If chemicals are unusable, they must be identified and disposed of properly as hazardous waste.
The Department of Ecology stated that it is encouraged by Energy Northwest’s initial response to the inspection findings and the involvement of senior management.
Sunpro Fined for Hazardous Waste Violations
SUNPRO, Inc., has agreed to pay Ohio EPA an $11,300 penalty to settle hazardous waste violations associated with its environmental contracting business located at 7640 Whipple Ave NW in North Canton. The company promptly addressed the violations and now operates in compliance with Ohio's hazardous waste laws.
In June 2005, SUNPRO twice transported one container of hazardous waste to a facility not permitted to operate as a hazardous waste facility. In addition, the company operated a hazardous waste storage facility without a permit by storing the same container of hazardous waste at its facility between June 17 and Sept. 19, 2005.
SUNPRO operates as an environmental contractor, specializing in hazardous waste management, hazardous material release emergency services and remediation, and high-voltage electrical equipment installation and maintenance. The company does not generate hazardous waste but does transport it.
Members of Congress Tell EPA to Limit Smog Pollution
The members join national environmental and public health groups and hundreds of physicians, scientists, asthmatics, and activists who are demanding that EPA tighten the standard and protect public health.
"The EPA—whose first priority must be to protect public health—needs to listen to the sound science and expert advice of its own advisory panel, which is calling for the smog standard to be 'substantially reduced.' The agency has the responsibility to strengthen air quality standards to best protect all Americans, especially those in the most high-risk populations such as children, people with lung disease, and the elderly," said U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), author of the letter that 21 of his colleagues signed and sent to EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson.
This June, the EPA proposed lowering the standard for smog, or ozone, from 84 parts per billion to between 70 and 74 parts per billion. This reduction, however, falls far short of the recommendations of EPA's own scientific advisory panel earlier this year calling for a level between 60 and 70 parts per billion in order to protect public health. The Congressional letter calls for EPA to listen to its scientists and adopt the strongest pollution level to protect public health.
"These 22 members of Congress are sending a strong message that the EPA must carry out its statutory duty to prevent dangerous air pollution," said Ben Dunham, Legislative Counsel at Earthjustice. "Millions of Americans live every day with asthma and other lung diseases that are exasperated by bad air quality. From Philadelphia to Los Angeles, smog pollution is choking our cities, towns, and neighborhoods."
Earthjustice, Sierra Club, the American Lung Association, the American Thoracic Society, and the American Medical Association are calling upon EPA to adopt the strongest standard to protect public health.
"The EPA should listen to the advice of its own scientists and set a smog standard that protects public health—one that is based on medical science, not political will," said Alice McKeown. "EPA must not let this opportunity to do the right thing pass it by."
The EPA will accept comments on their proposed standard until October 9. The final standard for smog pollution is due March 2008.
EPA Offers GHG Inventory Training
EPA is offering a series of free webcasts designed for local, regional, and state governments to learn the basics of conducting a greenhouse gas inventory. Three webcasts are planned for this series. They are:
Creating an Inventory
October 11, 2007, 2–3:30 p.m., Eastern time
Topics will include understanding the purpose and scope of a GHG inventory, setting a baseline, quantification approaches, certification and reporting protocols, comparability, and level of effort.
Translating Inventory Results into Action
November 6, 2007, 2–3:30 p.m., Eastern time Topics will include describing the various uses of GHG Inventories, including benchmarking, tracking progress over time, major source identification, target setting, exploring mitigation options, and action planning.
State Inventory Tool (SIT) Training Session
TBA, 2007 EPA’s State Inventory Tool is an interactive Excel-based suite of tools that assists with the development of a state-level greenhouse-gas emission inventory. This detailed training for the SIT modules includes implementation of state data to assess GHG emissions by source and sector.
Priority for registration will be given to local, regional, and state government staff and officials. If multiple staff from your agency wish to participate, EPA plans to record and post these webcasts on its Clean Energy website. For additional information, contact Andrea Denny . EPA will offer additional webcasts on local government clean energy best practices in 2008.
Environmental News Links
Trivia Question of the Week
According to EPA, Americans have saved how much money per year by using EnergyStar products?
a. $500 million
b. $5 billion
c. $14 billion
d. $41 billion