EPA Publishes Final NESHAPs for Several Industrial Sectors

December 22, 2008

The underlying national emission standards reviewed in this action limit and control hazardous air pollutants.

This final rule responds to public comments received on a proposed rule and announces EPA’s decision not to revise four national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants that regulate eight industrial source categories evaluated in EPA’s risk and technology review process.

The national emission standards and industrial source categories impacted by this final rule include:

  • NESHAP Emissions: Group I Polymers and Resins (Polysulfide Rubber Production, Ethylene Propylene Rubber Production, Butyl Rubber Production, and Neoprene Rubber Production)
  • NESHAPs for Epoxy Resins Production and Non-nylon Polyamides Production
  • NESHAPs for Acetal Resins Production
  • NESHAPs for Hydrogen Fluoride Production


On Dec. 12, 2007, EPA proposed not to revise the national emission standards based on their residual risk assessment and technology review. After conducting risk and technology reviews, and after considering public comments on the proposed rule, EPA has concluded that no additional control requirements are warranted under Section 112(f)(2) or 112(d)(6) of the Clean Air Act at this time.

The effective date of this final action was Dec. 16, 2008.

EPA Authorizes New Leak-Detection Methods

The leaks are displayed on a video screen similar to the way night-vision goggles are used to show the heat signature of objects. This amendment provides requirements for using the new technology; however, facilities may continue to use existing approved work practices to detect leaks.

This amendment modifies about 40 national rules requiring facilities to find and repair leaks from equipment, including pumps, valves, and connectors, from refineries, chemical production plants, and bulk liquid storage facilities. This amendment, which was proposed in 2006, will be effective upon publication in the Federal Register.

U.S. DOE Promotes “Save Energy Now” Program

"Save Energy Now” is a national initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Industrial Technologies Program (ITP) to drive a 25% reduction in industrial energy intensity in 10 years. Industrial companies can participate in no-cost energy assessments and utilize ITP resources to reduce energy use while increasing profits. State and federal agencies, utilities, industry associations, and others can partner with ITP to leverage Save Energy Now resources and help companies boost their energy efficiency.

Assessments help companies identify key opportunities for savings by focusing on energy-intensive systems such as process heating, steam, pumps, fans, and compressed air. 

To help industry reduce energy intensity, ITP works with national supply chain and trade associations, state and local agencies, utilities, nonprofit organizations, universities, and other groups that support improved industrial energy management. Your organization can partner with Save Energy Now and use ITP’s proven technical resources to enhance the value of your customer and member communications.

 Use DOE’s system-specific software tools to analyze your plant’s energy use. You can attend training to enhance your energy management expertise and learn how to take full advantage of the software tools. You also will be able to stay informed about best practices and improvements in industrial energy-efficiency technologies through ITP publications such as tip sheets and sourcebooks.

EPA Lists Environmental Results for 2001–2008

EPA says that America’s air is cleaner now than a generation ago, that America’s water is more secure and sustainable than a generation ago, and that America’s land is healthier and more productive than a generation ago.

America’s Air is Cleaner Now than a Generation Ago

  • These standards are projected to prevent 26,000 premature deaths and nearly 20,000 hospital visits annually by 2030.
  •  Through CARE, 860 local organizations—including nonprofits, businesses, schools, and governments—work together to improve the local environment, specifically reducing releases of toxic pollutants. Local results include reducing releases from auto body shops and decreasing port air pollution through diesel retrofits.

America’s Water is More Secure and Sustainable than a Generation Ago

  • EPA issued four national drinking water regulations to boost public health and reduce risks from pathogens and other contaminants:
  • Today, more than 750 models of toilets, faucets, and accessories have earned the WaterSense label.

America’s Land is Healthier and More Productive than a Generation Ago

  • This effort kept 15 million tons of coal ash out of landfills and conserved 80 billion BTUs of energy, which is equivalent to the annual energy consumption of more than 420,000 households.
  • To date, partners have recycled 932.7 million pounds of carpet, which prevented the green house gas emissions equivalent of removing more than 621,000 cars from the road for one year.
  • Since 2003, more than 3 million scrap tires have been removed from the region, preventing tire fires and reducing the exposure of more than 1 million residents to life-threatening diseases such as dengue fever, encephalitis, and the West Nile virus.


EPA Administrator Johnson Issues Statement on President-Elect Obama’s Nomination of Lisa Jackson as EPA’s Next Administrator

EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson issued the following statement on President-Elect Barack Obama’s nomination of Lisa Jackson to be the next EPA Administrator:

“For almost 40 years, EPA has led our nation’s efforts to protect human health and the environment, for today and for the future.

Lisa Jackson has a wealth of experience and a solid record of achievement in environmental service. As a former EPA executive, she is uniquely qualified to recognize the challenges facing the agency and lead from day one. This is an exciting time at EPA, and Lisa will direct an agency that is poised to build on the many environmental successes accomplished since 2001.

While environmental responsibility is everyone’s responsibility, I am particularly proud of the role EPA has played in bringing about record results on behalf of the American people and our environment. Our air is cleaner, our water is purer, and our land is better protected than just a generation ago.

EPA has not only helped change the way our environment looks, it has helped change the way each of us looks at our individual duty to protect the environment. The hard-working professionals at EPA lead the way in environmental protection, and I’m confident they will continue to do so with Lisa Jackson as Administrator.”

California’s ARB Says “Yes” to Climate Action Plan

California’s Climate Action Plan, or Scoping Plan, will slash greenhouse gases, fight global warming, provide economic stimulus for jobs, and support the use of clean energy for the future.

“This plan is California’s prospectus for a more secure and sustainable economy,” said ARB Chairman Mary Nichols. “It will guide capital investments into energy efficiency to save us money, into renewable energy to break our dependence on oil, and promote a new generation of green jobs for hundreds of thousands of Californians.”

“By moving first in the nation, California maintains its position at the front of the line in attracting venture capital, and positions us as a leader in the race to develop the clean technology products, patents, and projects the global market demands and needs,” added Nichols.

Development of the Scoping Plan is a central requirement of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, which requires California to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. Governor Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law in September 2006.

The plan is built on the principle that a balanced mix of strategies is the best way to cut emissions by approximately 30% and grow the economy in a clean and sustainable direction. An important component of the plan is a cap-and-trade program covering 85% of the state’s emissions. This program will be developed in conjunction with the Western Climate Initiative, comprised of seven states and four Canadian provinces that have committed to cap their emissions and create a regional carbon market.

Additional key recommendations of the plan include strategies to enhance and expand proven cost-saving, energy-efficiency programs; implementation of California’s clean cars standards; increases in the amount of clean and renewable energy used to power the state; and, implementation of a low-carbon fuel standard that will make the fuels used in the state cleaner.

The plan proposes full deployment of the California Solar Initiative, high-speed rail, water-related energy-efficiency measures, and a range of regulations to reduce emissions from trucks and from ships docked in California ports. There are also measures designed to safely reduce or recover a range of very potent greenhouse gases—refrigerants and other industrial gases—that contribute to global warming at a level many times greater than carbon dioxide contributes. The plan recommends targeted fees to fund the state’s long-term commitment to AB 32 administration, and the ARB will begin developing detailed strategies to implement all the recommended measures that must be in place by 2012.

This vote marks California as the first state in the nation to formally approve a comprehensive greenhouse gas reduction plan that is required under statute and that involves every sector of the economy.

The plan is the product of an 18-month-long public process with scores of workshops and public meetings and hundreds of people testifying in person before the board. ARB staff received more than 43,000 individual comments, and more than a quarter-million copies of the plan have been viewed or downloaded from ARB’s website since it was released on October 15.

ARB is a department of the California EPA. ARB’s mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health-based air quality standards.

New Water Quality Standards Are Necessary to Protect the Mississippi River for Recreation

EPA has determined that new or revised water quality standards are necessary to protect the Mississippi River in Missouri.

Missouri designated about 3,600 stream segments and all of its lakes for recreational uses in March 2006. However, Missouri did not assign the highest level of recreational use to a 195.5-mile segment of the Mississippi River that flows from St. Louis to the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers.

“EPA recognizes and applauds Missouri’s past and ongoing work to meet the national goals of the Clean Water Act,” EPA Region 7 Administrator John B. Askew said. “The Mississippi River is of local and national significance, and we appreciate the efforts of the state to protect water quality.”

EPA oversees the protection of water quality as required by the Clean Water Act. The Agency is working with the public, community leaders, and local and state agencies to meet the growing needs and demands of our water resources.

Cap-and-Trade Program Lowers Smog Levels in Eastern United States

The 2007 summertime NOx emissions from power plants and industrial sources were down by 60% compared with 2000 levels and 74% below 1990 levels in 20 eastern states and the District of Columbia.

The program helped improve air quality in 95% of nonattainment areas in the east, with 64% of these areas now below the ozone standard. Some of the report highlights show that:

  • The largest NOx emission reductions occurred in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia, and Kentucky.
  • The reduction of NOx—a precursor to ground-level ozone, or smog—has helped reduce ozone concentrations an average of 10% in the eastern part of the country since the start of the program in 2003.

The program is a market-based, cap-and-trade partnership between federal and state governments to reduce the regional transport of NOx during the ozone season. The program provides facilities the flexibility to choose their control options, including installing control technologies, optimizing existing controls, and switching fuels. Stringent monitoring, reporting, and automatic penalties have led to a compliance rate of more than 99%.

EPA, state, and local programs have contributed to the decrease in NOx and ozone levels since 1990. The program has contributed the most to improvements in ozone levels since 2003.

Vessel Discharges Require Permit

Beginning December 19, approximately 61,000 domestically flagged commercial vessels and 8,000 foreign flagged vessels will need to comply with the permit.

As a result of a court ruling, vessel owners and operators who have been exempt from Clean Water Act requirements for the last 35 years will now be required to have a permit starting December 19.

“EPA met the deadline and delivered a protective and practical permit to protect the nation’s waterways from ship-borne pollution and to avoid an environmental and economic shipwreck,” Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles said.

Without this permit, all shipping within U.S. waters could come to a halt because of liability risks.

The permit covers non-recreational vessels 79 feet in length or longer, such as cruise ships or oil and cargo tankers, but excludes fishing vessels of any length, unless they discharge ballast water. The new permit incorporates the Coast Guard’s mandatory ballast water management and exchange standards, and provides technology-based and water-quality-based effluent limits for other types of discharges, including deck runoff from rain or cleaning, ballast water used to stabilize ships, and “gray water” from showers, sinks, and laundry machines. It also establishes specific corrective actions, inspections and monitoring, recordkeeping and reporting requirements.

Earlier in the year, Congress responded to the court ruling in part by enacting a law to exempt recreational vessels from the permitting requirement and requiring further analysis and action by EPA and the Coast Guard.

EPA and Partners Kick Off Green Building Design Contest to Reward Resource-Saving Designs

Ideas generated by the contest help jumpstart the building industry toward diverting the more than 100 million tons of building-related construction and demolition debris sent each year to landfills in the United States. This free, web-based competition supports an online library of competition entries and green building resources.

The “Lifecycle Building Challenge 3”—co-sponsored by the EPA, American Institute of Architects, West Coast Green, the Collaborative for High Performance Schools, StopWaste.Org, and WasteCap Wisconsin—invites professionals and students nationwide to submit designs and ideas by August 30 that support cost-effective disassembly and anticipate future reuse of building materials.

The challenge, open to built and un-built projects, has two main categories:

  • Building—an entire building from foundation to roof
  • Product—building products or materials


Outstanding entries in each category will be recognized and publicized in national journals and at conferences nationwide. The competition’s partners also will recognize exceptional entries in two other Outstanding Achievement Awards: Best Greenhouse Gas Reduction Design and Best School Design.

“This competition recognizes innovators who are pushing the envelope to protect the environment through green building design,” said Jeff Scott, the EPA’s Waste Division director for the Pacific Southwest region. “Designing buildings using more sustainable materials and preventing waste helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protects our environment.”

Lifecycle building maximizes material recovery to reverse the trend of disposing large quantities of construction and demolition debris in landfills. In the United States, buildings use 60% of all materials (excluding food and fuel) and account for 33% of the solid waste stream. Building renovation and demolition accounts for 91% of the construction and demolition debris generated each year, while new construction accounts for only 9%. From 2000 to 2030, it is expected that 27% of existing buildings will be replaced and 50% of the total building stock will be constructed.

Deconstruction addresses these issues by planning for a building or building component’s eventual reuse. By creating building components that can be easily recovered, materials are kept at their highest value, resulting in reduced energy and resource consumption.

Reusing building components reduces the energy and greenhouse gases emissions associated with extracting, producing, and transporting materials.

At the end of the competition, expert judges will determine the best entries in each category and the winners will be recognized in the fall.

ExxonMobil to Pay Penalty for Violating Agreement

ExxonMobil has agreed to pay nearly $6.1 million in civil penalties for violating the terms of a 2005 court-approved Clean Air Act agreement, according to a joint announcement by the Department of Justice and EPA. The 2005 settlement already required ExxonMobil to pay a $7.7 million civil penalty, perform an additional $6.7 million in supplemental environmental projects in communities around the company’s refineries, and install pollution controls at six of its U.S. refineries.

“The Department of Justice will not tolerate violation of our consent decrees,” said Assistant Attorney General Ronald J. Tenpas of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The significant penalty in this case shows that non-compliance with settlement requirements will have serious consequences.”

“The 2005 settlement has already resulted in major reductions in air emissions from the company’s refineries, but we need full compliance to realize all the benefits of the settlement,” said Granta Y. Nakayama, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “EPA will continue to enforce against companies that fail to comply with the terms of court-approved settlements.”

The agreement penalizes ExxonMobil for failing to comply with the 2005 settlement at four refineries in Beaumont and Baytown, Texas; Torrance, Calif.; and Baton Rouge, La. Most of the penalties are for failure to monitor and control the sulfur content in certain fuel gas streams burned in refinery furnaces, as required by the 2005 settlement and EPA regulations. The other two refineries covered under the 2005 settlement are located in Joliet, Ill., and Billings, Mont.

Between 2005 and 2007, ExxonMobil did not monitor the sulfur content in some fuel gas streams and subsequent testing revealed sulfur content in excess of EPA limits. The burning of sulfur-containing gases emits sulfur dioxide, which can cause serious respiratory problems.

 To date, 95 refineries located in 28 states, representing more than 86% of the nation’s refining capacity, have been required to install new controls to significantly reduce emissions.

In a separate action, EPA and the Justice Department have also proposed amendments to the 2005 settlement that include minor technical changes and new deadlines for some required activities at ExxonMobil’s Joliet, Billings, Beaumont, and Baytown refineries. The proposed amendments are subject to a 30-day public comment period.

EPA and the GSA Settle UST Violations in New Jersey and New York

EPA and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) have agreed on a settlement to correct violations regarding the management of underground storage tanks (USTs) at three GSA facilities in New Jersey and New York. In addition, GSA has agreed to voluntarily provide release detection for tanks that store fuel solely for the use of emergency power generators and pay a $70,000 penalty.

UST systems commonly store petroleum or hazardous wastes. About 625,000 systems exist nationwide, and they can harm the environment and human health if their contents are released. UST systems that store fuel solely for use by emergency power generators are exempt from federal release-detection requirements, but they must have corrosion protection and spill and overfill prevention equipment. Systems that cannot meet these requirements are required to be permanently closed.

“We’re pleased with GSA’s willingness to meet and exceed compliance requirements in this case,” said EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg. “It is vital to the health of our environment that underground storage tanks systems function properly and be judiciously monitored.”

Routine EPA inspections in 2007 of the Silvio V. Mollo Federal Building and Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse in Manhattan showed that their UST systems were not upgraded in accordance with regulatory requirements. Additionally, inspections of one system at the Martin Luther King Courthouse in Newark, N.J., found that it did not meet new system performance standards.

To help correct the violations, GSA upgraded the UST system at the Mollo building and will permanently close systems at the Marshall and King courthouses. The system at the King courthouse will be replaced with one that meets new performance standards. GSA also has installed a modernized electronic release-detection system not required by law at the Mollo facility, and it plans to install a similar release-detection system at the King facility.

Alaska Property Owner Will Pay $15,300 for Tidelands Violation

Allen Marine, Inc., of Sitka, Ala., has reached a $15,300 settlement with EPA for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA). The violation involved placement of fill material below the High Tide Line (HTL) of Sitka Sound, a navigable water of the United States, without a permit.

According to EPA, in June 2005, fill material was discharged onto 0.25 acres of intertidal areas on Allen Marine’s property. In January 2008, Allen Marine removed the unauthorized fill material and regraded the area to natural conditions as required under an EPA Administrative Compliance Order issued in August 2007.

According to Marcia Combes, EPA’s Alaska Operations Director, intertidal areas of Alaska provide important habitat for fish and other wildlife, which support the economy of this state.

“Construction activities in the intertidal areas of Alaska should be undertaken after careful planning and obtaining the necessary permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,” Combes said. “If you conduct work in intertidal areas, you must obey the law or face fines.”

Allen Marine had previously applied for and received CWA permits for work in navigable waters of the United States in the Sitka area. This penalty action will serve as a deterrent against future violations of the CWA by Allen Marine and other land owners.

EPA Files Complaint Against Oregon Pest Control Company After Illegal Use of Pesticides Leads to Homeowner’s Death

Stemming from a pesticide exposure event that led to a Florence, Ore., woman’s death, EPA has issued an Administrative Complaint against Swanson’s Pest Management, Inc. (Swanson’s) of Eugene, Ore. The complaint was filed following a review of Swanson’s use of two pesticides, which uncovered multiple violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

In the complaint, EPA alleges that on June 29, 2005, Swanson’s illegally used the pesticides, “Conquer” Residential Insecticide Concentrate” (EPA Reg. No. 1021-1641-57076) and “ULD BP-100” Contact Insecticide (EPA Reg. No. 499-452). The alleged illegal actions included:

  1. Failing to properly ventilate the homes prior to the occupants re-entering.
  2. Applying “Conquer” improperly as a “space spray.”
  3. Improperly applying “Conquer” at nearly three times the allowable rate.

Tragically, one of the homeowners died when she entered her home approximately 2.5 hours after the pesticides were applied. Seven more people, including the responding paramedics, experienced respiratory distress or became ill when they entered the treated home.

The complaint also contains alleged violations regarding an application at another residence that took place prior to one that led to the women’s death. In this case, the applicator allegedly used the same tank mix of pesticides, though no adverse health affects were reported.

Although the consequences of Swanson’s alleged violations were extremely serious, the federal pesticide law limits the penalty EPA can seek to a maximum of $4,550.

Swanson’s has 30 days from the day they receive the complaint to either arrange a settlement conference, file an answer to the complaint, or pay the proposed penalty.

EPA Orders Restoration of Damaged Section of Left Hand Creek in Colorado

The order requires Germann to correct the environmental damage resulting from these unauthorized activities. Left Hand Creek flows perennially and is a tributary to St. Vrain Creek.

EPA’s order is based on actions that occurred during April and May of 2008, when Germann, or persons acting on his behalf, partially constructed a new channel and placed a 5- to 8-foot wide swath of material into 300 feet of the existing channel of Left Hand Creek. Germann did not obtain a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prior to performing this work.

Germann should have contacted the Corps to obtain a permit prior to beginning his activities. Permits are required before performing any work that results in material being excavated from or placed into rivers, lakes, streams, and certain wetlands. 

“Left Hand Creek provides important functions including aquatic and wildlife habitat, flood attenuation, groundwater recharge, recreation, and aesthetics,” EPA’s Enforcement Director in Denver Mike Gaydosh said. “EPA’s goals are to secure the restoration of this section of the Creek and to deter future violations of laws that protect the integrity of Colorado’s waters.”

The EPA order requires Germann to remove all discharged material and restore the impacted areas to pre-impact conditions and grade. Prior to performing the work, Germann must submit a restoration plan that details how the removal and restoration will be accomplished. Respondents who fail to respond to EPA orders are subject to additional actions, including civil enforcement lawsuits filed by the U.S. Department of Justice in federal court.

$3 Million in Environmental Community Grants to Be Awarded

EPA is making nearly $3 million available in 2009 to reduce pollution at the local level through the Community Action for a Renewed Environment () program. CARE is a community-based program that builds partnerships to help the public understand and reduce toxic risks from numerous sources.

EPA will award CARE cooperative agreements in two levels. Level I awards range from $75,000 to $100,000 and will help establish community-based partnerships to develop local environmental priorities. Level II awards, ranging from $150,000 to $300,000 each, will support communities that have established broad-based partnerships; have identified the priority toxic risks in the community; and are prepared to measure results, implement risk-reduction activities, and become self-sustaining.

In 2008, $2.5 million was made available to 18 communities through the CARE program. Examples of projects include addressing land- and air-pollution issues in Somerville, Mass.; reducing toxics and promoting green alternatives in Portland, Ore.; dealing with ground and surface water contamination on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Ethete, Wyo.; controlling storm water run-off in St. John, Virgin Islands; and reducing disparities in asthma and blood-lead levels in Baltimore, Md. Since 2005, the grants have reached 64 communities in 32 states and territories.

Applications for the CARE grants are due March 16, 2009. Eligible applicants include county and local governments, tribes, nonprofit organizations, and universities. EPA will conduct three conference calls—February 3, 24, and 27—for prospective applicants to ask questions about the application process.

North Texas Metro Area Is First in Nation to Have Approval for Clean Air Plan

Under the plan, ozone-forming pollutants will be reduced by 88 tons per day, and officials expect air quality in the area to meet the federal ozone standard of 84 parts per billion (ppb) by 2010.

“With this plan, more than six million residents who call the Dallas-Fort Worth area home will be breathing cleaner, healthier air,” EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene said. “To be the first in the nation to develop a viable plan to reduce ozone is significant in itself. But to have done it while also balancing the needs of a growing population and vibrant economy makes it even more remarkable.”

The clean air plan, referred to as the State Implementation Plan (SIP), will improve air quality by more than 55% over 1999 levels, which, in combination with previous plans, will result in a total of 409 tons per day of ozone pollution reduction.

This summer, the DFW area had the lowest levels of ozone in three decades. This year the area had 32 fewer days when air monitors exceeded the smog standard than in the late 1990s—a reduction of 78%.

“Continuation of this trend in the improvement of DFW air quality puts the area on course to achieve compliance with the new health-based standards announced by the EPA Administrator earlier this year,” Greene continued.

EPA and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) collaborated with businesses, governments, and communities from across the area to ensure the plan would achieve the needed ozone reductions. The Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) and AirCheckTexas program were major contributors to the plan’s effectiveness. Together, the programs are providing more than $100 million this year to help get older, more polluting heavy-duty engines and vehicles off the road. Since its start in 2001, TERP has provided more than $545 million in grants for replacing and retrofitting older diesel engines, with another $140 million in applications under consideration. This total is more than any other state in the nation, and TERP now serves as a national model.

Other ozone reductions in the plan came from work by the North Central Texas Council of Governments and emissions reductions from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Love Field. Further reductions under the plan will come from controls on thousands of North Texas natural gas compressor engines, cement plants, power plants, and back-up generators used by business and industry.

Chicago Area Campaigns to Encourage Cell Phone Recycling

EPA is encouraging Chicago area residents to recycle their old cell phones through the use of “Plug-In to eCycling” ads. The series of ads, titled “Seriously... you’re not going to use it again,” have been put up this holiday season on bus routes and train lines in the Chicago area, with the goal of reaching more than 70 million transit riders.

“‘Tis the season’ to encourage cell phone recycling because many people will be purchasing new phones and seeking information on what to do with their old phone,” said Margaret Guerriero, director of the Land and Chemicals Division in EPA Region 5. People can recycle the phone they’re replacing or older cell phones that might be in a drawer or closet collecting dust.

Recycling cell phones results in significant environmental savings and can benefit those in need. If all the unused phones in the United States were recycled—about 100 million phones—enough energy would be saved to power nearly 200,000 homes for a year. Recycling just a million cell phones reduces greenhouse gas emissions equal to taking 1,368 cars off the road for a year.

$20,000 Fine for Putting Wastewater Down Storm Drain

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has fined King Electrical Manufacturing Co. (King Electrical) $20,000 for discharging industrial wastewater into Seattle storm drains. The facility is located at 9131 10th Ave. S. in Seattle’s South Park district. City of Seattle storm drain lines serving the area empty into Hamm Creek.

The company discharged caustic rinse water from a tank used to wash metal parts and water from a spray-painting booth air pollution control device. The parts washing tank drained through a hose to a parking lot, leading to a storm drain. Drain lines from the paint booth were connected directly to the storm drain.

“Ecology discovered a number of serious wastewater and waste management handling problems at King Electrical in the course of several on-site inspections,” said Kevin Fitzpatrick, Ecology’s regional water-quality supervisor. “Problems like these have solutions. We are available to offer technical assistance, and encourage facilities to cooperate to avoid penalties.”

Inspectors from Ecology, the city of Seattle, and King County observed the violations during a series of visits to the site from July to October 2008. Ecology and the local governments cooperate under the Duwamish Urban Waters Initiative, a program aimed at preventing pollution in the Duwamish industrial area.

The 2007 Legislature established the Initiative, which also operates along Tacoma’s Commencement Bay and the Spokane River in Spokane.

Ecology first visited King Electric as part of an Urban Waters Initiative program to visit businesses that are likely pollution sources to storm drains or sanitary sewers, lack environmental permits, or potential generators of hazardous waste. A technical specialist helps each company identify whether it needs permits or can make voluntary improvements to its environmental practices.

Inspectors who made follow-up visits to King Electrical discovered the illegal storm drain connections. The company plugged the paint booth drain with cement only after Ecology proved with dye that it was connected to the storm drain. The hose from the wash tank was moved to a utility sink. Companies can discharge industrial wastewater into the sanitary sewer but typically need authorization from King County to do so legally and may need to provide pre-treatment.

The Urban Waters Initiative supports Ecology’s work as a co-manager with the U.S. EPA of the Lower Duwamish Waterway cleanup site, a 5.5-mile stretch of the Duwamish upstream from Harbor Island. The Initiative also aids in Ecology’s priorities of reducing toxic threats and supporting the Puget Sound Initiative, a comprehensive effort by local, tribal, state, and federal governments, business, agricultural and environmental interests, scientists, and the public to restore and protect the Sound.

EPA Recognizes Water Efficiency Leaders

Water efficiency is critical to the growing U.S. economy and quality of life.

“Water is America’s greatest liquid asset,” said Benjamin H. Grumbles, EPA’s assistant administrator for water. “EPA commends these water champions for saving water and energy, and increasing the health and wealth of communities and ecosystems.”

The leaders are made up of utilities, individuals, corporations, nongovernmental organizations, and government. This year’s winners are:

  • Pinellas County Utilities (Clearwater, Fla.)—Utilities—Pinellas County is one of the most water-efficient utilities per capita at 89 gallons per person per day (gpd), versus the national average of 100 gpd. Since 1991, per capita efficiency has improved more than 40%.
  • PepsiCo (Purchase, N.Y.)—Corporate/Industry—PepsiCo has improved water efficiency across its brands and is on target to reduce water consumption per unit of production by 20% by 2015.
  • Acequia (Austin, Texas)—Corporate/Industry—Across the nearly 70 commercial properties for which it provides landscape irrigation, Acequia has sustained measured reductions of irrigation water by 54% since 2002.
  • Commissioner Robert J. Hunter (Atlanta, Ga.)—Individual—Under Commissioner Hunter’s leadership during recent droughts, the city’s 50 largest water customers cut their water consumption by 45%. Hunter also promoted water-saving options and high efficiency toilet rebate programs to users and plumbers.
  • Homewise, Inc. (Santa Fe, N.M.)—Nongovernmental Organization—Homewise is recognized for smartly mixing consumer information, on-site homeowner installation assistance, marketing, and consumer lending into a unified program to reduce homeowner water consumption. In 2005, Homewise initiated its Watersmart Program, which as of May 2008 had helped 595 households reduce water use by an estimated 64%.
  • Orange County Water District (Orange County, Calif.)—Government—Orange County Water District is recognized for world leadership in wastewater purification for groundwater replenishment. Their system of replenishing groundwater can generate enough water to meet the needs of 500,000 people.


Cal/EPA Releases Final Policy Recommendations for Green Chemistry Initiative

The California Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA) has released the Green Chemistry Initiative (GCI) Final Recommendations that seeks to eliminate or reduce the use of toxic substances in products and manufacturing processes—strengthening the protection of public health and the environment.

“Rather than managing wastes at the end of a product’s lifecycle, Green Chemistry shifts our focus to designing chemicals, processes, and goods that have little or no adverse affects during the manufacturing, use, or disposal of a product,” Cal/EPA Secretary Linda Adams said. “I’m proud to be ushering in a new wave of chemical policies in California.”

The GCI proposals will accelerate California’s move toward a clean, green, sustainable economy through the following six policy recommendations:

  • Expand pollution prevention and product stewardship programs
  • Develop green chemistry workforce education and training through new and existing educational programs and partnerships
  • Create an online product ingredient network to disclose chemical ingredients for products sold in California, while protecting trade secrets
  • Create an online toxics clearinghouse, an online database of chemical toxicity and hazards populated with the guidance of a Green Ribbon Science Panel to help prioritize chemicals of concern and data needs
  • Accelerate the quest for safer products, creating a systematic, science-based process to evaluate chemicals of concern and alternatives to ensure product safety and reduce or eliminate the need for chemical-by-chemical bans
  • Move toward a cradle-to-grave economy, establishing a California Green Products Registry to develop green metrics and tools (e.g., environmental footprint calculators, sustainability indexes) for a range of consumer products and encourage their use by businesses.

The GCI was launched in April 2007 by Adams who asked for DTSC to work with Cal/EPA’s boards, departments and offices, and other state agencies to develop the recommendations.

The GCI final recommendations are the result of Cal/EPA’s collaboration with experts worldwide to garner the best options for a comprehensive chemical policy and is the culmination of an 18-month process that included dozens of stakeholder workshops and input.

On Sept. 29, 2008, Governor Schwarzenegger signed two green chemistry bills that put two of the initiative’s recommendations into action. Assembly Bill 1879 authorizes DTSC to identify and prioritize chemicals of concern, evaluate alternatives, and specify regulatory responses. The bill also establishes a Green Ribbon Science Panel to provide implementation advice and expands the Environmental Policy Council to oversee critical program activities. The second bill, Senate Bill 509, requires an online Toxics Information Clearinghouse to be established and provide public access to information on the toxicity of chemicals.

“The recommendations developed through the Green Chemistry Initiative constitute a far-reaching, market-driven strategy with an ambitious aim—the launch of a new chemicals framework and a quantum shift in environmental protection,” DTSC Director Maureen Gorsen said. “These landmark policy options will continue California’s environmental leadership and foster a new era in the design of a new consumer products economy—inventing, manufacturing, and using toxic-free, sustainable products.”

Will You Need to Recycle Your Old TV With the Switch to Digital TV?

Rabbit ears and roof antennas are about to become extinct, at least for getting a clear television signal. After Feb. 17, 2009, federal law requires television stations to broadcast only in digital signal, making analog televisions practically useless unless you extend the life of your TV by installing a certified converter box to change the digital transmission back to analog.

Another option is to purchase a new digital-ready model that does not require a converter box. If you decide to buy a new TV, look for opportunities to recycle your old TV safely.

Old sets should not be discarded in a landfill or abandoned anywhere else. A typical old TV set may contain 15 to 90 pounds of glass with a lead content as high as 25%. Recycling TVs through a qualified source prevent these potential contaminants from polluting the environment. It also allows valuable materials to be recovered from throughout the TV, including metal wiring, plastics, and leaded glass in a manner that is safe and eco-friendly.

To find recycling options near you:

  • Contact your community household hazardous waste program and inquire about their TV recycling options
  • Look for community e-waste recycling events in your area
  • Check with the manufacturer who may have take-back programs
  • Visit a retailer and inquire about take-back programs when you purchase a new TV



American Crystal Sugar Will Pay $185,000 Civil Penalty for Air Violations

American Crystal Sugar has agreed to pay a $185,000 civil penalty and implement management strategies to prevent violations of Minnesota's hydrogen sulfide ambient air standards at its Moorhead, Crookston, and East Grand Forks beet-processing factories. The stipulation agreement with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) also covers alleged violations of fine particle emission standards at the Moorhead and East Grand Forks locations.

The agreement addresses alleged hydrogen sulfide violations at all three locations during 2005, 2006, and 2007. Hydrogen sulfide, an odorous gas that is a byproduct of organic decomposition, can be hazardous to human health at certain concentrations. In this case, the gas came from decomposing sugar beets and sugar beet processing waste.

The company's air emission permits also regulate how much particulate matter (PM) and fine particulate matter (particles less than 10 microns in diameter, or PM10) can be emitted from various combustion sources, such as heaters and dryers. Stack testing on a pellet cooler at the East Grand Forks factory in October 2007 showed a PM10 emission rate of 0.36 pound per hour (lb/hr) above the permitted limit of 0.25 lb/hr.

Stack testing in November 2007 on a kiln at the Moorhead factory recorded a PM emission rate of 12.0 lb/hr and a PM10 emission rate of 8.7 lb/hr, above the 5.0 lb/hr limit for both types of emissions. Later stack tests at both sites showed particulate emissions within permitted limits. Fine particle pollution has been linked to a range of negative health impacts on people with respiratory and cardiac conditions.

When calculating penalties, MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it is a first time or repeat violation, and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. It also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.

Arctic Ice Hits a Low as Globe Continues to Warm

Ice volume in the Arctic in 2008 dropped to its second-lowest level since measurements began, according to new figures released by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The new figures show that global warming is continuing apace—2008 was one of the warmest years in the last century.

The report notes that 2008 was marked by climate extremes around the world including devastating floods, severe and persistent droughts, snow storms, heat waves, and cold waves. Cyclone Nargis killed 78,000 people in Myanmar, and a devastating Atlantic hurricane season caused many casualties and widespread destruction in the Carribbean, Central America, and the United States.

While the past 12 months have generally been cooler than previous years due to the La Ni?a weather pattern, longer-term trends show that the world is still warming due to climate change; 2008 is likely to rank as the 10th warmest year since records started in 1850.

Data shows that the ten hottest years since 1850 have all been since 1997, peaking in 2005 at 14.79? C. The dramatic collapse of a quarter of the ancient ice shelves on Canada's Ellesmere Island in the Arctic Ocean contributed to a shrinking of the Arctic ice cover from 9,000 sq km a century ago to just 1,000 sq km.

Meanwhile, the report also shows that the Antarctic ozone hold is larger than in 2007—growing from 25 million km2 to 27 million km2 in 2008.

The data is based on research by WMO and several collaborating research institutions based on information collected from networks of land-based weather stations, ships and buoys, and satellites.

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Trivia Question of the Week

For the Form R reports submitted in accordance with the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) requirements, which of the following are the most recent basis of estimate codes that have been added?

a. (M1) for continuous monitoring
b. (M2) for periodic/random monitoring
c. (E1) for published emission factors
d. (E2) for site-specific emission factors
e. All of the above