EPA reaches agreement with Youngstown Thermal

May 27, 2005

EPA Region 5 has reached an agreement with Youngstown Thermal LLC on alleged clean-air violations at the company's steam supply plant in Youngstown, Ohio. EPA assessed a $1,000 penalty, and the company agreed to do a $25,000 environmental project.

The agreement resolves an EPA administrative complaint alleging that Youngstown Thermal violated clean-air requirements for particulates (smoke, ash, dust) and failed to comply with reporting, testing and operating requirements in its state operating permit. "For its environmental project, Youngstown Thermal will help protect the health of its neighbors by upgrading its emission system," said Acting Regional Administrator Bharat Mathur. "This upgrade will cut emissions by 15 tons a year."

Companies that violate the Clean Air Act may voluntarily propose environmental projects as part of their settlements. EPA may reduce monetary penalties if it believes a project will cut pollution significantly and goes beyond what is required by EPA regulations.

Youngstown Thermal also agreed to an EPA order requiring it to comply with all regulations that it is alleged to have violated. Inhaling high concentrations of particulates can affect children, the elderly and people with heart and lung diseases the most.

TCEQ Approves Fines Totaling $429,861

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) recently approved penalties totaling $429,861 against 71 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations.

Agreed orders were issued for the following enforcement categories: 22 air quality; three multi-media; one municipal solid waste; three municipal waste discharge; 29 petroleum storage tank; five public water system; seven water quality and one water right. The TCEQ enforcement web site contains details on the individual penalties.

EPA Issues Wetland Complaint, Proposes $25,000 Penalty, to Bridgeview Vineyards, Inc., Near Cave Junction, Oregon

EPA has named Robert E. Kerivan and Bridgeview Vineyards Inc. in a Complaint alleging that Kerivan and his company discharged fill into a section of Sucker Creek adjacent to Bridgeview Vineyards & Winery. The Complaint carries a proposed $25,000 penalty.

According to EPA's Complaint, Kerivan, Bridgeview and its employees used heavy equipment to discharge fill material into a section of Sucker Creek adjacent to the vineyards. Since Sucker Creek (a tributary of the east fork of the Illinois River designated as critical habitat for coho salmon) is considered "waters of the United States," the action is a violation of section 404 of the federal Clean Water Act. Under that section, persons discharging dredged or fill material, or altering the course of waters of the U.S. must first obtain a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. Mr. Kerivan did not have, nor had he applied for, the appropriate permit. He removed much of the fill material in 2004 in response to an EPA compliance order.

EPA's Oregon State Director, Soccorro Rodriguez, said this enforcement action and proposed penalty is consistent with the high priority EPA gives wetlands protection in Oregon.

"We hope this penalty sends a message that weÆre serious about protecting OregonÆs wetlands," said Rodriguez. "Property owners need to obtain necessary permits when undertaking these kinds of projects and be especially careful around salmon-bearing streams. EPA is committed to working closely with the Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that unpermitted projects are stopped and habitat restoration is performed."

Mr. Kerivan has the right to file an Answer requesting a hearing on any material fact contained in this Complaint or on the appropriateness of the proposed penalty, but must do so within 30 thirty days of receiving the Complaint. He may also request an informal settlement conference to discuss the facts of this case, the proposed penalty, and the possibility of settling this matter.

Failure to Report Release Immediately Results in $24,575 Penalty

EPA announced that Agrium, U.S., Inc., has agreed to pay a penalty of $24,575 for failing to immediately notify authorities following a release of hazardous gas at its fertilizer plant in Kennewick. As part of the settlement, the company will also purchase an Alert Notification System worth $48,500 for the Benton County Local Emergency Response Committee.

Agrium uses nitrogen oxide gases in the manufacture of nitrogen-based fertilizer at its Kennewick plant. On August 1, 2004, the facility released approximately 1,337 pounds of nitrogen oxide gases into the air, creating a reddish-brown plume in the sky that resulted in over 100 calls to 911 by local citizens. Nitrogen oxide gases are considered hazardous and, at high enough levels, can damage the respiratory system and burn the eyes and skin.

The facility did not report the release to proper authorities until the following day, approximately 20 hours after it was discovered. Federal laws require facilities that use and store hazardous chemicals to report releases immediately to the National Response Center, the State Emergency Response Commission, and the Local Emergency Planning Committee.

The settlement requires Agrium to purchase an Alert Notification System for Benton County that will allow emergency managers to automatically send alerts and instructions via telephone to people who may be affected by future chemical leaks or other hazards. This new system will give residents an immediate, reliable source of local emergency information.

EPA Cites Morton International for Clean Air Act Violations

EPA cited Morton International Inc. for alleged clean-air violations at the company's salt processing plant in Rittman, Ohio. The Agency alleges Morton modified an air pollution source without getting a state permit, and did not comply with standards for newly modified pollution sources by failing to adequately maintain its equipment. In addition, the company failed to show timely compliance with particulate (smoke, ash, dust) limits and failed to meet notification and testing requirements.

"EPA's mission is to protect public health and the environment," said Acting Regional Administrator Bharat Mathur. "We will take whatever steps are needed to ensure compliance with the Clean Air Act."

These are preliminary findings of violations. To resolve them, EPA may issue a compliance order, assess an administrative penalty or bring suit against the company. Morton has 30 days from receipt of the notice to meet with EPA to discuss resolving the allegations.

Inhaling high concentrations of particulates can affect children, the elderly and people with heart and lung diseases the most.

Georgia Industrial Stormwater Permit Appealed

The 2005 û 2010 NPDES General Permit No. GAR000000 for Storm Water Discharges Associated with Industrial Activity has been appealed by two parties. The permit has therefore been stayed pending an administrative hearing, and will not become effective as planned on May 2, 2005. The Notice of Intent (Version 2005) will not be released until the appeals are resolved and the permit is either reinstated or reissued. The extended 1998 û 2003 General Permit will remain in effect until that time, and all industrial storm water dischargers should continue to meet the requirements of that permit. Keep an eye on the Georgia EPD web site for updates.

Penalty for Failure to Comply with Clean Air Act Recordkeeping and Reporting Requirements

EPA Region 5 has reached an agreement with J & J Cores on alleged clean-air violations at the company's aluminum recovery plant in Newcomerstown, Ohio. EPA assessed a $3,588 penalty.

The agreement resolves EPA allegations that J & J Cores failed to comply with federal monitoring, recordkeeping, reporting and operating requirements for its sweat furnace. As part of the settlement, J & J Cores agreed to provide quarterly reports to EPA for one year to confirm steps the company is taking to comply with the Clean Air Act.

J & J Cores uses the sweat furnace to melt and separate aluminum from scrap containing aluminum and iron metals. Emissions from the sweat furnace are controlled by an afterburner.

EPA Cites Osco Industries for Clean-air Violations

EPA Region 5 has cited OSCO Industries Inc. for alleged clean-air violations at the company's gray iron foundries in Ohio. EPA alleges that OSCO failed to adequately control carbon monoxide gas emissions from both plants. EPA said that, during the past five years, emissions from the Portsmouth plant were not burned at the required temperature on 390 days, and emissions from the Jackson plant were not burned at the required temperature on 858 days.

"EPA's mission is to protect public health and the environment," said Acting Regional Administrator Bharat Mathur. "We will take whatever steps are needed to ensure compliance with the Clean Air Act."

These are preliminary findings of violations, to resolve them, EPA may issue a compliance order, assess an administrative penalty or bring suit against the company. The company has 30 days from receipt of the notice to meet with EPA to discuss resolving the allegations.

When carbon monoxide enters the bloodstream, it reduces delivery of oxygen to the body's organs and tissues. Exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide can cause death or impair vision, hand movement, learning ability and performance of complex tasks. Persons with heart disease have the greatest risk when exposed to this pollutant.

Hawaii DOT Penalized for Oil Spill Prevention Violations

EPA recently reached a consent agreement with the Hawaii Department of Transportation for $157,500 in fines for oil spill prevention plan violations at four of its facilities.

The facilities covered by the consent agreement are the departmentÆs facilities at Honolulu International Airport, Kahului Airport and Maui Baseyard on Maui, and Lihue Airport on Kauai. The department has since prepared and submitted plans to the EPA for each of the facilities.

ôThe Department of Transportation needs to fully implement oil spill prevention plans, drainage controls and secondary containment for fuel storage at all of its facilities,ö said Keith Takata, director of the EPA Pacific Southwest RegionÆs Superfund Division. ôThis settlement will help ensure that these actions are taken.ö

EPA found that the facilities failed to have:

  • spill prevention, control and countermeasure plans certified by a professional engineer

  • adequate drainage controls to prevent discharges in the event of a spill during fuel transfers between tanks and tanker trucks, and tanker trucks and aircraft

  • drainage controls for undiked areas where oil operations are occurring

  • adequate containment for small tanks and portable fuel truck parking areas

Oil spills and other contamination from onshore sources can pollute and harm coral reefs and marine life. Federal regulations require onshore oil storage facilities to develop spill prevention, control and countermeasure plans and have them certified by a professional engineer, and to have spill prevention measures in place to prevent oil from being discharged into the ocean.

Illinois House Unanimously Approves Environmental ôRight to Know/Responseö Bill

Legislation proposed by Governor Rod Blagojevich and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency that will make Illinois the nationÆs leader in public notification and community relations activities and gives the Agency new powers to expedite cleanups when the public is at risk of exposure to contaminants, was unanimously approved by the Illinois House on a 112 û 0 vote on May 19.

ôSB 241 ensures meaningful information will be provided to citizens who are actually at risk of being impacted by pollution, enhances the AgencyÆs already strong outreach programs, and provides the Agency with historic first-time authority to require immediate cleanups when public health is at risk, ôsaid IEPA Director Renee Cipriano.

The legislation would require parties responsible for off-site contamination posing a threat to the public or the environment, including groundwater and drinking water sources, where entry to a site is prohibited for emergency conditions, and other emergencies involving hazardous substances, to pay for the cost of all reasonable measures taken to the inform the affected public of the exposure risks. The bill provides for the Agency to adopt specific rules on the costs that would be covered.

Another key part of the legislation would allow Illinois EPA to join most other state environmental agencies around in the nation in having ôadministrative orderö authority to order responsible parties to clean up or contain hazardous contaminants released into the environment. Currently, the Agency must ask the Attorney General to seek a court order in such cases. Parties who are issued an administrative order would have the right to appeal to the Pollution Control Board.

Announces 2006 Priorities

Facing a tight budget and expanded homeland security responsibilities, EPA Administrator Steve Johnson announced his budget priorities in Senate testimony on May 19 for the 2006 fiscal year, which include:

Homeland Security - $79 M increase over FY 2005 Enacted level ($106 M). The FY 2006 request ($185 M) includes 44M for Water Sentinel.

Great Lakes - $28 M increase to FY 2005 Enacted level ($44 M). The FY 2006 request ($72 M) includes the fully authorized level of $50 M for the Great Lakes Legacy Act programÆs sediment remediation activities.

Brownfields - $47 M increase over the FY 2005 Enacted level ($163 M). The FY 2006 request ($210 M) will provide 126 assessment grants and 70 cleanup and Revolving Loan Fund grants, paving the way for productive reuse of these properties.

Methane to Market - $4 M increase over FY 2005 Enacted level ($0 M). The FY 2006 request will support international partnerships to reduce global methane emissions by promoting cost-effective, near-term projects that recover and use methane as a clean energy source.

Clean Diesel Initiative û Budget request includes $15 M in new funds for the Clean Diesel Initiative. The program was not funded in FY 2005.

Community Action for a Renewed Environment - $7 M increase over the FY 2005 Enacted level ($2 M). The FY 2006 request ($9 M) is for a community-based, multi-media program to reduce toxic pollutants in communities.

Water Quality Monitoring Initiative - $17 M increase over the FY 2005 Enacted level ($46 M). The FY 2006 request ($63 M) is to expand the initiative by establishing a nationwide monitoring network and expanding baseline water quality assessment to include lakes and streams.

Performance Fund - $23 M increase over the FY 2005 Enacted level ($0 M). The FY 2006 request will support State and Tribal environmental projects that include tangible, performance-based environmental and health outcomes.

Superfund - $32 M increase over the FY 2005 Enacted level ($1,247 M). The FY 2006 PresidentÆs Budget requests $1,279 B for the Superfund Account. The Agency plans to complete construction remedies at 40 SF sites.

EPA Ozone Petition Response Stresses Smooth Transition to Stronger Standard

EPA responded on May 20, 2005 to two parts of an Earthjustice petition for reconsideration of the final rule to implement Phase 1 of the 8-Hour National Ambient Air Quality Ozone Standard. EPA's decision will ensure that states focus resources on improving air quality and coordinating ozone standards deadlines for major requirements. States will continue to implement existing plans related to the old (1-hour) ozone standard to protect air quality as they make the transition to the new (8-hour) standard, which takes effect in 2007 when states submit plans to EPA for meeting the 8-hour ozone standard. The old standard allowed 120 parts per billion (ppb) of ozone averaged over a one-hour period. The tougher new standard cuts the allowable level of ozone to 80 ppb, which is averaged over a longer eight-hour period. While state and local agencies must take actions to reduce air pollution to meet the new standards, the stringent new federal regulations on power plant and vehicle emissions will help improve air quality nationally. The federal regulations provide states with much needed help in meeting the standards and most areas across the country will reach attainment with the ozone standards without significant additional actions.

Under the implementation requirements for the new standard, certain provisions of the old standard that required states to impose fees on facilities for failure to attain the standard no longer apply. EPA determined that these "Section 185 fees" would not be necessary to implement the new standard and would divert resources from improving air quality. Also, EPA changed the date from April 15, 2004 to June 15, 2004 for determining which controls need to remain in place to avoid air quality degradation after the old standard is revoked. The Agency made this change to harmonize the deadlines for all the major requirements of the standard. EPA continues its review of other issues in Earthjustice's petition.

Asbestos Cleanup Fraud Leads to Five Year Jail Term

Phillip H. Cohn, of St. Louis, Mo., was sentenced on May 20, 2005 before the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, East St. Louis, Ill., to 60 months imprisonment and five years supervised release. The court also ordered Cohn to pay $347,200 restitution to East St. Louis, Illinois School District 189. Cohn had previously pleaded guilty to submitting false invoices to School District 189 purportedly for environmental cleanup work at the Clark Middle School site. He then caused the endorsements of environmental companies to be forged on checks issued from the escrow account and used the money for personal expenses. Cohn obtained approximately $350,000 from the escrow account through his criminal conduct.

As part of his plea agreement, Cohn agreed to make full restitution to School District 189. On the environmental Clean Air Act charge, Cohn failed to remove substantial quantities of known asbestos containing materials from the historic Spivey Building, the tallest building in East St. Louis, before sending work crews into the Spivey Building to conduct demolition and renovation work. The prosecution was the result of an investigation conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division; United States Postal Inspection Service; Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation; United States Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General; Federal Bureau of Investigation; Illinois Environmental Protection Agency; Illinois Attorney General's Office; and the Illinois State Police. The prosecution was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Hal Goldsmith

Ohio EPA Creates New Permitting Guide

Ohio EPA has introduced a new permitting guide to help businesses determine which environmental permits they need and how to get them. The free guide was developed by the AgencyÆs newly formed Office of Compliance Assistance and Pollution Prevention (OCAPP).

Information that can be found in the guide includes:

  • links to permit application forms
  • sector-based permit checklists, such as which permits an auto body shop or restaurant would need
  • an overview of the permitting process and tips for getting through the process
  • a glossary of environmental terms
  • self-evaluation, which includes a list of questions designed to point the reader toward information about the permits his or her facility may need

    • Unpermitted Discharge to Sewer Leads to Potential Three Year Jail Term

      David Marshall Haggard, Sr., and the Haggard Company Inc., both of Winchester, Ky., pleaded guilty on May 20, 2005, to knowingly discharging trucked and hauled pollutants directly into the Winchester Municipal Utilities sewer system in violation of national Clean Water Act pretreatment standards. David Marshall Haggard faces maximum potential penalties of three years imprisonment, a fine of $5,000 to $50,000 per day of violation or $250,000, whichever is greater, and supervised release for a period of one year. The company faces maximum potential penalties of a fine not less than $5,000 no more than $50,000 fine per day of violation or $500,000, whichever is greater. The case was investigated by the EPA and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert M. Duncan, Jr.

      EPA Redesignates Phoenix area as attaining 1-hour Ozone Standard

      The Phoenix metropolitan area was redesignated as having met the federal health standard for 1-hour ozone and approved the stateÆs plan to maintain clean air.

      Phoenix has not violated the federal 1-hour ozone standard in the last eight years. However, the area is in violation of the newer 8-hour ozone standard, and will be submitting an air quality plan in 2007 showing how the area will attain that standard. The recent ôozone alertsö are related to the 8-hour ozone standard.

      EPA Finds Las Vegas Area Complies with Federal Carbon Monoxide Standard

      EPA announced that the Las Vegas Valley area of Clark County is in compliance with the national 8-hour carbon monoxide standard. The agency finalized its compliance decision on May 19. The carbon monoxide standard has not been exceeded since 1998.

      The improvement in air quality came about because of carbon monoxide control measures that have been successfully implemented in Las Vegas. These control measures include Nevada's motor vehicle inspection and maintenance program and Clark County's cleaner burning gasoline program. Las Vegas has also implemented other control measures such as an alternative fuel program for government fleets and a voluntary Rideshare program

      Air Permit-By-Rule on Way

      Ohio EPA is proposing to make revisions to OAC rule 3745-31 to add new ôPermit-By-Ruleö exemptions.

      These will exempt owners or operators of various types of low-emitting air pollution sources from the need to obtain a permit-to-install. For more information, visit the Ohio EPA Division of Air Pollution ControlÆs Web site.