EPA Revises Definition of Hazardous Waste to Encourage Recycling

October 13, 2008

A new final rule under RCRA streamlines the regulation of hazardous secondary materials when they are recycled by reclamation. According to EPA, the regulation maintains strong protection of human health and the environment by limiting the streamlined requirements to specific, legitimate recycling activities.

“Removing barriers to legitimate recycling is good for business and the environment,” said Susan Parker Bodine, assistant administrator for the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “This rule will help conserve natural resources, save energy, and reduce costs.”

In October 2003, EPA proposed a regulatory exclusion from the definition of solid waste that would streamline requirements for the recycling of hazardous secondary materials. After evaluating public comments and conducting independent analyses, the Agency published a supplemental proposal in March 2007. This rule finalizes the March 2007 supplemental proposal by establishing requirements for the following:

  • Materials that are generated and legitimately reclaimed under the control of the generator (i.e., generated and reclaimed on-site by the same company, or under “tolling” agreements)
  • Materials that are generated and transferred to another company for legitimate reclamation under specific conditions
  • Materials that EPA or an authorized state determines to be non-wastes through a case-by-case petition process

The rule also contains a provision to determine which recycling activities are legitimate under the new exclusions and non-waste determinations. This provision ensures that only authentic recycling, and not treatment or disposal under the guise of recycling, receives the benefits of these streamlined regulations. In order for a material to be legitimately recycled under these exclusions, the hazardous secondary material must provide a useful contribution to the recycling process, and the recycling must make a valuable new intermediate or final product. Two additional factors also must be taken into account:

  1. Whether the recycled material is managed as a valuable product
  2. Whether the recycled product contains toxic constituents at significantly greater levels than a non-recycled product made from virgin materials

These exclusions are not available for materials that are considered inherently waste-like; used in a manner constituting disposal; or burned for energy recovery.

The restrictions for the exclusions in this final rule are substantially similar to those contained in the supplemental proposal published on March 26, 2007 ( with certain modifications regarding:

  • Reporting and recordkeeping
  • Reasonable efforts required of generators to ensure that their hazardous secondary materials are safely and legitimately recycled
  • Intermediate facilities storing hazardous secondary materials for more than 10 days are eligible under the transfer-based exclusion
  • Tailoring the financial assurance requirements to intermediate facilities and reclaimers of hazardous secondary materials

The Agency estimates that about 5,600 facilities generating approximately 1.5 million tons of hazardous secondary materials annually may be affected by this rule. The activities most affected are metals and solvent recycling. This action is expected to result in cost savings of approximately $95 million per year for all affected industry sectors.

Plan to Convert Landfill Gas to Energy

A new landfill gas-to-energy generation facility has received final approval for its air quality plan by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). PPL Electric Utilities will capture methane gas produced from decomposing garbage at the Cumberland County Landfill and convert it into electricity that will be sold into the electricity power distribution grid.

“Advanced energy projects like this one are critical to helping the state’s communities and businesses manage increasing energy costs by using alternative and innovative technologies,” DEP Southcentral Regional Office Director Rachel Diamond said. “Landfill gas-to-energy facilities are creating a solution to an environmental issue and an economic opportunity for our region and the commonwealth.”

Methane gas captured from landfills can be transformed into a cost-effective fuel to generate electricity. The electricity produced from landfill gas feeds the electricity distribution grid that powers commonwealth homes and businesses.

PPL, which will own and operate the facility on the landfill property, will use four Caterpillar engines to produce up to 6.4 megawatts of electricity. DEP is requiring the company to have the facility operational by November.

In addition to the air quality plan, DEP also approved a minor modification to the waste management permit.

Simoniz USA Inc. Faces Fine for Chemical Planning and Reporting Violations

Simoniz USA Inc., a vehicle cleaning products manufacturer based in Bolton, Conn., faces a potential EPA penalty of approximately $400,000 for violations of the Emergency Planning and Community-Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and the federal Clean Air Act (CAA).

EPA’s complaint alleges that Simoniz operated its facilities without submitting a Risk Management Plan (RMP) to EPA. An RMP is a plan for preventing and responding to accidental releases of hazardous chemicals stored, used, or handled at its Bolton facility, as required by the CAA. Failure to submit and implement RMPs may put the public at greater risk from an accidental chemical release.

The complaint also alleges that Simoniz failed to submit Toxic Chemical Release Inventory Reporting Forms (TRI Reports) to EPA for four hazardous chemicals, as required by EPCRA (also known as SARA Title III). Simoniz manufactured, processed, or otherwise used hydrogen fluoride, methanol, ethylene glycol, and certain glycol ethers at its Bolton facility in excess of regulatory thresholds.

Information about releases of these chemicals from the facility is entered into EPA’s publicly accessible Toxic Release Inventory. Failure to submit these forms reduces the public’s ability to obtain accurate information about the type and amount of toxic chemicals in a community. Simoniz corrected the EPCRA violations in January 2008 and has worked with EPA to develop an RMP.

Industry Makes Green While Going Green

Major manufacturing and business sectors are improving environmental performance to cut waste, improve economic competitiveness, and gain other important benefits. Steel recycling in the United States reached an all-time high in 2005. Chemical manufacturers cut air emissions in half from 1995 to 2006. During the same decade, cement manufacturers reduced their waste per unit of production by one quarter. These environmental trends are highlighted in a new EPA report released on some of the nation’s most important economic sectors.

“America’s leading industries are not just making beverages and manufacturing chemicals—today they are also producing real environmental results,” EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson said. “They are proving that smart environmental performance is smart business.”

EPA’s 2008 Sector Performance Report provides environmental profiles of 12 major sectors of the U.S. economy: cement manufacturing, construction, ports, chemical manufacturing, colleges and universities, food and beverage manufacturing, forest products, iron and steel, metal casting, oil and gas, paint and coatings, and shipbuilding and ship repair. The third in a series of sector-based environmental performance reports, this report shows the location and concentration of sector facilities across the country and provides expanded analyses of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

The report shows each sector’s environmental impact, including air emissions, water discharges, and waste disposal. It also gives a 10-year portrait of performance trends for the nine industrial sectors: for example, air emissions per unit of production fell from 4% to 67% from 1996 to 2005, representing more than 300 million pounds fewer air emissions each year. Using government and industry data and case studies, the report also shows areas of progress and highlights where targeted efforts are still needed.

The 12 sectors represent more than 856,000 entities employing more than 12.6 million people and contributing more than $3.5 trillion annually to the U.S. economy. These sectors also represent nearly 15% of total domestic energy consumption, more than a quarter of U.S. air pollutant emissions, and more than 75% of the hazardous waste generated in this country.

EPA works with business and industry sectors to find effective ways to improve environmental performance and resource management. The 2008 report can be used by government agencies, business associations, individual companies, communities, and other entities to fully understand sector impacts and then set priorities for action.

USDA and DOE Release National Biofuels Action Plan

Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Ed Schafer and Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman have released the National Biofuels Action Plan (NBAP), an interagency plan detailing the collaborative efforts of federal agencies to accelerate the development of a sustainable biofuels industry.

“Federal leadership can provide the vision for research, industry, and citizens to understand how the nation will become less dependent on foreign oil and create strong rural economies,” Secretary Schafer said. “This National Biofuels Action Plan supports the drive for biofuels growth to supply energy that is clean and affordable, and always renewable.”

The NBAP was developed in response to President Bush’s plans to change the way America fuels its transportation fleets in the 2007 State of the Union Address. The President’s “Twenty in Ten” goal calls for cutting U.S. gasoline consumption by 20% over the next 10 years by investing in renewable and alternative fuel sources, increasing vehicle efficiency, and developing alternative fuel vehicles.

“The National Biofuels Action Plan is a strategic blueprint that shows us the way to meet the President’s goal of meaningful biofuels production by the year 2022,” Secretary Bodman said. “And to do it in cost-effective, environmentally responsible ways that utilize a science-based approach to ensure the next generation of biofuels that are made primarily from feedstocks outside the food supply that are produced sustainably.”

The President’s ambitious alternative fuels production target was later followed by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) and the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act (FCEA) of 2008, which responded to the president’s “Twenty in Ten” challenge with mandatory funding of more than $1 billion for such energy activities as loan guarantees for cellulosic ethanol projects as well as other renewable energy and energy-efficiency related programs.

The NBAP was developed and is being implemented by the Biomass Research and Development (R&D) Board. Cochaired by USDA and DOE officials, the board was created to coordinate the activities of federal agencies involved in biomass research and development. Its membership represents the combined expertise and resources of senior decision-makers from nearly a dozen executive branch agencies and the Administration.

To enhance the impact of federal biofuels investments and enable attainment of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the NBAP outlines interagency actions and accelerated federally supported research efforts in seven areas including:

  • Sustainability
  • Feedstock production
  • Feedstock logistics
  • Conversion science and technology
  • Distribution infrastructure 
  • Blending 
  • Environment, health, and safety

Interagency working groups have been chartered with near term deadlines to deliver such key results as: the development of science-based sustainability criteria and indicators, 10-year R&D forecasts for research to develop cost-effective methods of producing cellulosic biofuels from non-food based feedstock, to advance these next generation biofuels to commercialization, and recommendations on infrastructure issues.

DOE has dedicated more than $1 billion to research, development, and demonstration of cellulosic biofuels technology through 2009. Additionally, since 2006, USDA has invested almost $600 million for the research, development, and demonstration of new biofuels technology.

There is a Smarter Way to Transport Freight

If your truck fleet could haul the same load while burning less fuel and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, wouldn’t that be smart? EPA’s SmartWay Excellence Awards are recognizing groups for their superior efforts to reduce fuel use and lower carbon emissions from freight transport. This year’s recipients have integrated a broad range of innovative fuel-saving strategies into their freight and fleet operations, moving the nation toward cleaner air and greater energy security.

“The companies we recognize today have learned to do business the SmartWay and will be leaders in their fields,” said Robert J. Meyers, principal deputy assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “SmartWay is smart not just for the firms who save on fuel costs, but for the American environment and economy.”

Many awardees invested in trucks that qualify for the U.S. EPA SmartWay Certified mark, the cleanest, most fuel-efficient available today. Eight major truck manufacturers are now offering at least one long-haul model that meets SmartWay specifications. Awardees also optimized delivery routes and provided more flexible shipping and receiving practices to reduce unnecessary idling.

Using these and other strategies based on their three-year commitments to upgrade their fleets and improve freight operations, SmartWay partners are collectively saving more than 595 million gallons of diesel fuel each year—slashing fuel costs by at least $2.5 billion annually—and eliminating 6.8 million tons of carbon-dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming.

EPA launched SmartWay in early 2004 to address the environmental and economic challenges surrounding growth in the freight industry. Through SmartWay, EPA is now working with more than 1,000 businesses to improve both their bottom line and the environment. SmartWay offers tools for evaluating opportunities to lower fuel use and emissions and help in locating financing for the purchase of environmental and fuel-saving technology.

Doing More with Less Water—First WaterSense Partners of the Year

One less drop in the bucket means kudos for three organizations and one individual who are promoting water efficiency and saving water. The first WaterSense Partners of the Year are being recognized for encouraging Americans to tap into their water resources wisely over the last year.

“EPA commends these partners for being blue ribbon winners in water efficiency,” said Benjamin H. Grumbles, EPA’s assistant administrator for water. “These water stars are helping WaterSense transform the way Americans view and value our most precious liquid asset, and, as a result, we are saving more and wasting less for future generations.”

While EPA’s WaterSense program depends on the efforts of more than 1,000 partners, these four exceptional partners earned this special distinction from EPA:

  • Promotional Partner of the Year: The Saving Water Partnership
  • Manufacturer Partner of the Year: Kohler Co.
  • Retailer and Distributor Partner of the Year: Ferguson
  • Irrigation Partner of the Year: Timothy Malooly of Shorewood, Minn.

These organizations and individual represent the best of WaterSense’s four partner categories. The Saving Water Partnership is a collaboration between Seattle Public Utilities and 17 participating local water utilities. Kohler Co. is a leading bathroom and kitchen product manufacturer. Ferguson is one of the country’s largest wholesale distributors of plumbing supplies. Timothy Malooly is a WaterSense irrigation partner and president of two Minnesota-based irrigation firms: Irrigation Consultants & Control and Irrigation by Design.

The 2008 Partners of the Year helped advance the WaterSense mission through a range of activities demonstrating creativity and collaboration, and promoting water efficiency from New York City’s Times Square to the Minnesota Zoological Garden. Three of the winning organizations also have worked together to educate plumbers and consumers on the benefits of WaterSense-labeled products.

In 2007, WaterSense partners were responsible for labeling, selling, and promoting more than 193,400 WaterSense-labeled products, saving the United States more than 277 million gallons of water annually.

WaterSense, a partnership program launched in 2006 by the EPA, seeks to protect the future of our nation’s water supply by offering people a simple way to use less water.

The first WaterSense Partner of the Year awards are being presented at the WaterSmart Innovations Conference and Exposition in Las Vegas, Nev., the first national water-efficiency conference for an interdisciplinary audience.

IMO Sets Sail for Global Action on Pollution From Large Ships

With the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) adoption of new emissions standards for large diesel ships and their fuels, EPA can now move forward with a domestic rulemaking action under the Clean Air Act (CAA). When fully implemented, this will help reduce harmful emissions by 80% or more from large diesel ships, including those that are foreign-flagged operating in U.S. waters.

“Massive reductions in air pollution from these large ships will help 87 million Americans living in areas around ports that don’t meet air quality standards breathe cleaner air,” said Margo T. Oge, director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality. “Pollution emitted by ships along the U.S. coastlines and waterways can move inland where it worsens air quality.”

As emissions decline from other transportation sources, ship emissions will become a larger part of the nation’s pollution inventory. In 2001, oceangoing vessels contributed nearly 6% of nitrogen oxide (NOx), more than 10% of particulate matter (PM), and about 40% of sulfur dioxide (SOx) to the nation’s air pollution from mobile sources. Without further controls, pollution will increase to about 34% of NOx, 45% of PM, and 94% of SOx emissions by 2030. Ocean-going vessels dock at more than 100 U.S. ports. More than 40 of these ports are in metropolitan areas that do not meet federal air quality standards.

Under the new IMO program, large ships that operate in emissions control areas (ECAs) will be subject to more stringent standards. EPA will work closely with its federal partners to submit an application to the IMO for ECA status for U.S. coastal areas. In ECAs, ships use fuel that contains no more than 1,000 parts per million (ppm) sulfur, a 98% cut from the current global cap. ECA standards will ultimately achieve reductions of NOx by 80%, PM by 85%, and SOx by 95%, relative to current emissions levels.

By 2020, ships will be required to use fuel with no more than 5,000 ppm sulfur, a 90% reduction from today’s global cap. The engine standards will cut NOx emissions by 20% and will apply to new engines and to existing engines (as certified low-emission kits become available) beginning in 2011.

This new IMO program is contained in amendments to a treaty known as MARPOL Annex VI. These standards closely match last year’s U.S. proposal to the IMO. The success at IMO is important to EPA’s decade-long efforts to reduce diesel pollution.

Climate Leaders Take Big Steps to Leave Smaller Carbon Footprints

Launched in 2002, Climate Leaders is an industry-government partnership that has provided guidance and recognition to leading companies to help them develop and implement comprehensive climate change strategies. Leading corporations are demonstrating that reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is both good for the environment and for business.

Recently, seven companies were commended for achieving significant GHG reductions and leaving a smaller carbon footprint through EPA’s Climate Leaders program, the largest GHG goal-setting program in the United States. In addition, 15 companies will be recognized for announcing new reduction goals, and 31 companies will be welcomed as new partners during the agency’s Climate Leaders conference.

“EPA’s Climate Leader partners are proving that businesses can save green by going green,” EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson said. “These leading companies are reducing their climate footprints in cost-effective ways and contributing to this country’s energy independence.”

Together, the 226 Climate Leaders members represent more than 10% of the U.S. gross domestic product and have pledged GHG reductions equivalent to the emissions of nine million cars annually.

Seven companies have been recognized recently for having achieved significant GHG reduction goals over the last four to five years, and four of these companies have also made new commitments to reduce their GHG emissions. The seven goal achievers are: 3M; Pfizer Inc.; Hasbro Inc.; Caterpillar Inc.; FPL Group Inc.; Sun Microsystems Inc.; and Mack Trucks Inc.

Another 15 companies that pledged new GHG emissions reductions goals are: ACE Group of Companies; Agilent Technologies; Alcoa; Best Buy Co. Inc.; Citigroup Inc.; DPR Construction Inc.; EarthColor; LSI Corp.; NVIDIA Corp.; Owens Corning; PepsiCo; Quad/Graphics Inc.; Sprint; The Boeing Co.; and Turner Construction Co.

Thirty-one New Partners include: Autodesk; Best Transportation; California Limousine; Carlisle Construction Materials; Classique Limousines; Company Car and Limousine; ConAgra Foods; Continuum; EmpireCLS; Fetter Printing Co.; Fleet Transportation, LLC; Genworth Financial; Invitrogen Corp.; Lexmark International Inc.; Limited Brands Inc.; Luxury Limousines of Sacramento; News Corp.; Niagara Conservation; Nortel, Research Triangle Park; Novartis Corp.; Pall Corp.; Partners Executive Transportation; Pure Luxury Transportation; Royal Coachman Worldwide; STERIS Corp.; Syngenta; The Sherwin-Williams Co.; University Corp. for Atmospheric Research; UPS Inc.; Virgin America; and Yahoo! Inc.

Does Your Diesel Tractor, Forklift, or Bulldozer Qualify for Clean Diesel Project Funding in New Jersey?

EPA and New Jersey have slated almost $1 million to fund clean diesel projects across the state—nearly $600,000 of which came from EPA and an additional $393,760 from state funding. The funds will be used to retrofit publicly or privately owned non-road equipment used for construction projects.

“Tractors and bulldozers contribute significantly to air pollution,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. “Just one large bulldozer produces 800 pounds of air pollution a year, which is equivalent to the pollution associated with 26 cars. Our regulatory requirements work in tandem with these funds to help clean up the tractors and other equipment that are already operating.”

“This combined funding will enhance our ongoing efforts to protect children and families from exposure to harmful diesel emissions,” said New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson. “Municipalities can now partner with the state to improve air quality in our neighborhoods.”

Diesel engines spew some 7.3 million tons of nitrogen oxides and 333,000 tons of soot annually, which is linked to thousands of premature deaths, hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks, and millions of lost work days. Non-road construction equipment, such as backhoes, bulldozers, and excavators, can be among the dirtiest of diesel engines, releasing large amounts of nitrogen oxides and harmful fine particles into the air. There are approximately 98,000 pieces of non-road diesel equipment in New Jersey.

This announcement represents only a portion of funding for clean diesel projects under the $50 million National Clean Diesel Campaign. The funding, newly available this year, will support grants to help save fuel and lower greenhouse gas and diesel exhaust emissions from the existing fleet of 11 million diesel engines. The EPA’s new heavy-duty highway and non-road diesel engine standards will take effect over the next decade and will significantly reduce emissions from new engines. The standards, however, apply only to engines manufactured in the year 2007 and beyond. The 11 million diesel engines in use today will continue to pollute unless emissions are controlled with innovative technology and/or cleaner fuels.

EPA is working with New Jersey to reduce emissions of harmful diesel exhaust. In 2005, EPA Region 1, representing the New England states; EPA Region 2, covering New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands; the Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM); and the states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont established the Northeast Diesel Collaborative (NEDC). NEDC is a partnership of public and private organizations working to improve air quality by taking action to reduce diesel pollution. Puerto Rico joined in 2007 and the U.S. Virgin Islands joined in 2008. The NEDC combines the expertise of public and private partners in a coordinated regional initiative to reduce diesel emissions and improve public health in the eight northeastern states as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The funding for New Jersey is part of $14.8 million awarded for clean diesel programs across the country.


Arizona Developer Agrees to Settle CWA Violations Along the Santa Cruz River

An Arizona land developer and contractor have agreed to settle alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) for bulldozing, filling, and diverting approximately five miles of the Santa Cruz River, a major waterway in Arizona, announced the Justice Department and EPA recently.

According to the settlement, Scottsdale, Ariz.-based developer George H. Johnson; his companies Johnson International, Inc., and General Hunt Properties, Inc.; and land-clearing contractor, 3-F Contracting, Inc. will pay a combined $1.25 million civil penalty. The penalty is the largest obtained in the history of EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region, and one of the largest in EPA’s history under Section 404 of the CWA, which protects against the unauthorized filling of federally protected waterways through a permit program administered jointly by EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The settlement resolves a Clean Water Act complaint filed in 2005 by the Justice Department and EPA against Johnson and his companies for clearing and filling an extensive stretch of the lower Santa Cruz River and a major tributary, the Los Robles Wash, without a permit from the Corps of Engineers.

“A seven-figure penalty in this type of enforcement case is virtually unprecedented,” said Ronald J. Tenpas, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “It underscores the Justice Department’s commitment to enforce the nation’s laws that protect valuable water resources in Arizona and other arid western states, and to hold violators of those laws accountable.”

“Today’s action contributes to EPA’s record-shattering enforcement results,” said Granta Nakayama, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “To date, EPA has concluded enforcement actions requiring polluters to spend an estimated $11 billion on pollution controls, clean-up, and environmental projects, an all-time record for EPA. After these activities are completed, EPA expects annual pollution reductions of more than three billion pounds.”

The alleged violations occurred in 2003 and early 2004, when defendants bulldozed 2,000 acres of the historic King Ranch and La Osa Ranch in Pinal County, Ariz. The bulldozed areas lie within the largest active floodplain of the lower Santa Cruz River, which meanders through the two ranches in natural braids, a rarity for this heavily channelized waterway. Prior to the defendants’ land-clearing activities, this stretch of the Santa Cruz River supported a rich variety of vegetation, including one of the few extensive mesquite forests remaining in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert region. These areas form a critical corridor for wildlife to move along the Santa Cruz River and from Picacho Peak State Park to the Ironwood Forest National Monument.

The case was referred to EPA by the Corps of Engineers after concerned citizens, tribes, and local, state, and federal agencies complained about the serious flooding dangers and ecological impacts in connection with the defendants’ land-clearing activities. The Johnson defendants sold the ranches in 2004.

The proposed consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court in Phoenix, is subject to a 30-day comment period and final court approval. 

Citizen’s Odor Complaint Leads to $1 Million Penalty for VOC Emissions

EPA, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the state of Illinois have reached an agreement with Crane Composites, a fiberglass panel manufacturer formerly known as Kemlite Inc., on alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) at the company’s plastics manufacturing plant in Channahon, Ill.

The agreement resolves federal and state allegations that Crane Composites emitted hazardous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) —styrene and methyl methacrylate—at a rate that violated federal and state regulations and conditions of its state operating permit.

Under the agreement, Crane Composites will pay a $l million civil penalty, of which $200,000 will be paid to the state of Illinois. The company also will pay Illinois up to $150,000 to resolve seasonal emission market program charges.

In addition to the penalty, Crane Composites will construct an enclosure that will capture all emissions from its three production lines and will install pollution control equipment that will destroy no less than 95% of those emissions.

“Crane Composites is in the Chicago metropolitan area, which is currently designated nonattainment for the national health-based outdoor air quality standard for ozone,” said Cheryl Newton, acting director of EPA Region 5’s Air and Radiation Division. “Controls required by this agreement will reduce hazardous VOC emissions that contribute to ozone formation and help the area meet the standard.”

The alleged violations were discovered when EPA responded to a citizen odor complaint and inspected the plant in October 2003. EPA followed up with a request that Crane conduct stack tests to determine VOC emission rates from its production lines.

VOCs contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog. Smog is formed when a mixture of air pollutants is baked in the hot summer sun. Smog can cause a variety of respiratory problems, including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest pain. People with asthma, children, and the elderly are especially at risk, but these health concerns are important to everyone.

Styrene vapor irritates the eyes, nose, and throat. It also can affect the human nervous system, causing adverse eye effects. Health effects associated with breathing small amounts in the workplace over long periods of time include alterations in vision and hearing loss.

Methyl methacrylate is irritating to the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes in humans. It may cause chest tightness, coughing, and wheezing. Neurological symptoms have also been reported in humans following acute exposure to the chemical.


Industrial Laundry Fined Nearly Half-Million Dollars for Hazardous Waste Violations

EPA has fined a commercial industrial laundry company $425,000 for numerous violations at two of the company’s facilities located in Northern and Southern California.

EPA inspected the G & K Services facility in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., in February 2007 and the Pittsburg, Calif., facility in March, and found that the company failed to control air emissions, among numerous other hazardous waste management requirements.

The Minnetonka, Minn.-based company is a commercial industrial laundry, with more than 145 locations in 32 states. The Pittsburg and Santa Fe Springs facilities generated hazardous wastes from the cleaning of solvent-contaminated rags. The two locations were not controlling air emissions from the solvent-recovery process. The facilities also are large quantity generators (LQGs) of hazardous wastes, including waste solvent, volatile organics—benzene, chloroform, and trichloroethylene—used oil, used oil filters, spent fluorescent lamps, and spent antifreeze.

“This is a large fine because these facilities had significant hazardous waste management problems,” said Jeff Scott, the EPA’s Waste Management Division director for the Pacific Southwest region. “Controlling air emissions is important in protecting air quality, and the EPA is committed to aggressively enforcing safe hazardous waste handling requirements, including air emission controls.”

EPA inspectors found that G&K Services failed to:

  • Properly store ignitable hazardous waste
  • Meet air emission standards for equipment leaks
  • Meet air emission standards for tanks and containers
  • Assess small hazardous waste storage tanks
  • Provide overfill protection for small hazardous storage tanks
  • Mark and label hazardous storage tanks
  • Conduct and document weekly inspections of hazardous storage tanks
  • Maintain a contingency plan
  • Maintain training records and a copy of the biennial report

RCRA requires facilities to properly manage hazardous waste to prevent accidental release, which would pose a risk to workers and the environment. A complete contingency plan assists workers and emergency responders in the event of an emergency. 

Rhode Island Shipbuilder Faces Fine for Clean Air Violations

The Southeastern New England Shipbuilding Corp. (Senesco), of North Kingstown, R.I., faces a significant EPA penalty for several violations of both federal and state Clean Air regulations. EPA has proposed a fine of $378,700 for the violations.

A recent EPA complaint alleges that Senesco violated federal air quality requirements outlined in the National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) specifically for Ship Building and Repair Facilities, by failing to submit notifications and reports, by failing to keep records, and by using paints with hazardous air pollutant contents greater than the allowable limits.

EPA also alleges that Senesco violated “Title V” Operating Permit requirements under the federal Clean Air Act (CAA), by failing to apply for a Title V permit despite having potential xylene emissions greater than 10 tons per year. Finally, Senesco failed to comply with Rhode Island’s “State Implementation Plan” for air quality by failing to apply for a new source review permit before beginning construction of its facility.

Since EPA brought the violations to their attention, Senesco has obtained the new source review permit from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and has submitted a Title V application.

EPA Cites Pesticides Practices of Puerto Rico Agency

EPA has cited the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture’s (PRDA) Crop Protection Program for allegedly violating federal pesticide and worker protection regulations. The EPA complaint, issued under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), comes after a series of EPA investigations revealed that PRDA was using pesticides in ways that were inconsistent with their labeling. These practices included failing to mix pesticides properly with the soil, using them inappropriately, putting workers and pesticide handlers in potential danger, and applying pesticides on crops for which they were not approved for use. In addition, PRDA failed to provide proper pesticide application information to farm owners. EPA’s complaint against PRDA proposes a penalty of $263,980.

“Whether they are government agencies or private companies, EPA will pursue parties that violate the law and fail to protect farm workers and pesticide handlers,” Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg said. “EPA is making sure that those parties who deal with pesticides do so safely and by the rules in place to protect workers, pesticide handlers, and the environment.”

PRDA applies pesticides at farms located throughout Puerto Rico. On March 13 and 14, 2007, EPA conducted inspections of PRDA’s central and regional field offices to evaluate whether or not the department was in compliance with FIFRA and worker protection standards and to evaluate how pesticides, particularly restricted-use pesticides, are being applied. EPA found that PRDA was in violation of FIFRA and worker protection standards. Subsequent investigations were carried out in August 2007 and April 2008, and both inspections maintained that PRDA continued to be out of compliance with FIFRA requirements and the worker protection standards spelled out under it.

Worker protection provisions of the federal pesticide law are designed to reduce the risk of illness or injury resulting from agricultural field workers’ occupational exposure to pesticides. They govern pesticide use and require that workers and pesticide handlers be given appropriate training, equipment, and information. Workers may be injured from direct spray, drift, or residue left by pesticides applications; handlers face additional risks from spills, splashes, inhalation, and inadequate protective equipment.

Rhode Island Demolition Company Faces Fines for CAA Violations

A Johnston, R.I., demolition company faces a penalty of $256,320 for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants for Asbestos (Asbestos NESHAP).

In 2004–2005, the Bilray Demolition Company, Inc., demolished the former Seaboard Foundry in Johnston, following a fire that occurred at the facility. When the Rhode Island Department of Health inspected the facility during the demolition, it found asbestos-containing materials.

EPA alleges that Bilray failed to thoroughly inspect for asbestos prior to demolishing the facility, failed to provide EPA with prior written notification of its intent to demolish, failed to adequately wet asbestos during its stripping operations, failed to keep asbestos adequately wet until it was collected and contained for disposal, and failed to properly dispose of asbestos waste.

The CAA and Asbestos NESHAP require owners and operators of demolition and renovation operations to follow certain inspection and notification requirements prior to beginning such operations and to abide by specific work practice and waste-disposal requirements when the owners and operators will disturb regulated asbestos-containing material. Violations of these requirements can pose significant health risks to the communities where demolitions or renovations occur, as well as to employees conducting these operations, who could have been exposed to asbestos fibers during these activities.

In September 2005, Bilray conducted asbestos abatement at the facility. Bilray removed 81 cubic feet of regulated asbestos-containing material from the facility at that time.

Agreement Reached with Wal-Mart in AR on CAA Violations

EPA has announced a settlement with a Wal-Mart store in Bentonville, Ark., to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA), which prohibits the sale or distribution in interstate commerce of non-essential products containing substances commonly known as Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS). According to the terms of the settlement, Wal-Mart will pay a total civil penalty of $199,000. Wal-Mart has taken action to investigate the causes of the violation, to come into compliance, and to ensure that the violation does not recur.

An EPA investigation of a variety of party string products being sold in the United States by various retailers revealed that some of these aerosol products and pressurized dispensers contained ODS as part of their propellant. In November 2005 and January 2006, EPA investigators purchased cans of the party string product “Glow-in-the-Dark Looney String” from a Wal-Mart store and had the contents analyzed by an EPA laboratory. Analytical results showed that the products contained R22, a banned ODS, as part of the propellant.

EPA’s Region 4 Air Enforcement Division was assigned to further investigate Wal-Mart’s purchase and sale of party string products that may have contained banned ODS. On Jan. 30, 2007, EPA requested information and documentation related to the sale and distribution of any party string products that contained ODS from all Wal-Mart stores in the United States. In its response, Wal-Mart indicated that between approximately Aug. 5, 2005, and Jan. 6, 2007, it purchased approximately 474,874 cans of Halloween Glow String, including cans of “Glow-in-the-Dark Looney String” from a supplier in Taiwan and sold the cans at various stores in the United States. Wal-Mart’s distribution and sale of the party string product containing a banned ODS, was a violation of the CAA.

Certain types of refrigerants, such as hydrochlorofluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), contain ODSs that destroy the thin layer of ozone in the upper part of the atmosphere called the stratosphere. In addition, CFCs are potent greenhouses gases that contribute to climate change.

EPA and SEPTA Settle Hazardous Waste Violations

EPA and the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) have settled alleged violations of hazardous waste and underground storage tank (UST) regulations at nine SEPTA facilities. The violations were identified during four EPA inspections in 2006 at five different SEPTA facilities.

In addition to a $169,527 civil penalty, SEPTA has agreed to spend $1.1 million on a project that will provide significant environmental and public health benefits. SEPTA will purchase approximately 152 million kilowatt-hours of renewable wind-powered energy, in lieu of conventionally generated (fossil fuel) energy.

The project exceeds the requirements of federal and state environmental regulations and will result in pollution reductions of two billion pounds of carbon dioxide, 13.9 million pounds of sulfur dioxide, and 4.5 million pounds of nitrogen oxides.

“We are extremely pleased that SEPTA is not only bringing its facilities into compliance but will also perform such a significant environmental project,” said Donald S. Welsh, administrator of EPA’s mid-Atlantic region. “SEPTA is demonstrating environmental leadership by making special efforts to make the Delaware Valley cleaner.”

EPA cited SEPTA for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the federal law governing the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste stored at a facility. RCRA is designed to protect public health and the environment and avoid costly cleanups, by requiring the safe, environmentally sound storage and disposal of hazardous waste. SEPTA also was cited for alleged violations of federal UST regulations.

The alleged violations included:

  • Owning and operating a hazardous waste storage facility without a permit
  • Failure to perform hazardous waste determinations and conduct environmental compliance training
  • Failure to prepare a contingency plan for emergency services and prepare a closure plan
  • Failure to keep containers closed during storage and failure to transfer hazardous waste from deteriorating containers
  • Failure to provide safe access to containers for inspection and conduct weekly inspections
  • Failure to complete and retain signed manifests for both intrastate and interstate transportation, and failure to transport hazardous waste without an EPA identification number
  • Failure to perform release detection and line leak detection on USTs

As part of the settlement, SEPTA neither admitted nor denied liability for the alleged violations but certified its compliance with the applicable environmental regulations. The settlement reflects the company’s cooperation with EPA’s investigation and good faith compliance efforts.

EPA and Wilmington Company Settle Hazardous Waste Violations

EPA and Noramco, Inc., have settled alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations at the company’s facility in Wilmington, Del. Noramco has agreed to pay a $115,934 civil penalty.

Based on two inspections of the facility in 2006 and records subsequently provided to EPA by Noramco, EPA alleges that Noramco had violated RCRA by failing to perform monthly monitoring and weekly inspections of valves and pumps in contact with hazardous waste; conduct and record daily inspection of hazardous waste storage tanks; obtain and keep on file hazardous waste storage tank design certifications; record information regarding valves and pumps in contact with hazardous waste in the facility operating log; and have a RCRA permit for the storage of hazardous waste, or to satisfy the conditions necessary to qualify for a RCRA permit exemption, and for storing land disposal restricted hazardous waste.

The violations cited by EPA involve inspection and recordkeeping requirements related to hazardous waste storage and not releases of hazardous waste. As part of the settlement, Noramco has neither admitted nor denied liability for the violations but has certified its compliance with applicable RCRA requirements.

Baltimore Steel Plant Fined for PCB Violations

Severstal Sparrows Point, LLC, has settled a case involving alleged violations of federal regulations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at its steel making facility in Baltimore, Md.

In a consent agreement with the EPA, the company has agreed to pay a $107,500 civil penalty to resolve alleged violations of regulations designed to protect public health and the environment from this toxic substance.

The violations were uncovered during an August 2005 inspection when the plant was owned and operated by another company, ISG Sparrows Point, LLC.

PCBs, a probable human carcinogen, were once widely used as a nonflammable coolant for transformers and other electrical equipment. In 1976, Congress enacted the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which strictly regulated the manufacture, use, and disposal of PCBs
Alleged violations included the storage of combustible materials near PCB transformers; failure to perform daily inspections to verify containment of a PCB transformer leak; failure to include required information in quarterly PCB transformer inspection and maintenance records and in written annual document logs; improper storage of PCB articles for reuse and for disposal; improper disposal of PCB waste; and failure to include required information in prepared manifests that accompanied the off-site transport of PCB containers and PCB articles.

ISG Sparrows Point, LLC, cooperated with EPA’s investigation and Severstal Sparrows Point, LLC has certified that the facility now is in full compliance with PCB regulations.

Southern California Refrigeration Service Pays $35,550 Air Pollution Penalty

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) fined Millard Refrigerated Service of Omaha, Neb., $35,550 earlier this month for air pollution violations discovered at its Mira Loma, Calif., cold storage facility.

ARB inspectors found that Millard Refrigerated Service failed to submit data by the Jan. 31, 2006, deadline, violating the Transport Refrigeration Unit regulation.

“Because our state has the poorest air quality in the nation, we cannot afford to overlook any infractions,” ARB Chairman Mary Nichols said. “We hope that each penalty serves as an effective deterrent and a reminder that everyone plays a part in cleaning up our air.”

Facilities with 20 or more cold storage loading docks are required to monitor, keep records, and report activities that create emissions, including diesel-powered refrigeration units mounted on trucks, trailers, shipping containers, and rail cars. These activities take place during the loading and unloading of perishables goods at distribution centers around the state.

Millard Refrigerated Service will pay $26,662.50 to the California Air Pollution Fund, established to mitigate various sources of pollution through education and use of cleaner technology, and $8,887.50 to the Peralta Community College District to fund diesel emissions technology education programs at community colleges.

Monitoring companies that utilize diesel-powered refrigeration units is key to improving air quality. Diesel exhaust contains a variety of harmful gases and more than 40 other known cancer-causing substances. In 1998, California identified diesel exhaust as a toxic air contaminant based on its potential to cause cancer, premature death, and other health problems. People exposed to higher levels of emissions from diesel-fueled engines are at higher risk for developing cancer.

Furniture Installation Company Fined for Allowing Delivery Trucks to Idle More Than 5 Minutes

Material Installations, Inc, a furniture installation company in North Andover, Mass., will pay an EPA fine of $34,692 for repeated violations of the Massachusetts five-minute vehicle idling limit. The case settlement, which was filed September 30, alleges that 19 idling violations occurred between 2005–2007.

Material Installations is a furniture installer that operates a fleet of vehicles to make deliveries of modular furniture from its North Andover facility. Most of the violations addressed by this action were committed by other companies’ delivery trucks that were allowed to idle excessively at the Material Installations loading dock and parking lot.

Pollution from idling engines contributes to ozone smog, fine particle pollution, and increased carbon-dioxide emissions. Excessive idling not only contributes to air pollution, but it also wastes fuel and emits greenhouse gases. Five New England states have idling limits—Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Maine.

EPA offers assistance to companies and facilities in implementing idling alternatives. Idling typically wastes almost a gallon of fuel per hour and puts more wear and tear on an engine than driving. Driver education, improved pick-up and delivery logistics, and automatic shutdown systems are just a few of the many ways that businesses can reduce vehicle idling.

Bucks County Company Settles Chemical Release Reporting Violation

EPA has announced that Land and Sea Forest Products of Pennsylvania Corporation has settled alleged violations of toxic chemical reporting requirements, at its plant located in Fairless Hills, Pa.

EPA cited the company for violating the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), which requires companies that manufacture, use, or process more than a threshold amount of federally listed toxic chemicals to file an annual Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) report with EPA and the state. Companies also must report both routine and accidental releases of toxic chemicals, as well as the maximum amount of any listed chemicals at the facility and the amount contained in wastes transferred off-site.

In a consent agreement with EPA, the company has agreed to pay a $30,000 civil penalty for failing to file the required annual TRI reports for arsenic, chromium, and copper compounds processed at the facility in 2003, and copper compounds processed at the facility in 2005.

These annual reports are used to compile the Toxic Release Inventory, a publicly available EPA database that contains information on toxic chemical releases and waste management activities by certain industries as well as federal facilities.

The settlement penalty reflects the company’s cooperation with EPA’s investigation of these alleged violations and its prompt compliance efforts. As part of the settlement, the company did not admit liability for the alleged violations but has certified compliance with applicable EPCRA requirements.

Citgo Oil Terminal Faces Penalties for Chemical Reporting Violations

EPA has issued a complaint against Citgo Petroleum Corporation for alleged violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

Citgo owns and operates the Citgo Braintree Oil Terminal, located in Quincy, Mass., that failed to produce timely, accurate, and complete Toxic Chemical Release Inventory (TRI) Forms during the calendar years of 2004, 2005, and 2006. These forms are intended to fully disclose an inventory of chemicals manufactured, processed, or otherwise used at facilities.

The violations were identified during a routine EPCRA inspection. This resulting enforcement action is intended to help ensure that the local community and emergency response personnel are provided with information about potentially dangerous chemicals that are being used and stored in the community.

Accurate records are necessary to legitimize and support future health studies and to ensure that accurate planning and safety precautions are taken in the event that federal, state, and local authorities must respond to emergencies on-site or address environmental contamination.

Landlord Fined for Failing to Disclose Lead-Based Paint at Sacramento Rental Properties

EPA has fined a San Francisco-based property owner $25,410 for alleged violations of federal lead-based paint disclosure requirements at eight rental properties in Sacramento, Calif.

“Property owners take note: The EPA takes seriously its responsibility to ensure that renters and buyers receive the information they need to protect children from potential lead-based paint hazards,” said Enrique Manzanilla, director of the EPA’s Communities and Ecosystems Division for the Pacific Southwest Region. “This enforcement action is an example of the EPA’s commitment to enforcing toxic substances regulations to protect public health—especially children, from potential lead-based paint hazards.”

Residential property owner Joseph Lueras did not provide federally required lead warning statements to his tenants before he leased them pre-1978 housing units located in Sacramento, Calif. He also failed to disclose any knowledge or reports pertaining to the existence of lead-based paint in those units or else indicate that he had no such knowledge or reports. These failures resulted in multiple violations of the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

Between August 2002 and March 2006, Lueras owned and leased various residential rental units located in Sacramento, Calif., at 4208 55th Street and 1823 T Street.

It is estimated three-quarters of the U.S. residential dwellings built before 1978 contains some lead-based paint. Lead poisoning in children can have serious, long-term consequences including intelligence deficiencies, learning disabilities, hearing impairment, hyperactivity, and/or behavioral problems.

Federal law requires that persons and entities who sell or rent housing built before 1978 must provide an EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet; include lead notification language in sales and rental forms; disclose any known lead-based paint hazards and provide reports to buyers or renters; allow a lead inspection or risk assessment by home buyers; and maintain records certifying compliance with applicable federal requirements for three years.

Children younger than age six are among the most vulnerable to adverse health risks from lead-based paint. The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act helps prevent exposure—especially the exposure of children—to hazards from lead-based paint by requiring disclosure and notification when selling or leasing applicable housing.

Cypress Semiconductor Fined for Failing to Report Hazardous Chemical Information Under EPCRA

EPA has settled with a San Jose, Calif., semiconductor fabrication company for $10,900 for allegedly failing to report its toxic chemical inventory, a violation of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) or SARA Title III.

Cypress Semiconductor Corp. failed to submit complete and correct forms to the EPA and the state on the amount of hydrogen fluoride for reporting years 2004 and 2005 for its manufacturing facility located at 3901 North First St. The company voluntarily disclosed the violations to the EPA and promptly corrected them within 60 days, which eliminated the 2004 penalty and reduced the 2005 penalty by 50%.

“If you’re a facility that uses toxic chemicals, you must provide complete and accurate information about these chemicals so residents and emergency responders are aware of possible chemical hazards in the community,” said Enrique Manzanilla, Communities and Ecosystems director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “Cypress Semiconductor voluntarily disclosed the violations and corrected them, ensuring compliance with federal law.”

Under the EPA’s audit policy, the agency may reduce penalties up to 100% for violations that are voluntarily discovered, promptly disclosed to the agency, and quickly corrected.

Each year, the EPA compiles the information submitted to it from the previous year regarding toxic chemical releases and produces a national Toxics Release Inventory database for public availability. The database estimates the amounts of each toxic chemical released to the environment, treated or recycled on-site, or transferred off-site for waste management, and also provides a trend analysis of toxic chemical releases.

Hydrol Chemical, Inc., Settles Pesticide Violations