August 01, 2022
EPA proposes to find that the volatile organic compound 1-bromopropane (1-BP), also known as n-propyl bromide, presents “an unreasonable risk of injury to human health” in a draft revised risk determination released last week. According to EPA, 1-BP is used as a solvent in degreasing operations, spray adhesives, and dry cleaning; as a reactant in the manufacture of other chemical substances; and in laboratories. Examples of commercial and consumer products that contain 1-BP include spot cleaners, stain removers, aerosol degreasers, and insulation for building and construction materials.
The revised risk determination for 1-BP incorporates policy changes announced by EPA
in June 2021 concerning personal protective equipment, risk management, unreasonable risk determinations, and exposure pathways. Unlike EPA’s previous risk evaluations, which assumed that personal protective equipment was always provided to workers and worn properly in occupational settings, EPA’s new draft revised risk determination does not assume the use of PPE. This “reflects EPA’s recognition that certain subpopulations of workers exist that may be highly exposed” for a number of potential reasons, the agency explains in a press release
. For example, some workers may have increased exposure if they are not covered by OSHA standards or if OSHA has not issued a permissible exposure limit for a chemical substance, which is the case for 1-BP.
“As EPA moves forward with a risk management rule for 1-BP, the agency will strive for consistency with existing OSHA requirements or best industry practices when they are sufficiently protective,” EPA states
The new risk determination also differs from previous risk evaluations in that it proposes that 1-BP presents unreasonable risk as a whole chemical substance, rather than making separate risk determinations for individual conditions of use. EPA’s new “whole chemical approach” applies “when it is clear the majority of the conditions of use warrant one determination,” the agency explains
EPA’s final risk evaluation of 1-BP
, which was published in August 2020, identifies adverse health effects to workers; occupational non-users, or workers in the general area of 1-BP use; consumers; and bystanders associated with the use of the substance. Among the adverse health effects are developmental toxicity from acute and chronic inhalation and dermal exposures to 1-BP as well as cancer from chronic exposures. EPA’s new draft revised risk determination does not affect the scientific analysis of its 2020 risk evaluation, which “continues to characterize risks associated with individual conditions of use to support any determination of unreasonable risk for 1-BP as a whole chemical substance and to inform risk management,” the agency notes.
EPA is accepting comments related to the draft revised risk determination for 1-BP until Aug. 19. Further details about this agency action are available in the Federal Register
EPA also recently published draft revised risk determinations for three other solvents: methylene chloride, perchloroethylene (PCE), and n-methylpyrrolidone (NMP). The agency similarly proposed to find that methylene chloride, PCE, and NMP present unreasonable risks of injury to human health. EPA is accepting comments related to its draft revised risk determinations on PCE
until Aug. 1. Stakeholders have a few more days—until Aug. 4—to submit comments related to the revised risk determination for methylene chloride
Community Right-To-Know; Adopting 2022 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Codes for Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Reporting
EPA is proposing to update the list of North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes subject to reporting under the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) to reflect the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) 2022 NAICS code revision. OMB updates the NAICS codes every five years. EPA currently uses 2017 NAICS codes and is proposing to implement the 2022 codes for TRI Reporting Year 2022 (i.e., facilities reporting to TRI would be required to use 2022 NAICS codes on reports that are due to the Agency by July 1, 2023). The actual data required by a TRI form will not change as a result of this rulemaking, nor will the rule affect the universe of TRI reporting facilities that are required to submit reports to the Agency under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). Comments must be received on or before 20 September 2022. POC is Rachel Dean, Data Collection Branch, Data Gathering and Analysis Division (Mailcode: 7406M), Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: (202) 566-1303; email address: email@example.com.
Marion Excavating Co., Inc. Penalized for Hazardous Waste and Air Quality Violations
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has penalized Marion Excavating Co., Inc. $6,000 for violations of the air pollution control and hazardous waste regulations
that occurred at its facility located at 749 New Ludlow Road, South Hadley, MA. The violations were discovered because of an inspection conducted by MassDEP personnel on September 27, 2021. The violations included failing to register as a generator of waste oil and recycling waste oil without prior notification to MassDEP. The company, which cooperated with MassDEP during the investigation, initiated corrective actions to address the violations immediately after the inspection.
As a part of a consent order issued to Marion Excavating Co., Inc., the company must pay $2,000 of the assessed penalty and ensure that all violations cited in the order are corrected. MassDEP will suspend the remaining penalty provided the company completes the requirements of the consent order.
“It is important for companies to understand and recognize the importance of operating in compliance with the Massachusetts environmental laws and regulations in order to avoid potential releases to the environment,” said Michael Gorski, director of MassDEP’s Western Regional Office in Springfield.
Metal Recycler Violates Hazardous Waste Rules
The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) is going to court to hold recycling business S&W Atlas Iron & Metal Co., Inc. in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles accountable for violations of California’s hazardous waste laws, and to request that a judge impose penalties for previous violations.
DTSC filed the complaint in Los Angeles County Superior Court in connection with alleged violations inspectors identified in July and October 2020. This civil complaint asks a judge to order Atlas to follow hazardous waste laws. The complaint is in addition to DTSC’s order to Atlas to investigate and clean up any contamination on site and to prevent any future releases of hazardous waste
“It is imperative that Atlas operates safely because of its proximity to Jordan High School, Southeast Middle School, and the 700-unit Jordan Downs public housing project,” said DTSC Director Meredith Williams. “We will use every tool at our disposal to protect the students and the community from this facility and work to ensure Atlas is held accountable.”
Atlas sorts scrap metal by type and some of it – such as air conditioning units, washers and microwaves – goes into an unenclosed 15- to 18-foot pile. Employees then sort through this unenclosed pile with heavy machinery to separate the appliances from the scrap metal, tires, and assorted dirt and debris, and then they put the various items into roll-off bins and other containers.
Based on company manifests, the facility generates a variety of hazardous waste, including waste oil and lead waste.
In July 2020, DTSC inspectors responded to a complaint that the unenclosed pile was expanding. Upon inspection, DTSC found and documented the alleged violations contained in the complaint. The alleged violations were also identified in a follow-up inspection three months later.
The alleged violations included unauthorized storage of hazardous waste, not properly labeling roll-off bins containing hazardous waste, and not having emergency preparedness procedures and other measures in place that reduce the risk of releasing hazardous substances.
While Atlas has corrected the 2020 violations, DTSC has the authority to seek civil penalties for past violations and to seek injunctive relief to deter future violations, to protect the environment, and to protect the health and safety of nearby students, residents and others.
Contractor’s Failure to Heed Prior Violation Left Roofing Workers Unprotected
In 2018, federal workplace safety investigators cited a Pompano Beach roofing contractor who exposed its workers to the construction industry's most lethal hazard, falls from elevation. OSHA determined that the company's failure to heed that warning claimed the life of a 25-year-old worker in February 2022.
An OSHA investigation after the incident found that J & L Roofing, Inc. allowed employees to tear off an existing roof without fall protection at a two-story residence. The worker fell from the roof onto a lower level and then to the ground. The incident occurred on Jan. 19, 2022, and the worker succumbed to his injuries after 29 days in a hospital.
OSHA cited the company for one willful violation for exposing workers engaged in roofing activities to fall hazards without protection, and one serious violation for failing to train workers on the correct use of fall arrest systems. The agency also issued an other-than-serious violation for failing to report
a work-related hospitalization within 24-hours and a fatality within 8 hours as the law requires.
"Had J & L Roofing, Inc. ensured that its workers were protected from the construction industry’s leading cause of death, a young man's life could have been spared," said OSHA Area Office Director Condell Eastmond in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "Instead, a family and a community are left to grieve, and an employer is learning a painful lesson that federal workplace safety standards exist to help prevent needless and unnecessary tragedies."
Roofing Contractor Fined $94K for Exposing Workers to Potentially Deadly Fall Hazards
Despite the potentially deadly consequences of its actions, an Appleton contractor allowed three roofers to work at heights up to 18 feet without anchoring their fall protection, making it useless in preventing serious or fatal injuries.
An OSHA inspector observed the unsafe conditions on May 11, 2022, as the workers removed materials from a residential roof in Sheboygan.
“If a fall arrest system is not worn and anchored properly, there is nothing to stop a worker from possibly becoming a statistic, as falls from elevations remain one of the leading causes of death in the construction industry,” said OSHA Area Director Robert Bonack in Appleton, Wisconsin. “Assigning workers to perform dangerous tasks without training them on how to protect themselves is inexcusable. OSHA will hold employers accountable when they fail to meet their legal requirements to provide safe working conditions.”
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 1,008 construction workers died on the job in 2020, with 351 of those fatalities related to falls from elevation.
Violations of Clean Air Act, Emergency Notification Requirements Lead to $214K Penalty
The EPA recently announced a settlement with Grimmway Enterprises, Inc. for violations of the Clean Air Act and the emergency notification-related requirements of two other federal laws at its Arvin, California, facility. The company will pay $214,103 in civil penalties. This settlement helps protect the public, facility staff, and first responders from chemical accidents.
On August 2, 2019, approximately 2,335 pounds of anhydrous ammonia, which is designated as an Extremely Hazardous Substance, were released at Grimmway’s Arvin facility. A subsequent EPA inspection found Grimmway failed to notify state emergency authorities and the National Response Center immediately after the release. The inspection also revealed that Grimmway did not have required safety information for equipment, such as pressure relief valves; lacked required safety equipment, such as chlorine sensors or alarms; was missing some required operating procedures for its ammonia refrigeration equipment; and failed to have procedures in place to notify the appropriate agencies about chemical releases.
“It is paramount that facilities properly manage extremely hazardous substances to prevent dangerous incidents or face significant Clean Air Act
penalties,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. “When these incidents occur, first responders need to be notified immediately to ensure authorities are able to respond swiftly.”
The settlement relates to violations of the Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Program as well as the reporting requirements of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act
. In response to EPA’s enforcement action, Grimmway returned to compliance and agreed to pay the civil penalty.
This settlement advances EPA efforts to enforce environmental regulations that protect citizens from harmful releases of extremely hazardous substances, especially in communities that may already experience disproportionate environmental risks. Grimmway’s facility is in a community that is disproportionally affected by environmental burdens, and incidents like this raise significant environmental justice concerns.
Pilot Travel Centers to Pay $121K Penalty for Alleged Clean Water Act Violations
Pilot Travel Centers, LLC, the largest operator of truck stops in North America, has agreed to pay a $121,469 civil penalty to resolve alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) at 17 of its facilities in Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska.
“Protecting our nation’s waters from harmful pollutants preserves them for use today and for future generations,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Meg McCollister. “Companies need to be held accountable for serious, widespread violations that endanger watersheds and human health.”
According to the EPA, for years, Pilot violated the terms of CWA permits issued to those 17 facilities by discharging pollutants exceeding prescribed permit limits into streams. Two of those Pilot facilities, in Warrenton, Missouri, and Gretna, Nebraska, had the most serious pattern of violations, including consistently high levels of E. coli, ammonia, and other pollutants. Less significant violations took place at the other 15 facilities covered by the agreement, which are located throughout Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska. Since EPA identified the violations, Pilot has taken steps to return all 17 facilities to compliance.
As part of the settlement, Pilot also agreed to conduct compliance audits at 20 of its other facilities in Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska. If the audits reveal additional violations of the CWA, Pilot must submit a plan to EPA to return to compliance and the company could be subject to additional penalties. The settlement is part of a nationwide effort by EPA to address CWA noncompliance at Pilot truck stops.
The Clean Water Act seeks to protect the nation’s water resources. Pollutants in stormwater and wastewater can violate water quality standards, pose risks to human health, threaten aquatic life and its habitat, and impair the use and enjoyment of waterways. Under the CWA, facilities are prohibited from discharging pollutants into water bodies, unless they are in compliance with a permit issued by EPA or an authorized state.
The penalty settlement with Pilot Travel Centers, LLC, is subject to a public comment period before it becomes final. Information on how to submit comments is available by clicking on the Public Notice link on EPA’s website
LyondellBasell Companies Agree to Reduce Air Pollution at Chemical Plant
The EPA and the Justice Department recently announced an amendment to a 2022 Clean Air Act consent decree with three subsidiaries of Dutch chemical giant LyondellBasell Industries N.V. (Lyondell), that will reduce harmful air pollution at a company chemical plant in Morris, Illinois.
Lyondell has agreed to install and operate instruments and monitoring systems to ensure high combustion efficiency at the flares at its Morris facility. The company will also install a fenceline monitoring system to measure benzene levels at the boundary of the facility. That monitoring data will be publicly available and will be used to identify and address other potential excess emissions. In addition to the compliance requirements, Lyondell will pay a $324,000 civil penalty. The company estimates it will ultimately spend at least $4.6 million to bring the flares into compliance.
The proposed amendment addresses Clean Air Act violations alleging that Lyondell failed to properly operate and monitor its industrial flares and failed to comply with other key operating constraints to ensure volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, and hazardous air pollutants, including benzene, contained in the gases routed to the flares are effectively combusted. The proposed amendment is expected to reduce emissions of VOCs by 145 tons per year compared to emissions prior to EPA’s enforcement action.
The pollutants addressed by the settlement and the amendment can cause significant harm to public health. VOCs are a key component in the formation of smog or ground-level ozone, a pollutant that irritates the lungs, exacerbates diseases such as asthma, and can increase susceptibility to respiratory illnesses, such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Chronic exposure to benzene, which EPA classifies as a carcinogen, can cause numerous health impacts, including leukemia and adverse reproductive effects in women. Flares are also often large sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
The amendment to the consent decree, lodged in the District Court for the Southern District of Texas, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. The consent decree will be available for viewing on the Justice Department website
For more information about this settlement please visit this EPA web page
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