EPA Seeks Comment on HAZWOPER Rule

February 09, 2009

EPA is seeking public input and comment on the renewal of the EPA Worker Protection Standards for Hazardous Waste Operation and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER).  Entities potentially affected by this action are those state and local employees engaged in hazardous waste operations and emergency response in the states that do not have OSHA-approved state plans. EPA will be collecting information and comments through March 31, 2009.

Section 126(f) of SARA requires EPA to set worker protection standards for state and local employees engaged in hazardous waste operations and emergency response in states that do not have OSHA-approved state plans. EPA’s coverage, required to be identical to the OSHA standards, extends to three categories of employees: those engaged in clean-ups at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites, including corrective actions at treatment, storage, and disposal (TSD) facilities regulated under RCRA; employees working at routine hazardous waste operations at RCRA TSD facilities, and employees involved in emergency response operations without regard to location.

If the renewal of the EPA standards is approved, it would continue the existing mandatory record keeping collection of ongoing activities including monitoring of any potential employee exposure at uncontrolled hazardous waste sites, maintaining records of employee training, refresher training, medical exams, and reviewing emergency response plans.

Brian Karnofsky Jailed for Muscular Dystrophy

Brian has been arrested and will be put in jail for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) lock-up. We need to collect $2,000 for the MDA to help bail him out. Your tax deductible donation will help MDA continue research into the causes and cures for 43 neuromuscular diseases.

If you enjoy reading the Environmental Tip of the Week, now is the time to help us give hope to kids and families that need our help.

Brian is the President of Environmental Resource Center. Many of you helped bail him out in 2007 and 2008, but he’s on his way back to jail this year. Don’t bother asking what crimes he’s committed—just know that we need your help bailing him out.

EPA Seeks Additional Review and Extends Effective Date of Oil SPCC Requirements


EPA is requesting public comment on the extension of the effective date and its duration as well as on the regulatory amendments contained in the final rule. Comments must be received on or before March 5, 2009. See the February 3, Federal Register notice for details about submitting a comment.

EPA Seeking Comments on Hazardous Waste Facility Standards

 This ICR is scheduled to expire on June 30, 2009. Before submitting the ICR to OMB for review and approval, EPA is soliciting comments on specific aspects of the proposed information collection as described below. Comments must be submitted on or before April 6, 2009.

Section 3004 of RCRA, as amended, requires that EPA develop standards for hazardous waste treatment, storage, and disposal (TSD) facilities so that the standards protect human health and the environment. Subsections 3004(a)(1),(3),(4),(5), and (6) specify that these standards must include, but not be limited to:

  • Maintaining records of all hazardous wastes identified or listed under subtitle C that are treated, stored, or disposed of, and the manner in which such wastes were treated, stored, or disposed of;
  • Operating methods, techniques, and practices for treatment, storage, or disposal of hazardous waste;
  • Location, design, and construction of such hazardous waste treatment, disposal, or storage facilities;
  • Contingency plans for effective action to minimize unanticipated damage from any treatment, storage, or disposal of any such hazardous waste; and
  • Maintaining or operating such facilities and requiring such additional qualifications as to ownership, continuity of operation, training for personnel, and financial responsibility as may be necessary or desirable.

The regulations implementing these requirements are codified in 40 CFR parts 264 and 265. The collection of this information enables EPA to properly determine whether owners/operators of TSD facilities meet the requirements of Section 3004(a) of RCRA.

The ICR applies to businesses and other for-profit entities, as well as state, local, and tribal governments that are subject to the general hazardous waste facility standards under OMB Control No. 2050-0120.

EPA is particularly interested in obtaining information that will enable it to:
Evaluate whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Agency, including whether the information will have practical utility;

  • Evaluate the accuracy of the Agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information, including the validity of the methodology and assumptions used;
  • Enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
  • Minimize the burden of the collection of information on those who are to respond, including through the use of appropriate automated electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology, e.g., permitting electronic submission of responses.

In particular, EPA is requesting comments from very small businesses (those that employ less than 25 employees) on examples of specific additional efforts that EPA could make to reduce the paperwork burden for very small businesses affected by this information collection requirement.

EPA Revisits California Motor Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Waiver Decision

 The waiver request was made by California on December 21, 2005, to allow the state the right to control greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles. The request was denied by then-EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson on March 6, 2008.


“EPA has now set in motion an impartial review of the California waiver decision,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “It is imperative that we get this decision right, and base it on the best available science and a thorough understanding of the law.”

The Clean Air Act gives EPA the authority to allow California to adopt its own emission standards for motor vehicles due to the seriousness of the state’s air pollution challenges. There is a long-standing history of EPA granting waivers to the state of California. EPA believes that there are significant issues regarding the agency’s denial of the waiver. The denial was a substantial departure from EPA’s longstanding interpretation of the Clean Air Act’s waiver provisions.

Many other states are interested in adopting California’s standards. Stakeholders and the public have expressed concerns.

EPA will take public comment concerning the reconsideration of the waiver for a period of 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. There will also be a public hearing to be held in March in Washington, D.C.

Pennsylvania Law Limiting Heavy-Duty Vehicles to Idling Five Minutes per Hour Now In Effect

Pennsylvania’s Governor Edward G. Rendell signed the Diesel-Powered Motor Vehicle Idling Act (Act 124) on October 9, 2008. The state law restricts heavy-duty diesel vehicles from idling more than five minutes per hour and had an effective date of February 6, 2009. 

Act 124 applies to diesel-powered motor vehicles engaged in commerce with a gross weight of 10,001 pounds or more that are not specifically exempted. Most trucks and buses are subject to the act, though farm-related equipment and vehicles are exempt.

Truck and bus drivers often idle their engines during rest periods to heat or cool their sleeper compartment, to keep the engine warm during cold weather, and to provide electrical power for their appliances. Trucks with sleeper berths are exempted during times of low and high temperatures until May 1, 2010, providing a reasonable amount of time for truckers to make alternative arrangements for sleeping, such as using an electrified truck-stop parking space or buying equipment that provides power without idling.

The DEP’s Small Business Advantage Grant program has invested more than $1 million on top of the nearly $2 million truck owners and operators have spent to purchase 238 auxiliary power systems. Other investments by the commonwealth, in conjunction with those by private enterprises, have made 11 truck-stop electrifications systems available across the state. 


City Manager and City Supervisor Receive Prison Sentences for Asbestos Violations

Elk City, Oklahoma, City Manager, Guy R. Hylton, Jr., and Elk City Supervisor, Chick Arthur Little, convicted of violations of the federal Clean Air Act, will serve out prison sentences at a Federal Prison Camp in Big Spring, Texas.

The two men were originally indicted by a federal grand jury on December 19, 2006, for using Elk City inmates to renovate the Rock Island Railroad Depot in Elk City without providing respiratory protection, protective clothing, or taking other required measures used for the removal of asbestos. Asbestos causes a wide range of illnesses, including various forms of cancer, including mesothelioma, and asbestosis, a usually fatal lung disease.

Following a trial, a jury in Oklahoma City found each man guilty of negligent endangerment by allowing the release of asbestos in a way that created a danger of death or serious bodily injury to the inmates who were working for the city as part of a work-release program. Little was additionally convicted of felony false statements related to lying to investigators conducting the criminal investigation which led to his indictment.

In January, a U.S. District Judge ordered Hylton to serve six months in federal prison and pay a $15,000 fine. The Judge ordered Little to serve eight months in federal prison, serve two years of supervised release upon release from prison, and perform 104 hours of community service in lieu of a fine.

“EPA will continue to vigorously enforce our nation’s environmental laws through a strong enforcement program,” said EPA Special Agent in Charge Warren Amburn. “We must hold those accountable who endanger others and lie to federal officials to cover up their misconduct.”

Both men appealed their convictions to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and learned this week the court issued orders and judgments affirming their convictions and sentences. As a result of the failed appeal and his looming prison sentence, Guy Hylton resigned as Elk City’s Manager effective February 16, 2009.

Chick Arthur Little has been ordered to report to the Federal Prison Camp in Big Spring on Friday, February 20, 2009, and Guy Hylton has been ordered to report to the same facility on Friday, March 6, 2009.

Dumping Raw Sewage Leads to Fines and Prison Sentences for Two in Puerto Rico

An EPA investigation into Clean Water Act (CWA) violations in Puerto Rico has led to prison sentences for two defendants convicted of engaging in a scheme that involved the dumping of raw sewage into the Jimenez Creek, a tributary of the Espiritu Santo River in Puerto Rico. Braulio Agosto Vega, his company, Braulio Agosto Motors, Inc., and Juan Agosto Vega have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Puerto Rico on three counts of violations of the CWA and one count of conspiracy to violate the CWA.

Braulio Agosto Vega was sentenced to two years of imprisonment, a fine of $35,000, and three years of supervised release with community service. His company was sentenced to three years of probation, a fine of $75,000, and is required to continue emptying overflowing septic tanks in an appropriate manner. Juan Agosto Vega, Braulio’s brother, was sentenced to one year in prison, a fine of $10,000, and 104 hours of community service at a recycling plant.

According to the indictment, from October 2004 through March 2005, a Braulio Agosto Motors Inc. registered truck discharged septic waste into a storm drain that emptied into the Jimenez Creek, a tributary of the Espiritu Santo River. EPA worked closely with other federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), to form the case around the defendants that ultimately led to their conviction.

The investigation began when EPA’s San Juan office received a letter from a concerned citizen. The letter included a photograph of a truck registered under Braulio Agosto Motors, Inc. dumping raw sewage into Jimenez Creek. An EPA enforcement officer was sent to the site to investigate the claim. EPA, in conjunction with the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board, took samples that indicated the body of water had been impacted. FBI located witnesses from the Rio Grade area and gathered testimony.

Crown Chemical and Crown Officers Sentenced to Fines, Confinement, and Probation for Illegally Dumping Industrial Waste into Sewer System

Following an EPA criminal investigation, James E. Spain, former president of Crown Chemical Inc., in Crestwood, Illinois, will pay a criminal fine of $30,000, spend 12 months in “home confinement,” and will spend three years on probation. Spain plead guilty to illegally dumping chemical wastes into the regional sewer system. Crown Chemical Inc., which also pleaded guilty to charges in the case, was sentenced to pay a criminal fine of $100,000, required to spend a year on probation, and make a public apology. The company’s manager, Catalino Uy, was sentenced to a fine of $5,000 and will spend two years on probation. The case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division Midwestern office.

In 2006, Spain was charged with illegal discharge of acidic and caustic wastewater, lying to federal investigators, and conspiracy. As a part of his guilty plea, Spain admitted that he showed employees how to discharge the untreated wastewater to the local sewers, and that on occasion he also directed employees to use a hose to try to dilute the waste being discharged.

Spain has acknowledged that the illegal discharges extended for 16 years, from 1985 until 2001, when special agents from EPA served a criminal search warrant at the Crown facility. Spain also admitted that, during the execution of the warrant, he lied to federal investigators. In addition, Spain admitted that he telephoned several employees before they arrived for work and told them to falsely tell investigators that they treated the wastewater before they discharged it.

EPA Special Agent in Charge Randall K. Ashe said, “People who cheat on environmental laws to save money need to know that we will investigate them and prosecute them to the full extent of the law.”

Crown Chemical Inc. manufactures industrial and commercial home cleaning products. According to the indictment in the case, wastewater resulting from cleaning out tanks at the facility routinely was drained to the city sewer system, despite the fact that the discharges violated standards for their acid content and at times for their caustic content as well. The sewer system in Crestwood is a regional system that connects to a treatment plant owned by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago. Federal and local laws prohibit the discharges of acidic waste to local sewer systems.

EPA Orders Global Environmental Methods to Cease Operations

EPA, in coordination with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ), has ordered Global Environmental Methods to cease all operations at their waste oil and industrial process waste management and treatment facility in New Iberia, Louisiana. The facility is in violation of its discharge permit issued by the LDEQ.

“We hope that other facilities that are willfully disobeying the environmental regulations take notice. There are so many businesses that operate within the rules. Those who don’t should expect to face the stiffest enforcement action possible,” said Peggy Hatch, LDEQ’s Assistant Secretary of the Office of Environmental Compliance.

On February 4, 2009, EPA and LDEQ representatives conducted an inspection at the facility during which numerous deficiencies and discrepancies were observed, all in violation of the requirements of their state issued permit. These deficiencies and discrepancies included inadequate treatment of process wastewater and waste oil, and discharge volumes significantly greater than the total available treatment and storage capacity. Inspectors also noted the current treatment process varied significantly from the treatment process described in the discharge permit application submitted to LDEQ and were unable to determine the facility’s compliance status with the permit due to lack of documentation.

Inspectors also observed twenty-seven 55-gallon drums in poor condition and some were leaking. The contents of the drums were not consistent with drum labeling. Soil staining, indicating a release of petroleum waste, was observed in several areas throughout the facility and included a path that led directly to Commercial Channel which discharges to Vermilion Bay. The facility’s wastewater treatment system was leaking pollutants suspected to be hazardous waste.

Based on these findings, EPA, in coordination with LDEQ, has ordered Global Environmental Methods to cease all operations at the facility, including discharges of wastes or any process water, and to stop accepting any waste material for storage or treatment. Global Environmental Methods has also been ordered to notify EPA and the state within 15 days of the details and efforts conducted to cease and desist all operations at the facility and within 30 days submit a report to EPA and LDEQ detailing all actions to comply with the order.

Kentucky Utilities to Spend More than $135 Million to Settle Clean Air Violations

EPA and the Department of Justice have announced that Kentucky Utilities (KU), a coal-fired electric utility, has agreed to pay a $1.4 million civil penalty and spend approximately $135 million on pollution controls to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act.

KU has agreed to install new pollution control equipment on its largest generating unit that will reduce combined emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides by more than 31,000 tons per year, which is 90% below the 2007 emission levels. KU will also install controls to reduce particulate matter emissions by approximately 1,000 tons per year.

KU will spend approximately $3 million on projects to benefit the environment and mitigate the adverse effects of the alleged violations including:

  • Contribute $1.8 million to a pilot project on the effectiveness of storing compressed carbon dioxide gas, a by-product of coal combustion, in deep injection wells;
  • Spend $1 million to retrofit school buses with filters or other controls to reduce emissions of particulate matter; and
  • Pay $200,000 to the National Park Service to help restore Mammoth Cave National Park.

Coal-fired power plants are allowed to emit sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides as allowances, which are granted under federal or state acid rain permits. Once surrendered, these allowances cannot be used again, thus removing the emissions from the environment permanently. KU has agreed to surrender the excess nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide allowances it will have after installing the pollution controls.

In a complaint filed in March of 2007, the government alleged that KU modified the largest coal-fired electrical generating unit at the E. W. Brown Generating Station in Mercer County, Kentucky without installing required pollution control equipment or complying with applicable emission limits, in violation of the Clean Air Act. The unit has been operating since 1971, and the modifications made in 1997 allowed the unit to increase the amount of coal it burned and increase the amount and rate of emissions for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate matter. The government discovered the violations through an information request submitted to KU.

The settlement is part of the EPA’s enforcement initiative to control harmful emissions from coal-fired power plants under the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review requirements. The total combined sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emission reductions secured from these settlements will exceed more than 1.8 million tons each year once all the required pollution controls have been installed and implemented.

Kentucky Utilities, based in Lexington, Kentucky, generates and distributes electricity to more than 500,000 customers in Kentucky and Virginia. It owns and operates five coal-fired electrical generating stations in Kentucky. 

Patriot Coal Will Pay $6.5 Million to Settle Clean Water Act Violations

Patriot Coal Corporation, one of the largest coal mining companies in the United States, has agreed to pay a $6.5 million civil penalty to settle violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA). This is the third largest penalty ever paid in a federal CWA case for discharge permit violations.

In addition, Patriot has agreed to extensive measures designed to ensure CWA compliance at its mines in West Virginia. The consent decree includes innovative and heightened operating standards which should serve as a model for the coal mining industry in Central Appalachia.

In a joint complaint filed concurrently with the consent decree, the United States and the State of West Virginia alleged that Patriot violated its CWA permits more than 1,400 times—representing over 22,000 days of violations between January 2003 and December 2007 at its mining complexes in West Virginia. During this time, Patriot and its subsidiaries allegedly discharged excess amounts of metals, sediment, and other pollutants into dozens of rivers and streams in West Virginia.

As part of the settlement, Patriot has agreed to implement extensive measures to prevent future violations and to perform environmental projects, at a total estimated cost of $6 million. Specifically, Patriot will develop and implement a company-wide compliance-focused environmental management system including creating a database to track information relevant to compliance efforts; conduct regular internal and third-party environmental compliance audits; implement a system of tiered response actions for any possible future violations; and conduct annual training for all employees and contractors with environmental responsibilities. The company will also perform five stream restoration projects in local watersheds and perform assessments of mining impacts on aquatic life.

With corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Patriot owns and operates 16 mining complexes in West Virginia and Kentucky.

The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. 

A-Dec Inc. Fined Nearly $326,000 for Selling Unregistered Pesticide

EPA has reached a $325,700 settlement with A-Dec Inc. for 116 violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). To date, this is the largest FIFRA settlement in the Pacific Northwest.

The settlement follows an Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) inspection of A-Dec’s Newberg, Oregon facility on April 17, 2007. The ODA inspection was in response to a tip received by EPA, which stated that A-Dec was selling an unregistered pesticide. EPA’s subsequent investigation found that A-Dec was selling its product, “ICX,” without EPA registration.

According to Michelle Pirzadeh, EPA’s acting Regional Administrator in Seattle, selling a pesticide before it is registered circumvents the multiple safeguards put in place by EPA to ensure the safety and efficacy of a product.

ICX is a dental waterline cleaner, which claimed to control bacterial contamination. A-Dec applied for registration in 2006; however, A-Dec sold the product before the product was registered. EPA put a stop-sale on ICX in September 2008. This stop-sale was in place until the product was registered later that month. EPA had information showing that A-Dec sold ICX from 2006-2008 before the product was registered.

A-Dec sold ICX to dental practices, dental schools, and military bases across the United States. A-Dec Inc. has since registered ICX and has resumed selling the product.

Improper Asbestos Removal Results in Fines Totaling $300,000

EPA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut have reached a settlement with Anderson-Wilcox Corp. and Cutting Edge Concepts II LLC, for alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act due to improper removal and disposal of asbestos at a New Haven, Conn. property that underwent renovation in 2002. The settlement requires the companies to pay a fine of $300,000 for the violations.

The violations occurred in the spring and summer of 2002 during a renovation project of a vacant commercial property dating back to the late 1800s. Cutting Edge Concepts, the owner of the property, hired Anderson-Wilcox, a construction company, who in turn retained a subcontractor to remove debris and perform construction/renovation work at the 19,500 square foot masonry structure.

Despite being aware of the likelihood that asbestos was present throughout the basement of the building, the two companies failed to conduct any bulk sampling of suspected material to confirm the presence of asbestos, nor did they follow proper procedures for the safe removal and disposal of asbestos. Instead, the companies instructed the subcontractor to remove suspected asbestos-containing materials and debris from the basement and dispose of them in standard trash dumpsters, potentially putting workers and the public at risk. The subcontractor was also directed to remove other building components, including a large amount of vinyl floor tiles from the upper floors that were believed to contain asbestos and to dispose of them in the same open-topped dumpsters located outside the building. The companies failed to ensure that these tiles and at least 20 bags of asbestos-containing pipe lagging from the basement were kept wet, as required by regulation to prevent asbestos fibers from becoming airborne.

State officials alerted EPA to the potential violations after receiving a tip. The activities were in violation of the federal Clean Air Act and the National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants for asbestos (Asbestos NESHAP). Specific violations included failure to: thoroughly inspect the facility prior to beginning a renovation; failure to notify EPA or the delegated state authority of the renovation; failure to keep asbestos adequately wet during stripping; failure to keep asbestos adequately wet before collection and containment for disposal; failure to properly label containers as required; and failure to deposit asbestos waste at a proper disposal site.

Breathing asbestos fibers can cause lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity. It is important for developers and construction companies to have trained inspectors perform thorough asbestos inspections prior to conducting renovation or demolition work to ensure that adequate measures are taken to protect the health of on-site workers and the general public.

RMP Violations Will Cost Jack Frost Fruit Company over $100,000

The Jack Frost Fruit Company, of Yakima, Washington, has agreed to pay $20,554 for alleged violations of EPA’s Risk Management Program requirements. The Risk Management Program is designed to protect public health and the environment from accidental releases of harmful chemicals. EPA found that Jack Frost lacked a prevention program to protect the public and the environment from an off-site release of anhydrous ammonia.

As part of the settlement, Jack Frost has corrected all alleged violations and has agreed to spend at least $85,000 to implement two Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) within the next twelve months. The SEPs involve taking steps at its facility to reduce the risk of release of anhydrous ammonia from its pipes and providing communications and rescue equipment to local area fire departments to improve the departments’ capabilities in responding to hazardous material emergencies in a safe and effective environment.

The Company uses more than 10,000 lbs of anhydrous ammonia for refrigeration at its cold storage warehouse in Yakima, Washington. Under the law, any facility that uses, stores, manufactures, or handles more than 10,000 lbs of anhydrous ammonia is required to prepare and submit a Risk Management Plan to EPA.

Anhydrous ammonia is one of the most potentially dangerous chemicals used in refrigeration and agriculture today. Few problems occur when the ammonia is being handled properly; but most accidents with anhydrous ammonia are due to uncontrolled or accidental releases.

Specific items required by the Risk Management Program include: development of an emergency response or action plan, hazard evaluation of a “worst case and more probable case” chemical release, operator training, review of the hazards associated with using toxic or flammable substances, and operating procedures and equipment maintenance.

Inergy Propane, LLC Fined $157,500 for Inadequate Spill Prevention Controls

Inergy Propane, LLC will pay $157,500 for failing to adequately prepare and implement federally regulated oil spill prevention, control and countermeasure (SPCC) plans at four of their heating oil distribution facilities in New Hampshire.

The Inergy facilities were originally inspected by EPA and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services as part of an effort to improve compliance at oil storage facilities that could pose a threat to water supplies. 

The four Inergy facilities in New Hampshire have a combined oil storage capacity of about 360,000 gallons and are located in Atkinson, Brentwood, Derry and Hampstead. Inergy operates approximately a dozen New England facilities that are subject to federal oil SPCC regulations.

Following EPA’s inspection and contacts with the company, Inergy had been responsive to the requests to bring their facilities into compliance. Under the terms of the settlement, Inergy has also committed to ensuring that all of their regulated New England facilities are in full compliance by July 1, 2009.

Oil spill prevention requirements under the Federal Clean Water Act can apply to certain oil storage and distribution facilities if their storage capacity rises above 1,320 gallons and due to their location, the facility could ever reasonably be anticipated to release oil products into a waterway of the United States or adjoining shoreline area. If these criteria are met, these facilities must implement SPCC plans and utilize spill containment systems to reduce the likelihood of an accident or spill that could endanger public health and the environment.

Hanson Pipe and Precast Inc. Fined $147,000 for Storm Water Violations

The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has issued a $147,000 fine against Hanson Pipe and Precast Inc., a Tacoma manufacturer of concrete products. The fine is for violations of the company’s sand and gravel permit and failure to treat contaminated storm water. Specifically, Ecology inspectors cited Hanson Pipe and Precast Inc. for 27 violations of the pollutant levels specified in its sand and gravel permit from the second quarter of 2007 through the second quarter of 2008.

Storm water from the Hanson property is becoming contaminated from poor housekeeping practices from the manufacturing of its products, including concrete pipes, manholes, and catch basins. Ecology cited the company for failure to:

  • Prevent the discharge of wastewater resulting from concrete manufacturing
  • Comply with permitted discharge limits
  • Control concrete dust
  • Prevent oil from contaminating storm water

This penalty notice is the second Hanson has received since it was issued an $8,000 penalty in July 2007.

Allied Waste Systems of Pennsylvania Fined $65,000 for Landfill Violations

Allied Waste Systems of Pennsylvania, LLC (Allied), has been fined $65,000 by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for accepting waste at its Imperial Landfill on August 21, 2008 without first weighing it on a certified scale, a serious violation of its landfill permit.

The landfill’s scale malfunctioned shortly after midnight, leaving Allied with no way to weigh incoming waste. Rather than diverting haulers to other landfills in the area, Allied chose to estimate the weight of the waste based on previously recorded weights for each type of vehicle. Allied reported the problem and that it had estimated the weight of 137 trucks to DEP five days later.

“Allied had several options to deal with its problem, but estimating the amount of waste it was accepting was not one of them,” said Kenneth Bowman, DEP Southwest Regional Director. “This penalty demonstrates the seriousness with which DEP takes these violations.”

The state relies on operators of municipal waste landfills to weigh and accurately record the amount of waste collected both to ensure that the landfill does not exceed its daily limits, and to calculate the fees owed to the state, county, and host municipalities. The tipping fees collected by the host county and the host municipality pay for a range of community improvements including road maintenance and park improvements. The state tipping fees fund environmental stewardship programs and municipal recycling grant programs.

EPA Fines Idaho Developer $47,700 for Construction Storm Water Discharge Violations

Craig Frame, a developer in Crouch, Idaho, will pay a $47,700 penalty for Clean Water Act violations involving storm water runoff from a construction site.

“Failing to control construction site storm water can seriously damage Idaho’s waters,” said Jim Werntz, EPA Idaho Operations Office Director in Boise. “Idaho property owners and developers need to prepare plans, apply for the right permits in advance and carefully control site storm water to protect our rivers, lakes and streams.”

While some sediment is a natural component of all runoff, excessive sediment from sources like uncontrolled construction sites chokes fish and insects and can smother eggs and larva. Sediment can also destroy fish habitat, raise stream temperatures and hurt all aquatic life that depends on cold, clear water.

Developers and general contractors are required to obtain coverage under EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit for Storm Water Discharges from Construction Activities, also known as the Construction General Permit. A permit is required when activities at a construction site (of more than one acre) will result in a discharge to waters of the U.S. The alleged violations in this case included a failure to apply for a permit and discharging without a permit.

NuChrome Faces Penalties Up to $32,500 Per Day for Repeated Hazardous Waste Violations

On behalf of the EPA, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts has filed a Complaint in federal District Court against NuChrome, Inc., Nu-Chrome Restoration Corp., and Custom Chrome, LLC (“NuChrome”), all of Fall River, Massachusetts, and Donald Kemp, of Marion, Massachusetts, for numerous repeated violations of hazardous waste management laws. The three companies are affiliated and are managed by Donald Kemp who is the sole corporate officer of the businesses.

The Complaint was filed in federal court because of Nuchrome’s repeated failure to adhere to previous EPA orders that the company comply with hazardous waste laws. The company faces penalties of up to $32,500 for each day of each violation, as well as the imperative to comply with all applicable hazardous waste management laws.

The Complaint alleges that NuChrome treated and stored hazardous waste without a permit, failed to conduct hazardous waste determinations, failed to conduct inspections of hazardous waste storage areas, and failed to label and date containers of hazardous waste.

NuChrome has faced EPA sanctions for violations of hazardous waste management laws dating back to 1999. Follow-up inspections of the facility in 2004, 2006, and 2008 revealed that NuChrome continued to violate many of the same hazardous waste management regulations cited in the 1999 action.

The company maintains a metal plating facility in Fall River, Massachusetts. The plating process generates chromium, nickel and copper sludges, corrosive wastewater, and cyanide process wastewater.

Golden Sunlight Mines, Inc. to Pay Almost $14,000 for Clean Air Act Violation

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently settled its enforcement action against Golden Sunlight Mines, Inc. for failing to comply with their Montana Air Quality Permit at their open pit gold mining operation near Whitehall, Montana. Golden Sunlight will pay the DEQ an administrative penalty of $13,800.


Golden Sunlight’s air quality permit requires their refining furnace to be totally enclosed with all emissions being vented to a wet scrubber. Montana rules require the owner or operator of an emitting unit to operate all emission control equipment to provide the maximum air pollution control for which it was designed. Due to a leak in the piping system, Golden Sunlight failed to operate the wet scrubber installed on the refining furnace exhaust for a total of 12 hours during refinery operations.

Golden Sunlight has repaired the leak and has new procedures in place to ensure that a similar violation does not occur again. Golden Sunlight also conducted employee training to ensure all the operators are aware of the need to immediately report malfunctions involving control equipment.

Ohio EPA Fines Gorman-Rupp $12,400 for Hazardous Waste Violations

The Gorman-Rupp Company will pay a $12,400 civil penalty to Ohio EPA for hazardous waste management violations at the company’s Mansfield facility. Gorman-Rupp manufactures pumps and pumping systems for use in municipal, water, wastewater, sewage, industrial, construction, petroleum, and fire markets. The violations have since been corrected.

On February 27, 2007, Ohio EPA inspected the facility and found several violations of hazardous waste regulations. The primary violations involved improper handling and disposal of acetone solvent that had been used for cleaning paint guns. The company had been spraying the acetone waste onto cardboard and allowing the solvent to evaporate into the air.

In addition, the company failed to evaluate the cardboard and acetone waste to determine if either were hazardous waste. The cardboard containing the acetone waste was disposed at a landfill without first determining if it needed to be treated before disposal. Other violations included failing to submit proper paperwork for an April 2006 bulk shipment of waste mineral spirits after a tank was cleaned out and improper storage and labeling of used fluorescent lamps.

Industrial Builders Inc. to Pay $8,690 for Damages to the Heart River in North Dakota

Industrial Builders, Inc. has reached an agreement with EPA to pay a civil penalty of $8,690 for unauthorized placement of fill material into the Heart River and adjacent wetlands in Morton County, North Dakota in December 2007. The CWA prohibits the discharge of any pollutant to waters and wetlands unless authorized by a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps).

The alleged violations occurred while Industrial Builders was working under a contract from the North Dakota Department of Transportation (NDDOT) to replace the Heart River bridge. The company’s plan, as permitted by the Corps, included the construction of a bridge support in the river’s bed and specified access for project activities from the western shore of the river.

On December 12, 2007, Industrial Builders, without authorization from the Corps, allegedly deposited fill material into the Heart River and on the river’s west bank. After encountering difficulty obtaining access for its equipment in this area, Industrial Builders, again without authorization from the Corps, leveled a section of the east bank and filled adjacent wetlands and approximately two-thirds of the river channel. The fill formed a continuous roadway which was then used to move heavy machinery into the river.

The illegal fill was removed by Industrial Builders the day after it was discovered by NDDOT and an inspection was conducted by the Corps. The company subsequently applied for appropriate authorization, which was granted, allowing Industrial Builders to complete construction in accordance with conditions imposed by the Corps.

A permit from the Corps is required before performing any work that results in the placement of material into waters, including rivers, lakes, streams, and wetlands. Industrial Builders had prior knowledge of the permitting process as the company has worked on several projects that required CWA permits and has incurred two prior violations.

Clean Air Lawsuit Filed Against Westar Energy as Part of National Initiative to Stop Illegal Pollution from Coal-Fired Power Plants

The United States has filed a complaint against Westar Energy alleging that the company violated the Clean Air Act by making major modifications to the Jeffrey Energy Center, a coal-fired power plant in St. Marys, Kansas, without also installing and operating modern pollution control equipment. The complaint alleges that for more than a decade, the Jeffrey Energy Center has operated without the best available emissions-control technology required by the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act to control emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate matter.

The lawsuit, filed by the Justice Department on behalf of the EPA, asks the court to order Westar Energy to install and operate appropriate air pollution control technology in order to substantially reduce sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and particulate matter emissions from the Jeffrey Energy Center. The United States also seeks civil penalties up to the maximum amount authorized by law, as well as actions on the part of Westar Energy to mitigate the adverse effects caused by the alleged violations.

Coal-fired power plants collectively produce more pollution than any other industry in the United States. They account for nearly 70% of sulfur dioxide emissions each year and 20% of nitrogen oxides emissions. EPA and the Justice Department are pursuing a national initiative targeting electric utilities whose coal-fired power plants violate the law.

New Resources on Climate and Sustainability

The Houston Advanced Research Center has launched two unique public resources on climate change and sustainability—the Texas Climate Initiative () and Texas Climate News ().

The goal is for the TCI and TCN websites to help meet “virtual” research, information, and news needs. Both will give special attention to the risks and opportunities for Texas in the changing climate of the 21st century.

The TCI site will be of particular benefit to Texas educators, policy makers, and others working in the areas of climate and sustainability.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Enforcement Actions Total More Than $300,000 in Fourth Quarter of 2008

 The cases occurred at facilities in 26 counties throughout Minnesota. In all of 2008, 176 cases were concluded totaling $1,643,866 in penalties.

Wal-Mart Tests New Hybrid Trucks and Alternative Fuels and Surpasses Goal of 25% Fleet Efficiency Gain in Three Years

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has announced it will test two new types of heavy-duty commercial hybrid trucks and two different alternatively fueled heavy duty trucks as a part of the company’s efforts to build on its progress in developing a more sustainable trucking fleet. The new trucks include:

  • A full-propulsion Arvin Meritor hybrid that will initially operate in the Detroit area
  • Fifteen trucks operating at a distribution center near Phoenix, Arizona will be converted to run on Reclaimed Grease Fuel™, made with the waste brown cooking grease from Walmart stores, with the remaining trucks located at the distribution center being operated on an 80/20 blend of biodiesel made of reclaimed yellow waste grease
  • Five Peterbilt Model 386 heavy duty hybrid trucks with diesel-electric hybrid power systems developed by Eaton Corporation and PACCAR
  • Four Peterbilt Model 386 trucks and one yard truck, which operates only on the property of a distribution center, will operate on liquid natural gas

“In order to meet our goal of doubling our fleet efficiency, we are taking an active role in the development of these technologies,” said Chris Sultemeier, senior vice president of transportation for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. “We look forward to determining if these technologies will help reduce our environmental footprint, are viable for our business and provide a return on investment.”

Wal-Mart achieved more than a 25% increase in efficiency within its private fleet between 2005 and 2008, surpassing one of the company’s stated sustainability goals. By reaching this goal, Wal-Mart has been able to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions and its fuel use. This goal was reached by using a combination of new, innovative technologies, better delivery routes, and by loading its trailers more efficiently. Now, the company is working toward its goal of doubling its fleet efficiency by 2015, from its 2005 baseline. Part of this pilot program is to determine if alternatively fueled trucks can help move Wal-Mart toward that goal in addition to reducing environmental impacts.

Wal-Mart has actively engaged several suppliers to develop and test these new technologies. This includes Arvin Meritor, Eaton, Peterbilt, and International as well as smaller companies. Wal-Mart will test these new technologies throughout 2009.

ConEdison and Arizona Public Service Take Action Against Climate Change and Receive Award for Addressing Most Potent Greenhouse Gas

EPA has recognized two electric power companies for their actions to reduce emissions of sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), a potent greenhouse gas, by the equivalent of the emissions from 1.5 million cars. 

“ConEdison is to be commended for its early action on climate protection and its commitment to sharing information across the sector,” said George Pavlou, Acting EPA Regional Administrator. “These companies demonstrate that through partnerships and dedication to emissions reductions, the power transmission sector can reduce emissions of SF6 significantly.”

SF6 is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere at a rate of about 23,000 times higher than carbon dioxide, making it the most potent greenhouse gas currently in use. Once emitted, SF6 remains in the atmosphere for over 3,000 years resulting in an essentially irreversible impact on the climate. SF6 is used by the electric power industry as an insulator in the high voltage equipment that transmits and distributes electricity between generating stations and customer load centers.

By replacing equipment and improving leak detection, ConEdison has prevented 670,000 pounds of SF6 from entering the atmosphere from 1999 to 2007, which is equivalent to the annual emissions from over 1.3 million cars.

APS has prevented more than 100,000 pounds of SF6 from entering the atmosphere during the period from 2001 to 2007 by adopting improved handling and maintenance practices and increasing SF6 recycling. These actions have prevented the equivalent of annual emissions from over 200,000 cars.

The SF6 Emission Reduction Partnership for Electric Power Systems, which was launched in 1999, is a collaborative effort between EPA and the electric power industry to identify and implement cost-effective solutions to reduce SF6 emissions. Currently 81 utilities participate in this voluntary program.

National Green Building Standard Approved By ANSI

The National Green Building Standard (ICC 700-2008) for residential construction work including single-family homes, apartments and condos, land development, and remodeling and renovation has been approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The National Green Building Standard is the first green building rating system to be approved by ANSI. The standard defines what green practices can be incorporated into residential development and construction on a national scale and how home owners can operate and maintain their green homes.

As part of the stringent process required by ANSI, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the International Code Council assembled a fully inclusive and representative consensus committee composed of a broad spectrum of builders, architects, product manufacturers, regulators, and environmental experts. This group deliberated the content of the standard for more than a year, held four public hearings, and evaluated more than 2,000 public comments submitted for consideration.

. The Research Center also administers a national verification and certification program for green homes through NAHBGreen, the NAHB National Green Building Program, and can now offer certification for residential projects to this new standard.

EPA Announces Small Business Innovation Research Grant Awards

SBIR has helped spawn successful commercial ventures that not only improve our environment, but also create jobs, increase productivity and economic growth, and enhance the international competitiveness of the U.S. technology industry.

Approximately 25 million small businesses in the United States employ more than 50% of the American workforce and develop most of the country’s new technologies. SBIR was established to ensure that new technologies are developed to solve priority environmental problems and is just one example of EPA’s commitment to achieving real world environmental results through the use of innovative technology. Examples of small businesses that have received the SBIR grants include:

  • Constellation Technology Corporation in Largo, Florida has been awarded $70,000 to develop an integrated recovery and detection system for online water supply monitoring. The integrated system is designed to efficiently capture and recover pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, and toxins from water supplies and to detect and identify those pathogens in an automated fashion.
  • Innova Tech, Inc. in Morrisville, North Carolina has been awarded $70,000 to develop a new cost-effective emissions control system for restaurant underfired charbroilers. Some of the anticipated benefits of the system are: ease of maintenance/service, increased environmental compliance, reduced operational costs, elimination of contaminated media disposal in landfills, and longer service life.
  • Sol-gel Solutions, LLC (Sol-gel), in Gainesville, Florida has been awarded $69,795 to develop a purification system for aircraft cabin air using Silica-Titania Composites (STC), an innovative technology developed at the University of Florida. Poor air quality in aircraft cabins has been identified as a cause for negative health effects on pilots and flight crews, and symptoms can pose a serious threat if experienced by pilots or crew members during flight. STC has been successfully demonstrated to remove volatile organic compounds, a major source of indoor air pollution, and Sol-gel has licensed the technology for commercialization. While this research is focused on the airline industry, the system could work equally well for residential and commercial indoor air purification.

The awards that have been issued are the first phase of a multi-phase process to develop and commercialize these new technologies. If the results of the first phase are successful, the companies will be able to submit proposals for Phase II contracts of up to $345,000 which will assist in commercializing the technology.

Since its inception in 1982, EPA’s SBIR program has helped fund more than 600 small businesses through its two-phased approach. Phase I awards are used to investigate the scientific merit and technical feasibility of a proposed concept. If the results of this phase are successful, businesses can submit proposals for Phase II contracts, which can reach amounts up to $225,000.

The EPA SBIR Phase I Solicitation is now closed and the next SBIR solicitation will open in March 2009. EPA technology needs are described in the last Phase I Solicitation information which is still available on the EPA SBIR website.

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Trivia Question of the Week

How much money can the average American household save when air conditioner filters are replaced as recommended?
a. $100
b. $150
c. $800
d. $1500