February 24, 2020
As part of the EPA Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Action Plan, the agency is proposing regulations on imported products that contain certain persistent long-chain PFAS chemicals that are used as surface coatings. While EPA believes the use of these chemicals as surface coatings in imported goods has been phased out, this supplemental proposal would ensure that any new uses are reviewed by EPA before any products containing these chemicals could be imported into the United States again. As part of the agency’s review, EPA has the authority to place restrictions on the import of products containing these chemicals as part of a surface coating.
“Today’s action would close a loophole that currently allows new uses of products that include certain PFAS chemicals as part of surface coatings that have been phased out in the United States to be imported into our country,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This action, along with many other critical steps we’ve taken over the past year, continues to demonstrate EPA’s commitment to protecting public health and aggressively addressing these chemicals in the United States.”
EPA’s proposal supplements a previously proposed rule on PFAS imports by clarifying the categories of products that would be covered under the significant new use rule (SNUR). The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) provides EPA the authority to regulate products that are imported as an article, meaning goods that are imported as a component of another product. By clarifying the previously proposed rule, the agency is aligning its regulations with the Lautenberg Act amendments to TSCA.
When finalized, this rule will prevent products like furniture, automobile parts, electronics, and household appliances that could contain these PFAS as part of a surface coating from being imported into the United States unless EPA reviews the uses and determines whether it is necessary to put in place restrictions to address any unreasonable risks. This action also levels the playing field for companies that have already voluntarily phased-out the use of long-chain PFAS chemicals under EPA’s PFOA Stewardship Program by preventing new uses of these phased-out chemicals to begin again.
PFAS are a large group of man-made chemicals used in consumer products and industrial processes. In use since the 1940s, PFAS are resistant to heat, oils, stains, grease, and water—properties which contribute to their persistence in the environment.
The agency’s PFAS Action Plan is the first multi-media, multi-program, national research, management, and risk communication plan to address a challenge like PFAS. The plan responds to the extensive public input the agency received during the PFAS National Leadership Summit, multiple community engagements, and through the public docket. The PFAS Action Plan outlines the tools EPA is developing to assist states, tribes, and communities in addressing PFAS.
EPA is taking the following highlighted actions:
- EPA is committed to following the national primary drinking water regulation rulemaking process as established by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).
- On December 3, 2019, EPA sent its preliminary determinations for at least five contaminants, including PFOA and PFOS, listed on the fourth Contaminant Candidate List, to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review.
- The agency is also gathering and evaluating information to determine if regulation is appropriate for other chemicals in the PFAS family.
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New York Plastic Bag Waste Reduction Act: Final Rules Published
NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the release of final regulations
to implement the New York State Plastic Bag Waste Reduction Act, which goes into effect on March 1, 2020. After a thorough review of the approximately 2,500 comments received from stakeholders and communities during the 60-day public comment period and hearing, these final regulations
will be published in the State Register on Feb. 26, 2020.
Prior to finalizing the regulations, which were released on Nov. 27, 2019, DEC updated the proposal based on the comments received to include minor refinements in keeping with the overriding objective of the Act to reduce plastic bag waste.
DEC will continue to focus its outreach and education efforts to ensure a smooth transition for consumers and affected retailers, with enforcement to follow in the months ahead. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation to ban the sale of single-use plastic bags in New York State on Earth Day, April 23, 2019.
Commissioner Seggos said, "New York continues to be a national leader on environmental issues, and the plastic bag ban is the latest in a series of actions Governor Cuomo has directed to preserve our air, land, and waters for future generations. DEC is proud to be at the forefront of these efforts and will continue to work to develop solutions to combat climate change and protect the environment and we continue to encourage New Yorkers to BYOBagNY and bring their own reusable bags wherever and whenever they shop."
Refinements to the proposed regulations include:
- Edits to the definition of "exempt" and "reusable" bags. Specifically, paragraph (12), in § 351-1.2(f), allowing "a film plastic bag for which there is no reasonable or practical alternative for storing, containing or transporting items, as determined by the department" was deleted;
- Further clarification and examples added to the types of exempt bags described in paragraphs (1), (2), (8), and (9) of the definition of "exempt bag;"
- The definition of "reusable bag" in § 351-1.2(n), was edited so allowable material types are listed first and clarify that reusable bags must be made of cloth or other machine-washable fabric or a non-film plastic washable material; and
- Redundancy in the strength and durability standards was deleted and the requirement for handles to be separately attached was removed.
DEC is undertaking a statewide public awareness campaign-BYOBagNY-to educate consumers and affected businesses about the law. As part of this effort, DEC is distributing more than 270,000 reusable bags with a focus on low- and moderate-income income communities. DEC's BYOBagNY campaign includes TV and radio placements, ads on YouTube targeting New Yorkers, boosted social media placements, a Google ad campaign, video promotions at Thruway rest stops, and more that will continue over the next few months. In addition, DEC regularly communicates with key stakeholders and industry associations; presented an overview of the ban and fee to the New York State Association of Counties; provided regional offices with BYOBagNY educational materials for use as outreach at public events; and is working with Department of Taxation and Finance to coordinate cross-agency efforts related to clear communication of the law entities required to collect state sales tax. DEC is currently distributing hundreds of thousands of reusable bags across the state with the help of partner state agencies and Feeding New York State, the statewide food bank organization.
New Yorkers use an estimated 23 billion plastic bags annually-each for about 12 minutes-and approximately 85 percent of this staggering total ends up in landfills, recycling machines, waterways, and streets. In March 2017, Governor Cuomo created the New York State Plastic Bag Task Force, chaired by DEC Commissioner Seggos. The task force met several times to develop a uniform, comprehensive and equitable solution to the challenge of plastic bag waste. The final report analyzed the impacts of single-use plastic bags and provided options for legislation that could help develop a statewide solution. In addition, following passage of the New York State Plastic Bag Waste Reduction Act, DEC held a series of meetings with industry stakeholders across the state to invite input from the public and guide the agency's development of rules and regulations to implement the law.
New Catalyst Recycles Greenhouse Gases into Fuel and Hydrogen Gas
Scientists have taken a major step toward a circular carbon economy by developing a long-lasting, economical catalyst that recycles greenhouse gases into ingredients that can be used in fuel, hydrogen gas, and other chemicals. The results could be revolutionary in the effort to reverse global warming, according to the researchers. The study was published on February 14 in Science
"We set out to develop an effective catalyst that can convert large amounts of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane without failure," said Cafer T. Yavuz, paper author and associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and of chemistry at KAIST.
The catalyst, made from inexpensive and abundant nickel, magnesium, and molybdenum, initiates and speeds up the rate of reaction that converts carbon dioxide and methane into hydrogen gas. It can work efficiently for more than a month.
This conversion is called dry reforming, where harmful gases, such as carbon dioxide, are processed to produce more useful chemicals that could be refined for use in fuel, plastics, or even pharmaceuticals. It is an effective process, but it previously required rare and expensive metals such as platinum and rhodium to induce a brief and inefficient chemical reaction.
Other researchers had previously proposed nickel as a more economical solution, but carbon byproducts would build up and the surface nanoparticles would bind together on the cheaper metal, fundamentally changing the composition and geometry of the catalyst and rendering it useless.
"The difficulty arises from the lack of control on scores of active sites over the bulky catalysts surfaces because any refinement procedures attempted also change the nature of the catalyst itself," Yavuz said.
The researchers produced nickel-molybdenum nanoparticles under a reductive environment in the presence of a single crystalline magnesium oxide. As the ingredients were heated under reactive gas, the nanoparticles moved on the pristine crystal surface seeking anchoring points. The resulting activated catalyst sealed its own high-energy active sites and permanently fixed the location of the nanoparticles -- meaning that the nickel-based catalyst will not have a carbon build up, nor will the surface particles bind to one another.
"It took us almost a year to understand the underlying mechanism," said first author Youngdong Song, a graduate student in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at KAIST. "Once we studied all the chemical events in detail, we were shocked."
The researchers dubbed the catalyst Nanocatalysts on Single Crystal Edges (NOSCE). The magnesium-oxide nanopowder comes from a finely structured form of magnesium oxide, where the molecules bind continuously to the edge. There are no breaks or defects in the surface, allowing for uniform and predictable reactions.
"Our study solves a number of challenges the catalyst community faces," Yavuz said. "We believe the NOSCE mechanism will improve other inefficient catalytic reactions and provide even further savings of greenhouse gas emissions."
This work was supported, in part, by the Saudi-Aramco-KAIST CO2 Management Center and the National Research Foundation of Korea.
New Green Technology from UMass Amherst Generates Electricity ‘Out of Thin Air’
Scientists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have developed a device that uses a natural protein to create electricity from moisture in the air, a new technology they say could have significant implications for the future of renewable energy, climate change and in the future of medicine.
As reported in Nature,
the laboratories of electrical engineer Jun Yao and microbiologist Derek Lovley at UMass Amherst have created a device they call an “Air-gen.” or air-powered generator, with electrically conductive protein nanowires produced by the microbe Geobacter
. The Air-gen connects electrodes to the protein nanowires in such a way that electrical current is generated from the water vapor naturally present in the atmosphere.
“We are literally making electricity out of thin air,” says Yao. “The Air-gen generates clean energy 24/7.” Lovely, who has advanced sustainable biology-based electronic materials over three decades, adds, “It’s the most amazing and exciting application of protein nanowires yet.”
The new technology developed in Yao’s lab is non-polluting, renewable and low-cost. It can generate power even in areas with extremely low humidity such as the Sahara Desert. It has significant advantages over other forms of renewable energy including solar and wind, Lovley says, because unlike these other renewable energy sources, the Air-gen does not require sunlight or wind, and “it even works indoors.”
The Air-gen device requires only a thin film of protein nanowires less than 10 microns thick, the researchers explain. The bottom of the film rests on an electrode, while a smaller electrode that covers only part of the nanowire film sits on top. The film adsorbs water vapor from the atmosphere. A combination of the electrical conductivity and surface chemistry of the protein nanowires, coupled with the fine pores between the nanowires within the film, establishes the conditions that generate an electrical current between the two electrodes.
The researchers say that the current generation of Air-gen devices are able to power small electronics, and they expect to bring the invention to commercial scale soon. Next steps they plan include developing a small Air-gen “patch” that can power electronic wearables such as health and fitness monitors and smart watches, which would eliminate the requirement for traditional batteries. They also hope to develop Air-gens to apply to cell phones to eliminate periodic charging.
Yao says, “The ultimate goal is to make large-scale systems. For example, the technology might be incorporated into wall paint that could help power your home. Or, we may develop stand-alone air-powered generators that supply electricity off the grid. Once we get to an industrial scale for wire production, I fully expect that we can make large systems that will make a major contribution to sustainable energy production.”
Continuing to advance the practical biological capabilities of Geobacter, Lovley’s lab recently developed a new microbial strain to more rapidly and inexpensively mass produce protein nanowires. “We turned E. coli into a protein nanowire factory,” he says. “With this new scalable process, protein nanowire supply will no longer be a bottleneck to developing these applications.”
The Air-gen discovery reflects an unusual interdisciplinary collaboration, they say. Lovley discovered the Geobacter microbe in the mud of the Potomac River more than 30 years ago. His lab later discovered its ability to produce electrically conductive protein nanowires. Before coming to UMass Amherst, Yao had worked for years at Harvard University, where he engineered electronic devices with silicon nanowires. They joined forces to see if useful electronic devices could be made with the protein nanowires harvested from Geobacter.
Xiaomeng Liu, a Ph.D. student in Yao’s lab, was developing sensor devices when he noticed something unexpected. He recalls, “I saw that when the nanowires were contacted with electrodes in a specific way the devices generated a current. I found that that exposure to atmospheric humidity was essential and that protein nanowires adsorbed water, producing a voltage gradient across the device.”
In addition to the Air-gen, Yao’s laboratory has developed several other applications with the protein nanowires. “This is just the beginning of new era of protein-based electronic devices” said Yao.
The research was supported in part from a seed fund through the Office of Technology Commercialization and Ventures at UMass Amherst and research development funds from the campus’s College of Natural Sciences.
$2.4 Million Air Penalty for Construction and Operating Without a Permit
EPA announced that US Development Group, LLC (USDG), and its subsidiaries USD, LLC (USDL) and CBRH Holdings, LLC (CBRH), will collectively pay $2.4 million in penalties to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act associated with the Van Hook Crude Terminal crude oil transloading facility the companies formerly owned and operated in Mountrail County, North Dakota on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation. EPA’s enforcement action arose as a result of the companies constructing and operating the terminal before receiving a permit to construct and operate, a clear violation of the Clean Air Act (CAA).
The companies submitted a CAA Tribal Minor New Source Review permit application to EPA on October 5, 2011, and the permit was issued by EPA on August 2, 2012, with an effective date of September 1, 2012. Notwithstanding their not yet having received a permit to construct and operate, the companies began constructing the terminal in or around October 2011, and then began operating the facility in early February 2012, more than six months before the permit was issued and became effective.
The companies also violated several New Source Performance Standard (NSPS) requirements in 40 CFR 60, Subparts A and Kb that applied to the facility’s storage tanks, including failing to notify EPA prior to commencement of construction of, and subsequent filling of, the tanks so that EPA could inspect the tanks to ensure their proper construction and suitability for use.
“EPA is continuing to take action to ensure compliance with the Clean Air Act,” said EPA Regional Administrator Gregory Sopkin. “We value our special relationship with the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, as well as the other Region 8 Tribes, and will act to secure cleaner, healthier air for all Region 8 Tribes and their neighbors.”
"The Clean Air Act’s permitting requirements are critical to the protection of our Nation’s air resource. When companies violate these requirements by commencing construction and operation without first obtaining a permit to do so, they avoid the critical agency review and public input that ensures facilities are constructed in a manner that will optimally protect human health and the environment,” said EPA Region 8 Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Director Suzanne Bohan.
USDG, USDL, and CBRH sold the Van Hook Crude Terminal to Plains All American Pipeline, L.P, in December 2012. Plains ceased operating the terminal some time ago and sold its interest to another party that now transports fracking sand in and out of the facility. The storage tanks and related equipment have been dismantled.
The Stipulation of Settlement and Order was filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, where the companies are headquartered. The Stipulation resolves the United States’ civil penalty claims against the companies for the violations set forth in the complaint that was also filed today. The companies have 30 days from the date the court enters the Stipulation to pay the $2.4 million civil penalty to the United States.
Amendments Proposed to Regulations for Coal Combustion Residuals Regulations
EPA announced further proposed revisions and flexibilities to the regulations for the management of coal combustion residuals (CCR), commonly known as coal ash, from electric utilities.
“This proposal is the last in a set of four planned actions we are taking under the Trump Administration to stabilize coal ash regulations for the power-producing utilities that we rely on every day,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “While the majority of the protections in EPA’s 2015 rules are currently in place and being implemented on schedule, these common-sense changes will provide the flexibilities owners and operators need to determine the most appropriate way to manage CCR and the closure of units based on site-specific conditions.”
This proposal follows others that are intended to implement the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, respond to petitions, address litigation, and apply lessons learned to ensure smoother implementation of the rule. It proposes four main changes:
- Procedures to allow a limited number of facilities to demonstrate to EPA that based on groundwater data and the design of a particular surface impoundment, the unit has and will continue to provide the equivalent protection from impacts on groundwater as provided by the composite liner system standards and therefore should be allowed to continue to operate.
- A modification to closure requirements for units that are unable to complete groundwater remediation by the time all other closure by removal activities have been completed. Under this new provision, groundwater remediation must continue until groundwater protection standards are achieved during a post-closure period.
- An amendment to the notification of intent to close requirement to include the date the facility began closure, and annual closure progress reports. This provision is intended to close a gap in reported information and increase transparency.
- Conditions under which coal ash can be used in the closure of landfills and surface impoundments.
In 2015, EPA promulgated a rule establishing a comprehensive set of requirements for the management of coal ash generated from coal-fired electric utilities, in landfills and surface impoundments, along with inspection, monitoring, recordkeeping and reporting requirements. Most of the 2015 rule remains in place and implementation continues on schedule as intended.
As the result of the application of the standards in the 2015 rule, the majority of existing impoundments designed and built before 2015 are on the path to ceasing the receipt of coal ash and conducting closure. Provisions in the 2015 rule – still in place today – remain unchanged to ensure the minimization of risk of release of contaminants into groundwater, blowing of contaminants into the air as dust, and catastrophic failure of coal ash surface impoundments. The 2015 requirements for facility inspection, monitoring, recordkeeping and reporting also remain unchanged.
Facilities managing coal ash are required to monitor groundwater, publicly report the data, and take corrective action to address exceedances of the groundwater protection standards, among other requirements. There have been no extensions for any of these obligations or their implementation.
EPA is seeking comment on this proposal during a 45-day public comment period, during which a public hearing will be held. For more information, see https://www.epa.gov/coalash
OXARC, Inc. to Resolve RMP Violations
EPA Region 10 announced
that it has entered a consent agreement and final order with OXARC, Inc. to resolve violations of the federal Clean Air Act’s risk management program
requirements at the company’s storage facility in Pasco, Washington.
EPA alleged that OXARC stored more than 2,500-lbs of chlorine and 5,000-lbs of sulfur dioxide and thus was required to develop and implement a Risk Management Plan to detect, prevent, or minimize accidental releases of the toxic chemicals and provide prompt emergency response should a release occur. An appropriate Risk Management Plan also provides valuable information to local fire, police, and emergency response personnel to prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies in their community.
EPA alleged that OXARC’s plan failed to include required contact information for local emergency response agencies, medical/rescue, HAZMAT, and personnel qualified to respond to a release. EPA also alleged that the company failed to comply with Clean Air Act requirements that it systematically ensure the safe handling, storage, maintenance, and functional integrity of the cylinders of chlorine and sulphur dioxide stored at the facility.
“Anyone who stores large quantities of dangerous chemicals has a duty to obey the laws that are intended to protect such a facility’s neighbors,” said Ed Kowalski, director of EPA Region 10’s Enforcement and Compliance Assistance Division. “We are on the look-out for these kinds of violations because they can lead to tragedies when an accident happens.”
Under the terms of the agreement, the company paid a penalty of $100,000.
A copy of the Consent Agreement and Final Order is here: OXARC
Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maine to Regulate Hydrofluorocarbons
The RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced that Rhode Island, along with Massachusetts and Maine, is preparing to regulate hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), highly potent greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. HFCs often are used in commercial refrigeration, stationary and mobile air conditioning, heat pumps, foams, and aerosols. This newest action adds to Rhode Island's multi-pronged fight against climate change, which, under the direction of Governor Gina M. Raimondo, includes ambitious renewable energy deployment, a heating sector transformation, and strengthening the resilience of communities and natural areas.
"We must use every tool at our disposal to take urgent action on climate change," said Governor Raimondo. "In the absence of federal leadership, I'm proud to stand with governors on both sides of the aisle who recognize the dangers of HFCs. It's time to regulate these harmful pollutants."
"I am proud to join with the other governors in the U.S. Climate Alliance in moving to prohibit the use of HFCs and bring Massachusetts closer to achieving its ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets," said Governor Charlie Baker. "For the Commonwealth to meet our goal to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, we will need to act to curb high-emitting sources like HFCs, and this plan represents a great opportunity to combat climate change and preserve our environment."
"HFCs are the heavy hitter of climate change, inflicting significantly more damage than CO2 in much smaller doses," said Maine Governor Janet Mills. "With safer alternatives now available, the gradual phase out of these super pollutants makes sense for consumers, businesses, and our environment. I am proud to join with other governors from the U.S. Climate Alliance in taking this step. Our actions show that, regardless of what happens – or doesn't happen – in Washington, states can forge important progress in fighting climate change."
As part of the regulatory process related to HFCs, DEM will hold workshops with manufacturers and other stakeholders this spring to discuss the proposed regulatory changes. DEM anticipates filing new regulations this summer to phase down these potent pollutants over time and replace them with less harmful alternatives.
The proposed regulations will be substantially consistent with those being developed by Massachusetts and Maine as well as other United States Climate Alliance states. In 2017, Governor Raimondo joined the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. Because federal rules restricting the use of HFCs have been partly vacated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the U.S. Climate Alliance states are taking a leadership role in the absence of national rules.
HFCs have global warming potentials hundreds to thousands of times greater than CO?, and a lifespan of about 15 years. Without further controls, HFC emissions could double in 20 years. For example, just one pound of R-404A, an HFC refrigerant used in supermarkets, has the same climate impact over 100 years as almost two tons of CO?.
"Phasing down these harmful substances from our environment and replacing them with cleaner, alternative products will lead to climate benefits and put us on the path to meeting the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "Climate change is the issue of our time that affects the health, safety, and prosperity of our communities. Tackling climate change is a top strategic priority for Governor Raimondo and DEM because RI already is experiencing related effects and has so much at stake. Even in the past decade, Rhode Islanders have seen places we love eroded, flooded, degraded, and lost due to impacts of climate change."
Under the direction of Governor Raimondo, Rhode Island is working aggressively to strengthen its resilience to climate change and to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Rhode Island is taking aggressive action to meet its greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals of 45% below 1990 levels by 2035 and 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 including by: working toward a new goal for 100% clean electricity by 2030; doubling down on energy efficiency with programs that are ranked third in the nation; launching a Heating Sector Transformation, the first of its kind; rolling out electric vehicle charging infrastructure and electric buses in the public transit fleet; and implementing the nation's first statewide climate change resilience strategy.
According to the U.S. Climate Alliance, phasing down the use of HFCs will help keep American companies globally competitive and could create tens of thousands of jobs and tens of billions of dollars in annual economic value in the United States. Coupled with efficiency opportunities in refrigeration and cooling, phasing down the use of HFCs and replacing them with gases with lower global warming potential delivers significant climate and energy efficiency benefits. Refrigerant servicing companies will simply transition from using HFCs to using non-HFC alternatives and will receive training and instruction from the manufacturers. Impacts to businesses with equipment using HFCs will be minimal because retrofits will occur at the same time as normal servicing or other repairs.
Large Retailers Fined for Exceeding Levels Of Smog-Forming Pollution in Household Products
Over the past two years, the California Air Resources Board assessed fines from well-known retailers totaling $325,270 for violations of air quality regulations limiting smog-forming chemicals found in a wide range of household products including general purpose cleaners, multipurpose lubricants, and air fresheners.
The chemicals, known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs), are an important component of the chemical mixture that turns into ozone when exposed to sunlight. CARB establishes VOC limits for many different types of consumer products such as personal care products and cleaning supplies. Under the regulation
, retailers, distributors, importers and manufacturers of consumer products are all responsible for ensuring the products they sell in California comply with the limits.
“Many common household products contain compounds that contribute to ground level ozone formation,” explains CARB Enforcement Division Chief Todd Sax. “Breathing in ozone may cause people to experience chest pain, coughing and throat irritation. It is important that retailers understand their role to ensure household products they sell meet clean air standards before those products reach California households.”
In total, the violations of the regulation were responsible for 3.72 tons of the smog-forming VOCs.
Products Labeled Not for Sale in California
CARB found retailers in violation because they did not adhere to the warning from manufacturers and sold products clearly labeled “not for sale in California”. Products sold by the following retailers exceeded California’s VOC limits and were not meant to be sold in California:
Private Label Products
Some retailers sell products under their own private label. Though retailers do not directly manufacture these products, individual retailers assume responsibility when they put their brand name on a product containing VOCs. CARB found the following companies in violation for failing to ensure their private label products met California standards:
Products Imported for Sale
When retailers import products, they assume the liability normally associated with being a manufacturer. CARB fined the following companies for importing and selling noncompliant products:
As the middleman between manufacturers, distributors and consumers, retailers serve a critical role in supplying the people of California with compliant products. Retailers must ensure that they offer for sale only compliant products to protect the health of California consumers and to avoid large penalties through enforcement action.
Developer Sentenced for Violating Asbestos NESHAP
A Kansas developer was sentenced to three months imprisonment for disposing of asbestos in violation of the Clean Air Act. In addition, the defendant was ordered to pay a $55,000 fine.
Thomas S. Fritzel, 54, Lawrence, Kan., was convicted on the following counts:
- Failing to notify authorities before removing asbestos (count two).
- Failing to keep asbestos wet during demolition to prevent air contamination (count three).
- Failing to dispose of asbestos in leak-tight containers (count four).
During trial, the government presented evidence that Fritzel violated federal laws for handling asbestos during demolition and renovations at the Alvamar Country Club in Lawrence. The government presented evidence to show that Fritzel knew that the roof of the country club contained 75% chrysotile asbestos. The previous owners, who sold the club to Fritzel in January 2016, had decided not to replace the roof because of the cost of abating the asbestos.
On October 19, 2016, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment told Fritzel to get a licensed asbestos contractor to remove asbestos from the site and dispose of it properly. On Oct. 25, 2016, KDHE inspected the site and determined asbestos debris had been removed and hauled to Hamm Landfill in Perry, Kan., which is not approved for asbestos disposal.
“The defendant was responsible for the safe – and legal – removal of material containing asbestos,” said Assistant Director Justin Oesterreich of EPA’s criminal enforcement program in Kansas. “The defendant ignored regulations on the safe management of asbestos, putting workers and the general public at risk.”
First Assistant U.S. Attorney Duston Slinkard commended the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Hathaway for their work on the case.
House Painting Company that Illegally Removed Lead Paint is Sentenced
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Tyler C. Amon, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in New England, announced that Collegiate Entrepreneurs, Inc., a Massachusetts-based house painting company, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Chatigny in Hartford for violating the Toxic Substances Control Act and subsequently falsifying records.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Collegiate Entrepreneurs, Inc., LLC, of Braintree, Massachusetts, provides house-painting services in Connecticut and other New England states. Some of the houses painted by Collegiate Entrepreneurs in 2015 contained lead-based paint. For those jobs, the company was subject to the lead-based paint requirements of the Toxic Substances Control Act and the EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule.
Under the RRP Rule, Collegiate Entrepreneurs was required to ensure that its certified renovators complied with provisions governing training and supervision of painters, post-renovation cleaning, physical presence on-site, and preparation of required records. The company was also responsible for ensuring that all renovation activities were performed in compliance with RRP Rule work practice standards governing occupant protection, containment of the work area, prohibited and restricted practices, waste from renovations, cleanup of the work area, and post-renovation cleaning verification. Collegiate Entrepreneurs knowingly failed to ensure such compliance by its renovators during the 2015 painting season.
On October 13, 2015, in response to a federal grand jury subpoena, an employee of Collegiate Entrepreneurs produced records for 12 painting jobs in Connecticut that involved lead-based paint. Included in the production were records that appeared to have been prepared and signed by certified renovators to document that RRP Rule work practice standards and training requirements had been met at each lead paint job. Records for at least 10 of the 12 jobs were false. The signatures of the certified renovators were forged and the records falsely represented that the jobs were performed in compliance with the RRP Rule.
On November 19, 2019, Collegiate Entrepreneurs pleaded guilty to one count of falsification of records and one count of violating the Toxic Substances Control Act.
Judge Chatigny ordered Collegiate Entrepreneurs to serve five years of probation and pay a fine of $50,000.
While on probation, Collegiate Entrepreneurs is prohibited from engaging in projects that involve the remediation of lead paint and are subject to the RRP Rule.
Collegiate Entrepreneurs also will pay $30,000 in restitution to a victim homeowner in West Hartford, Connecticut.
“Collegiate Entrepreneurs purposely violated the requirements of safely removing lead from homes and in doing risked the health of families whose houses were being renovated,” said EPA-CID Special Agent in Charge Amon. “EPA remains focused on holding accountable companies and individuals that cut corners and fail to put public health and safety first.”
This investigation was conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ray Miller.
Regal Beloit America Cited for NESHAP Violations
EPA announced a settlement with Regal Beloit America in Wausau, Wisconsin, to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act’s recordkeeping requirements. The company agreed to pay a $103,000 civil penalty and to upgrade equipment at its motor and generator manufacturing operation at 100 E. Randolph St.
“EPA is pleased to have reached an agreement with the company which includes a supplemental environmental project to help improve air quality in Wausau,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Kurt Thiede.
Following an inspection of the facility, EPA alleged the company had violated the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants by failing to document its compliance with emission limits for mercury and carbon monoxide.
As part of a supplemental project to protect public health and reduce air pollution in Wausau, the company will also purchase new welding torches costing about $14,000 that will help reduce emissions of heavy metals and particulate matter.
Changes to Washington Dangerous Waste Regs Topic of Upcoming Meeting
Recently the Washington Department of Ecology updated regulations that provide businesses new ways to manage dangerous chemical wastes they generate as part of their processes. Among the changes include adoption of EPA’s hazardous waste generator improvements rule, new options for managing solvent contaminated wipes, adoption of the e-manifest, and the redefinition of solid waste to encourage recycling.
“These updates give businesses more flexibility in how they can manage their wastes and still meet the requirements under the new regulations,” explained Tami Applebee, a hazardous waste compliance inspector with Ecology. “At this training, businesses will learn how the regulations affect them and what new options they might have when reporting and managing dangerous wastes.”
All businesses and facilities are required to properly manage dangerous wastes such as spent solvents, unusable paint, expired chemicals and partially used aerosol cans.
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