August 12, 2019
EPA has proposed
revisions to some of the New Source Review (NSR) applicability regulations to clarify the requirements that apply to sources proposing to undertake a physical or operational change (i.e., a project) under the NSR preconstruction permitting program.
Under this program, an existing major source proposing to undertake a project must determine whether that project will constitute a major modification following a two-step applicability test and thus be subject to the NSR preconstruction permitting requirements. The first step is to determine if the proposed project will cause a “significant emissions increase'' of a regulated NSR pollutant (Step 1). If the proposed project is projected to cause such an increase, the second step is to determine if there is a “significant net emissions increase'' of that pollutant (Step 2). In this action, EPA has proposed to revise our NSR applicability regulations to make it clear that both emissions increases and emissions decreases that result from a given proposed project are to be considered at Step 1 of the NSR major modification applicability test. In addition, this proposal replaces and withdraws the agency's 2006 Project Netting Proposal.
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Washington to Revise Dangerous Waste Regulations
The Dangerous Waste Regulations set standards for safely managing state dangerous wastes. They also implement Hazardous Waste Management, Chapter 70.105 Revised Code of Washington. Ecology plans to amend several sections of the regulations to incorporate new federal hazardous waste rules, including but not limited to:
- Management Standards for Hazardous Waste Pharmaceuticals and Amendments to the P075 Listing for Nicotine. 84 FR 5816; February 22, 2019
- Safe Management of Recalled Airbags. 83 FR 61552; November 30, 2018
- Hazardous Waste Management System: User Fees for the Electronic Hazardous Waste Manifest System and Amendments to Manifest Regulations. 83 FR 420; January 3, 2018
State-initiated amendments also include:
New Process Discovered to Completely Degrade Flame Retardant in the Environment
A team of environmental scientists from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and China has for the first time used a dynamic, two-step process to completely degrade a common flame-retardant chemical, rendering the persistent global pollutant nontoxic.
This new process breaks down tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA) to harmless carbon dioxide and water. The discovery highlights the potential of using a special material, sulfidated nanoscale zerovalent iron (S-nZVI), in water treatment systems and in the natural environment to break down not only TBBPA but other organic refractory compounds that are difficult to degrade,said Jun Wu, a visiting Ph.D. student at UMass Amherst’s Stockbridge College of Agriculture and lead author of the paper published in Environmental Science & Technology.
“This is the first research about this dynamic, oxic/anoxic process,” Wu says. “Usually, reduction or oxidation alone is used to remove TBBPA, facilitated by S-nZVI. We combined reduction and oxidation together to degrade it completely.” Wu emphasized that “the technique is technically simple and environmentally friendly. That is a key point to its application.”
The research is featured on the cover of ES&T
, which is widely respected for publishing papers in the environmental disciplines that are both significant and original. “This research can lead to a decrease in the potential risk of TBBPA to the environment and human health,” says Wu, who began the research at the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei. At UMass Amherst, Wu works in the pioneering lab of Baoshan Xing, professor of environmental and soil chemistry, corresponding author of the new study and one of the world’s most highly cited researchers
“Our research shows a feasible and environmentally friendly process to completely degrade refractory brominated ﬂame retardants in a combined oxic and anoxic system,” Xing says. “This is important for getting rid of these harmful compounds from the environment, thus reducing the exposure and risk.”
Among the most common flame retardants that hinder combustion and slow the spread of fire, TBBPA is added to manufactured materials, including computer circuit boards and other electrical devices, papers, textiles and plastics.
Associated with a variety of health concerns, including cancer and hormone disruption, TBBPA has been widely detected in the environment, as well as in animals and human milk and plasma.
Although Wu and Xing’s research breaks new ground in the efforts to develop safe and effective processes to remediate groundwater and soil contaminated with TBBPA, they say more research is needed to learn how to best apply the process.
Employee of Engineering Company Guilty of Clean Water Act Violation for Discharging Oil into Willamette River
Robert La Rue Webb, II, pleaded guilty in federal court for violating the Clean Water Act by negligently discharging oil into the Willamette River in Portland. Webb pleaded guilty to one count of negligently discharging harmful quantities of oil into a water of the U.S.
According to court documents and disclosures at the hearing, on January 22, 2018, Webb, an employee of the engineering firm Mott MacDonald, was pumping oil into a 10,000-gallon used-oil tank at the Union Pacific Albina Railyard in Portland. While operating the pump, Webb walked away to make a phone call and was still distracted by his cell phone as the tank overflowed. More than 1,000 gallons of oil entered a storm water drain and were discharged into the Willamette River, resulting in a sheen and discoloration of the river’s surface.
Webb faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison, a $25,000 per day fine and one year of supervised release. He will be sentenced on October 28, 2019 before U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Mosman.
This case was investigated by the EPA Criminal Investigation Division. It is being prosecuted by Ryan W. Bounds, an assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Oregon, and Will McLaren, a special assistant U.S. attorney for the district and criminal enforcement counsel for EPA Region 10.
EPA Proposal to Reclassify Denver to Serious Non-Attainment for Ozone
EPA has proposed to determine that the Denver Metro/North Front Range
ozone non-attainment area did not meet the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) by the specified deadline and should be reclassified from a Moderate to a Serious non-attainment area. EPA will be accepting public comment on the proposed action for a 30-day period beginning on August 15 and will hold a public hearing at the Agency’s regional office in Denver on September 6.
“EPA is proposing this action as required by the Clean Air Act,” said EPA Regional Administrator Gregory Sopkin. “We will continue to support the State as they revise plans and implement new measures that will reduce ozone-forming emissions across the many sources contributing to air quality impairment along Colorado’s Front Range.”
The Denver area has been classified as a Moderate non-attainment area for the 2008 ozone 8-hour NAAQS since 2016. Based on an evaluation of air quality data collected from 2015 to 2017, the Agency is proposing to determine that the Denver Metro/Northern Front Range non-attainment area did not meet the standard within the timeframe established for 2008 Moderate ozone non-attainment areas. Under the Clean Air Act, areas that do not attain national standards in a timely manner are reclassified to a higher non-attainment status, in this case from Moderate to Serious.
Under the Clean Air Act, the State of Colorado is responsible for developing a State Implementation Plan (SIP), which is a set of enforceable rules and programs to achieve compliance with national air quality standards. EPA’s action proposes due dates for Colorado to submit SIP revisions to attain the ozone standard, including the implementation of reasonably available control technologies. Some Serious area requirements would be effective as soon as this action is finalized, such as a lower threshold for permitting large sources. The proposal would set a new deadline of July 20, 2021, for the Denver area to attain the 2008 ozone standard.
EPA to Prohibit California’s Carcinogen Label on Glyphosate
EPA has issued guidance to registrants
of glyphosate to ensure specify that the Agency will no longer approve product labels claiming glyphosate is known to cause cancer, which the EPA characterized as a false claim that does not meet the labeling requirements of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act
(FIFRA). The State of California’s Proposition 65 has led to what EPA calls misleading labeling requirements for products, like glyphosate, because EPA says that it misinforms the public about the risks they are facing. This action will ensure consumers have information, and is based on EPA’s comprehensive evaluation of glyphosate
"It is irresponsible to require labels on products that are inaccurate when EPA knows the product does not pose a cancer risk. We will not allow California’s flawed program to dictate federal policy,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “It is critical that federal regulatory agencies like EPA relay to consumers accurate, scientific based information about risks that pesticides may pose to them. EPA’s notification to glyphosate registrants is an important step to ensuring the information shared with the public on a federal pesticide label is correct and not misleading.”
In April, EPA took the next step in the review process for glyphosate. EPA found – as it has before – that glyphosate is not a carcinogen, and there are no risks to public health when glyphosate is used in accordance with its current label. These scientific findings are consistent with the conclusions of science reviews by many other countries and other federal agencies.
On Feb. 26, 2018, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California issued a preliminary injunction
stopping California from enforcing the state warning requirements involving glyphosate’s carcinogenicity, in part on the basis that the required warning statement is false or misleading. The preliminary injunction has not been appealed and remains in place.
California’s listing of glyphosate as a substance under Proposition 65 is based on the International Agency on the Research for Cancer (IARC) classifying it as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” EPA’s independent evaluation of available scientific data included a more extensive and relevant dataset than IARC considered during its evaluation of glyphosate, from which the agency concluded that glyphosate is “not likely to be carcinogenic to humans.” EPA’s said that its cancer classification is consistent with many other international expert panels and regulatory authorities.
Registrants with glyphosate products currently bearing Proposition 65 warning language should submit draft amended labeling that removes this language within 90 days of the date of the letter
Cabras Marine Cited for Stormwater Discharges
EPA announced a settlement with Cabras Marine Corporation over Clean Water Act violations for discharges of contaminants into Apra Harbor, Guam. Under the terms of the settlement, the company will pay a penalty of $250,827 and will implement measures to control the discharge of pollutants in stormwater and wastewater.
“Effective stormwater controls protect these coastal waters,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “We are pleased to work with Guam EPA and Cabras Marine to achieve these improvements to their operations.”
Cabras Marine’s operations include ship repair dry dock, chassis and engine repair, fabrication, sandblasting, and material storage and disposal.
EPA inspected the facility in March 2017 and found multiple violations of the Clean Water Act. Those violations included discharge of industrial stormwater without a permit, failure to properly maintain containment berms, failure to control sandblast grit and paint particles, improper storage of used oil, and inadequate controls for leaking oil.
EPA and Cabras Marine agreed to an administrative order on consent to return the facility to compliance. Cabras Marine has successfully completed the terms of the agreement, including:
- Obtaining authorization for industrial stormwater discharges.
- Improving controls for pollutants including sandblast grit, paint particles, paint aerosols and oily waste.
- Installing a media filtration unit to treat industrial stormwater prior to discharge into Apra Harbor.
- Building a permanent facility for the storage of used oil.
- Containing wastes from the dry dock.
EPA's proposed settlement
with Cabras Marine Corporation is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final approval.
Changes Proposed to Strengthen WA Oil Spill Requirements for Facilities, Vessels and Pipelines
An oil spill could pose a significant threat to the environment, people and local economies. In Washington, large oil handling facilities, vessels, and pipelines are required to have oil spill contingency plans to ensure they are adequately prepared in case of a spill.
In 2018, the Washington State Legislature passed a bill
directing the Washington Department of Ecology to amend the Oil Spill Contingency Plan Rule.
The proposed amendments would help bring requirements in line with the increased movement of oil across Washington and the changing nature of spills. One specific area of concern is cleanup of sinking oils. Transport of sinking oils is becoming more common in the state and these oils are difficult to clean up if spilled. Other concerns include requirements for spill management teams that direct the response efforts, and wildlife teams that deter, rescue and rehabilitate birds, mammals and other wildlife affected by a spill.
Through the rulemaking process, Ecology is proposing amendments that would:
- Establish requirements for Ecology to review and approve independent spill management teams.
- Require increased capability for responding to spills of oils that may submerge or sink.
- Require vessel, facility and pipeline contingency plan holders to participate in a complex, large-scale drill.
- Update contingency plan requirements so vessels and facilities have consistent standards for training, operations and response technology.
- Establish standards for oiled wildlife response service providers.
This rulemaking is separate from the current effort to update changes to oil spill response requirements for railroads
. However, both efforts are being conducted on a similar timeline.
The public is invited to weigh in on these changes through Oct. 6, 2019. There will be a public hearing for this rule proposal in Everett, another in Spokane, and one in Vancouver that will also be an online webinar. For full information about dates and times, visit Ecology’s website
Washington to Revise Oil Spill Contingency Plan Requirements
The Washington Department of Ecology plans to update Chapter 173-182 WAC, Oil Spill Contingency Plan
rule. The rule requires large commercial vessels, oil handling facilities and pipelines to have detailed contingency plans and contracts for appropriate equipment and trained personnel to respond to spills that may occur. This rulemaking will:
- Establish requirements for review and approval of Spill Management Teams including entities providing wildlife rehabilitation and recovery services.
- Enhance requirements for readiness for spills of oils that, depending on their chemical properties, environmental factors (weathering), and method of discharge, may submerge or sink.
- Update drill requirements to reflect legislative direction.
- Update planning standards to align vessel and facility requirements and ensure best achievable protection is maintained in contingency plans.
- Enhance planning standards for oiled wildlife response.
- Make other edits to address inconsistent or unclear direction in the rule, or other administrative edits.
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