EPA to Rule on Episodic Hazardous Waste Generation

January 12, 2009

EPA is considering developing specific regulations associated with facilities that, as a result of a planned event, find themselves moving occasionally or "episodically" into a higher hazardous waste generator status. Examples of planned events that may temporarily affect a facility's generator regulatory status include: construction, demolition, or site remediation projects; equipment maintenance during a plant shut down; removal of post-shelf life inventory; tank cleanouts; and process upsets.

For additional information, contact Jim O’Leary at 703-308-8827 or OLeary.Jim@epa.gov.

EPA Proposes Exemption for Milk Containers and Associated Piping Under the SPCC Rule

Specifically, EPA is proposing to exempt milk containers and associated piping and appurtenances from the SPCC requirements, provided they are constructed according to the current applicable 3-A Sanitary Standards and are subject to the current applicable Grade “A” Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO) or a state dairy regulatory requirement equivalent to the current applicable PMO. This proposal addresses concerns raised specifically by the dairy sector on the applicability of the SPCC requirements to milk containers.

Once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, public comments may be submitted for a 30-day period. 

States Agree to Work Together to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Vehicle Fuels

Eleven Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states have committed to developing a regional Low Carbon Fuel Standard in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fuels for vehicles and other uses. These 11 states—which include all the member states of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) plus Pennsylvania—will work together to create a common fuel standard that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a technology-neutral basis.

In June, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick sent a letter to the governors of all 10 RGGI states inviting them to work with Massachusetts on developing a Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) that would apply to the entire region, creating a larger market for cleaner fuels, reducing emissions associated with global climate change, and supporting the development of clean energy technologies. Recently, the heads of environmental protection agencies and, in some cases, energy agencies in the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont all signed a Letter of Intent to tackle the challenge of reducing greenhouse gases from fuels in a joint effort.

“After power generation, transportation is the next logical target for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and a Low Carbon Fuel Standard gives us a market-based mechanism to get the environmental results we need,” Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Laurie Burt said.

As stated in the Letter of Intent, a LCFS is a market-based, technologically neutral policy to address the carbon content of fuels by requiring reductions in the average lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions per unit of useful energy. Such a standard is potentially applicable not only to transportation, but also to fuel used for heating buildings, for industrial processes, and for electricity generation. California was the first state to commit to a LCFS for motor vehicles, which it is now in the process of developing.

Fuels that may have the potential to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation include electricity and advanced biofuels that have lower lifecycle carbon emissions and are less likely to cause indirect effects from crop diversion and land use changes than those on the market today.

EPA Seeks Advice on Perchlorate in Drinking Water and Issues Interim Health Advisory

EPA is seeking advice from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) before making a final determination on whether to issue a national regulation for perchlorate in drinking water.

. States have the right to establish and enforce drinking water standards, and EPA encourages state-specific situations to be addressed at the local level. EPA expects to issue a final health advisory concurrent with the final regulatory determination for perchlorate.

“This is a sensible step for protecting public health and preserving regulatory options as the science of perchlorate is reviewed,” said Benjamin H. Grumbles, EPA’s assistant administrator for water.

On Oct. 10, 2008, the agency issued a preliminary regulatory determination for public comment in the Federal Register. The notice described the agency’s decision that there is not a “meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction” through a national drinking water regulation for perchlorate. The agency received more than 32,000 comments on the notice.

After considering public comments, as well as recommendations from EPA advisory groups and offices, EPA is asking the NAS to provide additional insight on various issues. Specifically, EPA is asking the NAS to evaluate its derivation of the Health Reference Level of 15 ppb, the use of modeling to evaluate impacts on infants and young children, and the implication of recent biomonitoring studies. The agency is also asking the NAS how it should consider the role of perchlorate relative to other iodide uptake inhibiting compounds and if there are other public health strategies to address this aspect of thyroid health.

EPA is replacing the existing preliminary remediation goal of 24.5 ppb with the interim health advisory value of 15 ppb. This goal will be used as a consideration when establishing cleanup levels for perchlorate at Superfund sites.

A regulatory determination is a formal decision by EPA as to whether it should initiate development of a national primary drinking water regulation for a specific contaminant under the Safe Drinking Water Act. EPA has drinking water regulations for more than 90 contaminants. Every five years, EPA develops a Contaminant Candidate List to consider for regulation and then makes regulatory determinations on some of the contaminants based on scientific information on health effects, occurrence in drinking water, and the opportunity for risk reduction.

A health advisory provides technical guidance to federal, state, and other public health officials on health effects, analytical methods, and treatment technologies associated with drinking water contamination. Health advisories also contain guidance values that are concentrations of a contaminant in drinking water that are likely to be without adverse health effects.

New York Adopts New Source Review Regulations

Power plants, factories, and other industrial facilities must install state-of-the-art pollution controls if they expand or modify operations in ways that increase emissions, under a regulation approved by the New York State Environmental Board. The state's "new source review" regulation will improve air quality by promoting the use of new pollution-control technologies, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Pete Grannis said.

New source review, a provision of the federal Clean Air Act, governs whether industrial plants must install new emissions controls when expanding or making upgrades that go beyond routine maintenance. New York and other states sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for attempting to weaken the provision. While filing suit, New York also began the process of adopting a state new source review regulation to make certain that air quality protections were not diminished. That process culminated in the approval by the Environmental Board.

The regulations provide ample flexibility for industrial facilities, but they are more protective of air quality than federal requirements. Under provisions of the Clean Air Act, states can adopt regulations that are more protective than existing federal regulations. New York's regulation becomes effective in March.

"By taking this action, we are closing the door on the possibility that industrial plants could emit more smog and soot while avoiding new pollution controls," Grannis said. "Hopefully, New York's approach will become a model for other states and possibly the federal government."

Maryland Delays Storm Water Permit Due to Legal Challenge

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) received a legal challenge to the “final determination” for the new general permit for stormwater related to construction activities disturbing one or more acres. The following is a statement from MDE Secretary Shari T. Wilson:

“This new general permit would be the most progressive measure in Maryland to stop sediment from damaging waterways and eroding streambanks. We are disappointed that this challenge has been filed, despite new and improved conditions in the permit that include requirements for monitoring and plan review, critical elements of site design and erosion and sediment controls in plans, and increased public notification and participation.

“The permit also incorporated numerous suggestions to improve sediment control practices to achieve water quality standards suggested through a series of stakeholder meetings, and MDE committed to comprehensively review and update the state’s erosion and sediment control technical standards in early 2009 and finalize changes by May 30, 2010.

“After MDE issued its final determination for the general permit, the Environmental Protection Agency published a proposal that would require a numeric standard for stormwater runoff at sites more than 30 acres in size. MDE will incorporate any aspects of that proposal in its update to the technical standards, and, if EPA adopts regulations requiring effluent limitations, MDE will reopen Maryland’s general permit to incorporate the effluent limitation requirements as soon as possible after federal adoption.

“The draft permit, along with Montgomery County’s proposed municipal permit and revised stormwater management regulations, clearly demonstrates that Maryland is taking strong, comprehensive steps to further reduce polluted stormwater runoff."

Because the proposed general permit is being challenged, it did not become effective on Jan. 1, 2009, as proposed. In addition, the interim general permit that was in effect expired on Dec. 31, 2008. Therefore, developers of new construction projects disturbing one acre of land or greater must apply for an individual permit for the discharge of stormwater associated with construction activities. The process for doing so is:

  1. Submit a completed application form for an individual permit for the discharge of stormwater associated with construction activities.
  2. MDE publishes notice of the application and provides an opportunity for an informational meeting. Persons have 10 days following publication to request an informational meeting.
  3. MDE reviews the information provided and develops appropriate permit requirements.
  4. MDE publishes a notice of tentative determination. Persons have 30 days to submit written comments on the permit. Persons have 20 days to request a public hearing. If a hearing is requested, MDE publishes notice of the hearing at least 30 days before the scheduled hearing date. Persons also have 30 days from the publication of the tentative determination to submit written comments.
  5. MDE issues the permit if adverse comments are not received within 30 days or a hearing is not requested.
  6. If adverse comments are received, MDE prepares a final determination after the comments/hearing and publishes an additional notice providing 15 days for citizens to request a contested case hearing.
  7. MDE issues the permit after 15 days if the final determination is not contested.
  8. If contested, administrative procedure for the appeal process is followed.
  9. Once approved, the individual permit remains in effect for a maximum of five years.
  10. An application fee must be submitted with the application form before MDE will act on the request.

For questions or to request a form, contact Jesse Salter or Karen Smith, Compliance Program, Water Management Administration at jsalter@mde.state.md.us or kmith@mde.state.md.us or 410-537-3510. 

Toro Will Pay $30,000 Civil Penalty for Air Quality Violations

The Toro Company has agreed to pay a $30,000 civil penalty for air quality and air permit violations at its Bloomington research and development facility. Toro signed a stipulation agreement with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) on Dec. 22, 2008, agreeing to pay the penalty on or before Jan. 21, 2009.

In January and February 2008, Toro self-disclosed to the MPCA that its Bloomington facility exceeded its air permit limit of 40,474 gallons of gasoline per year, calculated on a 12-month rolling sum, from March 2007 through December 2007. The MPCA found that Toro continued to exceed its permitted gasoline use and remained out of compliance through October 2008. The facility has exceeded its permitted 12-month rolling sum of gasoline use by more than 4,000 gallons on average from March 2007 through October 2008. The permit is designed to keep carbon monoxide emissions from the combustion of gasoline at the Bloomington facility at or below 165 tons in any 12-month period.

Toro agreed to install a catalytic oxidizer system to reduce emissions of carbon monoxide and other hazardous air pollutants. Plans for the oxidizer are due to the MPCA by February 5, and complete installation must be completed by Aug. 31, 2009.

When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it was a first time or repeat violation and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. It also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to company with environmental laws.

Manufacturers and Retailers Assist Consumer Electronics Recycling

Plug-In to eCycling is a partnership between EPA and leading consumer electronics manufacturers and retailers that fosters opportunities for consumers to donate or recycle their used electronics.

“Our Plug-In partners are continuing to develop programs that help consumers protect the environment,” said Susan Bodine, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. “It’s exciting to see these programs mature rapidly at a time when people are increasingly looking for ways to do their part by recycling their used electronics.”

Recycling electronics conserves resources and energy needed to manufacture new materials. Plug-In partners have tailored the collection of consumer electronics for reuse and recycling in a variety of ways, such as in-store take back, mail-in recycling, online trade-in, and hosting local collection events. In 2008, Plug-In partners prevented the release of greenhouse gases equal to the annual emissions from approximately 15,500 cars.

Notable programs and new partnerships developed in 2008 include:

  • Dell/Staples partnership, where consumers can recycle any Dell-branded computer product for free at any Staples store in the United States
  • Best Buy’s pilot program at 134 stores to test in-store take back of selected consumer electronics
  • Sony’s expansion of its partnership with Waste Management to more than 160 drop-off locations in the United States, where consumers can recycle any Sony-branded products, including televisions, at no cost
  • LG’s launch of its partnership with Waste Management, also offering free recycling of LG, Zenith, and Goldstar brands
  • Samsung’s Recycling Direct program, available at more than 170 U.S. locations and its partnership with Walmart, in which Durabrand and Ilo electronic products (two private brands formerly sold by Walmart) can be recycled at Samsung’s Recycling Direct locations
  • Partnership between Panasonic, Sharp, and Toshiba (via their recycling platform, the Electronic Manufacturers Recycling Management Company) and Goodwill Industries of Central Texas to pilot television collection and recycling
  • Toshiba’s free online take-back services for any brand of selected consumer electronics
  • Free in-store take back or mail-in recycling programs for cell phones and other mobile devices available from all Plug-In carriers or cell phone manufacturers


Since the program’s inception in 2003, Plug-In partners have recycled more than 200 million pounds of electronics.

National Green Design Competition for Designs That Save Resources and Costs

EPA is co-sponsoring this year’s nationwide “Lifecycle Building Challenge” competition in partnership with the American Institute of Architects, West Coast Green, and others.

The Web-based competition calls on the nation’s architects and builders to create designs that facilitate material reuse and waste minimization. Students, educators, environmental advocates as well as reuse experts, engineers, and product designers, are invited to apply. A recognition ceremony will take place in the fall.

This is the third year of the competition.

Groups Work Together on Water-Efficiency Research

These organizations will develop research programs to assist in the development and use of water-efficient plumbing. The research will cover efficient and sustainable products, systems, and practices.

The MOU formalizes the agreement reached on conducting the research projects and took more than a year to negotiate. The five groups participating in the agreement include:

  • Alliance for Water Efficiency
  • International Code Council
  • International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials
  • Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling Contractors Association
  • Plumbing Manufacturers Institute


“New developments and improvements in water efficiency technology depend on credible research results,” EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson said. “Today’s ground-breaking agreement helps ensure that plumbing stakeholders join forces to analyze important water-efficiency issues.”

“By joining forces the organizations can better use their resources to advance water-efficiency research in areas where there is a common interest and need,” said Mary Ann Dickinson, executive director of the Alliance for Water Efficiency, the organization leading the partnership. “Initial projects being considered for research are high efficiency toilet drainage, water re-use systems, non-water consuming urinals, and sizing of water-efficient plumbing systems. We want to make sure that as we move forward with changes in water-efficiency requirements, those changes are based on solid research in the field.”

$3 Million Penalty for 2007 Jet Fuel Spill

The Explorer Pipeline Company has agreed to pay a $3.3 million civil penalty in order to resolve an alleged violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA) stemming from a July 14, 2007, spill of more than 6,500 barrels (approximately 275,000 gallons) of jet fuel from its interstate pipeline at a location near Huntsville, Texas.

The United States’ complaint, which was filed on Oct. 2, 2008, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, alleges that Explorer discharged oil into navigable waters of the United States in violation of the CWA. On July 14, 2007, Explorer’s 28-inch interstate refined petroleum products pipeline ruptured near Huntsville and jet fuel spilled onto the surrounding area and into nearby Turkey Creek, which flows to the Trinity River at the upper reaches of Lake Livingston.

In earlier responses to the spill, Explorer replaced the section of pipe that ruptured, completed cleanup of the impacted waters and adjoining shorelines, is cooperating in a joint federal and state natural resource damage assessment, and commenced additional assessment and follow-up work under a Corrective Action Order issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

“This settlement is the result of coordination and cooperation between a number of federal and state entities,” EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene said. “EPA is committed to working with its state and federal partners to ensure a strong water protection program.”

The CWA makes it unlawful to discharge oil or hazardous substances into or upon the navigable waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines in quantities that may be harmful to the environment or public health. The penalty paid for this spill will be deposited in the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund managed by the National Pollution Fund Center. The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund is used to pay for federal response activities and to compensate for damages when there is a discharge or substantial threat of discharge of oil or hazardous substances to waters of the United States or adjoining shorelines.

The proposed consent decree, lodged in the Southern District of Texas, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court review and approval.

Citation Oil and Gas to Pay $860,000 for Oil Spill

Citation Oil and Gas Corp. will invest approximately $580,000 on new and upgraded spill prevention controls at its Cellers Ranch production field in Johnson County, Wyo., and will pay a $280,000 penalty to resolve the government’s claims for violations of the Clean Water Act.

The consent order that has been filed relates to the discharge of more than 25,000 gallons (597 barrels) of crude oil and produced water at Citation’s Cellers Ranch Unit and inadequacies in the company’s Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) plan, an oil pollution prevention requirement under the CWA. On June 19, 2004, a flow line ruptured at Cellers Ranch, resulting in a spill that contaminated six miles of the North Fork Powder River and adversely impacted waterfowl and other wildlife. The spill was caused by corroded bolts on a buried coupling.

Under the agreement, Citation will amend its SPCC plan to bring it into compliance with regulatory requirements. The company also will complete a facility line survey to locate buried piping; create a written facility inventory and diagram for above and belowground equipment; develop and implement an inspection, maintenance, and replacement plan; and conduct risk management analysis, integrity testing, and training.


Three Companies Fined for Lack of SPCC and FRP Plans

EPA is proposing fining three New England companies for violating federal Clean Water Act requirements to prevent and contain oil spills. Specifically, EPA alleges that the following oil storage facilities have failed to adequately prepare and maintain Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) plans and/or Facility Response Plans (FRPs): DDLC Energy of New London, Conn.; Taylor Energy of Broad Brook, Conn; and Northeast Products Co. Inc. of Fall River, Mass.

Each facility could be subject to penalties of up to $157,500. In addition, to avoid the potential for significant environmental harm, each company must take steps to bring the facilities into immediate compliance with the federal spill prevention and response planning requirements, if they haven’t done so already.

Oil storage facilities subject to the FRP rules must prepare and implement spill response plans for worst-case discharges from their facilities, which can be upwards of tens of millions of gallons of oil. Any facility with more than 1,320 gallons of aboveground oil storage capacity and meeting certain other criteria must develop and implement SPCC plans to prevent and contain spills, such as by installing impervious secondary containment around storage tanks and transfer areas. To ensure that a facility can adequately respond to a spill, it must have adequate employee training, spill response equipment, and a contingency plan for containing and cleaning up a release.

$140,000 Settlement Reached with Pacific Northern Environmental Corporation for 2006 Oil Spill

On December 31, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) lodged a Consent Decree in federal court to settle alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act by Pacific Northern Environmental Corporation (PNE), of Longview, Wash. The settlement, lodged on behalf of the U.S. EPA, involves an oil spill that took place near Scottsburg, Ore., in 2006.

As lodged, the settlement includes a penalty of $94,272 and a supplemental environmental project (SEP) worth more than $47,000. The alleged violations occurred when a tanker truck, owned and operated by PNE, veered off U.S. Highway 38 near Scottsburg, rolled down the embankment, and spilled about 8,200 gallons of diesel fuel. The fuel was released to the shoreline of the Umpqua River, which is a designated National Wild and Scenic River. The Umpqua provides habitat for a variety of fish species including Chinook salmon, Coho salmon, and cutthroat trout. The Oregon State Police cited the driver for careless driving.

In addition to the company’s response contractors, EPA and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality were on-site for about a week cleaning up the spill.

Of the penalty, $20,000 is going to the State of Oregon for violation of the state’s oil discharge prohibition and the balance going to the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. In addition, PNE will spend more than $47,000 on an SEP. The SEP will include the purchase of gas detectors and other equipment for the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Hazmat Teams Program. The monitors will help first responders determine the proper response to hazardous materials releases and reduce response times.

“Companies that handle and transport petroleum products on Oregon roads need to take extra care around Wild and Scenic Rivers like the Umpqua,” said Mike Bussell, director of the Office of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle. “We realize that accidents happen, but spilling oil in and around Oregon rivers can result in penalties, regardless of cause.”

According to EPA authorities, PNE was cooperative throughout the entire cleanup and promptly hired cleanup contractors to conduct removal and mitigation efforts. Roughly 1,469 tons of petroleum contaminated soil was removed from the spill site. According to the Company, PNE spent more than $600,000 on the cleanup and mitigation efforts.

The settlement will be subject to a public comment period and approval by the court before it becomes final.

Muranaka Farms Will Pay EPA $75,000 Fine and Restore Damaged Creek

EPA has signed an agreement with Muranaka Farms, Inc., requiring the Moorpark, Calif., firm to pay a fine of $75,000 for discharging dredged or fill materials into the Calleguas Creek without a Clean Water Act permit.

“This agreement, together with successful restoration of the damaged site, will allow Muranaka Farms, Inc. to come into compliance with the Clean Water Act,” said Alexis Strauss, director of EPA’s Water Division for the Pacific Southwest. “We at EPA will continue to focus on restoration of Calleguas Creek and protection of our coastal environment.”

Between February and September 2005, Muranaka Farms, Inc. constructed a berm and agricultural field within and adjacent to Calleguas Creek in Moorpark. The CWA prohibits the placement of dredged or fill materials into rivers, tributary streams, and other waters of the United States without a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

EPA issued an administrative order on Nov. 7, 2007, requiring Muranaka Farms, Inc. to restore the area that it cleared and graded, which resulted in the unauthorized discharges into Calleguas Creek in Ventura County, California. Muranaka Farms, Inc. has complied with the order and has submitted a plan to restore nearly 18 acres in Calleguas Creek.

Ottenweller Will Pay More Than $50,000 for Clean Air Violations

EPA Region 5 has reached an agreement with Ottenweller Co. Inc. on alleged clean air violations at the company’s metal coating plant in Fort Wayne, Ind. The agreement, which includes two environmental projects costing $44,000 and a $13,500 penalty, resolves EPA allegations that the Ottenweller facility emitted excessive amounts of organic hazardous air pollutants in violation of federal regulations and its state operating permit.

For its environmental projects, Ottenweller will install a new paint-mixing system to reduce emissions of hazardous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and will switch to a more expensive topcoat primer with a lower hazardous VOC content.

VOCs contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone (smog), which occurs when a mixture of pollutants react on warm, sunny days. Smog can cause respiratory problems, including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest pain. People with asthma, children, and the elderly are especially at risk, but these health concerns are important to everyone.

Hazardous air pollutants may cause serious health effects including birth defects and cancer. They also may cause harmful environmental and ecological effects.

Massachusetts Developer and Construction Company Fined More Than $20,000 for Stormwater Violations

A residential developer and a construction company in Hanson, Mass., will pay a penalty of $22,500 for stormwater discharges from a construction site.

Dunham Farm Condominium is an 11-acre residential development owned by Dunham Farm, LLC and run by contractor Callahan, Inc. On March 27, 2007, an EPA inspector discovered that these parties violated the NPDES General Permit for Storm Water Discharges from Construction Activities issued to the companies under the Clean Water Act.

In its complaint filed against the companies in April 2008, EPA alleged that Dunham Farm, LLC and Callahan, Inc. failed to document routine facility inspections at the development site and failed to properly implement and maintain “best management” practices, which include erosion and sediment controls, such as drainage basins, silt barriers, and berms at the site.

Consequently, during storm events that occurred in the summer of 2006, stormwater laden with sediment flowed from the development site into a bordering vegetated wetland. A stream forms in this wetland that ultimately reaches the Taunton River and flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

The developer and builder have since taken steps to remove the silt that traveled to the bordering wetland and are now in full compliance with the Clean Water Act.

Biren Properties Fined Due to Violations of Lead Paint Disclosure Laws

A New Hampshire-based landlord, Biren Properties, Inc., will pay a penalty and take action to reduce the risk of lead poisoning at apartment buildings in Manchester, N.H. This will settle EPA claims that Biren violated lead paint disclosure laws when it rented certain properties in Manchester without providing tenants with lead paint disclosure information.

Under the settlement, Biren will pay a $3,794 penalty and will complete window and door replacements and other interior abatement work to address known or presumed lead-based paint at three properties located in Manchester. The abatement work will cost at least $34,146. To receive credit for completed abatement work, the settlement requires Biren to hire a licensed lead inspector/risk assessor to conduct post-abatement clearance inspections at the properties—all built in the early 1900s—to ensure that no lead-based paint hazards remain after the work is completed.

Connecticut Challenges Municipalities with an E-Waste Recycling Law

State and local governments have had to respond to the challenge of managing the ever-increasing amounts of electronic devices ending up in the solid waste stream. These devices, commonly referred to as “electronic waste” or “e-waste” typically contain toxic substances, such as lead, cadmium, and mercury, and have become a growing portion of the solid waste steam. Seventeen states have developed e-waste recycling laws.

Recognizing that recycling e-waste is expensive (about $180–$400 per ton or more), Connecticut began to explore alternative funding options. In 2007, Connecticut’s legislature passed Public Act 07-189, amended in 2008 by Public Act 08-35, requiring manufacturers of televisions, computers, and monitors to finance the recycling of their products. The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (CDEP) has proposed to add printers through regulation. These items are collectively known as covered electronic devices (CEDs). This law is based on a “producer responsibility” model where the manufacturer assumes financial responsibility for the end of life management of their product.

 Under Connecticut’s law, beginning on July 1, 2009, municipalities will have to provide for the collection of household-generated CEDs. Municipalities may meet this requirement by working on their own or in conjunction with a region. Municipalities will be required to educate their residents on the specifics of how to participate in the program. The collection opportunities must give priority to convenience and accessibility. Municipalities may not charge a fee to households bringing in seven or fewer CEDs, as the e-waste law requiring producer responsibility ensures that the manufacturer, not the municipality, must bear the cost for recycling CEDs.

Under the regulations, municipalities will be required to submit a plan indicating how they will provide convenient and accessible collections for their residents. This plan could be submitted independently or through a regional entity. The CDEQ will review each plan to determine if it is feasible and if it meets the standard of providing “convenient and accessible” collections. Once a plan has been approved, the town would not have to resubmit the plan unless there were substantive changes or the CDEQ later determines that the plan did not provide for convenient and accessible collection opportunities.

EPA and California Agencies Showcase “Greener” Off-Road Equipment Set to Meet the State’s New Diesel Emissions Standards

Officials with the U.S. EPA, the California Air Resources Board (ARB), and the South Coast Air Quality Management District met recently at the Puente Hills Landfill to showcase cleaner burning tractors, bulldozers, and other earth-moving equipment that is ahead of schedule in meeting California’s new, stringent diesel emissions standards.

California’s estimated 180,000 pieces of off-road equipment emit nearly as much smog-forming and fine particle pollution as the one million diesel trucks for which ARB recently adopted regulations.

“This equipment is no longer just moving earth—it’s moving California toward better air quality,” said Wayne Nastri, administrator of U.S. EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “And with the $1 million we’re giving to the South Coast Air Quality Management District to clean up 700 heavy-duty trucks, more and more vehicles will be driving toward a future of cleaner air.”

“ARB’s first-in-the nation standards are driving businesses to invest in advanced technologies to clean our air and save the planet,” ARB Chairman Mary Nichols said. “Even heavy-duty, off-road equipment can be part of the solution.”

The ARB adopted a precedent-setting regulation in 2007 that will reduce toxic and cancer-causing diesel emissions from the state’s estimated 180,000 off-road vehicles used in construction, mining, airport ground support, and other industries. The regulation requires the installation of diesel soot filters and encourages the replacement of older, dirtier engines with newer emission-controlled models. By 2020, diesel particulate matter will be reduced by 74% and smog-forming oxides of nitrogen by 32%, compared with what emissions would be without the regulation.

Diesel particulate matter, or diesel “soot,” was identified as a toxic air contaminant in 1998. According to ARB estimates, this rule will prevent at least 4,000 premature deaths statewide over the course of the regulation and avoid $18–$26 billion in premature death and health costs.

Agreement with Perdue Supports the Protection of Southeastern Waters

EPA Regions 3 and 4 have announced an agreement with Perdue Farms, Inc., to help poultry producers for Perdue protect our nation’s waters. The parties signed a Memorandum of Agreement to implement the Perdue Clean Waters Environmental Initiative, an effort to provide training, assessments, and other assistance to reduce the environmental impact of poultry farms.

“By signing this Clean Waters agreement, EPA is agreeing to work with Perdue to restore and protect surface and groundwater,” said Jimmy Palmer, EPA Region 4 Regional Administrator. “These waterways provide valuable ecosystems for plant and animal life, and are a source of recreation for visitors and residents throughout the Southeast and mid-Atlantic regions.”

“Perdue Farms is committed to environmental stewardship and shares that commitment with the independent farm families who raise our birds,” Perdue Chairman Jim Perdue said. “We are pleased to work cooperatively with EPA Regions 3 and 4 to enhance the implementation of environmental best management practices on poultry farms, and feel that working together and providing producers with knowledge and resources to enable them to be good environmental stewards is the most productive route to our shared goals of protecting our natural resources and preserving the family farm.”

In addition to other sources of nutrients, runoff from improperly managed poultry farms can adversely affect surrounding surface water and groundwater quality and have a negative effect on plant and fish life.

The formal Memorandum of Agreement, known as the Clean Waters Environmental Initiative, grew out of a pilot program initiated by EPA Region 3 and Perdue on the Delmarva Peninsula in Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Beginning in 2007, EPA and Perdue provided training and assistance to the largest independent contract poultry farms growing for Perdue throughout the Peninsula. Trained flock supervisors visited each farm and used a checklist to examine how well the farmers complied with nutrient management regulations and best management practices in their poultry production areas and noted any improvements needed.

Under the Clean Waters Environmental Initiative, Perdue will use results of the initial pilot effort to launch a four-year, company-wide environmental management program for all contract poultry farms growing for Perdue. While new federal regulations only apply to concentrated animal feeding operations that discharge, this program will extend to all Perdue producers in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions.

Under the program, Perdue, EPA, and other partners will provide training and assistance to poultry farmers so that they can learn how to achieve or exceed compliance with guidelines on controlling runoff and managing litter disposal. The initiative includes an awards program to recognize poultry farms that demonstrate environmental and compliance excellence in protecting and restoring waterways. Additionally under the initiative, Perdue poultry processing facilities will each implement an Environmental Management System, which is a set of processes and practices designed to reduce environmental impacts and increase operating efficiency.


Cushman & Wakefield, Inc. Agrees to “Green” Their Real Estate Holdings

The environmental impact of an office building may often be an afterthought, but office buildings are responsible for some 17% of the nation’s carbon-dioxide emissions, about 1 billion tons annually. Cushman & Wakefield, Inc., one of the world’s largest commercial real estate firms, is planning to reduce the environmental impacts of its offices and the buildings it manages through an agreement with the U.S. EPA.

“Just like cars and smoke stacks, office buildings are responsible for significant quantities of carbon-dioxide emissions as their electricity and heat is often derived from the burning of fossil fuels,” EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg said. “By making modest, cost-efficient adjustments like increasing energy efficiency in plans for office buildings, Cushman & Wakefield stands to drastically reduce its carbon footprint at thousands of buildings across the country.”

The agreement, which is in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding, includes the following goals for Cushman & Wakefield:

  • Evaluate opportunities to conserve energy when selecting new corporation office spaces and begin an energy-efficiency pilot program at several offices.
  • Decrease energy consumption at the company’s offices and managed properties, currently more than 3,000 buildings, by 30% by 2012.
  • Help building owners conduct energy analyses utilizing EPA’s ENERGY STAR benchmarking tool.
  • Encourage its clients with data centers to participate in EPA’s Data Center Data Collection Initiative to help develop an ENERGY STAR rating for data centers.
  • Track water usage at properties the company manages using the EPA ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager tool and promote the use of water-efficient fixtures and water conservation measures.
  • Join EPA’s WasteWise partnership program, through which the company will conduct an assessment of waste reduction activities, document sustainable purchases, and provide an annual estimate on improvements in waste reduction and recycling at selected properties.
  • Join EPA’s GreenScapes program and encourage its clients to reuse industrial materials and implement sustainable landscaping practices.
  • Seek certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, or a similar green building rating system for new corporate office space.


Cushman & Wakefield will report the progress on its goals to EPA every six months. Based on the reports, EPA will quantify the benefits of the company’s environmental efforts. EPA has similar agreements in place with the New York Mets for the team’s new Citi Field stadium, the Destiny USA mall project in Syracuse, N.Y., Montclair State University in Montclair, N.J., and St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y.


EPA Announces Plan to Improve Pest Control in Schools by 2015

EPA will be joined by other organizations with the goal to reduce pest and pesticide-related risks to children in all U.S. public schools by 2015.. It relies on the coordinated efforts of teachers, custodians, food service staff, school administrators, pest management professionals, Agricultural Extension staff, regulators, architects, and parents to reduce pesticide risk in our schools.

Developed in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service and Regional Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Centers, and the IPM Institute of North America, the plan provides a roadmap to understanding pest biology, inspection and monitoring, and pest prevention that are key to successfully implementing IPM.

Pests and pest management can have long-term health effects and affect school attendance. Schools that adopt IPM should have less pesticide residue, fewer pest problems, and lower pest-related allergens. Studies show that IPM reduces pest complaints and pesticide use in schools by 70% to 90%, with no long-term increase in costs.

Recycling Grants Available in Arizona

Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Director Steve Owens recently announced that ADEQ is seeking grant applications to enhance recycling efforts from private enterprises, political subdivisions, tribal governments, and nonprofit organizations that serve Arizona communities.

"This grant program helps communities take action at the local level to protect Arizona's environment by developing and promoting recycling," Owens said. "We are also encouraging collaborative and community partnerships to promote recycling in Arizona."

ADEQ provides funding for recycling projects statewide in three major categories:

  • Waste Reduction Assistance (WRA), which funds projects that significantly reduce the solid-waste stream by purchasing recycling equipment and developing the recycling infrastructure.
  • Waste Reduction Initiative Through Education (WRITE), which funds education projects that increase the awareness and use of recycling opportunities and educate the public of the need to reduce, reuse, and recycle.
  • Recycling Research & Development (RR&D), which funds feasibility studies, solid waste audits, and technology development for source reduction, recycling, composting, and other environmentally responsible techniques.



$1.5 Million Penalty for Dumping Toxic Waste into River

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced that Atlantic Wire, LLC, has agreed to pay the state $1.5 million to settle allegations it repeatedly dumped toxic waste water into the Branford River between 2005 and early 2008.

The agreement settles a lawsuit that Blumenthal filed in January 2008 on behalf of the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The action charged Atlantic Wire with spewing toxins into the Branford River 21 times from December 2005 to January 2008.

"One and a half million dollars sends a powerful message: Dumping toxins into Connecticut's waters is intolerable—and killing aquatic life callously and cavalierly is unconscionable legally and morally and must have consequences,” Blumenthal said. “Atlantic Wire inexcusably allowed toxic waste water to flow into the Branford River not once, but an incredible 21 times, causing a massive crab kill. The company's defiant violation of the law meant dead marine life and a damaged river.

"Our goal was never to put this company out of business, but it wrongly regarded pollution as part of its cost of doing business,” he added. “Harsh monetary penalties like this deter potential lawbreakers and assure compliance. This case will make polluters think twice—and act differently—before pumping poison into our rivers and streams.

"Our investigation as to individual responsibility is continuing,” Blumenthal said. “In addition to this penalty, we have also achieved a set aside of $897,000 in the bankruptcy proceeding for cleanup activities."

Atlantic Wire ceased operations in September and is in a liquidation bankruptcy. Blumenthal's office asked U.S. Bankruptcy Court to award the $1.5 million penalty from the company's assets. The bankruptcy proceeding will not discharge, forgive, or eliminate the state's $1.5 million penalty.

"This civil judgment wraps up the last of the five notices CFE brought against corporate polluters in September 2007,” said Roger Reynolds, attorney for Connecticut Fund for the Environment, a New Haven-based environmental group.” These penalties send a strong message to industry that environmental negligence will not be tolerated. Long Island Sound is a precious resource that provides immeasurable economic and recreational benefits to residents and visitors."

Water Heaters Can Now Carry Energy Star Label

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the availability of ENERGY STAR® residential water heaters. With this announcement, the ENERGY STAR program now addresses every major residential appliance found in most American homes. Introduction of this product provides significant potential savings to consumers. Water heating represents up to 15.5% of national residential energy consumption, the second largest end use of energy in homes, following heating and cooling. Using one of five specified water-heating technologies, ENERGY STAR qualified water heaters can reduce water heating bills from 7.5% to as much as 55%.

“The ENERGY STAR program empowers consumers to make smart energy choices that will save money, and energy, and reduce carbon emissions,” DOE Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Rodgers said. “Expansion of the ENERGY STAR program to include water heaters will give Americans yet another way to use energy more efficiently in their homes and help the country increase energy security and address climate change.”

In five years, the new water heater criteria are expected to save American consumers $823 million in utility costs, avoid 4.2 million tons of carbon-dioxide emissions, and achieve cumulative energy savings of more than 3.9 billion kilowatt-hours and 270 million therms of natural gas—enough energy to power more than 375,000 homes for a year.

Five water-heating technologies are eligible to use the ENERGY STAR label:

  • High-efficiency gas storage water heaters employ the same technologies as standard gas storage water heaters: A glass-lined steel tank is heated by a burner located at the bottom of the tank. ENERGY STAR labeled models increase efficiency by incorporating better insulation, heat traps, and more efficient burners.
  • Gas condensing water heaters work much like regular gas water heaters. However, instead of venting the combustion gases directly outside, heat from those gases is further transferred to the water thus increasing efficiency.
  • Whole-home gas tankless water heaters apply the same principle to heat water as standard gas water heaters, but without a storage tank. They save energy by heating water only when needed, eliminating energy lost during standby operation.
  • Heat Pump Water Heater (HPWH) technology uses electricity to move heat from one place to another instead of generating heat directly. Much like a refrigerator working in reverse, a HPWH uses liquid refrigerant to take the heat from surrounding air and transfer it to water in an enclosed tank.
  • Solar water heaters come in a wide variety of designs, all using the sun’s thermal energy to heat water.


Performance criteria were announced on April 1, 2008, to allow manufacturers nine months to partner with ENERGY STAR and submit qualifying models to earn the label once the criteria took effect. ENERGY STAR qualified gas storage, whole home gas tankless, and solar water heaters became available on Jan. 1, 2009. Qualified gas-condensing and heat pump models are expected to be available later in 2009. These emerging technologies will initially be available through plumbers and large retailers.

 Plumbers interested in offering customers advanced water-heating technologies should check with manufacturers for available training opportunities and tutorials on installation techniques.

Federal Tax Credits Return for Efficiency Improvements to Homes

As you're ringing in the New Year, it also might be a good time to search your home for air leaks, insufficient insulation, or heating and cooling equipment that needs updating. That's because the start of 2009 also has revived the federal tax credits for energy-efficiency improvements to homes. Although the original tax credit expired at the end of 2007, it was revived this year as part of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which President Bush signed back in October 2008.

As noted by the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE), federal tax credits are now available for 10% of the cost of insulation, storm doors, and Energy Star-qualified "cool roofs," up to a limit of $500; for 10% of the cost of exterior windows and skylights, up to a limit of $200; for up to $300 on new high-efficiency air conditioners, heat pumps, water heaters, and corn-fueled stoves; and for up to $150 on high-efficiency furnaces and boilers.

As noted by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act also extended a federal tax credit for 30% of the cost of both residential and commercial solar energy installations, while eliminating a $2,000 cap on the tax credit for residential solar electric installations. The law also established a tax credit for 30% of the cost of residential wind energy systems, fuel cells, and microturbines, with different caps on each type of system, and all of these clean energy tax credits are good through 2016. According to SEIA, the solar investment tax credit provisions also will allow filers of the Alternative Minimum Tax to still take the tax credit, although anyone planning to file for a tax credit should first seek the advice of a tax professional.

Auto Supply Company Fined $600,000 for Selling High VOC Windshield Wiper Solution

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has fined CSK Auto, Inc. $600,000 for selling windshield washer fluid throughout the state that does not comply with the state's clean air regulations.

CSK Auto, Inc, is headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz., and is the parent company of several West Coast automobile supply retail outlets, including California's Kragen Auto Parts, where the violations were found. ARB cited the chain for selling windshield fluid throughout California that was specially formulated with higher pollutants to prevent from freezing in the state's colder, mountainous areas.

"Manufacturers of a wide variety of automotive and other consumer products are subject to California's strict air pollution requirements," ARB Chairman Mary Nichols said. "And we depend on retailers to stock only those products that meet our clean air goals."

Through routine monitoring, ARB enforcement officials discovered that CSK was selling windshield washer fluids and deicers that exceed limits of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Through the years of 2004 and 2006, more than 14,000 gallons of non-complying products were sold.

ARB has worked with the consumer product industry for many years to strictly control the VOC content in consumer products, as VOCs contribute to the creation of ground-level ozone. Ozone is caustic and irritates nasal passages and lung tissue, creating a serious problem for people with cardio-pulmonary diseases such as asthma and chronic pulmonary obstructive disorder.

The penalties were paid directly to the California Air Pollution Control Fund, which uses the money to reduce air pollution through a variety of programs.

Limiting the amount of VOCs in products has reduced the number of high ozone days throughout California. This is especially important in all of California's major air districts as they still fail to meet federal health standards for ozone.

Medical Waste Recovery Inc. Fined $5,000

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has assessed a $5,000 penalty against the company that processes and transports infectious medical waste after inspectors discovered violations of Pennsylvania’s Solid Waste Management Act.

Medical Waste Recovery Inc. is a Delaware company with a Denville, N.J., mailing address that holds a permit to operate in Pennsylvania. The company’s medical waste processing system was operating at the Sharon Regional Health System facility in Sharon, Pa., on Aug. 8, 2008, when DEP inspectors followed up on an odor complaint and discovered five violations.

DEP conducted a follow-up inspection of the processing system on August 26 when it was operating at Jameson Memorial Hospital in New Castle, Del. The previous violations had been corrected, but another violation was identified.

DEP sent notices of violation to Medical Waste Recovery Inc. and the violations have been corrected.

“The department appreciates the public’s willingness to report situations that need DEP attention,” DEP Regional Director Kelly Burch said. “In this case, we discovered violations that created a public nuisance and called for a monetary civil penalty.”

The violations included:

  • Failure to post warning signs regarding the type of waste being processed
  • Lack of emergency alternative storage and processing plan
  • Absence of continuous differential pressure meter to monitor and record processor air pressure drops
  • Absence of individual employee training records
  • Failure to maintain Ph monitoring log
  • Lack of previous approval for off-site infectious waste generators

DOT Requires Stronger Railroad Hazmat Tank Cars to Improve Crashworthiness

In a move to enhance safety on the nation’s railroads, U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters announced today a final rule to improve the crashworthiness of railroad tank cars used to transport some of the most dangerous hazardous materials.

“Strengthening rail hazmat tank cars will reduce the risk of spills and increase public safety should a train accident occur,” Peters said. She noted the final rule is focused on poison inhalation hazard (PIH) materials like chlorine and anhydrous ammonia heavily used in water treatment, agricultural, and industrial applications.

The final rule requires PIH tank cars to have better puncture resistance from a side impact with a combination of thicker inner shells where the hazmat is held and/or thicker outer jackets depending on the specific hazmat being transported. In addition, each end of the tank car is to be protected with a full head shield, where not already mandated by existing regulations, and strengthened valves, top fittings, and nozzles used to load and unload the tank car are required to prevent a release in a rollover accident.

The new rule also imposes a 50 mph maximum speed restriction on all loaded PIH tank cars and allows for an increase in the gross weight of the tank car to accommodate the enhanced safety measures. Also, it requires tank car owners to prioritize the retirement or replacement of older tank cars used in PIH service, which were built prior to 1989 with non-normalized steel that may not adequately resist the development of fractures.

Peters said the final rule provides an increase in safety over existing rail hazmat tank car designs, pending further technological and manufacturing advancements. Adoption of these interim design standards will ensure the ongoing availability of PIH tank cars with improved safety, while DOT completes longer-term research, testing, and validation of advanced tank car designs for a more stringent performance-based standard to further increase rail hazmat tank car crashworthiness.

The final rule was issued by the DOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration in close consultation with the Federal Railroad Administration following a broad and multi-faceted review of virtually all aspects of rail tank car safety. The rule applies to PIH tank cars built on or after March 16, 2009.

In June 2008, a new rail hazmat routing rule took effect requiring railroads to rigorously analyze and then select the route with the fewest overall safety and security risks. The hazmat routing rule, combined with the hazmat tank car rule, provides enhanced protection for people living in both large cities and small towns.

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