EPA Wins RCRA Judgement Against Dearborn Refining; Includes $1.25 Million Penalty and Cleanup

October 17, 2003

EPA Region 5 recently announced that an administrative judge has issued an initial ruling finding Dearborn Refining Co., Dearborn, Mich., in violation of eight counts of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the federal law governing hazardous waste and used oil. A $1.25 million penalty and a cleanup order were issued by the court.

Dearborn Refining Co. blends and markets used and virgin oil into lubricating and metal-working products at its approximately 6-acre facility.

“This is just one part of our larger effort to protect and clean up the Detroit and Rouge watersheds,” said Region 5 Administrator Thomas V. Skinner. “We will continue to vigorously seek out companies like Dearborn Refining that disregard environmental regulations.”

EPA filed a civil action against Dearborn Refining in September 2001 for failing to follow used-oil management regulations including:

  • inadequate secondary containment system (dikes, berms, retaining walls, floors) for its above-ground storage tanks;
  • unlabeled tanks and containers;
  • rusting and deteriorating containers;
  • inadequate internal communications system for employees;
  • inadequate contingency plan;
  • emergency equipment not properly located;
  • inadequate used oil analysis plans; and
  • no permit for storage or disposal of hazardous waste.

Dearborn Refining has appealed the decision to the Environmental Appeals Board. EPA Region 5 has filed a brief in response to the appeal.

US Announces Clean Air Agreement with Chevron USA

The U.S. Justice Department, EPA, and the U.S. Attorney, San Francisco, announced a comprehensive Clean Air Act settlement with Chevron U.S.A. Inc. The settlement is expected to reduce harmful air emissions by almost 10,000 tons per year from five U.S. petroleum refineries that represent more than five percent of the total refining capacity in the United States.

The states of Hawaii, Mississippi, and Utah and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District in California are joining the settlement, which is part of EPA's national effort to reduce air emissions from refineries.

A consent decree filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Calif., will require Chevron to spend an estimated $275 million to install and implement innovative control technologies to reduce emissions at its refineries. Chevron's actions under this agreement will reduce annual emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) by more than 3,300 tons and sulfur dioxide (SO2) by nearly 6,300 tons.

To meet obligations under EPA's New Source Review program, Chevron will cut emissions significantly from its largest emitting units through the use of innovative technologies. In addition, under the negotiated settlement, Chevron will upgrade its leak detection and repair practices, implement programs to minimize flaring of hazardous gases, reduce emissions from its sulphur recovery plants and adopt strategies to ensure the proper handling of hazardous benzene wastes at each refinery. The affected Chevron refineries are located in Richmond and El Segundo, Calif., Pascagoula, Miss., Salt Lake City, Utah and Kapolei, Hawaii.

Chevron also will pay a $3.5 million civil penalty and spend more than $4 million on further emissions controls and other environmental projects in communities around the company's refineries. Part of the penalty is to resolve claims for hazardous substance release reporting violations at its El Segundo, Calif., refinery. The states of Hawaii, Mississippi, and Utah and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District will share in the cash penalties and the benefits of the environmental projects to be performed by Chevron.

This agreement is the latest in a series of multi-issue, multi-facility settlements reached by EPA under its Petroleum Refinery Initiative. Two weeks ago, EPA and the Justice Department announced Clean Air Act settlements with Coastal Eagle Point Oil Company, Ergon-West Virginia Inc. and Ergon Refining Inc., and CHS that will reduce refinery emissions by nearly 4,000 tons per year in five states. In the past three years, the United States has reached similar agreements with other major refiners, including Motiva Enterprises, Equilon and Deer Park Refining, Marathon Ashland Petroleum, Koch Petroleum Group, BP Exploration & Oil, Conoco, and Navajo Refining. These settlements provide for a comprehensive, cooperative approach to addressing environmental problems across the industry. To date, settlements under this initiative are reducing pollution at 42 refineries across the United States that account for nearly 40 percent of domestic refining capacity.

The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period.

For more information on the Petroleum Refinery Initiative, go to http://www.epa.gov/Compliance/civil/programs/caa/oil/index.html

EPA Recognizes Winners of Designs for Sustainable Packaging of E-Products

EPA, in partnership with McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC), has announced the two winners of the "Cradle to Cradle Design Challenge for E-Commerce Shipping Packaging and Logistics" at the PackExpo Trade Show in Las Vegas. Both winners identified innovative packaging and design solutions to reducing the environmental impacts associated with shipping books purchased online. They created packaging that can be reused, recycled or composted, considering all materials as nutrients for technical or biological systems.

"The Design Challenge has shown us that the door is wide open for exploring, identifying and developing innovative and environmentally sound packaging solutions," said Marianne Horinko, Acting Administrator for the EPA. "We look forward to the packaging industry implementing these tangible solutions."

The winning professional entry represents a collaborative effort between Microsoft (Washington state), Allen Schluger Company and Shorewood Packaging (New York). The designers created a "Bevelope" with 100 percent post-consumer content paperboard. The unique design of the product allows it to expand or contract. The packaging can accommodate the slimmest paperback book or the thickest manual and collapses quickly after use. It can be stored for reuse or recycled with mixed paper. Companies can print labels directly onto the Bevelope, eliminating stickers that contaminate the recycling stream.

A team from the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, Calif. produced the winning entry in the student category called "KNF (Keep it Nature Friendly)." The students combined kenaf, a relatively new material, with the traditional concept of the Japanese Furoshiki, a traditional method of wrapping that dates back to the 8th century. The design placed adjustable, protective corners around any sized book and then the entire product is wrapped. The paper and corners are made from a plant called kenaf, that has several environmental advantages over trees as a source of paper. After the customer receives the package, the wrapping materials are given a second life. Consumers can compost the kenaf corners and wrapping paper. A bookmark is included in the package that contains kenaf seeds with instructions on how to assemble the corner protectors into a pot for sprouting the seeds.

EPA also presented four "Recognition of Innovation" awards to designers from Clean Agency, Calif., GrowDesign, Penn., Guilford Technical Community College, N.C., and Montreal University, Canada. Teams from these companies and institutions produced innovative packaging that captured the spirit of the design challenge.

The E-Commerce Design Challenge is one of EPA's Innovation Pilots. The goal of the Innovation Pilots is to test creative ideas and approaches including recycling, waste minimization and energy recovery. To date, EPA has selected 31 innovation pilots totaling $1.3 million in awards.

Launched in April, EPA's Cradle to Cradle Design Challenge attracted more than a thousand people to its web site; entries were submitted by students, packaging and industrial designers, and manufacturers from North America and Europe. The E-Commerce Design Challenge was selected because of the critical role product design can play in addressing environmental issues. The challenge asked participants to rethink and redesign e-commerce shipping packaging and logistics based on cradle-to-cradle life cycles. Participants challenged traditional manufacturing systems that are based on a one-way, cradle-to-grave stream of materials.

EPA's partner MBDC is located in Charlottesville, Va. MBDC is a product and process design firm established by William McDonough and chemist Dr. Michael Braungart in 1995. It provides environmentally intelligent product research and development, design and business tools to companies of all sizes.

For more information, go to http://www.epa.gov/oswer/docs/iwg/cradle.pdf or http://www.mbdc.com/challenge

EPA and FedEx Freight Partner to Reduce Diesel Emissions

Under EPA's Voluntary Diesel Retrofit Program, the Agency is partnering for the first time with a private company, FedEx Freight, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp., to retrofit its fleet. The one-year pilot project will demonstrate the benefits of installing advanced emission control technologies on diesel trucks. FedEx Freight will retrofit approximately one-third of its delivery trucks with particulate filters and ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel at its Dallas fleet maintenance facility. EPA and FedEx Freight expect that treating engines and fuels as a system will significantly reduce particulate matter, hydrocarbon, and carbon monoxide emissions by approximately 90 percent.

Begun in 2000, EPA's Voluntary Diesel Retrofit Program uses innovative technology to bring the current diesel fleet closer to 2007 standards; implements pilot demonstration projects to encourage more fleet retrofits; evaluates emission control technologies such as performance, durability and maintenance. To date, fleet owners and operators have committed to retrofit approximately 160,000 diesel trucks, buses and construction equipment. To learn more, go to http://www.epa.gov/otaq/retrofit.

EPA Decides Not to Regulate Dioxin in Sewage Sludge Used in Land Applications

EPA has made a final decision not to regulate dioxins in land-applied sewage sludge. After five years of study, including outside peer review, the Agency has determined that dioxins from this source do not pose a significant risk to human health or the environment. The most highly exposed people, theoretically, are those people who apply sewage sludge as a fertilizer to their crops and animal feed and then consume their own crops and meat products over their entire lifetimes. EPA's analysis shows that even for this theoretical population, only 0.003 new cases of cancer could be expected each year or only 0.22 new cases of cancer over a span of 70 years. The risk to people in the general population of new cancer cases resulting from sewage sludge containing dioxin is even smaller due to lower exposures to dioxin in land-applied sewage sludge than the highly exposed farm family which EPA modeled.

EPA's 2001 Dioxins Update to the National Sewage Sludge Survey indicates that dioxins levels in treated sewage sludge have declined since the last EPA survey in 1988. This downward trend is expected to continue as regulatory controls are placed on additional sources of dioxins in the environment, particularly on some combustion practices.

Dioxins are a group of highly toxic persistent compounds which are a byproduct of certain combustion and chemical manufacturing processes. Sewage sludge is the byproduct of the treatment processes which purifies wastewater before it is released into local waterways. For more information about this decision, visit http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/biosolids/. For more information on dioxins, visit http://www.epa.gov/opptintr/pbt/dioxins.htm.

Company Fined $70,790 for Failure to File Form R Reports

EPA recently fined RMC Pacific Materials $70,790 for failing to file timely reports estimating its releases of toxic chemical compounds, a violation of the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act.

RMC did not report its releases of nickel and chromium to the environment in 1998, 1999 and 2000. These chemicals are processed and otherwise used at the company's cement manufacturing facility in Davenport, Calif. An EPA inspector discovered the violations during a routine investigation, which began in 2001.

Nickel is a suspected carcinogen and may cause respiratory disorders. The toxicity of chromium depends on the form that it takes. Chromium (III) is an essential nutrient that can be toxic in large doses. Inhaled chromium (VI) is a known human carcinogen and causes respiratory disorders.

Federal law requires certain facilities with 10 or more employees using chemicals over certain amounts to file annual reports of chemical releases with the EPA and the state. The reports, known as the Form R, estimate the amounts of each toxic chemical released to the environment, treated or recycled on- site, or transferred off-site for waste management. Information is then compiled into a national database and made available to the public.

Each year the EPA publishes a report entitled the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) Public Data Release, which summarizes the prior years submissions and provides detailed trend analysis of toxic chemical releases.

More information on the program can be obtained by calling (800) 424-9346. The U.S. EPA's environmental databases, including TRI data, can also be accessed via the Internet at http://www.epa.gov/enviro. Further information about the TRI program can be found at http://www.epa.gov/tri/