EPA’s Roadmap for Mercury

July 10, 2006

 EPA's Roadmap describes the Agency's progress to date in addressing mercury issues domestically and internationally, and outlines EPA's major ongoing and planned actions to address risks associated with mercury.

The Roadmap focuses on six key areas:

  • Addressing mercury releases to the environment
  • Addressing mercury uses in products and industrial processes
  • Managing commodity-grade mercury supplies
  • Communicating risks to the public
  • Addressing international mercury sources
  • Conducting mercury research and monitoring

The report highlights mercury sources, describes progress to date in addressing mercury sources, and outlines priority activities for addressing remaining mercury risks.


Hospital Demolition Violates Federal Asbestos Regulations

EPA has settled with Rideout Memorial Hospital and H & H Trenching, Inc. $5,802 for an alleged violation of the federal Clean Air Act asbestos regulations.

In June 2005, Rideout hired H & H Trenching Inc. to demolish a building owned by the hospital and located in Marysville, Calif. Each party has agreed to pay $2,901 for allegedly failing to notify the EPA of the building demolition as required by the Clean Air Act.

“Companies that conduct or contract for building demolition must notify the EPA in advance so appropriate agencies can ensure asbestos is properly removed and doesn’t become a public health risk,” said Deborah Jordan, director of the U.S. EPA’s Air Division for the Pacific Southwest Region. “Notification protects public health and the environment, as well as the construction workers on these jobs.”


Guam Shipyard to Pay $19,534 for Hazardous Waste Violations

EPA recently reached a settlement that requires the Guam Shipyard to spend $25,000 to create an environmental management system and pay a fine for hazardous waste violations.

The shipyard will pay $19,534 for storage of hazardous waste without a permit and for its failure to close hazardous waste containers. The environmental management system will improve on management of hazardous waste by encouraging pollution prevention and requiring regular employee training. The shipyard will also conduct a yearly review and certification of its waste management efforts.

“The storage and management of hazardous waste needs to be done correctly to ensure community, worker and environmental safety,” said Jeff Scott, the EPA’s director for the waste management programs in the Pacific Southwest region. “We are pleased that the company will move forward with the project to improve its compliance and environmental practices at the shipyard.”

The waste has since been shipped for disposal to a proper hazardous waste disposal facility as required by the EPA’s hazardous waste regulations.

The EPA’s hazardous waste rules require facilities to properly store, label and seal hazardous waste containers. Facilities must also have properly trained staff, as improperly stored hazardous waste can potentially spill and pose a risk to workers and the environment.


Revised Rule Proposed for Lead in Drinking Water

That's the gist of proposed revisions that would affect the lead portions of the lead-and-copper rule for drinking water.

The proposal would:

  • Revise monitoring requirements to ensure that water samples show how effective lead controls are
  • Clarify the timing of sample collection and tighten criteria for reducing the frequency of monitoring
  • Require that utilities receive state approval of treatment changes so that states can provide direction or require additional monitoring
  • Require that water utilities notify occupants of the results of any testing that occurs within a home or facility and ensure that consumers receive information about how to limit their exposure to lead in drinking water
  • Require systems to reevaluate lead service lines that may have previously been identified as low risk after any major treatment changes that could affect corrosion control

"This proposal reflects the administration's commitment to protect public health. These revisions will prescribe stronger requirements for water system operators and will ensure the American people have access to the fundamental public service of clean, safe drinking water," said Benjamin Grumbles, assistant administrator for water.

The proposal is an outgrowth of EPA's March 2005 drinking water lead-reduction plan. The agency developed the plan after analyzing the efficacy of the regulation and how states and locals were implementing it. The agency collected and analyzed lead information required by the regulations, reviewed the states' implementation, held five expert workshops about elements of the regulations, and worked to better understand local and state monitoring for lead in drinking water in schools and child-care facilities.

Lead is not a natural constituent of drinking water. It is picked up as water passes through pipes and household plumbing fittings and fixtures that contain lead. Water leaches lead from these sources and becomes contaminated. In 1991, EPA issued the lead-and-copper rule to reduce lead in drinking water. The rule requires water utilities to reduce lead contamination by controlling the corrosiveness of water and, as needed, replace lead service lines used to carry water from the street to the home.

The proposal will be published in the Federal Register.


Cambridge Brands to Pay $118,000 Penalty for Clean Air Violations

Cambridge Brands, Inc., a subsidiary of Tootsie Roll Industries, Inc., will pay $118,000 to settle EPA claims that the company’s Cambridge, Mass. facility violated the federal Clean Air Act.

According to the EPA Complaint resolved through this settlement, Cambridge Brands failed to repair leaks to industrial refrigerators at its candy manufacturing facility, resulting in the release of over 200 pounds of ozone depleting refrigerant into the atmosphere.

In addition to failing to perform appropriate maintenance on the refrigeration equipment, EPA also alleged that Cambridge Brands failed to conduct leak repair tests and keep required service records for repairs of some refrigeration units, all in violation of Stratospheric Ozone Protection regulations under the federal Clean Air Act. EPA’s New England office discovered the violations after conducting an inspection of the Cambridge facility in January 2005.

Certain types of refrigerants have been known to destroy the thin layer of ozone in the upper part of the atmosphere known as the stratosphere. Most of these refrigerants are being phased out and replaced with safer alternatives.

“The ozone layer provides important protection to all of us from the sun’s harmful rays,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “It’s important that companies and individuals who work with ozone-depleting substances follow appropriate steps to minimize the release of these materials into the atmosphere. This helps keep the ozone layer intact.”

The stratospheric ozone layer helps protect humans from being exposed to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays. Federal Stratospheric Ozone Protection regulations were established to limit the emissions of substances that destroy the ozone layer. These regulations provide strict rules governing the service, maintenance, repair and disposal of refrigeration equipment that contains ozone-depleting substances.

During the past few months, EPA’s New England office has filed formal complaints and proposed penalties against several other companies for similar violations, namely: US Surgical of North Haven, Conn.; Kraft Foods of Woburn, Mass.; and Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation of Stratford, Conn. EPA has settled its case against US Surgical for a $56,320 file and has settled its case against Sikorsky for a $176,000 fine.


Aerosol Services Company to Pay $56,000 for RCRA Violations

EPA fined Aerosol Services Company, of City of Industry, Calif., $56,000 for violating federal hazardous waste regulations.

"The EPA intends to strictly enforce all federal regulations governing the generation and management of hazardous wastes,” said Jeffrey Scott, director of the EPA's Waste Management Division for the Pacific Southwest region. "It is essential that companies comply with hazardous waste regulations in order to protect human health and prevent impacts to the environment."

In January 2005, the EPA inspected Aerosol Services Company. Based upon that inspection, the EPA alleges that Aerosol Services Company violated the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act by failing to:

  • Close and label containers of hazardous waste
  • Obtain a permit for the storage of hazardous waste
  • Maintain the facility to prevent releases of hazardous waste
  • Conduct weekly inspections of the hazardous waste storage area
  • Transfer waste from leaky containers
  • Store ignitable waste more than 50 feet from the property line
  • Have a complete contingency plan
  • Provide annual hazardous waste refresher training to its personnel


Aerosol Services provides aerosol and non-aerosol packaging services to the personal care, salon care, and household industries. Aerosol Services purchases chemicals, does batch processing, and fills the product into aerosol or non-aerosol cans.


Envirosystems to Pay $16,000 for Pesticide Violations

EPA fined Envirosystems of Santa Clara, Calif., $16,358 for the alleged sale and distribution of an antimicrobial disinfectant that failed effectiveness testing, in violation of federal pesticide law.

Envirosystems was cited for allegedly selling and distributing “EcoTru professional Broad Spectrum Disinfectant Cleaner,” “EcoTru 1453,” and “Steri-Safe.” All three products claim to be hospital-grade disinfectants that will eliminate potentially harmful bacteria commonly found in hospitals. Sampling results indicate the products do not live up to their claims.

“In order for a company to sell a hospital-grade disinfectant, the product needs to eliminate harmful bacteria,” said Enrique Manzanilla, the EPA’s Communities and Ecosystems Division director for EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. “If the EPA finds that a product fails testing for product effectiveness, the company can expect significant penalties."

In 2005 the EPA’s Office of Pesticide Programs microbiology lab tested the effectiveness of these disinfectants and determined that, contrary to the claims on their labels, the products were ineffective against Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylcoccus aureus. Due to these testing failures, these pesticides do not meet their claims of being a broad- spectrum disinfectants suitable for hospital use.

Three companies - Andpak of Morgan Hill, Calif., Steri-cycle of Lake Forest, Ill., and Crosstex of Hauppauge, NY - distribute one or more of the ineffective products. Envirosystems has voluntarily initiated a recall of the products from these distributors. The company has also asked the distributors to notify their customers to discontinue using the products, and return them to the manufacturer.

Disinfectants are considered “pesticides” under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act, which regulates the production, distribution, and use of pesticides within the United States. Before selling or distributing any pesticide in the United States, a company must register it with the EPA. As part of the registration process, the company must ensure that the pesticide meets the claims made on its label.

The enforcement action was based on an inspection performed by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation in January 2005.


Washington Revises Oil Spill Contingency Planning Rule and Oil Transfer Rule

The Washington State Legislature passed Substitute Senate Bill 6641 (ESSB 6641) which amended RCW 88.46.160 and adopted a “zero spills strategy” to prevent oil spill onto waters of the state. Specifically, the legislation directed Ecology to complete rules that address oil transfer operations that occur over state waters.