On June 4, EPA released TRI-MEweb, the new Internet-based reporting application, to facilities in states that were participating in the TRI State Exchange Network as of April 2007. Facilities in Colorado, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, and Washington are eligible to use TRI-MEweb if they have reported in previous years. New facilities are not eligible to use TRI-MEweb for reporting year 2006.
Facilities located within these 14 states that have provided valid e-mail addresses in previous TRI submissions will receive an e-mail with instructions on how to access TRI-MEweb. Facilities that have not provided a valid e-mail address will receive a letter with instructions. Facilities that have not received instructions by June 11 should contact the TRI-ME/CDX help desk a or (888) 890-1995.
For technical questions about TRI-MEweb, please contact the TRI-ME/CDX help desk. For regulatory questions about TRI, please contact the Superfund, TRI, EPCRA, RMP & Oil Information Center at:
(800) 424-9346 – Toll Free
(703) 412-9180 – Metropolitan DC area and international calls
(800) 553-7672 – Toll Free TDD
(703) 412-3323 – Metropolitan DC area and international TDD
To speak with an information specialist, please call between 10:00 AM and 3:00 PM Eastern, Monday through Thursday.
President Bush Calls for Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions Goals
President Bush announced on May 31 that the United States will work with other nations to establish a new framework on greenhouse gas emissions for when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012. By the end of next year, the president aims to reach an international agreement that establishes a long-term global goal for reducing greenhouse gases. "In recent years, science has deepened our understanding of climate change and opened new possibilities for confronting it," said President Bush. "The United States takes this issue seriously."
To help develop this goal, the United States plans to convene a series of meetings of nations that produce most greenhouse gas emissions, including nations with rapidly growing economies like India and China. Over the course of the next 18 months, the president envisions participating nations bringing together industry leaders from different sectors of their economies, such as power generation, alternative fuels, and transportation. These leaders will form working groups that will cooperate on ways to share clean energy technology and best practices. Each country also will establish midterm national targets and programs that reflect its own mix of energy sources and future energy needs. The participating countries also will create a strong and transparent system for measuring each country's performance.
According to the president, this new framework would help the United States fulfill its responsibilities under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The United States will work with the 188 other nations that are part of this convention to adapt to the impacts of climate change, gain access to clean and more energy-efficient technologies, and promote sustainable forestry and agriculture. President Bush announced the new initiative towards the end of a speech to the Global Leadership Council.
California Wastewater Treatment Plant Fined over $200,000
The EPA announced it has ordered the Sausalito-Marin City Sanitary District (SMCSD) to comply with the Clean Water Act at its wastewater treatment plant in Sausalito, Calif. Both actions were taken on May 31.
Over the last three years, the wastewater treatment plant, located at 1 Fort Baker Road, has experienced chronic violations of the effluent limitations for its discharge to San Francisco Bay. The treatment plant serves the communities of Sausalito, Marin City, Tam Valley and the National Park Service at Fort Baker.
“For the protection of San Francisco Bay’s water quality, it is imperative that the Sausalito-Marin City Sanitary District comply with its permit limits,” said Alexis Strauss, water division director for the U. S. EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. “The U. S. EPA’s order requires the district to upgrade its treatment plant and promptly comply with its discharge permit.”
Since March 2004, the district has had dozens of violations of its wastewater discharge permit. Many of these violations are due to the district’s plant lacking treatment units that are common at other wastewater treatment facilities. Of these violations, 68 are subject to a fine mandated by the California Water Code, which is the basis for the San Francisco Bay Water Board’s complaint assessing the $204,000 fine.
“We view these violations as significant and are required by law to fine the district,” said Bruce Wolfe, executive officer of the San Francisco Bay Water Board. “More importantly, we need the district to work with us and U. S. EPA to ensure that the cause of these violations is addressed and the bay is protected."
The EPA’s order is based on an audit of the Sausalito-Marin City Sanitary District’s records and an inspection of the facility in March 2007. It requires the sanitary district to make improvements to its wastewater treatment plant and comply with its discharge permit by December 31, 2007.
Water Park Fined for Failure to Report Tier II Chemicals
Enchanted Parks, Inc., reached a $7,000 settlement with the EPA for failing to properly report on chemicals stored and handled at the company’s popular Enchanted Village water park near I-5 in Federal Way, Wash.
In addition to the penalty, Enchanted Parks also agreed to pay over $14,000 for emergency response equipment for the South King Fire and Rescue Department.
From 2001–2004, Enchanted Parks failed to file proper chemical inventory reports with the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) and local fire department. These reporting failures violated the Federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).
According to Mike Bussell, director of EPA’s Office of Compliance & Enforcement in Seattle, planning and preparedness laws help save lives.
“These laws help communities prepare for and safely respond to chemical accidents,” Bussell said. “They also help reduce the likelihood and severity of accidental chemical releases that could harm the public and the environment.”
At its Federal Way facility, Enchanted Parks uses and stores sodium hypochlorite (a disinfectant), bleach and hydrochloric acid. Sodium hypochlorite and hydrochloric acid are listed as hazardous substances under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA). Hydrochloric acid must be handled with appropriate safety precautions because it is a highly corrosive liquid.
EPA Fine for Improperly Labeled Pesticides Imported from China
According to EPA, on February 5, 2007, Aldis submitted a notice of arrival of pesticides and devices (notice of arrival) through their import broker declaring that they planned to import 95,400 kilograms of their recently registered pesticide, Kull 62 MUP. Kull 62 MUP is a glyphosate-based chemical used in manufacturing other herbicide formulations and is produced in China.
FIFRA requires that importers submit a notice of arrival to EPA with information about any pesticide shipments due to enter the United States. EPA then reviews the notice of arrival to ensure that the pesticides comply with FIFRA and are properly registered and produced in EPA registered establishments before allowing them into the country.
Through conversations with Aldis and a February 13 inspection conducted by the Oregon Department of Agriculture on EPA’s behalf, EPA discovered that the individual containers of Kull 62 MUP lacked the EPA-accepted label, and therefore were in violation of FIFRA.
“By law, all imported pesticides intended for use in the United States must be properly labeled and registered,” said Chad Schulze, EPA's pesticide enforcement officer in Seattle. “This helps ensure that when used as directed, these pesticides do not pose a risk to human health and the environment.”
EPA is pleased that Aldis updated the misbranded labels of Kull 62 MUP quickly after they were told that the containers were improperly labeled.
Archer Rubber Company to Pay $26,500 Fine for Clean Air Violations
The Archer Rubber Co. will pay a fine of $26,500 to settle a Clean Air Act enforcement action involving air pollution control equipment at the company's manufacturing plant in Milford, Mass. The settlement results from two equipment tests ordered by EPA at the plant in 2005 and 2006.
Archer Rubber produces various kinds of rubber-coated fabrics. Archer’s manufacturing processes generate hazardous air pollutants, primarily toluene. Prolonged toluene exposure affects the central nervous system and can cause impaired vision, dizziness, and decreased motor skills. Archer’s hazardous air emissions are controlled by a special incinerator that was installed in the early 1990s as the result of an earlier EPA enforcement action.
In October 2005, EPA ordered Archer Rubber to test the incinerator to ensure it was functioning properly. The test showed that the incinerator was destroying pollutants less efficiently than required by Archer’s federally enforceable state air permit. Consequently, EPA ordered Archer to test the incinerator again. Upon retesting, the incinerator was in compliance with the permit. The settlement assesses a monetary penalty for the incinerator test violation and a one-time emissions violation earlier in 2005.
The settlement caps EPA’s efforts to ensure that Archer Rubber complies with Clean Air Act requirements. The action also sends a message to companies in Massachusetts and throughout New England to operate their air pollution control equipment in full compliance with the Clean Air Act.
Baldwin Contracting Company, Inc. Agrees to Restore Damaged Wetlands
The EPA and Baldwin Contracting Company, Inc., an operator of a sand and gravel mining site, signed a consent order to provide mitigation for discharging gravel and other fill material into Stony Creek and adjacent wetlands without the federally required permits.
Baldwin Contracting Company, Inc., located near Orland, Calif. agreed to stop discharging fill material into Stony Creek and adjacent wetlands. The company also has agreed to take on comprehensive wetlands restoration efforts and submit within 60 days a plan for creating 3.5 acres of wetlands. The plan also will include a five-year monitoring schedule for the created wetlands that will include criteria to establish clear goals and ensure goals are met.
“This order will benefit Stony Creek and the Sacramento River by restoring an area that serves as a habitat for many animals and plants,” said Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA’s Water Division for the Pacific Southwest. “When working in wetland areas, it is vital that all companies obtain proper permits well in advance of their activities.”
In addition to creating wetlands, the Baldwin Contracting Company, Inc. also has agreed to fund invasive species removal work in the Stony Creek watershed, and conduct gravel augmentation work in Stony Creek to improve fish habitat downstream. The EPA will review and approve mitigation plans and oversee all of the company’s mitigation activities.
EPA Delivers First National Estuary Condition Report
This report serves as a foundation for EPA's efforts to protect, manage, and restore coastal ecosystems.
"As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the National Estuary Program, we are seeing that nothing can compare to the value of partnerships in delivering lasting environmental results," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "Under the leadership of President Bush, more than 1 million acres of coastal habitat have been restored and protected. Together with our vital partners, EPA is ensuring our coasts and wetlands remain beautiful, ecologically sound treasures for generations of Americans."
Overall, the NEPs are in fair condition and scored better than or equal to all other non-NEP U.S. estuaries despite significant population pressures. The information in the report is based upon EPA-sponsored monitoring data collected from 28 NEPs between 1999 and 2003 as well as monitoring data collected by the individual NEPs.
The data were collected as part of EPA's National Coastal Assessment – the most comprehensive and nationally consistent data set available on estuarine conditions. The NEP estuaries were rated individually, regionally, and nationally using four primary indicators of estuarine condition: water quality, sediment quality, benthic (bottom) condition, and fish-tissue contaminant concentrations.
While population pressures in the NEPs were greater than those in the non-NEP estuaries from 1990-2000, the NEP estuaries showed the same estuarine conditions as, or better than, other coastal waters overall. By 2000, more than two-thirds of the coastal population lived in NEP counties, which comprise less than six% of the coastal land area.
Twenty-eight of the nation's estuaries are located in 18 coastal states and Puerto Rico. They have been designated as estuaries of national significance because of their unique economic, ecological, recreational, and aesthetic values.
In the United States, estuaries provide habitat for more than 75% of America's commercial fish catch. Estuarine-dependent fisheries are among the most valuable, with an estimated worth of more than $1.9 billion nationwide. Coastal recreation and tourism generate an additional $8 to $12 billion annually.
EPA Issues New Rule on Chat
. The rule establishes criteria for chat that is from the Tri-state Mining District of Ottawa County, Oklahoma; Cherokee County, Kansas; and Jasper, Newton, Lawrence, and Barry counties in Missouri.
“This new rule marks another important step forward in addressing the Tar Creek Superfund site,” said EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene. “Working with our partners, EPA will continue to help develop solutions to address this region’s environmental challenges.”
Mining and milling of ore in the Tri-state area produced more than 500 million tons of wastes. More than 75% of this waste has been removed, with some portion of it used over the years. Today, approximately 100 million tons of chat remain in the Tri-State area.
The new rule establishes acceptable uses of chat in transportation construction projects where chat is used as an aggregate in asphalt and cement road surfaces. EPA also is recommending criteria as guidance for the beneficial use of chat in non-transportation, non-residential concrete and cement projects, such as commercial foundations, sidewalk areas, and parking areas. Applications that encapsulate chat as a material for manufacturing a safe product, like glass, or as part of an industrial process, such as glass recycling, also are acceptable under the new rule.
Cleaning Up Abandoned Mine Sites with 'Good Samaritans'
The EPA is clearing legal roadblocks that stop volunteers from cleaning up abandoned mine sites.
"President Bush is clearing legal roadblocks that for too long have prevented the cleanup of our nation's watersheds. Through EPA's administrative action, we are reducing the threat of litigation from voluntary hardrock mine cleanups and allowing America's Good Samaritans to finally get their shovels into the dirt," said U.S. EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson.
Under a set of policies and model tools, EPA and volunteer parties will now be able to enter into "Good Samaritan Settlement Agreements." These agreements provide key legal protections to Good Samaritans as non-liable parties including a federal covenant not to sue under the Superfund law, also known as the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), and will provide protection from third-party contribution suits. Other tools released include a model comfort letter intended for Good Samaritan parties.
There are an estimated 500,000 orphan mines in the United States, most of which are former hardrock mines located in the West. Thousands of watersheds and stream miles are impacted by drainage and runoff from these mines, one of the largest sources of water pollution in the region.
In many cases, the parties responsible for the pollution from orphan mine sites no longer exist or are not financially viable. Yet, a variety of interests, which range from nonprofit organizations to state and local governments, are willing to voluntarily clean up these abandoned sites although they are not responsible for the pollution. Many potential Good Samaritans have expressed concerns that they may be held liable under the Clean Water Act and CERCLA, which has prevented many cleanup projects from moving forward.
At many orphan mine sites and processing areas, disturbed rock and waste piles contain high levels of sulfides and heavy metals. These piles, when exposed to air and water, undergo physical and chemical reactions that create acid drainage. As this drainage runs through mineral-rich rock, it often picks up other metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, and zinc. When this runoff enters local streams and rivers, it can severely degrade water quality and damage or destroy insect, plant, and animal life.
EPA Settles with Minnesota Metal Finishing on Hazardous Waste Violations
EPA Region 5 has reached an agreement with Minnesota Metal Finishing Inc. of Minneapolis for alleged violations of hazardous waste rules. The company will pay an $85,000 penalty.
Minnesota Metal Finishing was cited under the authority of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act for violations including failure to train personnel and keep records; create a contingency plan; operate to minimize possibility of fire, explosion, or sudden release; and obtain a hazardous waste storage permit.
The consent agreement and final order resolves violations found during inspections from May 2001 to April 2005 in conjunction with the Hennepin County Department of Environmental Services. Minnesota Metal Finishing certifies that it is now in compliance with the state of Minnesota's authorized RCRA hazardous waste program.
Home Builder Guilty of Giving EPA a False Document
Woodbury Homes of Grain Valley, Mo., has pleaded guilty to a criminal charge of providing a false document to the U.S. EPA at EPA’s Region 7 headquarters in Kansas City, Kan.
The document, which the defendant provided to EPA during an EPA enforcement investigation, falsely stated that Woodbury had applied for a storm-water permit for residential development work in Grain Valley.
EPA and the defendant have agreed to recommend that the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas impose a $15,000 fine and a $125 special assessment. Maximum penalties the court can impose are one year in prison, five years probation, a $200,000 fine and a $125 special assessment.
Principal owner of the company is David Ward, of Grain Valley, who is also the principal owner of Ward Development & Investment Co. of Grain Valley. Ward paid a $95,000 civil penalty last year for five federal Clean Water Act violations by Ward Development at the same work site. The false statement that a storm-water permit application had been submitted was made by Woodbury Homes in an effort to reduce the Ward Development penalty.
Art Spratlin, EPA Region 7 director of the Water, Wetlands and Pesticides Division, praised Region 7 inspectors for their work in identifying the Clean Water Act violations and the regional attorney’s office for discovering the false statements.
“The public must be able to rely on the accuracy of environmental reports that companies are required to give EPA,” Spratlin said. “When such reports are intentionally falsified, EPA will not hesitate to vigorously pursue criminal prosecution.”
A storm-water discharge permit is required at construction sites because storm water runoff from these sites contains harmful pollutants that can be carried into lakes and streams. The civil violations by Ward Development included failing to install and maintain best management practices, failing to perform and document site inspections, discharging without a permit, and failing to develop an adequate storm-water pollution prevention plan.
Senate Committee Passes Three Global Warming Measures
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, announced that the Committee approved three bills to address global warming pollution. The bills include Green Buildings legislation, a cutting-edge energy demonstration project at the Capitol Hill Power Plant and installation of solar panels at the Department of Energy.
The measures passed include
- A bill requiring the federal government to take numerous steps to encourage the building of “green” government buildings and upgrading existing buildings the highest standards for energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and other environmental impacts. (S. 506, Lautenberg-Warner-Boxer substitute)
- A bill establishing a demonstration of state-of-the-art technology to capture greenhouse gases from burning coal at the Capitol Hill Power Plant in Washington, DC. (S. 1523, Boxer-Alexander)
- A bill authorizing construction of a “solar wall” of 25,000 photovoltaic cells on the roof of the Department of Energy headquarters in Washington, DC, which will reduce global warming pollution and eventually pay for itself (H.R. 798, Oberstar-Mica.
In March, the committee approved legislation that would to require a 20% improvement in energy efficiency in existing federal buildings, and create a matching funds program to cities and counties across America to improve the energy efficiency of their own facilities. And in May, the Senate Commerce Committee approved Senator Boxer's legislation directing the federal government to buy energy efficient cars for its federal fleet. The federal government buys about 60,000 new cars a year. Both measures are part of the package of energy legislation that is slated to be taken up by the full Senate this week.
Irving Oil Faces EPA Fine for Failing to Comply with Oil Spill Prevention Requirements
An oil storage and distribution company with a bulk plant in Alton, N.H., faces fines for allegedly failing to adequately plan for and guard against oil spills.
According to a complaint filed by EPA's New England office, the Irving Oil Company did not have an adequately prepared and implemented spill prevention, control, and countermeasure (SPCC) plan in place at its Alton petroleum bulk storage and distribution facility, as required by the federal Clean Water Act and federal Oil Pollution Prevention regulations.
A joint inspection by representatives from EPA’s New England office and the N.H. Deptartment of Environmental Services at the Alton bulk plant found that the company had failed to construct sufficiently impervious secondary containment around its aboveground storage tanks. The facility’s oil storage included six above-ground bulk petroleum storage tanks ranging in size from 10,000 to 20,000 gallons, with an aggregate storage capacity of more than 101,000 gallons.
The Irving Oil facility also stores gasoline on-site and is located within the well radius of the Town of Alton’s drinking water supply. This sensitive location means that spills at the bulk plant could lead to contamination of a public drinking water aquifer. On Nov. 28, 2005, the facility had a spill of over 5,000 gallons of No. 2 home heating oil, which impacted the groundwater beneath the tank farm.
Following EPA’s inspection and contacts with the company, Irving Oil has been responsive to EPA’s requests to bring the Alton bulk plant into compliance with the Oil Pollution Prevention regulations.
“Oil spills can do significant damage to the environment, including to neighboring drinking water wells and public drinking water supplies,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. “It's very important that facilities handling oils take the correct steps to minimize risks of oil spills.”
Spill prevention and control laws help ensure that a tank failure or spill does not lead to oil being released into drinking water wells, rivers, or streams. For the alleged violations of SPCC requirements, the company faces a maximum penalty of $157,500.
DOE Releases First Annual Report on U.S. Wind Power Market
The Department of Energy (DOE) released its first annual report on developments and trends in the U.S. wind power market on May 31st. The publication, "Annual Report on U.S. Wind Power Installation, Cost, and Performance Trends: 2006," analyzes trends in the marketplace, including project costs, turbine sizes, and developer consolidation. The report concludes that wind power is competitive and has been consistently priced at or below the price of electricity produced at fossil-fueled or nuclear power plants. Wind project performance also has been increasing due to improved project siting and technological advances in wind turbines.
The report notes that U.S. wind power capacity increased by 27% in 2006 and that the United States had the fastest-growing wind power capacity in the world in 2005 and 2006. For the second straight year, the United States led the world by installing 2,454 megawatts (MW) of wind power capacity in 2006—16% of the capacity installed worldwide that year—followed by Germany, India, Spain, and China. Leading the way in annual capacity growth in the United States are Texas, Washington, and California. The report also notes that GE Energy is the dominant wind turbine manufacturer for the U.S. market, although it is facing increasing competition from both domestic and foreign companies, several of which are building manufacturing facilities in the United States.
As evidence of increasing growth and competition in the U.S. wind power market, GE Energy is in the process of shipping 267 1.5-MW turbines to FPL Energy for use at the Peetz Table Wind Energy Center in Colorado, and on Monday shipped its 1,000th 1.5-MW wind turbine to FPL Energy. Meanwhile a Spanish competitor, Acciona Windpower, is building an assembly plant in West Branch, Iowa, that will produce 250 1.5-MW wind turbines per year starting in 2008. Other foreign competition comes from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which just announced U.S. orders for 788 wind turbines with a collective capacity of 1,363.4 MW; Suzlon Wind Energy Company, which is delivering 400 MW of wind turbines to PPM Energy; and Vestas Wind Systems A/S, which has received an order for 50 3-MW wind turbines from BP Alternative Energy. On the domestic front, Clipper Windpower, Inc. just commissioned eight of its new 2.5-MW Liberty wind turbines for a project near Buffalo, New York, and has announced firm and contingent orders for 2,240 Liberty wind turbines over the next five years. Manufactured in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the Liberty wind turbines are the largest produced in the United States.
DuPont Launches a New Polymer Derived from Corn
DuPont unveiled a new polymer on June 4 that is derived entirely from corn. Like DuPont's Sorona, the new polymer, called Cerenol, is derived from 1,3-propanediol (PDO). In a joint venture with Tate & Lyle, DuPont began producing PDO from corn in 2006, creating a new biobased product called Bio-PDO. Both Sorona and Cerenol are now produced from Bio-PDO. The new entry, Cerenol, is a polyetherdiol, or polyol for short. According to DuPont, the polymer will be used mainly as an additive in personal care products, heat transfer fluids, and thermoplastic elastomers such as spandex. DuPont also plans to use Cerenol for a new line of automotive primer and clear-coat paints and for new grades of its Hytrel thermoelastic polymers, which are used to make a variety of plastic products.
Biobased materials such as Bio-PDO and Cerenol help to reduce the use of petroleum and often have additional environmental benefits, such as being biodegradable. For Cerenol, DuPont estimates that the material results in a 40% reduction in the use of non-renewable energy and yields a 42% reduction in greenhouse gases, compared to a similar petroleum-based product.
A number of other companies and universities are developing biobased products that have close ties to biofuels. Polytechnic University in New York has developed a biobased plastic that, after use, can be easily broken down to produce biodiesel. Dow Chemical Company is producing propylene glycol—a key ingredient in antifreeze—from glycerin, which is a byproduct of biodiesel production. Ashland Inc. and Cargill plan to launch a manufacturing plant in Europe that does the same thing.
Flo Chemical Corporation Fined $26,157 for Air Pollution Control and Industrial Wastewater Violations
Flo Chemical Corporation, which operates a manufacturing plant in Ashburnham, Mass., has been assessed a $26,157 by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) for violating Air Pollution Control and Industrial Wastewater regulations.
During an April 19, 2006, inspection of the company, which produces a protein from corn meal, MassDEP personnel found that the company violated its Amended Air Pollution Control Plan and Industrial Waste Water Holding Tank Approvals. The company was not conducting permanent total enclosure testing, did not have a copy of the Amended Plan Approval on site, and had not been maintaining all required records, including fuel use and combustion emissions records for the thermal oxidizer and records pertaining to volatile organic compound emissions from the process. Industrial Wastewater violations included a failure to install its industrial wastewater holding tank according to permit standards.
In a recently finalized consent order, the company agreed to comply with all applicable regulations and pay $4,000 of the penalty to the commonwealth. The remaining $22,157 penalty was suspended pending compliance with the order and in deference to the company's financial condition.
"The company has assured MassDEP that now, under new management, it will operate in a safe and environmentally responsible manner," said Lee Dillard Adams, deputy director of MassDEP's Central Regional Office in Worcester.
Marathon Petroleum Pays MPCA $60,000 Penalty for Air Quality Violations
Marathon Petroleum Company has paid a civil penalty of $60,000 to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for alleged air quality violations at its St. Paul Park, Minn. refinery. Besides paying the penalty, Marathon has submitted plans detailing how it will ensure compliance with emission limits and prevent the recurrence of the violations in the future.
The penalty includes violations stemming from air emissions in May and December of 2004 that deposited several tons of a clay-based catalyst over the cities of Newport, St. Paul Park and Woodbury. Marathon had a number of other emission violations that exceeded state and federal limits including carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, and nickel. Also included in the penalty were several testing, monitoring, reporting, and recordkeeping violations. These violations occurred between 2003 and 2006 and were all self-reported by Marathon.
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 comply with environmental laws.
EPA, Army Corps Issue Joint Guidance to Sustain Wetlands Protection Under Supreme Court Decision
EPA and Corps staff also will use the guidance when taking enforcement actions under the CWA. The guidance clarifies those circumstances under which a person may need to obtain a CWA Section 404 permit before conducting activities in wetlands, tributaries, and other waters. Individual tribal, state, and local laws, regulations, or policies may further protect aquatic water resources.
The guidance is consistent with the Supreme Court's decision in the consolidated cases Rapanos v. United States and Carabell v. United States regarding the scope of the agencies' jurisdiction under the CWA. Specifically, this guidance discusses the agencies' protection of three classes of waters through the following actions:
- Continuing to regulate "traditionally navigable waters," including all rivers and other waters that are large enough to be used by boats that transport commerce and any wetlands adjacent to such waters
- Continuing to regulate "non-navigable tributaries that are relatively permanent and wetlands that are physically connected to these tributaries"
- Continuing to regulate based on case-by-case determinations for other tributaries and adjacent wetlands that have certain characteristics that significantly affect traditionally navigable waters
The guidance supports a strong regulatory program that ensures no net loss of wetlands, which according to EPA’s press release, is one of three key elements of the Bush Administration wetlands policy. The other two elements include an active management program that will result in the restoration, enhancement and protection of three million acres of wetlands by 2009 and a commitment to conserve isolated wetlands such as prairie potholes.
During the first six months implementing the guidance, the agencies are inviting public comments on case studies and experiences applying the guidance. The agencies will more broadly consider jurisdictional issues, including additional clarification and definition of key terminology, through rulemaking or other appropriate policy practice.
Appeals Court Denies EPA Attempt to Weaken Air Quality
A panel of federal judges denied appeals by the EPA and industry to overturn the same court's December 2006 ruling that struck down the agency's rule attempting to weaken protections against harmful smog-forming pollution.
Ozone is associated with asthma attacks, coughing, wheezing, and other respiratory illness. Higher smog levels in a region are frequently accompanied by increased hospitalization and emergency room visits for respiratory disorders. Hundreds of counties across the country currently have unhealthful levels of smog, which limits outdoor activities, increases hospitalizations, and puts millions of Americans at risk for respiratory problems.
The decision reaffirms that EPA violated the Clean Air Act by relaxing limits on ozone, or smog pollution, from large power plants, factories, and other industrial sources. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied the EPA and industry petitions for rehearing, and clarified in stronger terms that weakening air protections is illegal under federal law.
Significantly, recognizing the harm from EPA's delay, laxity and lawlessness, the court also "urged" EPA to "act promptly in promulgating a revised rule that effectuates the statutory mandate by implementing the eight-hour [ozone] standard, which was deemed necessary to protect the public health a decade ago."
Earthjustice successfully represented a group of public health and environmental organizations – the American Lung Association, Environmental Defense, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club – that challenged the EPA rule and then subsequently defended the court's December decision that overturned the rule. Also challenging the EPA rules were the Clean Air Task Force (on behalf of the Conservation Law Foundation and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy), Louisiana Environmental Network, South Coast Air Quality Management District, and a coalition of states including Massachusetts, Delaware, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia.
EPA and industry groups had tried to overturn the decision by seeking rehearing in March. The environmental and public health groups, along with the states, argued that EPA's original rule and requested appeal made no sense, because the agency's unlawfully weak ozone rule came after EPA had found that the previous ozone standard was too weak to protect public health.
The 1990 Clean Air Act required stronger measures in cities violating ozone standards, including limits on pollution from new and expanded factories, requirements for annual cuts in smog-forming emissions, and caps on truck and car exhaust. In 1997, EPA found that the then-existing "1-hour" ozone health standard wasn't strong enough to protect health, and adopted a new "8-hour" standard to provide greater protection. Paradoxically, the agency in 2004 adopted rules that weakened pollution control requirements for areas violating both the old and the new standard. That decision triggered the court challenge leading to that rule being struck down in December, 2006, and the EPA-industry appeals being rebuffed in this decision.
Ohio EPA Fines DK Manufacturing for Hazardous Waste Violations
DK Manufacturing operates a plastic components manufacturing facility. The settlement includes a $40,000 civil penalty.
A June 2006 Ohio EPA inspection revealed various hazardous waste violations, which included
- Storing containers of hazardous wastes without a permit
- Failing to label and date hazardous waste containers
- Failing to label a 250-gallon tote of used oil
- Failing to label satellite accumulation containers properly
- Failing to have a contingency plan
- Failing to inspect emergency equipment and container accumulation areas
- Failing to maintain adequate aisle space
- Failing to make arrangements with all necessary emergency authorities that might be needed at the facility
No release of hazardous waste was observed during the inspection and DK Manufacturing is now in compliance with applicable hazardous waste regulations.
Maryland Fines Bitumar USA, Inc. for Air Permit Violations
The Maryland Department of the Environment’s (MDE) Air and Radiation Management Administration issued a corrective order and a notice of proposed civil penalty to Bitumar USA, Inc., (Anne Arundel County) on June 1 for venting of uncontrolled emissions to the atmosphere, for failing to record air pollution control device temperatures, and for creating an air pollution nuisance. The order requires that Bitumar submit a plan within 30 days to repair the tank venting system. The proposed penalty is for $43,750.
Bitumar USA owns and operates a paving and roofing asphalt products plant in northern Anne Arundel County near the Baltimore City line in the Curtis Bay area. During an inspection, MDE determined that the company violated one of the requirements in its permit by failing to vent exhaust gases from its asphalt storage tanks to a control device. MDE also determined that Bitumar USA failed to keep temperature records of its air pollution control devices and that the company created an air pollution nuisance due to the asphalt storage tank vent emissions.
The company stated that due to a potential explosion hazard, the decision was made to disconnect part of the air pollution control system. The system has since been redesigned and parts secured for the upgrade. One of the storage tanks needs to be replaced, and once this task is completed, the air pollution control system will be back in service.
Ohio EPA Fines K-B Plating for Hazardous Waste Violations
K-B Plating, Inc., has agreed to an $85,000 civil penalty with Ohio EPA to settle hazardous waste violations at its facility located in Cleveland. The company also will upgrade its hazardous waste tank system and perform a facility-wide assessment to identify additional pollution prevention opportunities.
During a March 2006 facility inspection, an Ohio EPA inspector found K-B violated Ohio's hazardous waste laws by storing 37 containers of hazardous waste on site without a permit. Inspectors did not observe any releases of hazardous waste.
K-B's electroplating facility qualifies as a large quantity generator of hazardous waste including spent acid, chromate and pickling solutions, cadmium and cyanide bath and rinse waters, cyanide sludge and electroplating wastewater treatment sludge. Once the company installs the new tank system and submits the required assessments and certifications, it will have addressed all the documented violations and will operate in compliance with Ohio's hazardous waste laws.
MDE Issues 18 Waste Management Enforcement Actions
Water Infrastructure Protection Sector-Specific Plan Released
In order to better protect the nation's critical infrastructure and key resources, Homeland Security Presidential Directive 7 (HSPD-7) identified 17 critical infrastructure and key resources sectors and designated Federal Government Sector-Specific Agencies (SSAs) for each of the sectors.
EPA is the federal lead for the Drinking Water and Wastewater (Water) Sector's critical infrastructure protection activities. The Water SSP includes information on goals, identifying assets, assessing risk, prioritizing infrastructure, developing and implementing protective programs, measuring progress, research and development, and SSA responsibilities. It was developed under the Department of Homeland Security's National Infrastructure Protection Plan and was produced by EPA in coordination with Water Sector security partners which includes Water Sector Coordinating Council and Government Coordinating Council.
Pennsylvania Joins with Other States to Demand Ability to Reduce Greenhouse Gases
Governor Edward G. Rendell has joined with seven other governors to oppose proposed legislation in Congress that would pre-empt states’ ability to protect the environment by limiting greenhouse gas emissions from light-duty vehicles.
The eight governors issued a joint letter to Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va., chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, who has draft legislation that would specifically prohibit the EPA from granting states waivers to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.
“When the federal government fails to protect the environment and the health of our citizens, as it has done when it comes to limiting greenhouse gas emissions, then the states must be allowed act,” Governor Rendell said. “Pennsylvania has already taken steps to reduce pollution, increase homegrown energy sources, reduce our dependence on foreign energy, and create jobs for our hardworking men and women. The next step is to reduce the greenhouse gases coming from motor vehicles that contribute to global warming.”
Pennsylvania is among 11 other states leading the effort to fight global warming by limiting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, specifically carbon dioxide. Together, the states aim to reduce GHG emissions from vehicles by up to 30% beginning with the 2009 model year. The reductions would be achieved as California implements its GHG limitations for passenger vehicles and light duty trucks. However, this can occur only if the EPA grants California a waiver of federal preemption from the federal Clean Air Act. The exemption allows California to enforce its air pollution rules, which go beyond those imposed by the federal government.
Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty testified before the EPA last month in support of the waiver to California. In her remarks, the secretary noted that California has met all the legal obligations prescribed by the Clean Air Act, so the EPA is obligated to grant the waiver. Pennsylvania has adopted the stricter California emission rules but it cannot implement those reductions unless the Golden State is permitted to do so.
About 25 percent of the greenhouse gases in Pennsylvania are attributable to transportation. Also, by implementing the California program rather than federal standards, Pennsylvania will reduce smog-producing pollutants by more than 6,000 tons by when full fleet turnover is expected and reduce six toxic pollutants from 5–11 percent. Pennsylvania also will be able to achieve a 6–12 percent greater reduction in volatile organic compounds and a 9 percent greater reduction in nitrogen oxides.
In addition to Governor Rendell, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Washington Governor Christine O.Gregoire, Oregon Governor Theodore R. Kulongoski, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, Massachusetts Governor Devel Patrick, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and New York Governor Eliot Spitzer signed the letter to Rep. Boucher.
California has been urging the EPA to grant the waiver for nearly two years to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. Other states that are set to enforce the greenhouse gas emission reductions in the 2009 model year, along with California and Pennsylvania, are Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. Maryland also has adopted California’s vehicle standards, but will not implement them until the 2011 model year.
“State leaders around the country are heeding the warning of scientists from around the world that the time for action is now to reduce climate change, which threatens the economies of all nations and the well being of all people in the world,” Governor Rendell said.
Minnesota Energy Act Sets GHG Goals
The Minnesota Energy Act will increase energy efficiency, expand community-based energy development, and establish a statewide goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and supplements the aggressive 25 x '25 renewable energy standard proposed by the governor and signed earlier this year.
“The best time to have taken action on energy issues would've been 30 years ago. The second best time is right now," Governor Pawlenty said. "The nation has been asleep at the switch, but here in Minnesota we are kick-starting the future by increasing our nation-leading per capita renewable fuel use, boosting cost saving measures, and tackling greenhouse gas emissions."
Governor Pawlenty first introduced his Next Generation Energy Initiative in December 2006 to provide more renewable energy, more energy conservation, and less carbon emissions for Minnesota. Following the framework developed early in the legislative session with the passage of the nation’s most aggressive Renewable Energy Standard, the Next Generation Energy Act establishes nation-leading requirements on Minnesota’s electric utilities while ensuring reliability and protecting the cost-competitiveness of Minnesota’s electric system.
The Next Generation Energy Act includes
- Energy Savings Goals: The Demand Efficiency Initiative builds on Minnesota’s existing conservation program, consistently ranked in the top five programs in the country. It will effectively double the amount of energy saved by Minnesota’s utilities by transitioning Minnesota from energy efficiency spending goals to energy efficiency savings goals. The bill also sets a goal of 1,000 Energy Star Buildings in Minnesota by 2010 and provides adequate funding to achieve the goal.
- Community Based Energy Development: The Next Generation Energy Act expands and strengthens Minnesota’s commitment to the development of locally owned renewable energy projects. Previous legislation also increases funding for community energy outreach through Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTS) throughout the state.
- Climate Change and Greenhouse Gas Reduction: According to the National Conference of State Legislators, the Next Generation Energy Act propels Minnesota into the top two states (with California) leading the way towards reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The bill establishes statewide GHG reduction goals of 15% by 2015, 30% by 2025, and 80% by 2050. The bill also endorses the Governor’s Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group as the entity to develop a comprehensive greenhouse gas emission reduction plan to meet those goals (.
Earlier this year, the Governor signed legislation containing the first components of his Next Generation Energy Initiative:
- 25x’25 Renewable Electricity Requirements: The nation’s most aggressive Renewable Energy Standard requires Minnesota’s electric utilities to provide 25% renewable electricity by 2025.
- Next Generation BioEnergy and BioFuels: Governor Pawlenty signed legislation to appropriate over $35 million for energy projects and research including
- $15 million for bioenergy, biomass electricity, biofuels, plug-in hybrid technologies, renewable hydrogen and solar technology projects.
- $17 million for energy research, including funding for the U of M Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment.
- $3 million to double the number of E85 stations in Minnesota from the nation-leading 300 stations to 600 stations.
In addition, the NextGen Energy Board is established and will begin meeting next month to develop bioenergy and biofuels policies and recommendations. “The Next Generation Energy Initiative is providing the pathway to a better energy future,” Governor Pawlenty said. “Minnesota is the leader in energy policy that benefits the environment, rural economies, national security and consumers.”
Aluminum Foil Lamps Outshine Incandescent Lights
Researchers at the University of Illinois are developing panels of microcavity plasma lamps that may soon brighten people’s lives. The thin, lightweight panels could be used for residential and commercial lighting, and for certain types of biomedical applications. “Built of aluminum foil, sapphire, and small amounts of gas, the panels are less than 1 millimeter thick, and can hang on a wall like picture frames,” said Gary Eden, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the U. of I., and corresponding author of a paper describing the microcavity plasma lamps in the June issue of the Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics.
Like conventional fluorescent lights, microcavity plasma lamps are glow-discharges in which atoms of a gas are excited by electrons and radiate light. Unlike fluorescent lights, however, microcavity plasma lamps produce the plasma in microscopic pockets and require no ballast, reflector, or heavy metal housing. The panels are lighter, brighter and more efficient than incandescent lights and are expected, with further engineering, to approach or surpass the efficiency of fluorescent lighting. The plasma panels are also six times thinner than panels composed of light-emitting diodes, said Eden, who also is a researcher at the university’s Coordinated Science Laboratory and the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory.
A plasma panel consists of a sandwich of two sheets of aluminum foil separated by a thin dielectric layer of clear aluminum oxide (sapphire). At the heart of each lamp is a small cavity, which penetrates the upper sheet of aluminum foil and the sapphire. “Each lamp is approximately the diameter of a human hair,” said visiting research scientist Sung-Jin Park, lead author of the paper. “We can pack an array of more than 250,000 lamps into a single panel.”
Completing the panel assembly is a glass window 500 microns (0.5 millimeters) thick. The window’s inner surface is coated with a phosphor film 10 microns thick, bringing the overall thickness of the lamp structure to 800 microns. Flat panels with radiating areas of more than 200 square centimeters have been fabricated, Park said. Depending upon the type of gas and phosphor used, uniform emissions of any color can be produced.
In the researchers’ preliminary plasma lamp experiments, values of the efficiency – known as luminous efficacy – of 15 lumens per watt were recorded. Values exceeding 30 lumens per watt are expected when the array design and microcavity phosphor geometry are optimized, Eden said. A typical incandescent light has an efficacy of 10 to 17 lumens per watt.
The researchers also demonstrated flexible plasma arrays sealed in polymeric packaging. These devices offer new opportunities in lighting, in which lightweight arrays can be mounted onto curved surfaces – on the insides of windshields, for example.
Tanker Company and Second Engineer Indicted for Dumping Oil and Obstruction of Justice
Ionia Management, a Greek company that manages a fleet of tanker vessels, was indicted on June 7for its role in overboard dumping of waste oil from the M/T Kriton into international waters and their efforts to impede the United States Coast Guard and other authorities from learning of the illegal conduct. The indictment also charges Edgardo Mercurio, second engineer aboard the M/T Kriton, with obstruction of justice. The announcement was made jointly by the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Connecticut, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in for the Southern District of Florida.
The indictments, returned in Connecticut and Florida, charge Ionia Management S.A. and Mercurio with falsifying records to conceal the illegal discharge of waste oil, and using and presenting false oil record books to the Coast Guard in port calls in the District of Connecticut and the Southern District of Florida. According to the indictment, Mercurio encouraged other crew-members to lie to the Coast Guard about the violations.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty.
The investigation was conducted by the Coast Guard Investigative Service, the Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigative Division. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, and the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Environmental Trivia Question of the Week
Who said, “The first law of ecology is that everything is related to everything else.”
a. Rachel Carson
b. Al Gore
c. Barry Commoner
d. Richard Nixon