EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson released his agency's $7.2 billion fiscal year 2008 budget. The new budget emphasizes using more citizen-partners as the Environmental Protection Agency shifts into the next phase of environmental progress—the green culture.
"As our nation shifts to a green culture, Americans are realizing that environmental responsibility is everyone's responsibility. Today, EPA has 300 million citizen-partners in our efforts to accelerate the pace of environmental protection," Johnson said. "President Bush's budget request will fund EPA's role as our country enters this next phase of environmental progress."
It is a $9.1 million increase over the fiscal year 2007 amount.
The budget requests an additional $687.5 million for clean water grants and $842.2 million for drinking water grants.
With a focus on improving air quality, the president's budget proposal includes:
- $117.9 million for EPA's climate change programs to build upon partnership efforts to achieve reductions in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to the president's plan to reduce greenhouse gas intensity by 18 percent in 2012
- $44 million for Energy Star programs for the commercial, residential, and industrial sectors to continue voluntary government/industry partnership programs designed to capitalize on the opportunities that consumers, businesses, and organizations have for making sound investments in efficient equipment, policies, and practices
- $5 million for the Asia Pacific Partnership to support international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
- $4.4 million for Methane to Markets Partnership to promote methane recovery and use at landfills, coal mines, and natural gas facilities.
The budget also includes $35 million for National Clean Diesel Campaign grants to help meet the mandates of the Energy Act and promote more energy-efficient technologies. The $35 million is estimated to leverage an additional $72 million in funding assistance and reduce particulate matter by approximately 5,040 tons, which will achieve $1.4 billion in health benefits.
With a focus on promoting scientific research, the president's budget includes:
- $123.8 million for Clean Air and related research, a $7.5 million increase to improve research related to a cyclical review of criteria air pollutants, to study near-road air pollution, and to support work with the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration in the development of the Community Multi-scale Air Quality (CMAQ) modeling system
- $10.2 million for nanotechnology research, an increase of $1.6 million to identify potential uses and study nano-scale materials that are subject to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA)
In addition, the budget requests a total of $1.245 billion for Superfund (including a $3.2 million increase over FY 2007’s request for the Superfund remedial program) and $162.2 million for the Brownfields program.
Overall, EPA’s budget would be cut by more than $400 million from the 2006 enacted levels. In 2006, the agency received $7.6 billion. The president’s budget request contains $7.2 billion for the EPA. According to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, the budget:
- Would force a $400 million reduction in the Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund, which provides grants to states to help cities and towns build water treatment plants and protect water quality. This amounts to nearly 37 percent below 2006 enacted funding levels.
- Cuts about $35 million for state and local programs that help keep our air clean in our cities and states.
- Cuts the EPA’s science and technology budget for climate protection by about $5 million, from $18.64 million in 2006 to $13.1 million.
The budget defunded a $100 million no-interest loan to help with construction and startup costs for the nation’s first coal-to-liquid fuel plant. “The president, in his State of the Union address, promised to promote clean-coal technologies and lead the charge for cutting America’s reliance on oil, but his new budget instead cuts funding for a very promising solution to our energy needs,” Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell said. “I am calling on the president to reverse course, keep his word, and restore the funding for America’s first waste-coal-to-diesel plant.”
The proposed plant would convert 1.7 million tons of waste coal per year into 60 million gallons of non-petroleum-based liquid fuel, of which 40 million gallons would become zero-sulfur diesel fuel and 20 million gallons would become naphtha, a gasoline production feedstock.
EPA Rule Slashes Toxics from Gasoline, Vehicles, and Portable Fuel Containers
By 2030, EPA's new Mobile Source Air Toxic (MSAT) regulations and fuel and vehicle standards already in place will reduce toxic emissions from cars to 80 percent below 1999 emissions.
"Americans love their cars. By clearing the air from tons of fuel and exhaust pollution, President Bush and EPA are paving the road toward healthier drivers and a cleaner environment," Johnson said.
The MSAT rule toughens benzene standards for gasoline, sets hydrocarbon emissions standards for cars at cold temperatures, and tightens fuel containers to prevent the evaporation of harmful fumes.
Once the new standards are fully implemented in 2030, they are expected to reduce emissions of mobile source air toxics annually by 330,000 tons, including 61,000 tons of benzene. EPA estimates the reduction in annual health care costs from the standard’s particulate matter reductions to total $6 billion in 2030. EPA estimates annual health benefits from the standard’s particulate matter reductions to total $6 billion in 2030. The estimated annual cost for the entire rule is about $400 million in 2030.
"The good newsis that today's rule is expected to limit benzene levels nationwide, which should make the air safer in many places. The bad news is that EPA will allow benzene trading," said Emily Figdor of U.S. PIRG." That means some refineries won't reduce the benzene content of their gasoline, and may even increase it. Having benzene levels go down in Newark, New Jersey, won't do much for the health of people in Portland, Oregon."
"We're happy that EPA has addressed this important public health issue at lasteven if it did take a federal court case to make the agency act," said Marti Sinclair of Sierra Club." But it is disappointing that EPA would undermine its own program by adopting this dangerous trading scheme."
Even though members of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives urged EPA to drop the credit trading scheme, EPA is expected to keep some trading provision in the rule.
The new MSAT standards will take effect in 2011 for gasoline, 2010 for cars, and 2009 for fuel containers.
EPA Seeks Additional Toxic Emissions Reductions
Through the issuance of a permit, these facilities would be able to become an area source by limiting their potential to emit toxic air pollutants to below the major thresholds, and they would be subject to an area source standard if there is one for their particular industry. EPA will accept comments for 60 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register.
Hamilton Sundstrand to Pay $12 Million in Fines and Environmental Projects
Kevin J. O’Connor, U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut; Michael E. Hubbard, special agent-in-charge of the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in New England; and Gina McCarthy, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (CT DEP), announced that Hamilton Sundstrand Corp., of Windsor Locks, Conn., pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Alvin W. Thompson in Hartford to two counts of violating the federal Clean Water Act.
Hamilton Sundstrand operates a facility at One Hamilton Road in Windsor Locks, where it manufactures air, spacecraft, and marine control systems and components. In the course of the manufacturing process, the company generates various metal finishing and parts-testing wastewaters that contained toxic pollutants, including chromium and copper. Some of those wastewaters were treated on-site in its wastewater treatment system before being discharged into the Farmington River.
Under the Clean Water Act, Hamilton Sundstrand was prohibited from discharging pollutants to the Farmington River except in compliance with the conditions and limitations of a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued by the CT DEP under delegation from the EPA. Hamilton Sundstrand’s NPDES permit established numerical limits at specified discharge locations for a list of pollutants, including hexavalent chromium and copper. To ensure compliance with those limits, the permit required that Hamilton Sundstrand conduct representative monitoring of its wastewater at those locations. The results of the monitoring were required to be submitted to the CT DEP in monthly Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs).
The facility’s wastewater treatment system included a hexavalent chromium reduction system, also referred to as the chrome reactor. The purpose of this system was to reduce hexavalent chromium to trivalent chromium, which can then be removed from the wastewater through chemical precipitation. The hexavalent chromium reduction was accomplished through the automatic addition of sulfuric acid and sodium bisulfite. The sampling protocol for the chrome reactor called for the collection and analysis of six "grab samples" each operating day. The analytical data was compiled on daily records sheets, which were used to prepare the monthly DMRs. The results of all monitoring of the chrome reactor discharge were required to be included in the calculation and reporting of data in the monthly DMRs.
In pleading guilty, Hamilton Sundstrand admitted that, from 2001 through 2003, the chrome reactor did not meet hexavalent chromium permit limits on a consistent basis. When grab samples revealed hexavalent chromium levels above permit limits, Hamilton Sundstrand sometimes omitted the data from daily records sheets entirely. Other times, the data was recorded on the daily records sheets and then altered to conceal the permit violations. In either case, the chrome violations were not reported to CT DEP on the monthly DMRs. Instead, Hamilton Sundstrand knowingly submitted monthly DMRs that falsely presented altered and selected data as "representative" of the chrome reactor discharge, thereby concealing repeated violations of its NPDES permit.
The company also admitted that, on Friday, Aug. 29, 2003, the beginning of Labor Day Weekend, its employees transferred the contents of a concentrated nickel strip tank containing chelated copper to a holding tank in the wastewater treatment area. Shortly thereafter, the contents of the tank were released into the wastewater treatment system. Although the wastewater treatment system was not discharging at the time, the concentrated solution from the tank contaminated more than 100,000 gallons of wastewater, and turned the contents of the entire system blue. Some facility systems continued to operate throughout the holiday weekend and wastewater continued to enter the treatment system. By Monday, Sept. 1, 2003, the primary holding tank (referred to as the equalization tank) was nearing capacity. Rather than stopping or rerouting wastewater flows or risk overflowing the equalization tank, Hamilton Sundstrand knowingly discharged tens of thousands of gallons of contaminated wastewater to the Farmington River between the morning of Sept. 1 and Sept. 2, 2003. The wastewater was not analyzed prior to the discharge, and the company did not notify CT DEP. Subsequent analysis of a sample of the contaminated wastewater gathered on Sept. 2, 2003, revealed very high concentrations of copper (23.74 mg/l)—well in excess of the instantaneous maximum levels allowed by the NPDES permit (3.0 mg/l). Samples gathered on Sept. 3, 2003 violated both daily maximum and monthly average limits for copper. Samples collected on Sept. 3, 2003, and Sept. 9, 2003 also violated the permit’s aquatic toxicity limits.
"This office is committed to vigorously enforcing federal laws that seek to protect the environment and public health," U.S. Attorney O’Connor stated. "Today, Hamilton Sundstrand pleaded guilty to two felony violations of the Clean Water Act and admitted conduct by its employees that was incredibly reckless and potentially dangerous. We hope that this prosecution sends the appropriate message that companies that intentionally violate federal environmental laws will be prosecuted. We also hope that Hamilton’s acknowledgment of these past offenses, and the substantial financial commitments that this Connecticut company has made to lessen pollution and improve the environment is noticed, as well."
In a binding plea agreement filed with the court, Hamilton Sundstrand has agreed to be placed on probation for a period of five years and to pay a fine in the amount of $1 million. Hamilton Sundstrand has also agreed to:
- Make a contribution in the amount of $500,000 to the CT Statewide SEP Account, managed by the DEP, to be used to fund various ecosystem management projects in the Farmington River Basin, including, but not limited to, river restoration, dam removal, fish habitat enhancement, sediment removal, and stream bank stabilization.
- Make a contribution in the amount of $2 million to the Connecticut Statewide SEP Account to be used to address the water quality impacts caused by farmland application of surplus manure from dairy farms.
- Make a contribution in the amount of $500,000 to the CT Statewide SEP Account to procure or to develop and implement an electronic information management system for data required under the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Connecticut DEP intends this system to make monitoring data available to the public over the Internet and will provide the CT DEP with enhanced capabilities to monitor and assure compliance with permit terms and conditions.
- Significantly reduce its emissions of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide below current levels by installing and operating a 5.4 megawatt modern gas turbine cogeneration-based combined heat and power facility by July 1, 2011. Hamilton Sundstrand will contribute a $2.4 million grant payment that it will receive from the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control for constructing the cogeneration facility to the CT Statewide SEP Account.
- Eliminate all process wastewater discharges to the Farmington River, reduce groundwater remediation effluent discharges to the Farmington River, and improve its wastewater and reuse water collection and treatment facilities by installing and operating a wastewater treatment facility process wastewater and groundwater reuse system, and expanding and reconfiguring its facilities for storing process wastewater, remediation groundwater, chromium process wastewater, and boiler and cooling tower waters; reconfiguring and relocating portions of its groundwater treatment systems; and modifying its wastewater treatment facility control room computer equipment. These environmental upgrades and improvements are expected to cost Hamilton Sundstrand approximately $5.6 million. If the costs are less, Hamilton Sundstrand has agreed to pay the difference to the Connecticut Statewide SEP Account.
- Submit regular progress reports to the government and CT DEP and to institute a strict environmental compliance and training program. These include a regular certification by the president of Hamilton Sundstrand that the company is in compliance with the requirements of the Clean Water Act.
"Our message is simple: Companies that intentionally violate environmental laws will be investigated and prosecuted," stated EPA-CID Special Agent-in-Charge Hubbard. "Hamilton Sundstrand will pay a heavy price for these violations, and it is our hope that other corporations take notice and follow the law."
The government has been unable to determine any lasting environmental harm or threat to public health due to Hamilton Sundstrand’s illegal conduct.
"Hamilton Sundstrand’s conduct compromised the fundamental principles of the federal Clean Water Act and Connecticut’s Water Pollution Control Act," DEP Commissioner McCarthy said. "Our system of environmental regulation relies upon the accurate and truthful reporting of the quality of wastewater discharged into Connecticut’s waterways. As a result, the company’s submission of falsified data denied DEP of the information needed to protect the waters of this state from pollution. In addition, the company’s failure to properly treat metal-bearing wastewater—and its delay in reporting this violation—endangered the water quality of the Farmington River and the public’s use and enjoyment of this important natural resource."
"Funds that will be provided to the DEP as a result of the proposed settlement of this case will strengthen programs that preserve and improve the quality of Connecticut’s rivers and streams,” McCarthy said.
Seven Eastern Washington Facilities Face EPA Penalties for Risk Management Program Violations
Six food-processing and storage facilities and one wastewater treatment facility in eastern Washington have been issued EPA penalties for federal Clean Air Act Risk Management Program violations. The penalties, ranging from $2,208 to $7,488, were levied against facilities that utilize toxic chemicals.
The penalties were assessed under Section 112(r) of the federal Clean Air Act. This section requires the development of Risk Management Plans (RMPs) and programs for all public and private facilities that manufacture, process, use, store, or otherwise handle flammable and toxic chemicals such as chlorine, sulfur dioxide, and anhydrous ammonia. Facility Risk Management Programs are important to local emergency planners and responders to help protect the public from accidental releases of flammable gases and/or toxic chemicals.
The following facilities entered into settlement agreements with EPA between October 2006 and January 2007 and have corrected their violations:
- Zirkle Fruit Co. Prosser, $3,690 penalty, located in Prosser, Wash.
- Inland-Joseph Fruit Co. $7,488 penalty, located in Wapato, Wash.
- Twin City Foods, Inc., $4,356 penalty, located in Prosser, Wash.
- Valley Fruit III, LLC, $2,208 penalty, located in Wapato, Wash.
- Welch’s Foods, Inc., $6,544 penalty, located in Grandview, Wash.
- Yakima Fruit and Cold Storage, $4,455 penalty, located in Wapato, Wash.
- City of Yakima, $4,575 penalty, located in Yakima, Wash
According to EPA officials, in six out of seven cases, potential release concerns weren’t addressed by the facility in an appropriate manner.
“Prevention and advance planning is the ‘heart’ of our risk management program. Facilities need to take risk management planning very seriously. Like fire prevention, it could be a matter of life or death.”
The Risk Management Program requires an emergency response strategy, evaluation of a worst-case and probable-case chemical release, and a prevention program that includes operator training, a review of the hazards associated with using toxic or flammable substances, operating procedures, and equipment maintenance.
There are 470 facilities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Alaska that need to meet the RMP and program requirements.
Examples of covered facilities include:
- Wastewater/water treatment plants
- Cold storage facilities
- Chemical distributors
All of these penalties were conducted under EPA’s Expedited Settlement Agreement process. The EPA has the option to use the Expedited Settlement Agreement process for easily correctable violations.
Ohio Plant Fined $750,000 for Air Pollution Violations
The parent companies also agreed to install state-of-the-art pollution control equipment at the facility, which will reduce nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions by more than 200 tons per year.
EPA issued Notices of Violation to Agrium US Inc. and Royster-Clark Inc. in October 2006 for making construction modifications to a North Bend, Ohio, facility in the mid-1990s without first obtaining necessary federal preconstruction permits and installing the required pollution control equipment. The unpermitted modifications caused the facility to emit more NOx than allowed by federal law.
"This company increased its profits by ignoring environmental laws," said Granta Nakayama, EPA's assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assistance. "The EPA will continue enforcing against companies that refuse to comply with regulations intended to protect public health and our air, water, and land."
The facility releases NOx as part of its nitric acid production process. Nitric acid is used to make fertilizer, explosives, and organic chemicals.
NOx causes severe respiratory problems; contributes to childhood asthma, acid rain, climate change, smog, and haze; and impairs visibility in national parks. Emissions from nitric acid plants can be carried significant distances downwind, causing air quality problems in nearby states.
The Clean Air Act requires that major sources of air pollution must first obtain a permit before making any changes that would result in a significant emissions increase of any pollutant. EPA's regulations ensure that air quality is not significantly degraded from the addition of new and modified factories, industrial boilers, and power plants.
EPA's national goals include focusing on improving compliance among certain industries with significant potential for environmental harm due to air emissions. These industries include the acid production, cement manufacturing, and glass manufacturing facilities.
Agrium, a Colorado corporation, purchased the plant from Royster-Clark, a Delaware corporation, last September.
The settlement will be filed with the Southern District Court of Ohio for 30 days to allow for public comment. The companies are required to pay the penalty within 30 days after the court approves the settlement.
New Jersey Accuses EPA of Violating Clean Air Act
New Jersey Attorney General Stuart Rabner announced the filing of a federal lawsuit against the EPA for failing to act on a petition from New Jersey objecting to a proposed operating permit for a coal-fired power plant in Pennsylvania.
“This facility is directly across the river from New Jersey and has emitted more than 30,000 tons of sulfur dioxide annually. As a result, it contributes to New Jersey’s inability to attain its clean air goals for sulfur dioxide,” Governor Jon S. Corzine said. “We will take every action we can to force EPA to do its job and to protect the citizens of this state."
Filed with the U.S. District Court in Trenton, the lawsuit also names as a defendant Stephen L. Johnson, in his official capacity as administrator of the EPA. The lawsuit charges that EPA has violated the federal Clean Air Act by failing to grant or deny a petition filed by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection in July 2006. The petition objected to Pennsylvania’s proposed issuance of a revised operating permit for a coal-fired plant known as the Portland Generating Station.
The Portland facility is owned by Reliant Energy Mid-Atlantic Power Holdings and is located directly across the Delaware River from Warren County, New Jersey. Under the Clean Air Act, EPA must grant or deny the New Jersey petition within 60 days of its filing. The DEP petition was filed on July 21, 2006— 200 calendar days ago—but EPA has yet to respond to it.
"Our lawsuit contends that the EPA is ignoring a clear duty it has under federal law to deal with New Jersey’s petition, which raises significant concerns about the proposed operating permit for a facility that emits air pollutants directly across the river,” Rabner said. “As today’s action demonstrates, we are committed to working with the Department of Environmental Protection to pursue litigation, where necessary, that will protect the quality of air we breathe here in New Jersey."
DEP Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson called the EPA’s failure to act on the New Jersey petition “unconscionable.” “The EPA continues to show little concern for the environmental and public health issues we have raised regarding the Portland Generating Station. With today’s filing, we are putting the EPA on notice that we will not tolerate being ignored.”
DEP’s petition to the EPA objected to Pennsylvania’s proposed approval of a revised permit for the Portland Generating Station for two reasons:
- The Portland plant made modifications allowing it to increase its emissions of air pollutants without installing the pollution controls required under the Clean Air Act. As a result, a “compliance schedule”—including an enforceable sequence of compliance milestones—that will eventually lead to the elimination of all violations is needed in the permit.
- The permit lacks operational limits called heat input limits and would allow the Portland plant to exceed air quality standards set by the Clean Air Act. Heat input is a measure of the amount of coal burned each hour; limits on heat input are necessary to avoid excessive hourly emissions for many air contaminants, for example particulate matter (which can include dust, dirt, soot, and smoke) and nitrogen oxides, one of the main ingredients in the formation of ozone.
The Portland coal-fired plant is located upwind of New Jersey’s Highlands, and prevailing winds carry its air pollution directly into the state.
The lawsuit seeks a court order directing EPA to either grant or deny New Jersey’s petition opposing the Portland station operating permit. The complaint also seeks a declaration that both the EPA and its administrator have failed to perform their “nondiscretionary duty.” The suit also seeks reimbursement for reasonable costs associated with the state’s action.
Goldschmidt Chemical to Spend $625,000 to Resolve Air Permit Violations
The agreement, which includes a $600,000 environmental project and a $25,000 penalty, resolves EPA allegations that Goldschmidt violated its state operating permit and state air pollution regulations by emitting too much organic material from tanks and reactors at the plant.
For its environmental project, Goldschmidt will remove and properly dispose of material in its sludge lagoon and then permanently close the lagoon.
Companies that violate the Clean Air Act may voluntarily propose environmental projects as part of their settlements. EPA may reduce monetary penalties if it believes a project will cut pollution significantly and goes beyond what is required by EPA regulations.
$22,500 Fine for Failure to Implement SPCC Plan
A Connecticut oil storage and delivery company will pay a fine of $22,500 under the terms of a settlement with EPA for failing to plan adequately for and guard against oil spills at a bulk storage facility in Essex and its offices in Westbrook.
The penalty for the Pennywise Oil Company, Inc. of Westbrook, Conn. resulted because the company did not fully implement "Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure" (SPCC) plans for a tank farm it operated in Essex and at an office location it owns in Westbrook, as required by the federal Clean Water Act.
An inspector from EPA’s New England office inspected the Pennywise facility with a representative from the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection’s (CT DEP’s) Emergency Response Unit in February 2006 and found that the company failed to construct adequate secondary containment around its aboveground oil storage tanks, truck off-loading area, and loading rack, leading to a risk of a spill to surface waters in the event of discharges during transfer operations or from equipment failure.
Pennywise has had two prior oil spills caused by overfilling its oil tanks at the Essex tank farm. The spills occurred in November 2005 and January 2006. CT DEP’s Emergency Response Unit received the spill notifications from the company and initiated emergency remediation activities to protect the surrounding environment.
The location of the Essex facility means that spills at the tank farm could impact navigable waters. A spill occurring at the Essex storage facility could contaminate the Falls River, a tributary of the Connecticut River.
Imperial County Historical Society Pays $5,390 for Asbestos Violations
Located at 373 East Aten Road, the Imperial County Historical Society documents the local culture using archives and photographs, which are housed at the Pioneers Museum at Pioneers Park.
"When a building is demolished, asbestos must be properly removed in order to protect the public's health," said Deborah Jordan, director of U.S. EPA's Air Division for the Pacific Southwest Region. "The appropriate regulatory agencies must be notified in advance so they can ensure that the required safeguards are in place."
The Imperial County Historical Society moved the historic Heber College structure to the museum grounds—considered a demolition—without notifying the EPA of the demolition, as required under the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants regulation. After EPA and the California Air Resources Board investigators visited the site, the museum inspected the property for asbestos and properly removed asbestos found on the structure.
EPA has classified asbestos, a known carcinogen, as a hazardous air pollutant. Individuals exposed to asbestos fibers are at risk of contracting illnesses such as mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Allied Reality Fined for Lead-Paint Violations
The company agreed to this EPA settlement, which cited Allied Realty for failing to disclose information on lead-based paint to tenants in 13 rental properties in Washington, D.C., and Maryland suburbs between November 2001 and May 2004. As a part of the settlement, Allied has neither admitted nor denied liability for the violations.
“Property managers need to provide information to tenants about lead-based paint. This is especially important to families with young children who could be harmed by exposure to lead-paint. Lead poisoning is preventable and we should all do our part,” said Donald S. Welsh, EPA’s mid-Atlantic regional administrator.
Under the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, sellers and landlords of residential housing built before 1978—when the sale of lead-based house paint was banned—are required to notify purchasers and tenants about the presence of known lead-based paint or disclose their lack of knowledge of its presence. The law also requires landlords to provide prospective tenants a lead-based paint information pamphlet and a standard warning statement in the lease on the dangers of lead-based paint.
EPA is collaborating with other federal, state, and local agencies to protect tenants and homeowners from the health risks of lead-based paint. High blood-lead levels can cause permanent damage to the nervous system and health problems, including reduced intelligence and attention span, hearing loss, stunted growth, reading and learning problems, and behavioral difficulties. Young children are most vulnerable because their nervous systems are still developing.
EPA Issues City of Tacoma $358,000 Penalty for Missing Commencement Bay Cleanup Deadline
The EPA has issued a $358,000 stipulated penalty to the City of Tacoma, Wash. The action stems from the city’s failure to meet a key deadline as part of the cleanup activities in the Thea Foss and Wheeler-Osgood Waterways cleanup. The site lies within greater Commencement Bay Nearshore/Tideflats Superfund Site in Tacoma, Washington.
“The city missed a critical berm construction deadline in the St Paul Waterway,” said Dan Opalski, EPA Environmental Cleanup office director. “The berm was needed to contain highly contaminated sediments dredged from the waterway, causing a ‘domino effect’ of delay. The result: Several other construction deadlines were missed, meaning slower cleanup of a key part of Puget Sound.”
The city negotiated and agreed to stipulated penalties in its 2003 Consent Decree that required site cleanup. According to Opalski, the city began missing construction deadlines on the $97 million Thea Foss cleanup in 2004.
“Deadlines help ensure cleanups move forward faster,” Opalski, said. “When people sign up to become our partners in major projects on the scale of Commencement Bay, they do so with an understanding that if deadlines are missed, there will be consequences. Without this penalty, we believe the work would have been delayed even further.”
In September 2005, EPA and the city reached an agreement that gave the go-ahead to a revised cleanup schedule. As part of that agreement, EPA agreed to forgive more than $2 million in accrued stipulated penalties for a missed deadline. But the agreement explicitly reserved the right to later demand the $358,000 in stipulated penalties for missing the deadline for completing work on the St. Paul Waterway confined disposal site. Missing this deadline delayed a significant amount of cleanup for nearly nine months. Now that all the cleanup and habitat work is complete, EPA is assessing the $358,000 penalty as agreed by the parties in the 2005 settlement.
"While EPA recognizes that the city has invested millions in cleanup and habitat mitigation work, enforcing our legal agreements respects the many parties that perform cleanup work and meet their deadlines," Opalski said.
Builder Fined for Storm Water Violations
As part of an ongoing effort to protect Alaska waters, EPA has reached an $8,500 settlement with Hallmark Investments, LLC (Hallmark), an Anchorage developer located in Anchorage, Alaska, for Clean Water Act violations.
"While many builders and developers are doing a good job, there are some who are ignoring this important storm water requirement,” said Marcia Combes, EPA’s Alaska State Director. “Builders and developers need to obtain the right permits before they start work or, like Hallmark, they will face fines. EPA takes protecting Alaska waters very seriously.”
The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit program controls water pollution by regulating sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States.
EPA Orders Thomas Carpenter to Restore Impacts to the Sacramento River
The EPA ordered Thomas Carpenter of Carpenter Excavation to stop dumping dredged and fill material—including concrete, soil, and debris—into the Sacramento River, a violation of the Clean Water Act.
In addition, the order requires the company to develop a site restoration plan to remove unauthorized material and restore the area to its previous condition. The illegal dumping occurred at a parcel owned by Carpenter, approximately 10 miles west of Chico, Calif., which is surrounded by the Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge.
“We are particularly concerned with impacts to the river, given the proximity to the Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge and other key conservation lands,” said Alexis Strauss, director of the EPA's Water Division for the Pacific Southwest region. “We will oversee restoration of this damaged site and protection of this important water resource, and ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act.”
Failure to comply with the order could result in fines of up to $32,500 per day, per violation.
In March 2006, Carpenter applied for but never received Clean Water Act authorization to discharge into U.S. waters, and it later withdrew the permit request. Between June 2006 and December 2006, the California Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service observed multiple violations of the Clean Water Act.
In January, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ordered Carpenter to stop all dumping activities into the Sacramento River and remove all rubble or fill material to a site at least 150 feet away from the river. Following the order, the EPA, in conjunction with the aforementioned agencies, inspected the site and observed concrete, soil, and debris in the Sacramento River and along the river bank.
Ohio EPA Settles with Mahoning County Manufacturer for Hazardous Waste Violations
The Mahoning Paint Corporation has agreed to pay Ohio EPA a $15,640 penalty to settle hazardous waste violations at its facility located at 653 Jones Street in Youngstown. The company has corrected the violations and now operates in compliance with Ohio's hazardous waste laws.
During a 2005 facility inspection, an Ohio EPA inspector found Mahoning Paint had transported eight containers of hazardous waste to a facility not permitted to accept hazardous waste. Other documented violations included failing to properly evaluate containers of waste to determine if they were hazardous; properly label hazardous waste containers; and train employees to manage hazardous waste.
Mahoning Paint manufactures oil-based and water-based paints and coatings and generates hazardous wastes including paint-related waste and spent solvents.
Pennsylvania DEP Fines Mobile Health Service Company $80,500
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Regional Director Joseph A. Feola announced that the DEP has assessed an $80,500 civil penalty against MOST Health Services Inc., Voorhees, N.J., for conducting unauthorized X-ray health screenings at three locations in Pennsylvania.
“These health screenings were conducted without our knowledge or approval, and without the authorization of a licensed health practitioner,” Feola said. “It’s important that these mobile operations have proper approval and oversight to ensure the health and safety of Pennsylvania residents.”
In 2006, DEP learned that MOST Health Services had conducted unauthorized silicosis screenings in February 2002 at three locations in Pennsylvania: the Best Western motel in Harrisburg, Dauphin County; the Woodlands Inn and Resort in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County; and the Comfort Inn in Essington, Delaware County.
Such screenings require prior written authorization by DEP or the presence of a licensed medical practitioner during each screening. MOST Health Services had neither in place when it exposed an estimated 161 people to X-ray beams during these mobile screenings conducted from Feb. 19–23, 2002.
State regulations require users of radiation-producing machines to register with DEP in order to ensure that patients, personnel, and the environment are protected, and that operators are properly trained. Registration allows DEP to maintain an inventory of X-ray equipment in Pennsylvania so that all users can be inspected for compliance with the applicable radiological health regulations.
DEP conducts approximately 2,800 inspections annually at facilities possessing X-ray units to ensure that radiation equipment and facilities meet current radiation protection standards.
Minnesota Enforcement Actions Total More Than $411,000 in Fourth Quarter of 2006; More Than $1.3 Million for Year
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) concluded 38 enforcement cases totaling $411,150 in penalties during the fourth quarter of 2006. For all of 2006, MPCA enforcement staff completed 128 cases with a total penalty amount of $1,361,094. These cases occurred at facilities in 51 of Minnesota's 87 counties.
Following is a brief summary of the 38 cases completed during the fourth quarter of 2006:
- $58,000, Duluth Missabe and Iron Range Railway Company, Duluth & Two Harbors, for air quality violations
- $45,665, Veteran's Administration Hospital, Minneapolis, for hazardous waste violations
- $40,000, Northshore Mining Company, Silver Bay, for air quality violations
- $35,000, Lakeside Foods, Owatonna, for water quality violations
- $25,000, Cogentrix LSP-Cottage Grove LP, Cottage Grove, for hazardous waste violations
- $17,000, Alpha Foods Company, Litchfield, for feedlot violations
- $17,000, Westland Dairy, Richmond, for feedlot violations
- $11,000, City of Rockford, Rockford, for water quality violations
- $10,000, Joe Miller; Country Joe Project Site, Lakeville, for stormwater violations
- $9,250, Kuepers Construction; RJP Group LLC, for stormwater violations
- $9,900, Chelsey Gardens & Dan Mundt, St. Francis, for stormwater violations
- $8,750, Valero LP, Sauk Centre, for water quality violations
- $8,525, Pine County Highway Department (Highway 24), Pine County, for stormwater violations
- $7,700, Bonneyview Properties LLC; Skogquist Trucking & Excavating, Foley, for stormwater violations
- $7,475, Valero LP, Roseville, for water quality violations
- $6,750, Valter's Aviation, Lake Elmo, for underground storage tank violations
- $6,696, City of Geneva, Geneva, for water quality violations
- $6,470, Xcel Energy, Inc., Red Wing, for air quality violations
- $6,350, First Class Sandblasting and Painting, Big Lake, for hazardous waste violations
- $6,325, Sentinal Management-Paola Bernardi; Benson-Orth Associates, St. Anthony, for stormwater violations
- $5,820, Elk River Machine, Elk River, for hazardous waste violations
- $5,740, Plainview Milk Products Coop, Plainview, for water quality violations
- $5,500, Triple J Disposal, Brownsdale, for stormwater violations
- $5,248, Nelson's Resort, Crane Lake, for water quality violations
- $4,785, New Dimension Plating, Hutchinson, for air quality violations
- $4,750, Ainsworth Engineered LLC, Cook, for air quality violations
- $4,375, Eagle Cliff Campground, Inc., Lanesboro, for stormwater violations
- $4,000, James & Associates Development Co., Inc., Cass Lake, for water quality violations
- $3,850, City of Hutchinson, Hutchinson, for water quality violations
- $3,500, Hurst Woods; Darrel A. Farr Development Corporation, Rockford, for stormwater violations
- $3,500, National Builders; Greg Radefeldt, Linwood Township, for stormwater violations
- $3,500, Rolling Green, Inc., Hutchinson, for stormwater violations
- $3,500, Sherco Construction; Tom Carlisle, Linwood Township, for stormwater violations
- $3,151, Richard Balstad Farm, Fosston, for feedlot violations
- $2,850, International Bildrite, International Falls, for air quality violations
- $2,475, Olson Insulation LLC, Elgin, for solid waste violations
- $1,250, Hormel Foods Corporation, Austin, for air quality violations
- $500, Ray Soderstrom, Isanti, for individual septic treatment system violations
Progressive Products Fined for Hazardous Waste Violations
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) has entered into a consent agreement with Progressive Products, Inc., 3305 Airport Circle, Pittsburg, to resolve violations of state hazardous waste regulations noted in a March 2006 inspection by the department. The agreement requires the company to pay a $7,900 civil penalty. KDHE has determined that Progressive Products has corrected all violations.
On March 27 and 28, 2006, KDHE staff visited Progressive and identified several regulatory violations, including failure to close a hazardous waste container, failure to mark two other containers to indicate they contained hazardous waste, improper disposal of xylene-contaminated rags, and inadequate fire-safety controls.
KDHE and Progressive representatives met in August 2006 and reached a settlement to address correction of the violations and payment of the civil penalty. The settlement was formalized into a consent agreement at the end of January.
EPA Publishes Updated List for Boutique Fuels
The list identifies any unique fuel blend developed by a state or local air pollution agency and approved by EPA as part of a State Implementation Plan to support meeting national air quality standards and will serve as the basis for any future adoption of boutique fuels into State Implementation Plans.
New Technology Cools Effect of Air Conditioners on Climate
Now electronic leak detectors and new recycling machines will help reduce emissions during automotive air conditioner repairs and help service professionals identify and repair very small leaks in vehicle air conditioning systems. This equipment is now commercially available and is expected to be in widespread use in repair shops within several years.
EPA Working to Make Digital Television Technology Energy Efficient
It is estimated that Americans will purchase 22 million DTAs to continue to receive over-the-air broadcasts after the Feb. 18, 2009, deadline. By some estimates, DTAs could consume more than 3 billion kWh/year and cost Americans $270 million more per year in higher electricity bills.
$25 Million Prize for Solving Climate Change
Sir Richard Branson has announced a $25 million prize for the person who comes up with the best idea to remove significant amounts of carbon from the atmosphere.
The billionaire along with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore announced the Earth Challenge competition last Friday. He said the prize was the largest ever offered and compared it to the competition to come up with a method to accurately measure longitude in the 18th Century. That competition took 60 years to produce a winner. "The Earth cannot wait 60 years," Branson told reporters.
Branson said his wife Joan had come up with the prize idea after he mentioned that Gaia Theory inventor James Lovelock had suggested the world may already have crossed a "tipping point."
An international panel will judge the competition. Judges will include Gore; James Lovelock; James Hansen, head of the NASA Institute for Space Studies; Sir Crispin Tickell; and Australian conservationist Tim Flannery.
The winning solution must have the potential to remove at least one billion tons of carbon per year from the atmosphere.
University of North Carolina Fined for Hazardous Waste Violations
UNC Charlotte was fined $19,633 by the North Carolina Division of Waste Management for failing to:
- Conduct weekly inspections
- Close 11 containers
- Label 8 containers with words “Hazardous Waste” or with other words that identify the contents
- Close containers being used to accumulate universal waste lamps
- Label containers being used at the facility to accumulate universal waste lamps
- Demonstrate the length of time that the universal waste lamps had been accumulated from the date they became a waste or were received
- Properly label six 5-gallon containers and one 3-gallon container of used oil with the words “Used Oil”
Also in North Carolina, Winston-Salem State University was fined $27,000 for failing to:
- Make hazardous waste determinations on numerous containers of chemicals
- Adequately mark two glass satellite accumulation containers with the words “Hazardous Waste” or with other words that identified the contents of the container
- Label or mark one 55-gallon container of used oil with the words “Used Oil”