Free Recycling of Small Electronics

March 24, 2008

“Free and green.” These are the goals of a pilot program launched by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) that allows customers to recycle small electronics and inkjet cartridges by mailing them free of charge.

The “Mail Back” program aims to help you make more environmentally friendly choices, making it easier to recycle used or obsolete small electronics in an environmentally responsible way. Free envelopes are available at 1,500 post offices for returning inkjet cartridges, PDAs, Blackberries, digital cameras, iPods, and MP3 players—without having to pay for postage.

Postage is paid for by Clover Technologies Group, a company that recycles, remanufactures, and remarkets inkjet cartridges, laser cartridges, and small electronics. If the electronic item or cartridges cannot be refurbished and resold, its component parts are reused to refurbish other items, or the parts are broken down further and the materials are recycled. Clover Technologies Group has a “zero waste to landfill” policy: It does everything it can to avoid contributing any materials to the nation’s landfills.

It was this philosophy that won Clover the contract with the USPS, besting 19 other companies, said Anita Bizzotto, chief marketing officer and executive vice president for the USPS.

“As one of the nation’s leading corporate citizens, the USPS is committed to environmental stewardship,” Bizzotto said. “This program is one more way the USPS is empowering consumers to go green.”

The free, postage-paid Mail Back envelopes can be found on displays in USPS lobbies. There is no limit to the number of envelopes you may take.

The pilot program is set for 10 areas across the country, including Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, and San Diego, but it could become a national program this fall if the pilot program proves successful.

The USPS recycles 1 million tons of paper, plastic, and other materials annually. Last year, USPS generated more than $7.5 million in savings through recycling and waste prevention programs. EPA has awarded the USPS eight WasteWise Partner of the Year awards, the agency’s top honor.

The Mail Back program is another example of the USPS’s commitment to sustainability. USPS is the only shipping or mailing company in the nation to receive Cradle to CradleSM Certification from MBDC (McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry) for human and environmental health. More than half a billion packages and envelopes provided by the USPS annually are nearly 100% recyclable and are produced with the least harmful materials. Based on the recycled content of these envelopes and packages, more than 15,000 metric tons of carbon equivalent emissions (climate change gases) now are prevented annually.

EPA Launches the Risk Assessment Portal


REACH Risk Assessment Committee to Allow Observers at Meetings

REACH stands for the Regulation for Registration, Evaluation, Authorization, and Restriction of Chemicals. Companies that manufacture in Europe or U.S. companies that export virtually any product or chemical to Europe will be required to register their products and may be required to conduct research on the health and environmental impacts of their products in support of a decision to authorize the product in the countries that implement the REACH legislation. 

The REACH Committee for Risk Assessment (RAC) met for the second time from March 11 to 13. The European Chemicals Agency briefed the committee on the call for expression of interest to stakeholders to participate in the agency’s work. It welcomed the agency’s proposal for admitting stakeholder observers to its meetings. The meeting agreed on the Rules or Procedure by which RAC will abide.

The agency informed the committee on the call for expression of interest to stakeholders to participate in the agency’s work to be published the same week. The members welcomed the agency’s proposal for admitting observers to its meetings. A representative from Norway already participated in this meeting as an observer. Norway was invited by the committee following a recent agreement of the Management Board to invite EEA/EFTA states to participate to the work of the committees and forum.

Three members of the committee have resigned since the first meeting. New nominations to the open posts are being received from the concerned Member States.

The committee expects to receive first harmonized classification and labeling dossiers before its next meeting in July.

Play It Safe, Prevent Poisonings, Lock Up Pesticides

Every 13 seconds, a U.S. poison control center receives a call about an unintentional poisoning. The American Association of Poison Control Centers reports that more than 50% of the two million poisoning incidents each year involve children younger than six years old. In 2006, poison centers reported more than 77,000 calls made to poison centers with concerns about potential exposure to common household pesticides (potential exposures do not necessarily represent a poisoning).


. During an interview on Green Scene, Assistant Administrator Jim Gulliford, of the Office of Prevention Pesticides and Toxic Substances, discusses Poison Prevention Week, how to protect your children from toxic substances around the home, and how to respond in case of accidental poisoning.

EPA is also conducting extensive outreach targeting the Hispanic communities, including television interviews to be aired on “Cada Dia,” Telemundo’s national morning program and the Telemundo affiliate in Washington D.C. Other interviews include Univision TV and Radio and CNN Radio en Espanol.

The National Poison Center hotline may be contacted at 1-800-222-1222.

EPA Adds 12 New Sites and Proposes 6 More for Superfund NPL

EPA has added 12 new hazardous waste sites to the National Priorities List (NPL) of Superfund sites. These sites pose risks to human health and the environment. Additionally, EPA has proposed that six other sites be added to the list as well. Superfund is the federal program that investigates and cleans up the most complex uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country.

To date, there have been 1,581 sites listed on the NPL. Of these sites, 324 sites have been deleted resulting in 1,257 final sites on the NPL. With the proposal of the 6 new sites, there are 60 proposed sites awaiting final agency action: 55 in the general Superfund section and 5 in the federal facilities section. There are a total 1,317 final and proposed sites on the NPL.

Contaminants found at these final and proposed sites include arsenic, barium, carbon tetrachloride, chromium, copper, dichloroethene, dioxins, lead, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polychlorinated dibenzofurans, tetrachloroethene (PCE), trichloroethane, trichloroethene (TCE), vinyl chloride, and zinc.

With all Superfund sites, EPA tries to identify and locate the parties potentially responsible for the contamination. For the newly listed sites without viable potentially responsible parties, EPA will investigate the full extent of the contamination before starting significant cleanup at the site. Therefore, it may be several years before significant cleanup funding is required for these sites.

Sites may be placed on the list through various mechanisms:

  • Numeric ranking established by EPA’s Hazard Ranking System
  • Designation by states or territories of one top-priority site
  • Meeting all three of the following requirements:
    • The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) of the U.S. Public Health Service has issued a health advisory that recommends removing people from the site
    • EPA determines the site poses a significant threat to public health
    • EPA anticipates it will be more cost-effective to use its remedial authority than to use its emergency removal authority to respond to the site

The following 12 sites have been added to the NPL:

  • Lusher Street Ground Water Contamination (Elkhart, Ind.)
  • Plating Inc. (Great Bend, Kan.)
  • Washington County Lead District—Old Mines (Old Mines, Mo.)
  • Washington County Lead District—Potosi (Potosi, Mo.)
  • Washington County Lead District—Richwoods (Richwoods, Mo.)
  • Sherwin-Williams/Hilliards Creek (Gibbsboro, N.J.)
  • Chem-Fab (Doylestown, Pa.)
  • San German Ground Water Contamination (San German, Puerto Rico)
  • Donna Reservoir and Canal System (Donna, Texas)
  • Midessa Ground Water Plume (Odessa, Texas)
  • San Jacinto River Waste Pits (Harris County, Texas)
  • Hidden Lane Landfill (Sterling, Va.)

The following six sites have been proposed to the NPL:

  • Iron King Mine—Humboldt Smelter (Dewey-Humboldt, Ariz.)
  • Nelson Tunnel/Commodore Waste Rock (Creede, Colo.)
  • Flash Cleaners (Pompano Beach, Fla.)
  • Aberdeen Contaminated Ground Water (Aberdeen, N.C.)
  • Attebury Grain Storage Facility (Happy, Texas)
  • Old Esco Manufacturing (Greenville, Texas)


NOAA Urges Communities to Prepare During Flood Safety Awareness Week

Several factors will contribute to above-average flood conditions, including record rainfall in some states and snow packs, which are melting and causing rivers and streams to crest over their banks. 

The science supporting NOAA’s short-term forecasts allows for a high level of certainty. National Weather Service forecasters highlighted potential for the current major flood event a week in advance and began working with emergency managers to prepare local communities for the impending danger.

“We expect rains and melting snow to bring more flooding this spring,” said Vickie Nadolski, deputy director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “Americans should be on high alert to flood conditions in your communities. Arm yourselves with information about how to stay safe during a flood and do not attempt to drive on flooded roadways—remember to always turn around, don’t drown.”

Spring Flood Outlook

Above-normal flood potential is evident in much of the Mississippi River basin, the Ohio River basin, the lower Missouri River basin, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, most of New York, all of New England, and portions of the West, including Colorado and Idaho:

  • Heavy winter snow combined with recent rain indicates parts of Wisconsin and Illinois should see minor to moderate flooding, with as much as a 20% to 30% chance of major flooding on some rivers in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.
  • Current snow depth in some areas of upstate New York and New England is more than a foot greater than usual for this time of the year, which increases flood potential in the Connecticut River Valley.
  • Locations in the mountains of Colorado and Idaho have 150% to 200% of average water contained in snowpack leading to a higher than normal flood potential.

Snowfall has been normal or above normal across most of the West this winter; however, preexisting dryness in many areas will prevent most flooding in this region. Runoff from snow pack is expected to significantly improve stream flows compared to last year for the West.

Spring Drought Outlook

The drought outlook indicates continued general improvement in the Southeast, although some reservoirs are unlikely to recover before summer. Winter precipitation chipped away at both the western and southeastern drought. On the U.S. Drought Monitor, extreme drought coverage dropped from nearly 50% in mid-December to less than 20% in the Southeast for March.

  • Overall, the Southeast had near-average rainfall during the winter with some areas wetter than average. Nevertheless, lingering water supply concerns and water restrictions continue in parts of the region.
  • Drought is expected to continue in parts of the southern Plains despite some recent heavy rain. Parts of Texas received less than 25% of normal rainfall in the winter, leading 165 counties to enact burn bans by mid-March. Seasonal forecasts for warmth and dryness suggest drought will expand northward and westward this spring.


During the spring season, weather can change quickly—from drought to flooding to severe weather, including outbreaks of tornadoes. 

Alternatives to Hazardous Cleaning Products

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has published alternatives for cleaning products as we  contemplate the task of “spring cleaning” in homes and businesses.

When walking through the cleaning aisle of a grocery or discount store, most people are looking for products that will keep their home clean—but have you thought about products that can help keep your home “green”?

Until recently, exposure to harmful chemicals has been largely overlooked as a source of indoor air pollution. However, studies have shown that chemicals in indoor air may exceed EPA protection standards. You can help avoid such levels in your home by buying and using products that are free of toxic chemicals whenever possible.

Reducing toxics inside your house can be as simple as looking for a few key words or ingredients. Look for products that appear to disclose all ingredients, and avoid ones that contain petroleum, phosphates, phthalates, triclosan, and benzalkonium chloride. The words “caution,” “warning,” and “danger” indicate that the product’s ingredients are harmful.

There are wide varieties of alternatives as the market for non-toxic household products grows in response to consumer demand. Greener alternatives are prepared with plant-based materials, such as oils made from citrus, seed, vegetable, or pine. These products are biodegradable, generally less toxic, and are made from renewable resources.

Another alternative is to make your own solutions using common, single-ingredient household materials such as baking soda, vinegar, or plant-based soaps and detergents.

Madalyn Cioci, source and toxicity reduction specialist with the MPCA, has cleaned with nothing but water, baking soda, vinegar, and a dab of a citrus-based spot remover for several years. “I use non-chlorine, phosphorus-free dishwashing cleaner and have been refilling the same laundry bottle with laundry soap for at least two years. Not a single box or bottle has come out of my laundry room in that time.”

Basic soap and water has been shown to keep surfaces as free of bacteria as antibacterial soaps; baking soda works well to clean sinks, tubs, and toilets; vegetable oil with a little lemon juice works wonders on wood furniture; use vinegar and water in a pump spray bottle for cleaning mirrors and shining chrome.

Simple changes in our everyday routines such as how we choose the products we buy, or the way we clean our houses, can reduce our long-term exposure to low levels of potentially harmful substances.


New Jersey DEP Rule Proposal Seeks to Conserve Water by Encouraging More Reclamation of Treated Wastewater


“Once again, New Jersey is at the forefront of using innovative thinking to tackle environmental challenges,” Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson said.
These initiatives are included as amendments made to the proposed re-adoption of the New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System rule.

The amendments require wastewater facilities that discharge into coastal water bodies or those that are located in Critical Water Supply Areas to study the feasibility of using reclaimed water as a condition of NJPDES permits. These are areas that stand to benefit most from wastewater reclamation because of stressed water supplies. “By going through this study process, some wastewater facilities may discover that reclaiming wastewater makes a lot of sense economically and benefits their local environments,” Commissioner Jackson said.

The DEP will exempt facilities from the feasibility study requirement in cases where reductions in discharges of treated wastewater would have adverse effects on water resources. Wastewater treatment facilities that produce an average of less than 100,000 gallons per day also will be exempt.


Industries can also use reclaimed water to cool equipment, to wash parts, and to operate equipment. Some wastewater treatment systems already participate in DEP-approved wastewater reclamation projects that include irrigation of golf courses, landscaping, and highway medians; street and sewer cleaning; dust control; firefighting; and as non-contact industrial cooling water. The public comment for the NJDPES rule proposal ends May 16.

Major League Baseball Goes Green

Major League Baseball and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have announced the creation of a Team Greening Program. This program was developed to support and coordinate the many environmentally sensitive practices now pursued by virtually every Major League Baseball Club. The announcement marks the first time that Major League Baseball will implement a league-wide environmental protection strategy.

“Baseball is a social institution with social responsibilities and caring for the environment is inextricably linked to all aspects of our game,” said Baseball Commissioner Allan H. (Bud) Selig. ”Sound environmental practices make sense in every way and protect our natural resources for future generations of baseball fans.”

 This unprecedented program, more than two years in development, will expand on the industry’s best practices, offering specific local advice concerning such topics as energy use, purchasing, concession operations, water use, recycling, and transportation.

The NRDC Team Greening Advisor for Major League Baseball was developed through surveys that assessed the environmental practices in a number of operational areas, throughout the 2006 season. The surveys, sent to all 30 clubs, demonstrated a high level of interest among clubs in environmentally sensitive operating policies and creative implementation of sound policies that should be more widely recognized and shared throughout the industry.

“The commitment by our national pastime to enhance its ecological profile in a meaningful and public way marks a watershed in the history of baseball and the environmental movement,” said Allen Hershkowitz, Senior Scientist, NRDC. ”No other sporting institution has influenced American culture as much as baseball, and the League is once again putting that influence to very good use.”

The NRDC Team Greening Advisor for Major League Baseball aggregates the best practices of the clubs and dramatically expands the range of advice and potential sources of assistance concerning environmentally sensitive and sensible business operations for each Club. Topics include:

  • Adopting an official environmental policy
  • Incorporating environmental language into contracts, purchasing policies, and requests for proposals that specify preferences for environmentally sound products and services
  • Encouraging the use of renewable energy
  • Providing information about how to credibly offset the carbon emissions related to team and fan transportation
  • Using post-consumer recycled content paper for all paper products
  • Implementing paper reduction strategies in offices
  • Offsetting the environmental impact of up to half team and employee travel
  • Establishing club eco-committee


EPA Seeks Public Input on Clean Water Act 404(c) Proposed Determination

 The public has 45 days to comment on the proposed determination.

The Yazoo Backwater Project is a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works proposal designed to address flooding concerns affecting 630,000 acres of land between the Mississippi and Yazoo Rivers. The primary component of this project is a 14,000-cubic-feet per second pumping station that will pump rainwater out of the Delta during high water events on the Mississippi River.

$3.16 Million Penalty Upheld for UST Violations

EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) has upheld the agency’s enforcement action against the owner of Lowest Price gas stations in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. In cooperation with state and D.C. officials, EPA filed a complaint in September 2002 against gas station owner, Euclid of Virginia, Inc., for violating regulations designed to detect and prevent fuel leaks from underground storage tanks (USTs). The violations involved 14 gas stations in Maryland, 2 in Virginia, and 7 in the District of Columbia.

In a March 11, 2007, decision, the EAB ruled against every issue raised in an appeal filed by Euclid of Virginia, Inc. The board ordered the company to pay a $3.16 million penalty for violations involving 72 USTs at 23 gas stations. The company had appealed an administrative law judge’s November 2006 assessment of a $3.08 million penalty for these violations—the largest penalty ever assessed by an EPA administrative law judge for violations of any federal environmental law.

The board ruled in favor of EPA’s cross-appeal against Euclid, increasing this precedent-setting penalty to $3.16 million. The EAB overturned the administrative law judge’s rulings against EPA on three counts involving inventory control violations and imposed the proposed $79,262 penalty for these counts.

“With millions of gallons of gasoline, oil, and other petroleum products stored in underground tanks, leaving them unchecked can cause major soil and groundwater contamination,” said Donald S. Welsh, regional administrator of EPA’s mid-Atlantic region. “This decision should send a strong message to owners of USTs that it is not only in the public’s best interest but in their own, too, to comply with leak detection and prevention requirements.”

The EAB ruled that EPA had proven that Euclid failed to maintain required leak detection and control equipment, failed to perform required leak-detection activities, failed to comply with corrosion-prevention standards and conduct cathodic protection testing, failed to properly install or maintain equipment to prevent releases of gasoline due to the overfilling of tanks or other spills when tanks are being filled, and failed to maintain required financial assurances.

The size of the penalty was due not only to the large number of facilities and USTs involved, but also to Euclid’s repeated non-compliance with the same regulations over periods that often lasted for several years. The administrative law judge also cited the breadth of the violations, Euclid’s “high degree of “negligence,” and its overall record of non-compliance in allowing violations to continue despite numerous warnings from EPA and the Maryland, Virginia, and District of Columbia state environmental agencies as further justification for a substantial penalty. The state and D.C. agencies coordinated with EPA to conduct numerous inspections of Euclid-owned gas stations, and inspectors from each agency served as witnesses at the trial.

With millions of gallons of gasoline, oil, and other petroleum products stored in USTs throughout the United States, leaking tanks are a major source of soil and groundwater contamination. EPA and EPA-authorized state regulations are designed to reduce the risk of underground leaks and, thus, avoid the costs of major cleanups.

EPA’s mid-Atlantic region has recently focused enforcement on owners of USTs at multiple facilities. In several instances, owners of multiple facilities have entered into agreements with EPA to conduct audits of their facilities, with reduced penalties for violations discovered during such audits.

$4,000 Penalty for Missed Opacity Monitoring

Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary John A. Hughes has issued a Notice of Administrative Penalty Assessment and Secretary’s Order to P&A LLC (Maryland) for violation of Delaware’s Regulations Governing the Control of Air Pollution. The Order includes a cash penalty of $4,000 and an additional $600 as cost recovery reimbursement to the Department for expenses associated with its investigation.

P&A LLC (Maryland) produces hot mix asphalt at its facility located at 36393 Sussex Highway in Delmar, Del. Emissions from the manufacturing process include sulfur oxides (SOx) and carbon monoxide (CO) from combustion occurring in their rotary drum dryer. The plant’s required synthetic minor permit specifies operating conditions that would limit the amounts of SOx and CO emitted.


The department issued a previous Order on June 15, 2006, for violations of the company’s permit, including failure to conduct an annual EPA Method 9 visible emissions test for calendar year 2004.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Approves Fines Totaling $706,352 Against 69 Entities

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has approved penalties totaling $706,352 against 69 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations.

Orders were issued for the following enforcement categories: 2 agricultural, 17 air quality, 3 dry cleaner, 1 Edwards Aquifer, 3 field citations (petroleum storage tank), 1 industrial or hazardous waste, 4 industrial waste discharge, 5 multi-media, 4 municipal solid waste, 10 municipal waste discharge, 6 petroleum storage tank, 8 public water system, and 1 water quality. In addition, there were default orders issued for the following categories: 2 dry cleaner and 2 licensed irrigators.

Bread Crumb Manufacturer to Spend $1 Million to Resolve CFC Violations

EPA Region 5 has reached an agreement with Kerry Inc. on alleged violations of EPA regulations to protect stratospheric ozone at the company’s bread crumb manufacturing plant in Millstadt, Ill.

The agreement, which includes a $169,822 penalty and an $811,097 environmental project, resolves EPA allegations that Kerry failed to repair refrigeration equipment that leaked excessive amounts of ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons or CFCs. In addition, EPA said the company violated testing, notification, retrofitting, replacement, and retirement planning requirements for the equipment.

For its environmental project, Kerry will replace ozone-depleting refrigerant used in refrigeration equipment at its Jackson and Sturtevant, Wis., plants with nonozone-depleting refrigerant.

When CFC refrigerants deplete the stratospheric ozone layer, dangerous amounts of cancer-causing ultraviolet rays from the sun strike the earth. Production of some of these chemicals was stopped in 1995, and federal law strictly controls their use and handling.

EPA Files Complaint Against Ship Brokers for TSCA PCB Violations

EPA has issued a federal complaint against Global Shipping and Global Marketing Systems, Inc., for distribution in commerce and export of PCB-containing materials on the MV Oceanic, formerly the SS Independence, which was being sent by Global to be scrapped overseas.

Fines against these two companies may be assessed up to $32,500 per violation per day. The MV Pacific Hickory is towing the MV Oceanic to its final destination.

“Federal law prohibits companies from exporting PCBs, including those in ships, that are sent overseas to be scrapped,” said Rich Vaille, associate director for waste program enforcement in EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “When companies illegally export PCB waste, they are circumventing U.S. requirements for proper disposal. PCB waste must be properly disposed to protect public health and the environment.”

Global has 30 days to file an answer to the complaint to avoid a penalty assessment without a hearing. EPA was not informed by Global of their intention to export the ship for disposal. The previous owners, Norwegian Cruise Lines, bought the ship through a wholly owned subsidiary with the intent to put it into service in the United States. The paperwork showing that Norwegian Cruise Lines had sold the vessel to Global was not submitted to the Maritime Administration until the ship had already sailed.

Export of PCB materials from the United States is a violation of EPA’s Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Vessels such as the MV Oceanic, which was built in the early 1950s, were commonly constructed with PCB-containing materials, including cables, electrical equipment such as capacitors and transformers, watertight seal material, and painted surfaces.

More than 1.5 billion pounds of PCBs were manufactured in the United States before EPA banned the production of this chemical class in 1978. PCBs were commonly used in paints, industrial equipment, plastics, and rubber products. EPA banned this class of chemicals after tests showed that PCBs cause cancer in animals and adversely affect the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems in humans.

EPA Orders ASARCO to Clean Up Heavy Metals From Household Yards

EPA has ordered ASARCO to remove contaminated soil from 14 homes in Hayden and 1 home in Winkelman, Ariz. EPA collected air and soil samples in February 2006 from 99 yards in Hayden and 31 yards in Winkelman after the EPA and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) discovered elevated levels of arsenic, lead, and copper in previous sampling.

“This is an important first step in cleaning up the legacy of waste left in Hayden and Winkleman,” said Keith Takata, director of Superfund division for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “We will be working with the responsible party as they perform work under our agreement.”

Without the removal action, the EPA is concerned that residents may be exposed to harmful levels of arsenic, lead, and copper that are present in yards and homes. ASARCO will remove the contaminated materials under EPA oversight, with ASARCO’s cleanup crews working throughout the month to excavate approximately 4,000 cubic yards of soil and other materials. The contaminated materials will be disposed of in ASARCO’s landfill. EPA estimates ASARCO will spend approximately $590,000 on this portion of the cleanup.

The ASARCO Hayden Plant site is an active copper ore processing, concentrating, and smelter facility with properties in Hayden and Winkelman. The ASARCO plant includes a crusher, concentrator, smelter, and tailings impoundment areas. In addition, ASARCO operates an overland conveyor that directs ore from the crusher to the mill building for processing while passing over some of Hayden’s residential streets. While this removal action will clean up the most heavily contaminated residential yards in Hayden, many other areas of Hayden and Winkelman will need to be addressed in later stages of environmental response. The EPA, the state of Arizona, and ASARCO are working towards the next phase of the cleanup.

Arsenic primarily enters the body through ingestion or inhalation as airborne dust and is a known carcinogen. Side effects of arsenic include decreased production of red and white blood cells, impaired nerve function, and skin irritations. Exposure to lead is particularly harmful to children and can affect virtually every system in the body, particularly cognitive development. Exposure to high lead levels can severely damage the brain and kidneys in adults or children and ultimately cause death. Copper at low levels is essential for good health, but exposure to high levels can irritate the nose, mouth, and eyes and cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea.

County Government Fined for Storm Water Violations

On March 14, 2008, a proposed Consent Decree in the United States and Commonwealth of Kentucky versus Lexington Fayette Urban County Government was lodged with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, Central Division. 

The proposed Consent Decree would resolve claims against the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) for the Clean Water Act violations involving the municipal separate storm sewer system and the sanitary sewer system alleged in the complaint filed in November 2006 by the United States and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

The proposed Consent Decree provides for LFUCG to perform injunctive measures as described in the Consent Decree, to pay a civil penalty of $425,000 to the United States, and to perform federal Supplemental Environmental Projects valued at $1.23 million, and state environmental projects valued at $1.5 million.

Proposed CERCLA Cost Recovery Settlement in Case Involving Chemcentral Midwest Corp.

In accordance with CERCLA, EPA has filed a notice of a proposed administrative settlement with Chemcentral Midwest Corporation for recovery of past response costs concerning the Chemcentral Midwest corporation facility, located in Kansas City, Mo.

The settlement requires Chemcentral Midwest Corporation to pay for $150,713 in costs incurred by EPA Region 7, in response to the fire at the Chemcentral facility on Feb. 7, 2007. This payment will be directed to the Hazardous Substance Superfund.

EPA will receive written comments relating to the settlement and will consider all comments toward the modification or potential withdraw of its consent to the settlement if comments received disclose facts or considerations that indicate the settlement is inappropriate, improper, or inadequate.


Pennsylvania Orders Shipley Fuels to Address Storage Tank Compliance and Assesses Fines of $76,000

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has announced a multi-site agreement between DEP and the Shipley Group that will help the company comply with the state’s storage tank regulations. Shipley owns and operates 41 underground gas storage tanks and bulk fuel facilities in south central Pennsylvania.

The agreement contains a $76,000 civil penalty for violations discovered at seven of the company’s gas stations and bulk fuel facilities between October 2006 and January 2008. “This agreement ensures that repeat problems identified by inspectors at the Shipley facilities do not continue,” said Rachel Diamond, Southcentral Regional Director. “Shipley has had a history of tanks not complying fully with the technical standards, and this order will help to bring their sites into compliance.”

The violations resulting in the penalty, Diamond explained, range from a failure to perform tank and piping release detection to a failure to maintain containment sumps. The consent order and agreement requires Shipley to enter into a five-year contract with a DEP-certified tank handling company to provide compliance assistance at all of Shipley’s underground storage tank facilities.

Diamond cited two of the incidents that included environmental violations. At the Mechanicsburg Bulk Plant in Hampden Township and McCullough Oil Service in Springfield Township, Shipley had releases of 135 gallons of off-road diesel fuel and 1,500 gallons of heating oil, respectively, due to delivery driver error. The company is currently investigating both sites to determine if there are any environmental problems.

Acton Corporation Fined $60,000 for Violating Groundwater Regulations

The North Acton Treatment Corporation has been assessed $60,000 in penalties by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) for violations of Groundwater Discharge Permit regulations that occurred at its wastewater treatment facility, located at the Nagog Park Development in Acton, Mass.

Monthly operator reports documented repeated effluent violations at the facility, and repeated exceedences of permit flow limits due to excessive infiltration and inflow (I/I) in the sewer system. In March 2007, MassDEP issued a Unilateral Administrative Order (UAO) to the facility in response to sewage overflows occurring at the facility’s pump stations. The UAO required daily inspections of the pump stations and immediate corrective actions to prevent further sewage releases to the environment.

In a recently finalized consent order, the corporation has agreed to bring its wastewater collection and treatment system into compliance. It also agreed to evaluate and upgrade the wastewater treatment facility, repair or replace non-functioning components in its sewer pump stations, and submit a sewer evaluation survey detailing corrective actions needed to eliminate excessive I/I in the sewer system. MassDEP will review and approve all proposed corrective actions to be carried out.

The Corporation will pay a $20,000 penalty to the Commonwealth and spend an additional $10,000 to fund a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) designed to develop an educational program for users of public and private sewer systems. Working in conjunction with the Acton Board of Health, the program will inform users of issues regarding stormwater, sump pumps, and chemical additions that can affect wastewater operations and private sewage treatment systems. MassDEP has agreed to suspend the remaining $30,000 penalty, pending compliance with the order.

“This system is one of the largest and oldest private groundwater discharges operating in the Commonwealth,” said Martin Suuberg, director of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office in Worcester. “The upgrades and improvements outlined in this agreement should correct the violations and provide for operation of the facility in a manner that protects the environment, and is in compliance with all permit requirements.”

Diesel Emission Violations Cost California Companies $57,500

Companies in Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo failed to test diesel trucks for excess emissions. Marborg Industries, E.J. Harrison and Sons, and the San Luis Obispo Regional Transit Authority have settled with the California Air Resources Board for a combined total of $57,500 for failing to properly inspect their heavy-duty diesel vehicle fleets to assure that state smoke emission requirements had been met.

“All of us, from individuals to large businesses, must bear some responsibility for cleaning up our environment,” said ARB Chairman Mary Nichols. “The Air Resources Board believes strong enforcement is necessary so that regulated entities understand that violators will not get away with polluting our air.”

Santa Barbara-based Marborg Industries, a waste management service, settled for $26,000, while E.J. Harrison and Sons, a trash collection company headquartered in Ventura, paid $18,500 to settle and the San Luis Obispo Regional Transit Authority paid $13,000. All three were cited for violating the state’s Periodic Smoke Inspection Program, which requires that owners of California-registered truck and bus fleets perform regular inspections of their vehicles to ensure that their engine emissions meet state air quality standards. Marborg and Harrison were also cited for violations of the Solid Waste Collection Vehicle regulations.

In addition to their payments, the companies have also agreed follow rules set forth by the smoke inspection program and will require all fleet staff responsible for compliance with ARB’s regulations to attend classes conducted by the California Council on Diesel Education and Technology.

All money is being paid to the California Air Pollution Control Fund, which was established to mitigate various sources of pollution through education and the advancement and use of cleaner technology. This fund, upon appropriation by the Legislature, uses compliance settlement fees to support various pollution-related research projects and related programs.

Diesel exhaust contains a variety of harmful gases and more than 40 other known cancer-causing substances. In 1998, California identified diesel exhaust as a toxic air contaminant based on its potential to cause cancer, premature death, and other health problems. People exposed to higher levels of emissions from diesel-fueled engines are at higher risk for developing cancer.

Fabcon Inc. Fined $32,623 for Stormwater Violations

Fabcon Inc., a pre-cast concrete panel manufacturer in Savage, Minn., has agreed to pay a $32,623 civil penalty to resolve alleged violations of state stormwater and wastewater rules. According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), Fabcon released sediment-laden stormwater to a wildlife wetland in the Minnesota River Valley.

In addition to the civil penalty, Fabcon has agreed to perform two supplemental environmental projects with an estimated value of $320,000. The company agreed to donate $20,000 to the Scott County chapter of Pheasants Forever to fund a wetland restoration project in the county. For the other project, the company will install water-conservation equipment at an estimated cost of $300,000.

During inspections in 2005, MPCA staff discovered that a water recycling system installed by the company in 1994 occasionally discharged water used in manufacturing through an overflow pipe onto the facility grounds near an unprotected stormwater drain. Some of the stormwater was discharged to wetlands in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge.

At MPCA’s request, the company immediately dismantled the overflow pipe and upgraded the recycling system to eliminate overflows. Fabcon also applied for and received a stormwater permit from the MPCA, storm-sewer drains were plugged, and the company installed an approved stormwater management system. By taking these actions as required by the MPCA, the company now complies with wastewater and stormwater regulations.

Levying civil penalties is also one of the MPCA’s many tools used to encourage compliance with environmental laws. When calculating penalties, MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it is 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 in a timely manner.

Landlord Faces $20,600 EPA Penalty for Non-Disclosure of Lead Risks in Residential Units

EPA has announced that it has filed an administrative complaint against Daniel J. Lynch and Grace K. Lynch seeking a $20,600 civil penalty for failing to notify tenants about potential health hazards from lead paint.

According to EPA’s complaint, Daniel J. Lynch and Grace K. Lynch failed to provide renters in Foxboro, Mass., with lead warning statements and lead hazard information pamphlets and for failing to disclose whether they had knowledge and records or reports pertaining to potential lead-based paint hazards. The complaint alleges that the Lynches failed to comply with the lead disclosure rules for the leasing of four units of pre-1978 residential housing.

“Lead poisoning is a serious health threat for children in New England, because a large amount of housing is older and can contain lead paint,” said Robert W. Varney, Regional Administrator for EPA’s New England office. “It is critically important that renters and buyers, especially with young children, get the information they need to protect themselves and their children from potential exposure to lead paint.”

This case is among dozens of lead-related civil and criminal cases EPA’s New England Office has taken since launching a region-wide effort to make sure landlords and property owners and managers are complying with federal lead disclosure laws. This effort has included hundreds of inspections around New England, as well as compliance assistance workshops.

Federal law requires that sellers and landlords selling or renting housing built before 1978 must:

  • Provide an EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet, “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home”
  • Include lead notification language in sales and rental forms
  • Disclose any known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in the living unit and provide available reports to prospective buyers or renters, prior to signing purchase and sale contracts and lease documents
  • Allow a lead inspection or risk assessment by home buyers
  • Maintain records certifying compliance with federal laws for a period of three years


EPA Settlement With Upper Southampton Includes Pharmaceutical Education to Protect Drinking Water Sources

EPA has announced a proposed settlement with Upper Southampton Sewer Authority in Southampton, Pa., for violations of the Clean Water Act.

As part of the settlement, the Upper Southampton Sewer Authority will conduct an awareness campaign to encourage proper collection and disposal of unused pharmaceuticals in order to help protect drinking water sources. The campaign will include preparing and distributing materials to institutional customers such as local hospitals, retirement communities, and schools about the proper disposal of prescription drugs.

“This settlement is extremely timely given recent information about pharmaceuticals in drinking water. While there is no evidence that trace-amounts of pharmaceuticals in drinking water causes a health threat, we all need to do what we can to make sure our water remains healthy to drink,” said Donald S. Welsh, EPA Regional Administrator for the mid-Atlantic region.

The settlement resolves unpermitted sanitary sewer discharges to Mill Creek from 2002 through 2006. The estimated cost of the pharmaceutical project is $10,800. Under the settlement, the Upper Southampton Sewer Authority will also pay a $16,200 penalty.


EPA Files Modification of 1994 Consent Decree Affecting the California Gulch Superfund Site

In the March 17 Federal Register, EPA published a notice that a Modification of 1994 Consent Decree Affecting Operable Unit 9 (“Consent Decree Modification”) in State of Colorado versus ASARCO Incorporated et al., was filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.

The United States previously entered into a consent decree with ASARCO Incorporated (“ASARCO”) concerning, among other things, ASARCO’s implementation of the remedial action addressing residential soil contamination designated as Operable Unit 9 (“OU9”) of the California Gulch Superfund Site located in Lake County, Colorado. That consent decree was approved and entered by the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on Aug. 26, 1994.

Pursuant to the terms of this consent decree settlement, ASARCO will pay approximately $1 million to be placed in a trust fund established by ASARCO to fund the remedial action addressing residential soil lead contamination at the site. Additionally, ASARCO will have no further obligation for the implementation of the OU9 remedy.

Property Owner Assessed $10,000 Penalty for Violating Solid Waste Management Rules

John H. Magill of Grafton, Mass., has agreed to pay the Commonwealth of Massachusetts a $10,000 penalty for violating state Solid Waste Management regulations.

During inspections conducted in May and August of 2007 at property owned by Mr. Magill, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) personnel noted the presence of waste asphalt, waste brick and concrete, construction wood waste, and roof shingles on property located in Grafton.

Magill did not seek, and MassDEP did not issue, the required permits or approvals necessary for the disposal of these materials on this site.

In a consent order recently signed with MassDEP, Magill has agreed to refrain from any further on-site disposal of construction wastes on the property, and he has agreed to remove the construction wastes currently on the property and dispose of those wastes at appropriate processing and disposal facilities in accordance with MassDEP requirements.

“The costs of cleaning up improperly disposed of wastes is significantly higher than making the necessary arrangements for disposal at the time of generation,” said Martin Suuberg, director of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office in Worcester, Mass.

Warner Petroleum Fined $6,000 for Oil Spill Prevention Violations

 During a routine inspection in April 2007, the EPA found that Warner Petroleum lacked secondary containment around its oil storage area needed to prevent oil from being discharged from the facility in the event of a tank or piping failure. Uncontained spills from the Warner Petroleum facility could potentially contaminate Big Chico Creek, which leads to the Sacramento River, and eventually into the Pacific Ocean.

“It is critical that facilities such as Warner take the measures needed to prevent the release of oil into the environment,” said Keith Takata, the EPA’s Superfund Division director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “Discharges of oil into waterways can be prevented with proper planning and spill containment.”

The Warner Petroleum facility had incomplete secondary containment for four fixed aboveground storage containers, two 5,000 gallon portable storage containers, a 550-gallon waste oil tank, and a warehouse where approximately 80 55-gallon drums and 16 portable storage totes are located.

Oil spills and other contamination from onshore sources can pollute and harm ecosystems. The EPA requires oil storage facilities to have spill prevention plans and measures in place to prevent oil from being discharged into waterways. Warner Petroleum agreed to pay the penalty and has installed the necessary secondary containment within its facility.

MDE Issues Five Water Management Enforcement Actions

The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Water Management Administration Compliance Program issued the following enforcement actions between February 11 and March 7:

  • David Ponder and Pullins Marine Construction, LLC—March 7, 2008, the Compliance Program issued a Site Complaint and Order to David Ponder and Pullins Marine Construction for violations of Title 16 and tidal wetlands license 07-GL-1571. pecifically, a bulkhead was installed further channelward than authorized, and the pier and catwalk were constructed too wide in and over state tidal waters. The Order directs the Ponder’s and Pullins Marine Construction to cease all activity at the project and correct the violations observed by the department in accordance with the approved license.
  • Theresa C Clemer, Trustee/O’Day Marine Construction, Baltimore County—March 5, 2008, the Compliance Program issued a Site Complaint and Order to Theresa C. Clemer, trustee, and O’Day Marine Construction for violations of Title 16. Specifically, a bulkhead, fill, boatlift, and freestanding pilings were placed in state tidal waters without authorization. The order directs the Clemer’s and O’Day Marine Construction to cease all activity at the project and submit a restoration plan for removal of the violations observed by the department.
  • C.A Murren & Sons Mid Atlantic, LLC—Feb. 25, 2008, the Compliance Program issued a Site Complaint and Order at the Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA) sewer line for failure to implement and maintain the approved erosion and sediment control plan and the General Permit for Stormwater Discharges associated with Construction Activity (06-SF-0067). The activities resulted in sediment pollution of nontidal wetlands. The site is also in violation of the nontidal wetlands authorization for the site (06-NT-0104) for failing to follow best management practices. The Order directs C.A. Murren & Sons to cease all activity at the MAA sewer line project in Anne Arundel Co., except those necessary to bring the site into compliance with the issued erosion and sediment control plan approval. The site may resume work once the MDE is satisfied that compliance with the approved plan has been achieved and the impacted wetlands have been rectified.
  • W.M. Davis, Inc., Bay District Volunteer Fire Department, St. Mary’s County—Penalty payment has been received in resolution of Title 4 and Title 9 violations that occurred at the construction site. Specifically, $2,700 was paid into the Sediment Fund and $700 was paid into the Clean Water Fund on Feb. 11, 2008.
  • MDE vs. David Cerny—Feb. 14, 2008, the Attorney General’s Office filed, on behalf of MDE, a Complaint for Preliminary and Permanent Injunctive Relief and Civil Penalties in the Circuit Court of Harford County against David Cerny, 3647 A Old Robin Hood Road in Aberdeen, Md., for unlawful activities at his property involving disposal of solid waste, regulated activities in a nontidal wetland, and construction of a reservoir.

Ohio EPA Reaches Agreement With Springfield Meadows for Drinking Water Violations

Ohio EPA has reached a settlement with Springfield Meadows Manufactured Home Park, Ltd. in, Springfield, Ohio, for violating the state’s safe drinking water regulations. Springfield Meadows has agreed to comply with Ohio’s regulations regarding water quality monitoring.

Facilities providing water to 25 or more people at least 60 days a year qualify as public water systems. Springfield Meadows provides drinking water to 124 locations, which serve approximately 235 people. The federal Safe Drinking Water Act requires water monitoring and reporting to protect public health.

The public water system was cited with numerous violations including:

  • Failing to submit a monthly operating report for the facility in June 2005
  • Exceeding standards for arsenic
  • Exceeding standards for fecal bacteria
  • Failing to notify the public of the violations

Springfield Meadows must connect to North Hampton regional public water system no later than June 30, 2008. The facility also must properly abandon its drinking water well. If the facility fails to meet that deadline, it will pay a $2,800 civil penalty.

Until the connection is complete, Springfield Meadows must comply with all schedules to monitor drinking water for contaminants and issue public notices for any future violations.

Molded Fiber Glass Companies Fined for Shipping Hazardous Waste to a Non-Permitted Facility

Ohio EPA has reached a settlement with Molded Fiber Glass Companies for past hazardous waste violations and has issued an administrative consent order. The company was found to have shipped several containers of ignitable hazardous waste to Vexor Technology Inc., a facility that is not permitted to accept hazardous waste. The violations occurred at the Molded Fiber Glass facility located in, Ashtabula, Ohio. The settlement includes a $5,000 penalty that will be deposited into the state’s hazardous waste cleanup fund.

EPA Orders Patmont Motor Werks to Comply With Federal Wastewater Laws

EPA has ordered Patmont Motor Werks to comply with federal Clean Water Act requirements for wastewater the company discharges to the Douglas County sewer system and, ultimately, the municipal wastewater treatment plant.

Patmont Motor Werks operates a go-cart and scooter production facility in Minden. The facility discharges process-related wastewater into the Douglas County sewer system. Patmont Motor Werks began operation at this facility four years ago.

“Patmont Motor Werks and other industries are responsible for complying with federal water pollution control standards, to protect the local sewer system, the wastewater treatment plant, and those who work in these areas,” said Alexis Strauss, director of the Water Division in the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “EPA will continue to oversee these efforts and ensure facilities are in full compliance.”

In November 2007, the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, Douglas County, and EPA officials conducted a joint inspection of the Patmont Motor Werks facility.  Nevada is authorized to implement most aspects of the federal Clean Water Act programs; however, the implementation and enforcement of the pretreatment program falls under EPA jurisdiction.

The EPA’s order requires the facility to self-monitor, report to EPA, and maintain its treatment system. By the end of April 2008, the facility needs to start sampling and be in compliance with federal pollutant limits. The facility must continue the monitoring required by the order until May 28, 2009.

Dallas Love Field Pledges to Cut More Pollution

After cutting 4,000 pounds of harmful chemicals at its airport, Dallas Love Field is pledging to reduce 1,000 more as part of a national program run by the EPA.

The airport plans to reduce 1,000 pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, as part of the National Partnership for Environmental Priorities () program. In addition, it is pledging to cut 50 pounds of mercury from light bulbs, thermometers, thermostats, and other equipment under the NPEP “Mercury Challenge” campaign.

“More and more top facilities are finding smart, simple ways to conduct business and care for the environment at the same time,” said EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene. “It is even more inspiring when members of industry not only stick with their commitments to the environment, but expand on them, as Dallas Love Field has done.”

The airport will replace the ballasts and mercury-containing instrumentation with modern equipment that is free of priority chemicals. It will also recycle light bulbs that contain mercury.

The NPEP promotes the voluntary reduction of 31 priority chemicals. Through work with EPA, both public and private organizations identify activities that will reduce the use of these chemicals, preventing their ability to accumulate in the environment and cause harm to humans and the ecosystem. The Mercury Challenge promotes the voluntary, systematic elimination of mercury-containing equipment.

More than 150 organizations nationwide have joined the NPEP program, whi