On December 19, EPA denied California’s waiver to regulate greenhouse gas emissions for cars and light trucks, after waiting two years to make a decision. This is the first time that the EPA has denied waiver requests as part of the California vehicle emissions program after granting over 40 waivers to California over the past 30 years.
"While the federal energy bill is a good step toward reducing dependence on foreign oil, the President's approval of it does not constitute grounds for denying our waiver. The energy bill does not reflect a vision, beyond 2020, to address climate change, while California's vehicle greenhouse gas standards are part of a carefully designed, comprehensive program to fight climate change through 2050," said Governor Schwarzenegger.
"California has a long and proud history of leadership in reducing pollution and fighting for clean air. Our citizens place a high priority on good health and a clean environment, and we are ready to implement the nation's cleanest standards for vehicle emissions. It has been nearly two years since we requested the waiver and, now, sixteen other states are following our lead to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, increase fuel efficiency and help reduce harmful greenhouse gases. A ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year made it clear that the EPA has the authority to limit greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.
"It is disappointing that the federal government is standing in our way and ignoring the will of tens of millions of people across the nation. We will continue to fight this battle. California sued to compel the agency to act on our waiver, and now we will sue to overturn today's decision and allow Californians to protect our environment.
Under the Federal Clean Air Act, California has the right to set its own tougher-than-federal vehicle emission standards, as long as it obtains a waiver from USEPA. Over the past 30 years the USEPA has granted California more than 40 such waivers, denying none. The original request for a waiver of federal preemption of California's Motor Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emissions Standards was made by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) on December 21, 2005. The waiver, allowing California to enact and enforce emissions standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, was requested after the Air Resources Board developed regulations based on a 2002 California law, AB 1493 by Assemblymember Fran Pavley.
That law required California to establish new standards for motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions beginning in model year 2009. The ARB-adopted regulations will phase in and ramp up over eight years to cut global warming emissions from new vehicles by nearly 30 percent by model year 2016.
By implementing these standards, California would be eliminating greenhouse gases equivalent to taking 6.5 million cars off the road by the year 2020. If all the other states with similar plans follow through, that figure would grow to nearly 22 million vehicles and would cut gasoline consumption by an estimated 11 billion gallons a year.
California's request has been supported by recent judicial decisions. In September, a court decision in Vermont confirmed that states do have the ability to adopt California's motor vehicle greenhouse gas emissions standards. Sixteen states, comprising about 45 percent of all U.S. auto sales have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, California's standards.
In the Vermont case, the judge dismissed the argument by automobile manufacturers that they could not comply with the California-based regulation because the technology was out of reach and that it would cost too much. The Vermont decision came on the heels of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last April saying the U.S. EPA has the authority to regulate greenhouse gases.
States that have adopted, or are in the process of adopting, California's strict automobile emissions standards are: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont and Washington.
WaterSense Labeled Faucets and Aerators Available
Soon, it will be easy to find new way to save water with WaterSense labeled bathroom sink faucets and faucet accessories. Already more than 30 models have earned the WaterSense label since EPA released the final specification in October, and by early 2008 these water-efficient, high-performing faucets and accessories (such as aerators) should be available in stores. Currently, Americans are wasting 60 billion gallons of water every year with inefficient faucets while simply washing their hands or brushing their teeth. That translates into $350 million in water utility bills and about $600 million in energy costs to supply, heat, and treat that water. WaterSense labeled bathroom sink faucets will reduce water flow by 30 percent with no sacrifice in performance or change in routine. Savings could be even greater for households replacing older faucets, which can flow at rates of 3 gallons per minute (gpm) or more. WaterSense labeled faucets are independently certified to perform as well as or better than standard faucets, maintaining good water pressure while not exceeding 1.5 gpm.
EPA Promotes Recycling Materials into Fuel
The EPA is promoting the recycling of certain petroleum secondary materials into fuel. This effort, which will revise the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act regulations, is expected to help petroleum refineries reduce waste and capture more energy from each barrel of oil by allowing for the recycling of these materials when they are used at a petroleum refinery for the production of synthesis gas fuel.
The agency is amending 40 CFR 261.4(a)(12)(i) by adding gasification to the list of recognized petroleum refining processes. Gasification joins fractionation, distillation and catalytic cracking as processes that are integral components of petroleum refining. EPA is finalizing this change so that the gasification of oil-bearing hazardous secondary materials have the same regulatory status (i.e., excluded) as other oil-bearing hazardous secondary materials that are re-inserted into the petroleum refining process. This action, serves to capture as much energy from a barrel of oil as possible to maximize production efficiencies at petroleum refineries in an energy constrained world.
To qualify for the exclusion, the oil-bearing hazardous secondary materials must meet several conditions. Provided the conditions of the exclusion are met, these materials will be excluded from the regulatory definition of solid waste and can be used to produce synthesis gas.
Gasification is a highly efficient, advanced technology that is currently used to convert carbon-containing materials into synthesis gas. In petroleum refining operations, synthesis gas is used to generate hydrogen and electric power. The regulation should be published in the Federal Register in about two weeks.
EPA Issues Rule to Reduce Mercury Releases from Steel Manufacturing Facilities
EPA issued new air emissions standards that will reduce mercury releases from steel manufacturers using electric arc furnaces. The rule requires these steel making facilities to buy motor vehicle scrap from providers that participate in an EPA-approved program for the removal of mercury switches.
These switches were used for lighting in hoods and trunks and in some anti-lock braking systems of many vehicles manufactured prior to 2003.
The standards will prevent the release of about five tons of mercury in to the air each year. In addition, the rule will reduce emissions of other toxic metals such as lead, manganese, nickel and chromium by about 52 tons per year and particulate emissions by about 865 tons per year.
$3,500 Penalty for Failure to Report Diesel Spill
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has issued a $3,500 penalty to R.M. Sullivan Transportation, Inc. for violating state regulations following a June 11, 2007 spill of diesel fuel at property known as the Sulco Public Warehouse in Springfield.
The spill of approximately 50 gallons of diesel fuel occurred at the Sulco Public Warehouse at 655 Page Boulevard at about 9 p.m. The spill resulted from an accident involving two tractor-trailer trucks. Diesel fuel impacted paved surfaces in the loading dock area and a nearby stormwater drain.
MassDEP personnel became aware of the spill on June 13, 2007. State regulations require that MassDEP be notified as soon as possible, but in no case greater than two hours after the Sullivan employees became aware of the spill, thereby requiring notification to MassDEP on June 11, 2007.
"MassDEP responders are available 24/7 via our emergency response number - 1-888-304-1133," said Michael Gorski, director of MassDEP's Western Regional Office in Springfield. "The legal obligation to report spills helps to ensure that the public is protected, the environment is protected and the clean up is done promptly and correctly."
As part of a settlement agreement with MassDEP, Sullivan will pay a $3,500 penalty. In addition to completing the cleanup of the diesel fuel spill, Sullivan has also prepared emergency response and oil spill plans for five facilities it operates in Western Massachusetts, and retrained employees on appropriate response to releases of oil and hazardous materials.
Giving the Environmental Workforce of Tomorrow a Green Light
To ensure a healthy future for all Americans, EPA is off and running in the race to develop a well-trained and diverse environmental workforce. EPA awarded 98 research fellowships in 2007 for students pursuing degrees in environmental studies through the Agency’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) and Greater Research Opportunities (GRO) programs.
“Successful American businesses now routinely incorporate environmental protection into their work. Builders are designing energy-efficient homes. Automobile manufacturers are developing fuel-efficient cars,” said George Gray, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Research and Development. “The demand for environmental professionals who can apply their knowledge to practical applications is going way up, and EPA’s fellowship programs help meet that demand.”
For example, a student at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill is developing a computer tool for urban planners. The tool will allow planners to plug in different proposals for land development, and see how each would impact local watersheds and other water resources. Another student at the University of Washington is exploring the use of microbes that react with ammonia to remove pollutants during wastewater treatment.
In 2002, the National Academy of Science (NAS) rated the STAR program outstanding and concluded STAR research makes a positive contribution to EPA policy planning. This year’s projects continue that tradition of excellence. More than 1200 students competed for the 2007 STAR and GRO fellowships, which support the nation's most promising environmental undergraduate and graduate degree candidates. GRO fellowships are targeted for universities with limited funding for research and development, particularly minority institutions.
Since the program began in 1995, the EPA has awarded more than 2200 fellowships to students in almost every state and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. All applications for EPA’s fellowship programs are rigorously peer reviewed.
Guidance to Help Implement Drinking Water Regulations
EPA is releasing draft guidance to support revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule which were issued in October 2007. The revisions to the rule will enhance the implementation in the areas of monitoring, treatment, customer awareness, public education, and lead service line replacement. The agency is requesting input on six draft documents that will assist states and public water systems with understanding the revisions, including State Implementation Guidance, Guides and Fact Sheets to understand the new Public Education and other Public Information requirements, and a Quick Reference Guide.
EPA is also releasing a poster, Removing Multiple Contaminants from Drinking Water: Issues to Consider, to help regulators and water organizations better assist small water systems with drinking water treatment. Public water systems that need to add treatment for one contaminant, such as arsenic, may find that they need to consider other water quality issues. Choosing a treatment technology that can remove several co-occurring contaminants may be more efficient and cost effective. This poster describes treatment technologies that can remove multiple contaminants, identifies the contaminants that can be removed, and summarizes related operational and waste disposal issues.
EPA Settles with The Clorox Company for $95,000 for Distributing Export-Only Pesticides in Southern California
The company’s Los Angeles production facility donated the illegal disinfectants to Los Angeles charities in 2005 and 2006. The products were intended for Asian export, so the labels lacked adequate English-language directions for use, hazard and precautionary statements, and the required statement “Not Registered for Use in the United States of America.”
“Unregistered pesticides meant solely for export must not be donated, sold, or otherwise distributed in the United States,” said Katherine Taylor, associate director of the Communities and Ecosystems Division for the Pacific Southwest region. “Clorox did not give EPA the opportunity to review these labels to ensure the protection of human health and the environment. Recipients of charity deserve the same level of protection from pesticidal risk as all other users.”
The EPA annually reviews production reports submitted by industry, and found discrepancies in The Clorox Company reports for 2005 and 2006. The agency conducted a detailed investigation that uncovered 38 Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act violations.
Before selling or distributing any pesticide in the United States, companies must register the pesticide with the EPA. The domestic sale or distribution of pesticides that have not been registered with the EPA, such as export-only pesticides, is a violation of federal pesticide law.
The law also requires unregistered, export-only pesticides to be clearly marked with required labeling to prevent the products from inadvertently entering the U.S. market. The requirements protect public health and the environment by ensuring safe and appropriate distribution, handling, and application of pesticides.
Patriot Mining Company Settles Violations of 2004 Chemical Release at Squire’s Creek Mine in Arthurdale, W.Va.
In settlement papers filed in federal district court in Clarksburg, W.Va., Patriot Mining Company has agreed to pay a $177,000 civil penalty for allegedly failing to immediately notify emergency response agencies of a June 2004 hazardous chemical release at the company’s Squires Creek Mine in Arthurdale, W. Va.
The settlement resolves a federal complaint filed by the Justice Department on behalf of the EPA. The government cited the company for violating federal laws requiring that releases or spills of hazardous chemicals be reported immediately to appropriate emergency response authorities.
The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) requires facilities to immediately report releases of hazardous substances to the National Response Center, the national point of contact for reporting all oil and hazardous chemical spills. The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) mandates that facilities provide similar notification to state and local emergency officials.
According to EPA, the company did not provide required immediate notices to federal, state and local emergency response officials after the facility released at least 31,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia at the mine at approximately 9 a.m. on June 29, 2004. The company did not provide the required notification to the National Response Center until approximately 8:21 p.m. on June 29, 2004, 10 hours after the release was discovered, and the company never notified the appropriate state and local authorities. The health effects of inhalation of anhydrous ammonia range from lung irritation to severe respiratory injuries.
In the settlement agreement, the company denies liability for the alleged violations.
Settlement Will Spur Major Environmental Improvements at Brayton Point Power Plant
A settlement between the EPA and the Dominion Energy Brayton Point, LLC., and endorsed by the State of Rhode Island and Commonwealth of Massachusetts, paves the way for the Somerset, Mass. power generating plant to install new “closed cycle” cooling towers that will provide significant protection to aquatic organisms in Mount Hope Bay, which flows into Narragansett Bay.
The settlement resolves a legal dispute that has been ongoing since 2003, when EPA issued a final discharge permit (called a “National Pollution Discharge Elimination System” or “NPDES” permit) for the Brayton Point Power Station requiring significant reductions in thermal discharges to, and water intake from, Mount Hope Bay.
“During this season of thanks and celebration, we are especially happy that Dominion is now committed to taking important steps to protect the environment of Mount Hope Bay,” said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “This agreement is a testament to the hard work and dedication of many individuals and organizations, who collectively can take much pride today for helping protect this valuable resource.”
The Brayton Point Station power plant in Somerset sits on the shores of Mount Hope Bay, and is the largest fossil-fuel burning power plant in New England. The Bay extends to both Massachusetts and Rhode Island waters, and provides important spawning, nursery and migratory habitat for many species of fish. Mount Hope Bay is a key segment of the Narragansett Bay estuary, and is a designated estuary of national significance under the federal Clean Water Act.
EPA and Dominion reached agreement to end all NPDES permit litigation and for Dominion to fully implement the heat limits and flow requirements specified in the Brayton Point Station permit. The company has agreed to retrofit the plant’s existing “open-cycle” cooling system with a “closed-cycle” cooling system to fully comply with the strict limits specified in the 2003 final NPDES permit (approximately 95 percent reductions in flow and heat from current operation). Operation of the current “once-through cooling system” damages or kills many aquatic organisms by “entrainment” and/or “impingement” in addition to elevating water temperature in the Bay.
EPA has issued an administrative order containing a schedule for meeting all NPDES permit limits within 36 months of obtaining all of the required construction and operating permits and approvals. Under this aggressive yet achievable schedule, Brayton Point Station may fully comply with its NPDES permit limits by as soon as the spring of 2012. The administrative order sets interim effluent limits and milestones that the company will be responsible for meeting until full permit compliance is achieved.
This agreement is the result of substantial contributions to the permit by the MA DEP, the Mass. Attorney General’s Office, the R.I. Dept. of Environmental Management, the R.I. Attorney General's Office, Save the Bay, Conservation Law Foundation, Taunton River Watershed Alliance, Kickemuit River Council and many others. EPA’s 2003 permit involved many years of careful scientific analysis to reach the right decision for the environment and the right decision under environmental law.
“We are very pleased that the permit that the state and federal agencies worked so cooperatively and diligently to develop and defend is finally going into effect,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. “This marks a crucial step toward ensuring that this vitally important natural resource becomes healthy again.”
“This settlement is the culmination of many years of effort by all the parties committed to the protection of Mt. Hope Bay,” said Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Ian Bowles. “This agreement will help to protect and restore this vital marine environment.”
“We are pleased with the outcome as it appears before us. The full restoration of a historic fishery will now be possible. We thank our EPA colleagues and our State partners in reaching this outcome,” said W. Michael Sullivan, Ph.D., Director of Rhode Island Dept. of Environmental Management.
“After 14 years of hard work on this issue, this is a clear victory for everyone who cares about the Bay. Save The Bay applauds and commends EPA Region I and Dominion for achieving the terms of this agreement. We hope that it will prove a significant step in stopping thermal pollution and restoring the fish populations of Mount Hope Bay,” said John Torgan of Save The Bay.
“Conservation Law Foundation is very pleased with the resolution of this appeal,” said Christopher Kilian, CLF Clean Water Program Director. “It is far better to protect the bay and its fisheries than suffer through years’ more of litigation delays.”
“The Kickemuit River Council is deeply grateful to the EPA for developing the EPA permit, and for its hard work and dedication needed in the follow through. We appreciate their care and intelligent concern for this part of America. As it says in a poster in RI DOT, ‘A nation will thrive when there are those among it who plant trees under whose shade they will never sit.’ The EPA may never quahog, swim, fish, or crab in the Kickemuit River or Mt. Hope Bay, but we all say a prayer for their health and happiness for they have helped us and this part of the United States. God bless you and yours, EPA,” said Ann Morrill of the Kickemuit River Council.
EPA Proposes Fines against Anchorage Alaska Developer for Clean Water Act Violations
The EPA has commenced an administrative penalty action against Anthony Lerma for violations of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). The violations occurred at Lerma’s construction site located at 5151 Lake Otis and East 52nd Avenue in Anchorage, Alaska. Under the CWA, EPA may assess administrative civil penalties within a range up to $157,500.
EPA alleges that Lerma violated the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), Storm Water Construction General Permit (CGP). CGP authorization is required for discharges of storm water from any construction site with at least one acre of disturbed land. Violations included:
- failure to prepare and implement an adequate Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP);
- failure to have adequate storm water control measures;
- failure to conduct inspections; and
- failure to properly implement stabilization measures.
“Storm water runoff from construction sites can significantly harm water quality,” said Marcia Combes, Alaska Operations Office Director for EPA. “Managing storm water responsibly at construction sites should be a key part of every developer’s site plan.”
The receiving water for the storm water discharges from the Site is Campbell Creek. Campbell Creek is a tributary of Campbell Lake. Campbell Creek and Campbell Lake are “navigable waters” and are waters of the United States.
The NPDES permit program, established under the CWA, controls water pollution by regulating sources that discharge pollutants to waters in the United States.
Parkersburg Apartment Owner Settles Violations of Lead Paint Notification Rule
The EPA has announced that George C. Ross, Sr., of Vienna, W.Va., has settled alleged violations of a federal rule requiring disclosure of lead-based paint hazards to residential tenants.
The consent agreement resolves allegations that Ross, the owner and landlord of residential rental properties in Parkersburg, W.Va., constructed prior to 1978 when lead was removed from paint, violated requirements of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 and of the Real Estate Notification and Disclosure Rule.
In the consent agreement with the EPA, Ross has agreed to pay an $11,500 civil penalty for failing to provide an EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet to lessees before they became obligated under lease agreements; provide a lead-warning statement to lessees; and a statement disclosing the presence of known lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards, or indicating no knowledge of the presence of lead-based paint. In addition, Ross was required to include a list of available records/reports pertaining to lead-based paint in one of the target housing units; and a statement for tenants to sign, affirming their receipt of any required Disclosure Rule information.
The violations took place in lease agreements entered into between November, 2004 and July 2005.
The settlement reflects Ross’ cooperation with EPA in resolving this matter.
EPA is cooperating with other federal, state, and local agencies to protect tenants and homeowners from the health risks of lead-based paint. High blood levels of lead can cause permanent damage to the nervous system and widespread health problems, such as a reduced intelligence and attention span, hearing loss, stunted growth, reading and learning problems and behavioral difficulties. Young children and pregnant women are most vulnerable – young children because their nervous systems are still developing.
EPA Authorizes Critical Uses of Methyl Bromide for 2008
EPA also authorized uses that qualify for the 2008 critical use exemption. The exemptions for continued production and import of methyl bromide will honor the U.S. commitment to obtain methyl bromide for American farmers, in a manner consistent with the Montreal Protocol, while protecting the ozone layer.
This action is authorizing 4,813,452 kilograms (4,813.5 metric tonnes) of methyl bromide for approved critical uses in 2008, with 3,083,769 kilograms supplied from new production or import. Approved critical uses include strawberry and tomato production, as well as commodity fumigation. In 2008, production or import of methyl bromide in the United States will be almost 88 percent less than 1991 levels. After an October 2006 meeting of the Montreal Protocol parties, which authorized the use of 5,355,946 kilograms, EPA adjusted the authorized amount to account for the increased use of alternatives among methyl bromide users, and unused methyl bromide from previous years, effectively reducing more than 500,000 kilograms of potential methyl bromide releases.
Critical use exemptions are permitted under the Montreal Protocol for circumstances where there are no technically and economically feasible alternatives to methyl bromide. Further, the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 direct the EPA to issue regulations to implement the provisions of the Montreal Protocol within the United States.
Allowance decisions for 2009 were made at 19th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Montreal, Canada in September. The agency is beginning the notice-and-comment rulemaking process for the 2009 calendar year.
Battelle Energy Alliance and Wheeler Electric to Pay $61,000 EPA Penalty for Mishandling PCBs at Idaho National Laboratory
Battelle Energy Alliance (BEA) and its project contractor, Wheeler Electric, have agreed to pay the EPA $61,000 for mishandling waste contaminated with Polychlorinated bi-phenyls (PCBs) at Idaho National Laboratory (INL), near Arco, Idaho.
On July 12, 2006, a spill of PCBs occurred when employees of Wheeler removed oily cable from a conduit near a power plant building at INL. A sample taken of the cable oil revealed a PCB concentration of 226,000 parts per million, well above EPA's level of concern for protecting public health.
Contamination occurred when workmen later pulled the oily cable from the conduit and then carried or dragged it through several areas inside the building before placing it on the ground outside. At the close of business, the workers then drove home wearing their contaminated boots and clothing.
During the course of the next several weeks, BEA conducted sampling and remediation of the PCB-impacted areas. In addition, the workers’ residences and vehicles were also sampled and cleaned up.
PCBs have been demonstrated to cause a variety of adverse health effects and have been shown to cause cancer in animals. PCBs have also been shown to cause a number of serious non-cancer health effects in animals, including effects on the human immune, reproductive, endocrine and central nervous systems.
As a result of this incident, Battelle Energy Alliance and Wheeler Electric have improved their PCB handling procedures for future operations.
ADEQ Director Owens Announces $175,000 Penalty for Rinker Materials for Air Quality Violations in Gila, Pima and Yuma Counties
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Director Steve Owens has announced that United Metro Materials, Inc. and Tanner Companies (Yuma), Inc., doing business as Rinker Materials, will pay a $175,000 civil penalty for air quality violations at five facilities in Gila, Pima and Yuma counties.
Owens said that Rinker Materials has entered into a consent judgment with ADEQ and is paying the penalty for more than 18 notices of violation that have been issued to the company since 2001, including failure to install air pollution control devices such as watering systems.
“Rinker Materials’ failure to comply with the law put its workers and the citizens of Arizona at risk,” Director Owens said. “These were serious violations of our air quality laws.”
Rinker Materials manufactures asphalt, sand, gravel and concrete for road paving, landscaping, and other construction projects at more than 60 facilities in Arizona.
At Rinker plants ADEQ inspectors found a lack of pollution controls resulted in dust emissions of more than 50 per cent opacity, or smoke’s ability to limit visibility. The EPA standard for opacity is 20 per cent in nonattainment areas, or areas which have not yet achieved federal standards for PM10 (particulate matter 10 microns or smaller).
Many Rinker sites are located in PM10 nonattaiment or limited attainment areas.
In addition, some Rinker plants exceeded production limits. A plant in Marana, north of Tucson in Pima County, produced more than 270 tons of asphalt per hour, though the limit is 164 tons/hour. The plant exceeded the limit for longer than six hours. The Marana facility also burned oil at excessive temperatures, causing it to smoke.
“The company also operated equipment without the proper permits and, in many cases, exceeded what the permits allow,” Owens said.
Stow Golf Club Owner Assessed $12,500 Penalty for Violating Safe Drinking Water Act Requirements
Robert Page III, LLC, owner of Butternut Farms Golf Club in Stow, has agreed to pay the Commonwealth a penalty of $12,500 for violations of the state drinking water regulations that occurred at its facility, located at 115 Wheeler Road in Stow.
In May of 2006, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Drinking Water Program staff conducted an inspection of the Butternut Farms Golf Club and determined the facility had added a function hall, thereby increasing its water usage above its permitted limit. Several operational violations were also identified, including operating without a certified operator and installation of a water treatment system without prior approval.
In a recently finalized consent order, the owners agreed to pay a $12,500 penalty and correct all operational violations, many of which have already been addressed. In addition, the owners agreed to establish a schedule to site and construct a new well that will be compliant with the drinking water regulations and, in the meantime, have devised an operational plan for the existing water source to assure a safe water supply until the new source is developed and ready for use. Butternut Farms has also agreed to meter the volume of water it uses for irrigation throughout the golf course.
"This enforcement action demonstrates the need for developers or contractors to be aware of the requirements governing public water supplies before starting renovations or expansions at locations that operate their own small public water supply source," said Martin Suuberg, director of MassDEP's Central Regional Office in Worcester.
Appleton Cited for Accepting Industrial Waste Exceeding Limits at City's Wastewater Treatment Facility
The city of Appleton was cited by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for alleged violations in a discharge of high-strength waste from a local food processing plant that overloaded the city's wastewater treatment facility. The city received a $15,052 civil penalty, and agreed to a $5,000 erosion and sediment control project.
In December 2006, Del Dee Foods requested city's permission to dispose of spoiled whey by mixing it with wash water. The city states that it gave approval for Del Dee to discharge 1,700 gallons over a 5-day period. However, Del Dee Foods states that they received approval to discharge 4,500 gallons over a 5-day period, which they subsequently discharged during an 11-day period. Due to the high strength and volume of the waste, the city's facility lost much of its treatment efficiency. The plant discharges into the Pomme de Terre River, which is on the state's list of impaired waters due to poor water quality.
The agreement alleges that the city did not adequately regulate the discharge from an industrial user, nor adequately monitor the system during the event. The city did not notify the MPCA about the violations until Jan. 29, 2007.
Requirements for the city listed in the agreement include hiring a consultant to assist with an engineering report, making improvements, conducting sampling and preparing a new industrial user agreement. The agreement prohibits any sewer extensions until the city certifies that the wastewater treatment facility is able to operate within its permit limits. The $5,000 supplemental environmental project consists of erosion and sediment controls at the city's storm sewer outfall, also on the Pomme de Terre River.
The MPCA provides outreach and training on a variety of topics for wastewater treatment plant operators. People who operate wastewater treatment facilities must be certified to ensure they have a thorough understanding of a system's basic operation, maintenance and reporting procedures.
A stipulation agreement is one of the tools used to achieve compliance with environmental laws. When calculating penalties, the 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.
Ohio EPA Settles with Cuyahoga County Company for Hazardous Waste Violations
Hukill Chemical Corporation has agreed to pay a $12,800 penalty to settle hazardous waste violations at its facility located at 7013 Krick Road in Bedford. The company has addressed the violations and now operates in compliance with Ohio's hazardous waste regulations.
During two facility inspections in December 2006, an Ohio EPA inspector found Hukill Chemical unlawfully stored off-site shipments of hazardous waste in an unpermitted tank; stored two trailers of hazardous waste in an unauthorized area; and failed to properly record the location of each hazardous waste in the facility and the quantity in each location.
In addition, the facility's 2006 annual report failed to include accurate information concerning hazardous wastes received from off-site. Complete and accurate reports are essential for identifying and preventing potential mismanagement of hazardous waste.
Hukill is a permitted hazardous waste treatment and storage facility and a large quantity generator of hazardous waste. The company operates a solvent recycling and fuels blending operation and distributes chemical products used in plating, etching, water treatment and other industries.
The settlement includes $10,240 to Ohio's hazardous waste cleanup fund and $2,560 to Ohio EPA's clean diesel school bus program for the purpose of installing diesel particulate filters on public school buses.
Pennsylvania DEP Fines Berks County Company for Air Quality Violations
Along with imposing a $69,000 penalty for air quality violations, the Department of Environmental Protection has ordered Exide Technologies to research and take corrective action on chronic odor problems at its Laureldale Borough facility in Berks County.
“Although Exide has made recent attempts to diagnose and fix the odor problem, more aggressive action is needed,” said DEP Southcentral Regional Director Rachel Diamond. “This order sets forth clear milestones to ensure progress in solving this difficult problem.”
The order requires Exide to investigate specific operations and issues at the facility that may contribute to the odor problem. These tasks are to culminate in a detailed odor control plan with an implementation schedule to be submitted by May 31.
In addition to odor issues, the penalty also addresses past violations relating to the smelter afterburners. Federal and state regulations require lead smelters to maintain certain minimum temperatures in the afterburners.
“Exide failed to meet the afterburner temperature standard,” said Diamond. “Exide appears to have corrected its problems managing these temperatures, but the civil penalty is appropriate for the past violations.”
The afterburner temperature violations addressed in the order occurred between late 2005 and mid-2006. Exide corrected the temperature problems by performing necessary maintenance and by improving its internal monitoring procedures.
Venture Construction, Inc., Agrees to Pay $157,500 Cash Penalty for Alleged Violations of Hazardous Waste Storage Laws
Attorney General Kelly A. Ayotte and Commissioner Thomas S. Burack of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (“DES”), announce that the Merrimack County Superior Court approved a settlement between the State and Venture Construction, Inc., to resolve violations of the State’s hazardous waste laws. Venture Construction, Inc., agreed to pay a $157,500 cash civil penalty to resolve the State’s lawsuit.
In its lawsuit, the State alleged that Venture Construction, Inc., violated State laws by transporting and storing hazardous waste without a permit and failing to properly manage hazardous waste at its facility located at 619 Sand Road, Pembroke, New Hampshire. The facility was located approximately 1,000 feet from the Pembroke Water Works supply well, which serve approximately 5,500 people in the towns of Pembroke, Allenstown, and parts of Hooksett.
Venture Construction regularly contracted to complete bridge waterproofing jobs at locations in New Hampshire and around the United States. At the completion of these jobs, Venture Construction transported waste materials back to its facility in Pembroke, New Hampshire. The Town of Pembroke, with Venture Construction’s cooperation, completed an extensive groundwater investigation that confirmed that the storage of the waste did not impact groundwater or the Pembroke Water Works supply well. Venture Construction, Inc., no longer stores any hazardous waste at the Pembroke facility.
Attorney General Kelly Ayotte stated, “The potential for harm to the public and the environment in this case was great. Fortunately, the Town of Pembroke and Venture Construction have confirmed through extensive testing that no harm came from the company’s actions. We are pleased that the company took responsibility for its actions and agreed to pay an appropriate civil penalty to resolve this case without litigation.” DES Commissioner Tom Burack said, “The storage and transport of hazardous waste is regulated to protect both public health and the environment.
We are pleased that Venture Construction worked cooperatively with the Town of Pembroke to make sure neither public health nor the environment were harmed through its actions.”
Arizona Fines Developer $12.1 Million for Destruction of Natural Resources
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens and Attorney General Terry Goddard announced a $12.1 million civil environmental settlement, the largest in state history. The settlement resolves a 2005 lawsuit brought against land developer George H. Johnson, several of his companies, excavation contractor Jack McCall, 3F Contracting, Inc. and Preston Well Drilling. The defendants agreed that the State would be paid $12,111,500 to resolve all claims in the case.
“This record-setting settlement reflects the importance of this case,” Director Owens said. “We felt strongly that serious violations of the law had occurred.” Johnson and his companies have agreed that the state will be paid $7 million; 3F Contracting, Inc. has agreed the state will be paid $5.05 million; and Preston Well Drilling has agreed the State will be paid $61,500.
The 2005 lawsuit -- which the Attorney General brought on behalf of ADEQ, the Arizona State Land Department, the Department of Agriculture, the Arizona State Museum and the Arizona Game and Fish Commission -- charged the defendants with numerous violations of state law and destruction of natural and archeological resources, including:
- Bulldozing and clearing of nearly 270 acres of State Trust Lands located in and near the Ironwood National Monument and the Los Robles Archeological District.
- Bulldozing and clearing an estimated 2,000 acres of private lands in the Santa Cruz River Valley without obtaining permits required by state law.
- Destroying portions of seven major Hohokam archeological sites, circa A.D. 750-1250.
- Destroying more than 40,000 protected native plants on State Trust Lands, including Saguaro, Ironwood, Mesquite, Palo Verde and other protected species.
- Violating the state’s clean water laws by failing to secure required permits and discharging pollutants into the Little Colorado River, the South Fork of the Little Colorado River and tributaries of the Santa Cruz River.
- Negligently causing a disease epidemic that resulted in the death of at least 21 rare Arizona desert bighorn sheep and serious injury to numerous others.
“We are committed to enforcing our environmental and heritage protection laws to preserve the priceless resources that make this state unique,” Attorney General Goddard said. “This resolution sends a strong message to anyone who would despoil our heritage.”
Wal-Mart pays $250,000 to settle air quality violations
The California Air Resources Board has accepted a settlement of $250,000 from Wal-Mart Stores for selling portable gas cans throughout the state that do not comply with state clean air regulations.
"Enforcement will continue to be an important aspect of cleaning our air," said Mary Nichols, Air Resources Board Chairman. "The fumes from these cans should have been prevented."
Investigations by the ARB found that between 2003 and 2007, Wal-Mart allowed more than 3000 illegal gas cans, to enter their California distribution system and subsequently be sold.
Historically, because of their large numbers and lack of emission controls, gas cans contribute substantial amounts of hydrocarbon emissions, ozone-forming smog and related health problems. ARB's gas can regulations are intended to ensure that spillage and evaporative emissions are minimized or eliminated.
This was the fourth time in recent years that Wal-Mart was found to be distributing illegal gas cans. Recognizing this, ARB initially sought the maximum fine of $500 for each violation, but Wal-Mart's own investigations and extensive cooperation led to leniency.
The repeated violations were due to systematic computer errors that allowed the products into California. These have since been rectified. Ultimately, rather than the maximum fine it was determined that Wal-Mart pay $83 for each gas can violation. This range is four to five times the amount the individual products cost consumers.
ARB data shows that the more than 11 million gas cans statewide contribute about 100 tons-per-day of smog-forming hydrocarbons, roughly equal to the emissions from all lawn and garden equipment in the state. Of the 100 tons-per-day about three-quarters are associated with fuel evaporation from vents and other types of openings. Permeation - fumes that leak through the container walls - and spillage contribute about 16 tons per day.
Hydrocarbons from these cans can lead to the creation of ground level ozone. Ozone irritates and inflames the lining of the respiratory system and causes coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. It can worsen asthma symptoms, contribute to the development of asthma, and cause permanent lung damage. Among persons already in poor health, repeated exposure can increase the risk of death. Due to the health hazards of ozone, California has worked aggressively for decades to reduce outdoor ozone levels, with considerable success.
Washington Seeks Public Comment on Draft Climate Change Documents
Washington residents can review and comment on draft documents that detail proposed actions for limiting and preparing for the impacts of climate change in the state.
The documents are a "Comprehensive Climate Approach for Washington" offered by the state's Climate Advisory Team; "Preparing for the Impacts of Climate Change in Washington" from the state's Preparation/Adaptation Working Groups; and a citizen engagement plan created with help from stakeholders throughout Washington.
These draft documents represent work done by the state's Climate Advisory Team, stakeholders and state agencies in response to Gov. Chris Gregoire's Feb. 7, 2007, Executive Order. Gov. Gregoire directed the departments of Ecology and Community, Trade and Economic Development (CTED) to create the Climate Advisory Team to explore and recommend how the state can reduce climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions. She also directed work to focus on preparing for climate change impacts, and on growing a "clean economy" that increases clean energy jobs and reduces Washington's dependence on foreign oil.
"Well over 300 people from around the state have been working for the past 10 months on this effort," said Janice Adair, special assistant to Ecology Director Jay Manning. Adair heads Ecology's climate change work. Comments on the draft documents will be accepted for a three-week period that closes at 5 p.m. Jan. 10. The public is encouraged to submit comments online.
Comments also may be mailed to Department of Ecology, Attn: Climate Comments, PO Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600. Comments will be summarized and posted online. Climate Advisory Team members will review the comments as they prepare final recommendations for their Executive Order report. The complete, final report will be presented to Gov. Gregoire by Feb. 7, 2008.
Climate change disrupts Washington's economy, environment and communities through extreme weather, a warming Pacific Northwest, reduced snow pack and sea level rise. Washington is especially vulnerable to climate change because of our dependence on snow pack for summer stream flows and because the expected rise in sea levels threatens our coastal communities.
Washington's environment and economy are strongly linked. Our economy depends on natural resources, tourism and the quality of life that our environment offers employers who want to bring their businesses and jobs here. Climate change poses a serious threat to our environment's stability and health, and in turn threatens our economic health and stability.
Also on the climate change website:
- Sign up for the climate change listserv for updated news and information.
- Read more about the Technical Working Groups and their work.
- Find details on the Climate Advisory Team's charge, members and minutes from the group's meetings.
- Learn more about what the state is doing to address climate change regionally, including cooperating with other states and Canadian provinces.
- Learn how you can comment on climate change efforts.
- Find out how you can act individually to help curb climate change.
Congress Directs EPA to Re-Open its Libraries
Buried within the omnibus appropriations bill Congress sent this week to President Bush is a Christmas present for the beleaguered library network of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Congress ordered EPA to restore library services across the country and earmarked $3 million for that purpose, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
Beginning in early 2006, without public announcement or congressional approval, EPA began dismantling its network of technical and research libraries. Altogether EPA has closed regional libraries serving 23 states and its headquarters library in Washington, D.C. It has also reduced services and hours in libraries covering another 14 states. In addition, EPA has shuttered several of its specialized, technical libraries, such as its unique library dedicated to the effects of pesticides and new chemicals.
The report language attached to the omnibus appropriations bill for the remainder of the 2008 fiscal year directs EPA to use $3 million to “restore the network of EPA libraries recently closed or consolidated by the Administration…” and to report within 90 days on its plans to “restore publicly available libraries to provide environmental information and data to each EPA region…”
“The EPA libraries are not only important to the public but are invaluable tools for the agency’s own scientists and specialists,” stated PEER Associate Director Carol Goldberg, pointing to a petition signed by the representatives for more than half of all EPA scientists protesting the closures. “While the intervention of Congress is most welcome, it comes after several closures and much disruption, leaving the remaining EPA librarians with the task of putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.”
Prior to the closures, the budget for the EPA library network was $2.5 million. By earmarking $3 million, Congress increased the total library budget, allowing the agency to absorb the expense of collecting dispersed collections and replacing jettisoned facilities. For example, EPA closed its largest regional library in Chicago and sold all of its fixtures, valued at more than $40,000, for less than $350.
The rationale for the library closures was never clearly spelled out by the agency, which maintained that it wanted to digitize all of its holdings. Its original claim of cost savings did not bear up under scrutiny and clashed with the enormous expense of digitizing hundreds of thousands of documents. In addition, the agency did not anticipated copyright restrictions, which barred many of its holdings from being digitized.
“We have already been contacted by EPA librarians who are concerned that the same officials who destroyed the libraries will be in charge of their restoration,” added Goldberg. “We hope that Congress continues to closely oversee whether EPA fully restores the full range of library services it had provided.”
While many congressional earmarks have drawn negative attention for funding what are called “pork” projects, other earmarks act as congressional checks on executive abuses. “This is one earmark that all Americans should applaud,” Goldberg concluded.
Bridge Contractor Fined $157,500 for Hazardous Waste Violations
New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly A. Ayotte and Commissioner Thomas S. Burack of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services announced a settlement between the State and Venture Construction, Inc., to resolve violations of the State’s hazardous waste laws. Venture Construction, Inc., agreed to pay a $157,500 cash civil penalty to resolve the State’s lawsuit.
In its lawsuit, the State alleged that Venture Construction, Inc., violated State laws by transporting and storing hazardous waste without a permit and failing to properly manage hazardous waste at its facility located at 619 Sand Road, Pembroke, New Hampshire. The facility was located approximately 1,000 feet from the Pembroke Water Works supply well, which serve approximately 5,500 people in the towns of Pembroke, Allenstown, and parts of Hooksett. Venture Construction regularly contracted to complete bridge waterproofing jobs at locations in New Hampshire and around the United States. At the completion of these jobs, Venture Construction transported waste materials back to its facility in Pembroke, New Hampshire. The Town of Pembroke, with Venture Construction’s cooperation, completed an extensive groundwater investigation that confirmed that the storage of the waste did not impact groundwater or the Pembroke Water Works supply well. Venture Construction, Inc., no longer stores any hazardous waste at the Pembroke facility.
Attorney General Kelly Ayotte stated, “The potential for harm to the public and the environment in this case was great. Fortunately, the Town of Pembroke and Venture Construction have confirmed through extensive testing that no harm came from the company’s actions. We are pleased that the company took responsibility for its actions and agreed to pay an appropriate civil penalty to resolve this case without litigation.” DES Commissioner Tom Burack said, “The storage and transport of hazardous waste is regulated to protect both public health and the environment. We are pleased that Venture Construction worked cooperatively with the Town of Pembroke to make sure neither public health nor the environment were harmed through its actions.”
Department of Energy Finalizes Regulations to Increase Energy Efficiency in New Federal Buildings by 30%
Mandated by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct), these standards apply to new federal commercial and multi-family high-rise residential buildings, as well as new federal low-rise residential buildings designed for construction that began on or after January 3, 2007. These standards are also 40% more efficient than the current Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and carry out portions of President Bush’s Executive Order (EO #13423), announced earlier this year, which directed federal agencies to reduce energy intensity and greenhouse gas emissions; substantially increase use and efficiency of renewable energy technologies; and adopt sustainable design practices.
“Dramatically elevating building efficiency standards to these unprecedented levels substantially transforms the way the federal government manages and uses energy,” DOE Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Andy Karsner said. “These standards contribute to sound and stable efficiency policy that will yield real, substantive energy savings and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.”
Over the course of the next ten years, these standards are estimated to save taxpayer’s $776 million dollars (in 2004 dollars) and more than 40 trillion British thermal units of energy, while reducing emissions by an estimated 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. Specifically, these standards replace existing Federal building energy efficiency standards found in 10 CFR Part 434 (for commercial and high-rise multi-family residential buildings) and 10 CFR Part 435 Subpart C (for low-rise residential buildings).
These new standards are based on the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)/ American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)/ Illuminating Engineering Society of North America (IESNA) Standard 90.1-2004 for commercial and high-rise multi-family residential buildings and the 2004 version of the International Code Council (ICC) International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for low-rise residential buildings.
There are three key features of these new standards that differentiate them from previous Federal building energy efficiency standards. First, new Federal standards are based directly on updated prevailing voluntary sector standards in effort to maximize resources and take advantage of improvements in those voluntary sector standards. Second, new Federal standards seek improvements above and beyond those of the voluntary sector standards through consideration of and entire building’s performance, rather than on prescriptive requirements for individual building components and systems. This approach provides the maximum amount of flexibility to Federal agencies and their design teams as they address the requirements of these new standards. Third, new Federal standards require at least 30% energy savings over the prevailing voluntary sector standard. Achieving this level of savings will require Federal agencies and their design teams to use an integrated design approach for new buildings.
The new Federal standards (10 CFR 433 and 435 Subpart C), were issued as an Interim Final Rule in the Federal Register on December 4, 2006. Comments on these standards were accepted and minor changes to the Interim Final Rule were made in preparing the Final Rule that is published in the Federal Register.
Section 305(a)(1) of the Energy Conservation and Production Act, as amended by EPAct, directed DOE to implement these regulations. Section 109 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 also requires the new standards require the use of cost-effective sustainable design principles and water conservation technologies. The Department is expected to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking on these additional requirements next year.
Trivia Question of the Week
The burning of fossil fuels adds about how much CO2 to the atmosphere?
a. 20 million tons
b. 600 million tons
c. 60 billion tons
d. 6 gigatons