The $500 billion omnibus spending bill signed into law by President George W. Bush last month includes a provision requiring EPA to establish a mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) reporting program. The law directs the EPA to publish a draft GHG reporting regulations within 9 months and final regulations within 18 months, which would be June 2009. The law, which could cover all U.S. industries, does not appear to pre-empt state GHG reporting standards that are being adopted by many states.EPA will have discretion in determining program source categories, reporting thresholds, and frequencies.
New Hampshire Launches Climate Change Web Portal
New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Commissioner Tom Burack announced that the state launched a web portal dedicated to the issue of climate change.
“Climate change is one of the most critical issues that we in New Hampshire face today,” Burack said. “With so many people, organizations, and groups working on this issue, it makes sense to provide a Web-based clearinghouse of all the online information that is available. This website serves as an important resource so that we may all become better educated about climate change and the many positive changes that each of us can make to protect our environment and quality of life here in New Hampshire.”
The website specifically provides online information. Additional groups or organizations may be actively concerned with climate change, but they may not have a dedicated webpage on the subject. If a New Hampshire group has online climate change information and would like to be listed on the state portal, they may contact Jim Martin, DES public information officer, at 603- 271-3710
Ohio EPA Encourages Businesses to Use the Climate Registry
In an effort to involve Ohio's businesses in climate change issues, Ohio EPA Director Chris Korleski is asking Ohio business leaders to consider reporting emissions to The Climate Registry.
Even more fundamentally, as many Ohio companies recognize a need or desire to reduce their GHG emissions, participation in the Registry will allow these companies to develop the necessary baselines against which future reductions can be compared."
The Registry is a nonprofit organization of collaborating member states that includes 39 U.S. states (including Ohio), four Canadian provinces, two Mexican states, and Indian tribal areas. The Registry provides a uniform way to calculate and verify greenhouse gas emissions. Participation in the registry is voluntary, but benefits could include:
- Preparing for possible national regulatory requirements by tracking emissions now according to well-established standards
- Accessing resources to help companies develop their GHG emissions inventories
- Having a greater understanding of how possible climate regulations and policies would impact companies (and being able to provide more meaningful comments on any such regulations and policies)
- Establishing a baseline and credible documentation of each company's GHG emission reduction activities
- Receiving recognition as a leader in the rapidly developing area of climate change
The cost of participating in the Registry depends on the size of the company, with fees running from $450 to $10,000.
In 2008, Ohio EPA, in conjunction with The Climate Registry, will offer information sessions and training workshops for Ohio businesses interested in reporting to the registry. The site includes detailed information about how the registry will actually operate, including measuring, verifying, reporting, and tracking procedures and other critical information.
Utah Joins Multi-State Effort to Track Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Utah Governor Jon Huntsman announced last week that five state businesses and two government entities have joined the state to be among the first to sign up for The Climate Registry, a multi-state initiative that tracks greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Kennecott Land, Kennecott Utah Copper, SWCA, ETC Group, USANA, Salt Lake City Corporation, Salt Lake County, and the State of Utah’s executive branch have become “Founding Reporters” for The Climate Registry (TCR), a nonprofit organization established to measure and publicly report GHG emissions. TCR provides businesses an opportunity to get recognition for early reductions of greenhouse gases. It is a national registry and participation for Utah businesses and other entities is voluntary.
Here’s how it works: As business and government seek recognition for pollution reductions, TCR facilitates economic development and business certainty by providing an efficient state-based, nationally recognized registry. In many cases, reductions in GHG emissions are the result of improvements in energy efficiency and cost-saving operations.
“Utah is proud to be among the first reporters to the Climate Registry,” Governor Huntsman said. “I applaud Utah businesses and local governments for voluntarily committing to measure and report their GHG emissions. This shows tremendous leadership in addressing the challenge of climate change.”
Efficiency also benefits the bottom line through reduced energy costs. The Governor’s Blue Ribbon Advisory Council listed participation in The Climate Registry as one of its high-priority recommendations.
Changing Motor Oil Every 3,000 Miles Is Not Always Recommended
. By reducing the amount of used oil generated, motorists can do their part to help keep California green.
“Used motor oil poses a great risk to the environment. With better made cars and the rise of synthetic oils, the 3,000-mile standard is not always recommended,” CIWMB Chair Margo Reid Brown said.
Research shows that the question of when to change a car's engine oil continues to be a consumer mystery. A recent study by the CIWMB found that 73% of California drivers change their oil more frequently than their manufacturer recommends, thereby generating more used oil waste.
According to 2005 data from the CIWMB, it is estimated that California generates approximately 153.5 million gallons of waste oil each year; however, only 91 million gallons (or 59%) of that waste oil is recycled.
Today’s automakers often recommend driving longer distances between oil changes with no harm to the car’s engine. This year, Ford Motor Company announced a recommendation that motorists change the oil every 7,500 miles for 2007 or newer vehicles. In addition, newer cars even have a sensor to alert drivers when to change the oil. Drivers are encouraged to check their vehicle owner’s manual for oil change guidelines. Recommendations vary based on vehicle model, make, year, and normal versus severe driving conditions.
The CIWMB is the state's leading authority on recycling and waste reduction. It promotes reducing waste whenever possible, managing all materials to their highest and best use, and protecting public health and safety and the environment.
The board is one of six boards, departments, and offices within the California Environmental Protection Agency.
Semiconductor Company Assessed $5,000 Penalty for Environmental Violations
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) issued a $5,000 penalty against SemiCon Precision Industries, Inc., operator of a semiconductor precision cleaning facility at 25 Case Street in Southbridge for Hazardous Waste Management, Industrial Wastewater, and Toxics Use Reduction Act violations that occurred at its Southbridge facility.
During inspections conducted in February 2007, MassDEP personnel determined that the company had operated an industrial wastewater pretreatment system with personnel who were not properly licensed to do so. The company also failed to file an appropriate Toxics Use Report, failed to properly mark and label hazardous waste drums, and failed to post a sign in, and properly delineate, its hazardous waste accumulation area.
In a recently finalized consent order, the company agreed to maintain compliance with all applicable regulations and pay the $5,000 penalty.
"Failure to have properly licensed industrial wastewater pretreatment operators may lead to illegal and harmful discharges to publicly owned sewer systems," said Lee Dillard Adams, deputy director of MassDEP's Central Regional Office in Worcester. "If a company has questions as to whether its operations are subject to these regulations, it should contact MassDEP immediately."
GM, Toyota, and Fisker to Launch Plug-In Hybrids by 2010
Domestic, foreign, and specialty automakers arrived at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Mich., with plans to launch a commercial version of their plug-in hybrid concepts by 2010. The Saturn division of General Motors Corporation (GM) is the latest to join the plug-in hybrid bandwagon and plans to be the first with a full-production product, as the company announced its intent to launch a plug-in version of the Saturn Vue Green Line SUV as early as 2010. The Saturn Vue Green Line Plug-In Hybrid, which made its world debut at the auto show, combines a lithium-ion battery pack with GM's dual-mode hybrid system. The vehicle's battery pack can be recharged in four to five hours by plugging it into any standard 110-volt electrical outlet, and, in early testing, the batteries allowed the vehicle to travel for more than 10 miles at low speeds using electric-only propulsion. GM has also suggested that its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid may be released by 2010.
Toyota Motor Corporation is taking a more conservative approach, with plans to sell plug-in hybrids only to fleet customers in the United States and elsewhere by 2010. Toyota does not say which vehicle will be available as a plug-in hybrid, though most industry observers expect it to be a new version of the Prius. The vehicle will feature a lithium-ion battery pack, and Toyota is currently investigating the feasibility of mass production at a battery plant in central Japan, owned by Panasonic EV Energy Company, Limited, a joint venture of Toyota and the Matsushita Group. Toyota is also providing its plug-in hybrid prototypes for an executive shuttle service at the auto show. Featuring a lithium-ion battery pack and a plug-in hybrid system developed by Quantum Technologies, the Fisker Karma is designed to travel up to 50 miles using only its electric drive. The luxury sports sedan is currently slated to beat its competitors to market, with initial deliveries starting in late 2009. The vehicle will feature an all-aluminum body, with an optional solar roof. The Fisker Karma will have an annual production of only 15,000 cars, and, unfortunately, most of us would need to win the lottery to afford it: The starting price for the vehicle is $80,000.
Reduce Costs by Using Low-Impact Development Practices
Using these practices in construction projects can lower costs while improving environmental results.
"Low impact development can deliver big benefits for the environment and the economy, and this report has the numbers to prove it," Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles said. "It pays to save watersheds, reuse stormwater, and grow sustainably with green infrastructure."
LID practices are innovative stormwater management practices to manage urban stormwater runoff at its source. The goal is to use design techniques that infiltrate, evapotranspirate, and reuse runoff close to its source in an effort to mimic the way water moved through an area before it was developed. Some common LID practices include rain gardens, grassed swales, cisterns, rain barrels, permeable pavements, and green roofs. LID practices increasingly are used by communities across the country to help protect and restore water quality. The report highlights examples that, in most cases, reduce project costs while improving environmental performance. Total capital savings ranged from 15% to 80%, with a few exceptions in which LID project costs were higher than conventional stormwater management costs. As LID practices become more common, it is likely that they will become cheaper to use.
Washington Fines Total $859,020 in Fourth Quarter of 2007
A summary of all Washington Department of Ecology penalties of $1,000 or more issued during the fourth quarter of 2007 is presented below. All together, Ecology issued nearly $2.6 million in penalties during 2007.
Collected penalties go into either the state general fund or special accounts so it can be forwarded to communities for environmental projects. Penalties listed below can be paid to Ecology or appealed to the state Pollution Control Hearings Board. A particular penalty may be fully satisfied at this time.
|City of Violation||Date Issued||Penalty Recipient||Description of Violation||Amount|
|Finley||8/20/07||Union Pacific Railroad Release at UPRR Bridge Finley||Spilled at least 22 gallons of hydraulic fluid to the Columbia River when a railroad car derailed on the Union Pacific bridge at Finley. Failed to properly report the spill and failed to commence cleanup action.||$2,000|
|Richland||10/1/07||Energy Northwest Columbia Generating Station||Inspections found industrial chemicals and hazardous wastes improperly labeled, wastes left inside laboratory work stations, unreported spills of chemicals, and chemical waste abandoned around sites, all in violation of dangerous waste regulations. Serious concerns were noted regarding employee training and safely handling hazardous waste materials.||$120,000|
|Richland||11/6/2007||U.S. Dept. of Energy— Office of River Protection||Spilled 80 gallons of highly radioactive tank waste to the environment in the Hanford 200 Area, endangering workers and halting cleanup of Hanford’s underground single-shell tanks. Reporting delays of more than 7 hours occurred. Enforcement action under the Tri-Party Agreement.||$500,000|
|Wenatchee||12/6/2007||JS Autobody Shop||Failed to report body shop emissions inventory for the years 2005 and 2006. Failed to comply with emission registration requirements.||$1,000|
|Forks||11/5/2007||Forks Sand and Gravel, Inc.||The site showed evidence of continuing oil spills and leaks from trucks and other equipment. Caustic water from the concrete-loading area pooled on the ground instead of being directed to treatment ponds. A lined treatment pond had a buildup of solids in one area, limiting the pond’s ability to function properly.||$13,000|
|Castle Rock||10/8/2007||Larry Dent||Underground storage tank containing waste oil leaked into the Cowlitz River during a flood.||$1,875|
|Pasco||10/3/2007||Two Rivers Terminal LLC||Failed to receive air quality permitting approval before installing equipment and operating its chemical plant, which produces agricultural and industrial chemicals.||$10,000|
|Port Townsend||10/11/2007||Port Townsend Paper Corporation||The power boiler exceeded particulate emission limits on two dates, and the package boiler exceeded its limit for opacity on a third date.||$5,000|
|Auburn||6/27/2007||JPS Holdings Brandon Meadows||Discharged stormwater from a construction project without a permit and violated the terms of a regulatory order.||$85,318|
|Bellevue||8/3/2007||Land Holding LLC Parkwood Lane||Failed to respond to a notice of violation (NOV) for construction stormwater permit violations. Further violations observed after the due date for response to the NOV.||$16,000|
|Carnation||8/29/2007||King County||Violated construction stormwater general permit limits while pouring concrete for the Tolt Hill Bridge project, discharging high pH waste into the Snoqualmie River.||$12,000|
|SeaTac||9/27/2007||Port of Seattle||Four detention pond/sump/pump failures compromised required protections against muddy water discharges to Miller and Gilliam creeks from a light rail and road realignment project at Sea-Tac Airport||$20,000|
|Seattle||10/23/2007||King County||Violated water quality permit parameters for disinfection and lacked representative sampling at the West Point wastewater treatment plant on July 1 and Aug. 12, 2007.||$8,000|
|SeaTac||12/13/2007||U Haul Co. of Sea Tac||Employee failed to monitor a fuel transfer, which caused a gasoline spill to a storm drain on SeaTac’s International Boulevard. Approximately five gallons entered a catch basin connected to a drain line that flows to Des Moines Creek.||$1,500|
|Roslyn||11/2/2007||R & R Heights Land Company Inc||Violated state water quality laws and allowed sediment-laden runoff to pollute nearby creeks from a housing development near Ronald, Wash. In addition, landowner Nathan Weis was fined for failing to stabilize the site to prevent stormwater runoff and for not having a valid construction stormwater permit.||$8,000|
|Raymond||11/7/2007||Jackpot Industries, Inc.||Repeat violation of operating a shipyard without a permit, dropping sandblast grit and paint chips into the Willapa River. The company had been warned previously to apply for necessary permits.||$23,042|
|Tacoma||10/30/2007||Marine Floats||Marine Floats operated a boatyard without the necessary permit, did not implement a stormwater pollution prevention plan, did not monitor its stormwater discharge, or make required reports of stormwater discharges to Ecology.||$12,785|
|Tacoma||10/2/2007||Simpson Tacoma Kraft Company||The mill’s wastewater discharge exceeded limits for Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), which has the potential to deplete the oxygen level of the receiving waters.||$2,000|
|Tacoma||11/2/2007||Simpson Tacoma Kraft Company||Power Boiler 6 and 7 exceeded limits for particulate matter on multiple dates: 02/06/07, 03/08-09/2007, 03/28/2007, and 08/20/07||$8,000|
|On the border of Tacoma and Ruston||11/1/2007||MC Construction Consultants, Inc.||MC Construction workers were sanding and pressure washing the hull of the vessel Steilacoom, resulting in pollution to Commencement Bay at the Point Ruston development site. This work should have been performed in a permitted shipyard.||$1,000|
|Lopez Island||12/12/2007||Ken Hansen||Spilled approximately 20 gallons of diesel fuel to Fisherman’s Bay when the fishing vessel Stanley sank. Owner did not take actions to clean up or contain the spill, requiring Ecology to hire a spill response contractor.||$2,000|
|Anacortes||12/13/2007||Island Transport Ferry Service||Spilled 14 gallons of diesel fuel to Flounder Bay during a mobile fuel transfer.||$1,500|
|Nine Mile Falls||12/5/2007||Brandon L. Sather||Illegally graded and excavated land adjacent to ordinary high water mark of Long Lake. Failed to complete restoration of the site by Nov. 30, 2007, deadline as ordered.||$2,000|
|Bellingham||12/12/2007||Mark Oreiro||Spilled approximately 40 gallons of diesel fuel into Drayton Harbor when the fishing vessel Ulitka sank at the Blaine Marina. Owner took no action to address the spill, requiring Ecology to hire a spill response contractor.||$2,000|
|Bellingham||12/14/2007||Craig Wolfla||Spilled approximately 60 gallons of oily bilge water to Squalicum Harbor from the fishing vessel Heidi.||$1,000|
Owner and Manager of Rental Property Fined $18,000 for Asbestos Violations
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has levied an $18,000 fine against Belkis DeLeon of Methuen and Raphael DeLeon of Lawrence for violating state asbestos regulations. Raphael DeLeon is the owner and Belkis DeLeon is the manager of rental property at 25 Whittier St., Springfield.
Based on a complaint that illegal asbestos removal had occurred at the rental property, MassDEP conducted an inspection on Jan. 30, 2007, and found that an asbestos-insulated boiler was replaced with a new boiler without instituting the appropriate asbestos handling and disposal procedures. MassDEP found extensive asbestos contamination within the stairwell and basement of the building, as well as outside the building and in the city's wheeled trash containers.
"The failure to adhere to the specific requirements regarding the management of asbestos may impact the public health and the environment," said Michael Gorski, director of MassDEP's Western Regional Office in Springfield. "The asbestos regulations are very prescriptive in terms of proper removal and disposal of asbestos-containing materials so that asbestos fibers do not become airborne."
At the MassDEP's directive, Ms. DeLeon promptly retained a licensed asbestos abatement contractor to clean up the property.
Property owners or contractors with questions about asbestos-containing materials, notification requirements, proper removal, handling, packaging, storage and disposal procedures, or the asbestos regulations are encouraged to contact the appropriate MassDEP regional office for assistance.
Governor Kicks Off New Hampshire Climate Change Policy Task Force
New Hampshire Governor John Lynch formally launched the work of the New Hampshire Climate Change Policy Task Force last week and welcomed participants to the first meeting of the Task Force, which was established by Executive Order. The meeting was hosted by Commissioner Tom Burack of the Department of Environmental Services, the appointed chairperson and designated lead agency for the Task Force. The Task Force is charged with developing a Climate Change Action Plan for New Hampshire and submitting the plan to the governor by Sept. 1, 2008.
“Climate change is a serious issue that impacts the health of our citizens, the health of our economy, and the health of our environment. While national action is necessary, there is much we can begin doing here in New Hampshire to increase our energy independence and protect our environment,” Gov. Lynch said. “This Task Force is charged with developing and implementing a Climate Change Action Plan, which will be a comprehensive strategy for helping stem climate change and protecting our quality of life here in New Hampshire.”
The Task Force includes individuals appointed by the governor with background and experience in areas affected by climate change, such as commerce and industry, forestry, municipal government, academia, and electricity generation. Other members include agency heads and representatives from the New Hampshire House and Senate.
As part of the process to formulate the plan, the Department of Environmental Services is forming a number of technical and policy workgroups to assist in the development of specific actions for the Task Force’s consideration. The kick-off meeting included individuals who will be members of these workgroups.
“We are fortunate to have a diverse group of individuals on the Climate Change Task Force with the expertise and experience needed to help guide our state to make the necessary changes to protect New Hampshire’s quality of life,” noted Commissioner Thomas Burack. “There are many factors contributing to the problem of climate change. The time is now to take action to halt these detrimental impacts on our climate.”
The day-long meeting included presentations on the science of climate change and discussions of climate change goals, policies, and commitments. The meeting concluded with break-out sessions for the working groups to get organized and begin the important work ahead of them.
Rhode Island Boat Manufacturer Fined for Clean Air Violations
Pearson Composites, LLC, will pay $195,000 in penalties for environmental violations, as a settlement of claims that it violated the federal Clean Air Act at its facility in Warren, R.I. Pearson violated emission standards, work practice standards, reporting, and monitoring provisions of the federal regulations.
Pearson manufactures fiberglass boat hulls, decks, and other components. These manufacturing operations generate hazardous air pollutants, primarily styrene and methyl methacrylate, which are known to adversely affect human health.
Exposure to methyl methacrylate harms human health by irritating the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes. Methyl methacrylate also is associated with certain adverse respiratory and neurological effects. Exposure to styrene harms human health by adversely affecting the nervous system. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organization, has determined that styrene is a possible carcinogen. Both styrene and methyl methacrylate are potential asthma irritants.
"To better protect public health and the environment, it is critical that all companies make every effort to comply with environmental laws and regulations," said EPA Regional Administrator Robert Varney. "Hazardous air pollutants can pose a serious risk to workers and to the public. EPA's enforcement actions ensure that any violations are corrected swiftly. The penalties provide a financial disincentive for companies to violate again in the future."
After EPA notified Pearson of the violations, the company corrected them. Future compliance with the standards will help reduce health risks for Pearson employees and the general public.
New Jersey Recognizes Companies That Exceed Regulatory Requirements
Everyone appreciates a pat on the back for going above and beyond what’s expected. This is the driving force behind a new New Jersey initiative designed to motivate businesses to do more than the minimum required by environmental laws and regulations, announced New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson.
“The concept of an environmental cop on the beat has always been strong in New Jersey,” Commissioner Jackson said. “What is also strong is the spirit of innovation at the DEP. We are leading the country again, this time by defining and measuring the incredible amount of environmental good that exists in our state.”
The goal is to encourage all businesses to evaluate their current facility operations and integrate stewardship initiatives into their operations.
These achievements will be noted by DEP inspectors during the routine course of their work, evaluated by DEP management, and posted on DEP’s website.
“This is a sensible and long overdue approach to environmental protection that meshes corporate responsibility with public transparency,” Commissioner Jackson said. “I strongly believe that such stewardship practices can reduce a company’s costs, foster goodwill within their communities, and result in a cleaner environment for everyone.”
Inspectors will ask officials at businesses to answer a voluntary questionnaire that will provide a snapshot of programs they’ve implemented that go above and beyond state requirements. The companies will be asked, among other things, whether they have broadly adopted stewardship activities, whether they have a comprehensive written environmental policy, whether they operate under an Environmental Management System designed to reduce environmental impacts, and whether they publish an annual environmental report.
The companies also will be asked whether they have documented their greenhouse gas emissions, whether they employ environmentally friendly purchasing policies, whether they operate certified green buildings, and whether they have employee trip reduction programs. The inspector may review certain documents, processes, and operating procedures to verify stewardship activities.
“The environmental cop always stands ready to catch people when they do something wrong,” Commissioner Jackson said. “But think of the potential rewards from catching someone when they do something right.”
MDE Issues Two Air Management Enforcement Actions
The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) Air and Radiation Administration (ARMA) issued the following enforcement actions between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, 2007:
Southern Insulation, Baltimore County, Dec. 12, 2007. ARMA issued a Proposed Civil Penalty and a Corrective Order to Southern Insulation for violations of asbestos requirements. Southern violated asbestos requirements while conducting asbestos abatement and removal activities at ISG steel mill in Sparrows Point.
Violations include improper disposal and labeling of asbestos waste, failure to provide asbestos photo ID cards, and failure of a worker to wear proper protective clothing. Southern is a licensed asbestos abatement contractor in Maryland.
The Proposed Civil Penalty is for $7,500. The Corrective Order requires Southern to submit a plan within 30 days to ensure future and ongoing compliance with asbestos requirements. Southern was given 10 days to appeal the Order and to request a meeting on the penalty.
Fil-tec, Washington County, Dec. 12, 2007. ARMA issued a Notice of Proposed Civil Penalty in the amount of $36,000 to Fil-tec for violations of air quality requirements.
Fil-tec receives, stores, and applies methanol, a volatile organic compound (VOC), to threads using coating machines. VOC emissions are controlled by two thermal afterburners. The company reported in its compliance certification reports that the production lines operated on numerous days without proper operation of the control devices, thereby violating air quality requirements. During this period, excess VOC emissions were estimated to be about 2 tons.
Fil-tec was given 10 days to request a meeting to discuss the penalty. Due to the nature of the violation, Fil-tec has been listed with EPA as a high priority violator.
EPA Fines Guam Waterworks Authority $39,000 for Failure to Meet Federal Court Order to Improve Its Drinking Water System
The EPA has fined the Guam Waterworks Authority $39,000 for failing to fully comply with a 2003 court order to make improvements to its drinking water system.
GWA was fined $30,000 for failing to meet a November 2007 deadline for completing installation of new drinking water meters for its customers. The utility has completed just more than 50% of the project and will be done by January 2009.
The utility was also fined $9,000 for not meeting an early January deadline to complete a full renovation of the Ugum drinking water treatment plant.
“Although GWA continues to make steady progress toward meeting requirements of the court order, missed deadlines delay necessary improvements to its system and service to the residents,” said Alexis Strauss, water division director for EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. “Completing installation of new water meters and renovation of the drinking water plant will lead toward better management of its drinking water system and sustained compliance with drinking water requirements.”
The Ugum water treatment plant work is estimated to take another 17 months for design and construction. In early 2006, GWA completed some emergency, temporary repair work to address pressing operational and treatment system issues at Ugum. However, full renovation is needed to ensure the plant’s long-term reliability and compliance with drinking water requirements.
The stipulated order requires penalties to be assessed for the missed deadlines and provides for additional penalties until the work is complete.
Guam’s water system is being upgraded and improved upon to ensure the proper management, treatment, and delivery of safe drinking water.
EPA Reaches Agreement With Everbrite on Clean Air Violations
EPA Region 5 has reached an agreement with Everbrite LLC on alleged Clean Air Act (CAA) violations at the company's sign manufacturing plant at 315 Marion Ave., South Milwaukee, Wis.
The agreement, which includes a $36,106 penalty, resolves EPA allegations that Everbrite failed to comply with recordkeeping and reporting requirements of its state operating permit and federal and state regulations. EPA said the company came into compliance with these requirements in 2006. The Everbrite plant emits pollutants, including particulate matter and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), to the air.
Inhaling high concentrations of particulates can affect children, the elderly, and people with heart and lung diseases the most.
VOCs contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone (smog). Smog is formed when a mixture of pollutants react on warm, sunny days. Smog can cause respiratory problems, including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest pain. People with asthma, children, and the elderly are especially at risk, but these health concerns are important to everyone.
Maine Facility Faces EPA Fine for Failing to Comply With Oil Spill Prevention Requirements
A company in Union, Maine, that stores and distributes oil from an unattended bulk storage facility faces fines of up to $157,500 for allegedly failing to adequately plan for and guard against oil spills at its facility and for failing to respond to an EPA request for information.
A joint inspection by EPA and the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (MEDEP) revealed that Butler, Maxcy & Heath, Inc., violated the Clean Water Act by failing to prepare and implement a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) plan at its Union plant. In particular, the company failed to construct sufficiently impermeable and adequately sized secondary containment for its oil storage containers, loading rack, and fuel transfer areas.
Following the inspection, EPA requested that the company submit certain information regarding oil storage at the facility. EPA also required that the facility prepare an SPCC plan and submit a schedule for upgrading the facility, including performing integrity testing on tanks and constructing secondary containment around the oil storage areas. The company has yet to fully respond to EPA’s requests for information and to take the required actions to come into compliance with the SPCC requirements.
Oil Pollution Prevention regulations require that certain spill prevention and response measures be implemented at facilities that store oil above threshold amounts. The rule helps ensure that a tank failure or spill does not lead to oil being released into surface waters, such as rivers, streams, or groundwater.
“Oil spills can do significant damage to the environment,” said Robert W. Varney, Regional Administrator of EPA's New England office. “EPA will continue to ensure that facilities handling oils follow established procedures to minimize risks of oil spills.”
The Butler, Maxcy & Heath bulk plant is located approximately 50 feet uphill from a storm drain on the adjacent roadway, which discharges to an unnamed tributary of nearby Seven Tree Pond. Seven Tree Pond subsequently flows into the Saint George River, which is designated a “Class A” river by the state—Maine’s second highest classification for water quality. The Saint George River eventually flows into the Atlantic Ocean.
EPA continues to focus on oil spill prevention in New England. In 2007, EPA conducted inspections at more than 100 facilities in New England to determine their compliance with the Oil Pollution Prevention regulations, and the Agency recently fined another Maine oil distribution company $157,500 for failure to have fully implemented SPCC plans at its facilities.
EPA Focus on Oil Spill Prevention Results in Three Settlements
Under an ongoing EPA effort to prevent oil spills, three additional New England companies will pay penalties to resolve allegations that they violated federal regulations related to the storage of oil. The companies have operations in all six New England states, and two own and operate multiple oil storage facilities.
Mantrose-Haeuser Co. Inc., an Attleboro, Mass., shellac-based coatings facility, will pay $34,000 following a 2006 EPA inspection of its oil tanks and facility. EPA found the company to be in violation of federal Clean Water Act regulations by releasing an unknown quantity of oil into the nearby Ten Mile River and failing to prepare and implement an adequate Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) plan.
EPA had originally responded to a release of sulfuric acid at Mantrose-Haeuser in June 2006 and subsequently conducted an inspection of the facility's oil tanks one month later, during which the inspector observed another spill occurring, this time a release of diesel fuel. The second spill resulted from a leak in a diesel-powered, high-pressure washing device that had been staged on the facility's parking lot without any secondary containment to catch spills.
The leaked oil flowed into a nearby storm drain and into the Ten Mile River. EPA also noted that there was heavy oil staining and evidence of prior spillage throughout the delivery truck unloading area, directly adjacent to the river.
Upon EPA's observation that an oil sheen had developed on the river, Mantrose-Haeuser initiated steps to protect the storm drain with oil absorbent pads, shut down the leaking equipment, and clean up the spilled oil. No environmental damage was evident from this release.
Rice Oil Co. of Greenfield, Mass., will pay a $157,500 penalty for alleged SPCC violations at four of its Massachusetts oil storage and distribution facilities and at a Vermont facility, where two oil spills occurred in 2003 and 2007. The company is affiliated with approximately 40 gas stations and convenience stores throughout New England.
On July 4, 2007, Rice Oil reported a 400-gallon discharge of oil from its Readsboro, Vt., facility. Emergency personnel from the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation responded and oversaw the investigation and remediation of the discharge. Some of the oil was observed to have escaped the earthen berm surrounding the tanks; however, no impact to the Deerfield River was observed.
This was the second oil discharge from this site within the past five years. Previous to the July 4th spill, Rice Oil had a 300-gallon fuel oil release in October 2003. The oil was discharged from a tank into the Deerfield River, and no product was recovered from the river during subsequent response operations. Following this release, Rice Oil paid a $15,000 penalty to EPA for violations of the federal Clean Water Act. At that time, the company also agreed to upgrade the oil storage and distribution systems at the Readsboro facility, as well as its other Massachusetts bulk plants.
On Nov. 28, 2006, representatives from EPA and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection inspected three of Rice Oil's Massachusetts bulk plants in Greenfield and Shelburne Falls, and they reviewed information related to an Orange, Mass., facility and the Vermont facility. The inspection revealed that the company had failed to upgrade its equipment as previously agreed to, including building sufficiently impervious and appropriately sized secondary containment for oil storage tanks, transfer areas, and loading racks.
Irving Oil Co., with U.S. operations based in Portsmouth, N.H., will pay a $55,000 penalty for alleged violations at one of its facilities located in a drinking water protection area in Alton, N.H. In addition to the Alton facility, Irving owns and operates a total of 12 bulk oil storage facilities in New England, 3 of which are marine terminals with a combined storage capacity of more than 100 million gallons.
A joint inspection by representatives from EPA's New England office and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services at the Alton bulk plant found that the company had failed to construct sufficiently impervious secondary containment around its aboveground storage tanks. The facility's oil storage included six aboveground bulk petroleum storage tanks ranging in size from 10,000 to 20,000 gallons, with an aggregate storage capacity of more than 100,000 gallons.
The Irving Oil facility also stores gasoline on-site and is located within the well radius of the Town of Alton's drinking water supply. This sensitive location means that spills at the bulk plant could lead to contamination of a public drinking water aquifer. In November 2005, the facility had a spill of more than 5,000 gallons of No. 2 home heating oil, which impacted the groundwater beneath the tank farm.
EPA’s Focus on SPCC Regulations
Among other requirements, the SPCC plan must contain measures to prevent and control oil spills, including ensuring that there is adequate containment to prevent the spilled oil from reaching a waterway. Since meeting with EPA representatives, all three companies have been working cooperatively to update and fully implement SPCC plans at their New England facilities.
"Oil spills can do significant damage to the environment, so it is important to take steps to prevent them from occurring," said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "Facilities that store and distribute oil have a responsibility to carefully follow established procedures to minimize risks of oil spills."
EPA continues to focus on oil spill prevention in New England. In 2007, EPA conducted inspections at more than 100 facilities in New England to determine their compliance with the Oil Pollution Prevention regulations.
Sinclair Oil Agrees to Improved Refinery Pollution Controls
Sinclair Oil Corp. will pay a $2.45 million civil penalty and spend more than $72 million for new and upgraded pollution controls to reduce air pollution by more than 11 million pounds of harmful emissions annually from the company's three refineries, announced the Justice Department and EPA.
“EPA’s vigorous enforcement of environmental laws shows polluters that they need to act responsibly,” said Granta Nakayama, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Our fellow citizens in Wyoming and Oklahoma will breathe cleaner air thanks to today’s settlement.”
“The emissions reductions required by this settlement will lead to cleaner air and significant environmental and public health benefits for the communities in Wyoming and Oklahoma,” said Ronald J. Tenpas, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Department remains committed to working with EPA and states to bring industries such as the refining industry into compliance with the nation’s environmental laws.”
The agreement requires new pollution controls to be installed that will reduce annual emissions of nitrogen oxide by approximately 1,100 tons per year and sulfur dioxide by almost 4,600 tons per year when fully implemented. The new controls also will result in additional reductions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and particulate matter from each of the refineries. VOCs and sulfur dioxide can contribute to respiratory disorders, such as asthma and reduced lung capacity. They can also cause damage to ecosystems and reduce visibility. The three refineries covered by the settlement have the capacity to produce nearly 160,000 barrels of oil per day.
In addition, Sinclair will spend $150,000 on supplemental environmental projects in Oklahoma, including $100,000 to install new controls to reduce emissions of particulate matter from the City of Tulsa’s fleet of municipal trash trucks.
The Sinclair agreement is the latest in a series of comprehensive, companywide settlements under an EPA initiative to reduce air pollution from refineries nationwide. Last year, similar settlements were reached with Valero Energy, Total Petrochemicals, and Hunt Refining Company, requiring approximately $300 million in new pollution controls at refineries located in Texas, Tennessee, Ohio, Alabama, and Mississippi.
With this agreement, 95 refineries located in 28 states, representing more than 86% of the nation’s refining capacity, are required to install new controls to significantly reduce emissions. The first of EPA’s comprehensive refinery settlements was reached in 2000.
The states of Oklahoma and Wyoming have also joined in the consent decree and will share portions of the civil penalty with EPA.
Three Parties Agree to Pay for Cleanup of Iron Horse Park Superfund Site in Massachusetts
The U.S. Justice Department and EPA have announced that Boston and Maine Corp., BNZ Materials Inc., and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) have agreed to perform environmental cleanup work expected to cost $23.53 million at the 553-acre Iron Horse Park Superfund Site located in Massachusetts.
The agreement resolves the liability of the three companies for this phase of the work and provides for the cleanup of the seven different contamination source areas on a portion of the Iron Horse Park Superfund Site. It also provides for reimbursement of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ past and future response costs.
The Iron Horse Park site is located in an industrial complex in North Billerica, Mass., and includes manufacturing and rail yard maintenance facilities, open storage areas, landfills, and wastewater lagoons. On-site groundwater and surface water are sporadically contaminated with organic and inorganic chemicals, asbestos, and heavy metals, including arsenic, cadmium, lead, and selenium. The soil at the site is contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), petrochemicals, and the same heavy metals as found in the groundwater. Approximately 61,000 people live within a three-mile radius of the site. The site was added to EPA’s National Priorities List in September 1984.
“Today's settlement is a demonstration of the Justice Department’s commitment to ensuring that companies that contribute to the creation of Superfund sites take responsibility for their cleanup,” said Ronald J. Tenpas, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.
Under the terms of the consent decree, the settling parties are required to implement the 2004 Record of Decision, which is the soil cleanup plan for the seven source areas. Specifically, the cleanup plan calls for the capping in place of contaminated soil for various source areas. The cleanup approach for the surface water, sediment, and groundwater contamination for the seven source areas will be addressed in a future Record of Decision.
The consent decree also contains the terms of a settlement for the liability of the Johns Manville Corp. Manville is not a settling party under the consent decree but had previously settled a bankruptcy suit with the United States resolving its liability for contamination at the site’s source areas. Under the consent decree, Manville will pay a percentage of the cleanup costs for the seventh source area and $50,000 toward the cost of cleaning up the sixth source area. The payments will be made directly to BNZ Materials, Inc., and Boston and Maine Corp. and will be used by those parties for the cleanup at those two source areas.
EPA Settles With Pioneer Americas LLC for Failure to Properly Report the Release of Chlorine Gas Into the Environment
The EPA reached a settlement with Pioneer Americas, LLC (Pioneer), for its failure to report the release of nearly 900 lbs of chlorine from their Tacoma facility in a timely manner. The settlement includes $15,804 in penalties and $59,144 to provide emergency response equipment for local firefighters.
The settlement agreement alleges that on Feb. 12, 2007, the Pioneer facility (located at 2001 Thorne Road in Tacoma, Wash.) failed to immediately notify local and state agencies about the chlorine release. According to Tacoma Fire Department and U.S. Coast Guard, a large portion of the Port of Tacoma was closed and a number of people were evacuated. The Tacoma Fire Department reported 26 people, 5 firefighters, and 7 Korean crewmembers from a nearby ship had to be transported to area hospitals for evaluation and treatment. Most injuries were minor, and there were no fatalities.
The chlorine release and the failure to notify appropriate agencies are violations of the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).
According to Mike Bussell, director of EPA’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle, these laws help communities prepare for and respond to chemical accidents.
“In this case, everyone was very lucky that no one was severely injured due to the chlorine release and Pioneer’s failure to promptly notify first responders,” said Bussell. “Chlorine gas can be extremely dangerous, which is why immediately notifying the appropriate agencies is so important.”
In addition to the penalty, Pioneer will also perform a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP), which will provide more than $59,000 to purchase emergency response equipment for the Tacoma Fire Department. This equipment will improve the department’s capabilities in responding to hazardous materials emergencies in a safe and effective manner.
Massey Energy to Pay Largest Civil Penalty Ever for Water Permit Violations
This is the largest civil penalty in EPA’s history levied against a company for wastewater discharge permit violations.
"This is a landmark settlement for the environment and raises the bar for the mining industry," said Granta Nakayama, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "Today's action reiterates the message that EPA will enforce environmental laws."
“The measures required by this settlement represent a significant step forward in the way that mining facilities currently address Clean Water Act compliance,” said Ronald J. Tenpas, Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Justice Department’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division. “This settlement will greatly benefit citizens in West Virginia and Kentucky and improve many of our nation’s waters for years to come.”
As part of the settlement, Massey, the fourth largest coal company in the United States, has agreed to take measures at all of its facilities that will prevent an estimated 380 million pounds of sediment and other pollutants from entering the nation’s waters each year. These compliance measures are unprecedented in the coal mining industry.
In a complaint filed on May 10, 2007, the government alleged that Massey violated its CWA permits more than 4,500 times between January 2000 and December 2006. The complaint alleged that Massey discharged excess amounts of metals, sediment, and acid mine drainage into hundreds of rivers and streams in West Virginia and Kentucky. Many of the pollutants were discharged in amounts 40% or more than allowed. Some pollutants were discharged at levels more than 10 times the permit limits.
The complaint also alleged that Massey spilled large amounts of slurry, which is waste containing metals and sediment, into local waterways numerous times. Sediment can clog streams and harm fish habitats. The spills occurred as a result of failures in the processing, storage, and transportation of coal slurry.
In addition to the penalty, Massey will invest approximately $10 million to develop and implement a set of procedures to prevent future violations. Massey will implement an innovative electronic tracking system that allows the company to quickly address compliance problems and correct any violations of permit limits. This measure fits within a comprehensive environmental compliance program that Massey has agreed to implement, which includes in-depth internal and third-party audits, employee training, and a plan to prevent future slurry spills.
Massey will also set aside 200 acres of riverfront land in West Virginia for conservation purposes and protection from future mining. The company is also required to perform 20 projects downstream from mining operations.
Massey, the largest coal producer in Central Appalachia, owns and operates approximately 33 underground mines and approximately 11 surface mines in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia, with corporate headquarters in Richmond, Va. Massey controls 2.3 billion tons, or approximately one-third, of the coal reserves in Central Appalachia.
The company holds hundreds of state-issued wastewater discharge permits. The permits allow the company to discharge certain pollutants in limited amounts to rivers, streams, and other water bodies. Some pollutants must be treated with chemicals prior to discharge, while others must go through a settling process. Massey is required to monitor discharges regularly and report results to the state agency. Permits are issued for a five-year term.
EPA, National and Environmental Groups Launch "Green Infrastructure" Plan to Benefit Communities and the Environment
EPA, with state and national partners, released a comprehensive plan to reduce runoff and increase environmental and economic benefits for communities. The strategy will help reduce stormwater runoff and sewer overflows by promoting “green infrastructure” approaches, such as green roofs, trees and tree boxes, rain gardens, and porous pavements. These tools have many other benefits, including cost savings, improved air quality, urban heat island reductions, energy savings, water conservation, and urban habitat creation.
The plan explains how states, municipalities, permitting authorities, and non-governmental organizations can use green infrastructure practices to meet water quality goals while sustaining their water infrastructure. The document, “Managing Wet Weather with Green Infrastructure Action Strategy 2008,” outlines ways to bring green infrastructure technologies and approaches into mainstream use for runoff and sewer overflow management.
This plan follows an April 19, 2007, agreement to promote green infrastructure as an environmentally preferable approach to wet weather management. It also represents a key set of actions that EPA and its partners are taking to reduce projected impacts of climate change. The plan, which includes seven major implementation areas: Research, Outreach and Communication, Tools, Clean Water Act Regulatory Support, Economic Viability and Funding, Demonstrations and Recognition, and Partnerships and Promotion was developed by EPA, American Rivers, the Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Low Impact Development Center.
CT Attorney General, DEP Announce Environmental Settlement With Thames Shipyard
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Gina McCarthy announced that The Thames Shipyard and Repair Company and other defendants have agreed to pay a substantial penalty and perform environmental protection projects to resolve several violations of environmental laws and regulations.
The shipyard and related companies have agreed to a settlement worth $747,011. Of that, $178,700 will be paid directly to the state and the remaining $568,311 will be in the form of Supplemental Environmental Projects to improve the shipyard property and the vital surrounding environment.
"This complex case has a simple significant message: environmental compliance matters," Blumenthal said. "One of our state’s preeminent shipbuilders—sited on a treasured state waterway—has rightfully agreed to far-reaching protective measures to prevent future harm, as well as a penalty. This company has a proud history as an employer and contributor to our state’s economy. It has cooperated in reaching this agreement. It will match that record now by affirming its environmental responsibility to correct past harm and prevent recurrence. This milestone settlement should send a strong message that we seek partnerships with industry, but will enforce penalties when necessary. We are proud that joint work with DEP led to today’s significant result."
A state inspection at the shipyard’s New London property revealed numerous environmental violations, including poor waste management practices and virtually no established hazardous waste compliance program. The inspection also revealed numerous unpermitted wastewater and stormwater discharges to the Thames River.
The state a