Honeywell to Pay $500,000 Penalty for Hazardous Waste Violations

February 26, 2007

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard and Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) Director Steve Owens announced on Feb. 23 that Honeywell International, Inc. will pay a $500,000 penalty under a consent judgment with ADEQ for hazardous waste violations in Mohave County.

In September 2005, ADEQ inspectors discovered that the Honeywell Aircraft Landing Systems facility in Kingman, an FAA-certified repair and overhaul station for aircraft wheels and brakes, was operating two natural gas-fired hazardous waste thermal treatment units without the required hazardous waste treatment permit.

"I am committed to enforcing hazardous waste laws," Goddard said. "These laws protect our communities, and I will continue to seek penalties from companies that violate these laws."

Owens stated, "Arizona's hazardous waste laws and regulations were established for protection of the public and the environment. This penalty reflects the serious nature of the violations at Honeywell's Kingman facility."

ADEQ issued a notice of violation (NOV) to Honeywell Kingman on Nov. 15, 2005, for thermally treating its hazardous waste without a permit, failing to submit signed manifests, failing to properly label each container and tank as hazardous waste, failing to inform employees of proper handling and emergency procedures and failing to comply with personnel training requirements.

ADEQ also found that Honeywell was underreporting its hazardous waste, inaccurately classifying it as solid waste by using an incorrect regulatory level for cadmium. The consent judgment is subject to court approval.

Owner of North American Waste Assistance Pleads Guilty

Dennis Rodriguez of El Paso, Texas, pleaded guilty on Feb. 20 to criminal environmental crimes related to the operation of his company, North American Waste Assistance, LLC (NAWA), also located in El Paso. Under the plea agreement, entered in federal district court for the Western District of Texas, Rodriguez admitted to making a material false statement or representations in a manifest used to transport hazardous waste and to two counts of transporting hazardous waste to a facility that did not have a permit issued pursuant to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).

Both Rodriguez and his company were indicted in November 2005 for violations related to the handling and transportation of hazardous waste. According to the indictment, Rodriguez and NAWA were hired to dispose of more than 155 gallon drums of construction-related waste. Approximately 75 of the drums contained expired petroleum-based concrete curing compound, which is an ignitable hazardous waste when disposal becomes necessary.

The indictment alleged that on or about March 27, 2002, Rodriguez and NAWA transported the drums using several Uniform Hazardous Waste Manifests that stated that the drums contained “Non-RCRA, Non-Regulated” waste. Rodriguez then made arrangements to transport the drums, for disposal, to landfills in Avalon, Tex., and Walterboro, S.C., that were not permitted under RCRA to accept hazardous waste. The drums of hazardous waster were then disposed of at unauthorized facilities.

Rodriguez faces a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison and a total maximum fine of $250,000 per count.

This case was investigated by special agents of the EPA, with the assistance of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and is being prosecuted by the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas.

EPA Orders Cities to Stop Harmful Sewage Overflows

EPA’s New England Regional Office ordered five Rhode Island municipalities and a wastewater utility to take steps to stop harmful raw sewage overflows from seeping from city pipes and wastewater systems into the State’s treasured waterways. EPA’s issuance of administrative compliance orders is part of an ambitious new effort to combat the serious water quality problems caused by sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) in the state. The EPA orders were issued to: the Narragansett Bay Commission and the Cities of Providence, Barrington, Smithfield, Cranston, and Bristol, Rhode Island.

“EPA is working to secure Rhode Island’s future as the ‘Ocean State’ by tackling the state’s sewage overflow problems head-on,” stated Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “This effort to address SSOs in Rhode Island will help ensure the long-term vitality and health of the state’s most valuable resources—its coastal beaches, shellfish areas, and waters.”

EPA plans to use a variety of compliance techniques to make all of Rhode Island’s wastewater utilities and municipalities with wastewater collection systems aware of the harmful effects of SSOs, and get them to take action to fix any problems found. Recently, EPA sent letters to all such entities in Rhode Island, asking city officials to focus on this important issue and informing them that it is an EPA priority. Working with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM), EPA plans to combine enforcement and compliance assistance to encourage or require municipalities and wastewater entities to take necessary steps to address their SSO problems.

EPA has taken enforcement actions in other New England states for sanitary sewer overflows, collecting penalties in some cases. EPA recently collected penalties from the Metropolitan District (MDC) in Hartford, Conn., and Worcester, Mass., for failures in the communities' sanitary sewer collection systems. The six orders announced are the first federal actions in Rhode Island for sewer overflows.

SSOs are caused by breakdowns in the system of pipes, pumps, and other equipment that municipalities and wastewater utilities use to collect and transport sewage to wastewater treatment plants. These unlawful discharges often occur due to blockages; structural, mechanical or electrical failures; or from excess flows that enter wastewater collection systems. Implementation of effective preventative maintenance programs has been shown to significantly reduce the frequency and volume of these discharges.

When a SSO occurs, raw sewage is released from the wastewater collection system onto streets, or into basements, or surface waters. Discharges of untreated sewage from SSOs are a significant cause of water quality violations in New England. Significant property damage and public health risks may also result from sewage backups into homes and other structures.

The recent compliance orders targeted wastewater systems with serious SSO problems, and require system assessments, development of plans to remedy any deficiencies found, and development of long-term preventative maintenance programs. EPA’s orders complement ongoing actions that RIDEM has taken to control SSOs in East Providence and Middletown.

EPA plans to continue its enforcement push while also offering compliance assistance workshops and training for Rhode Island municipalities. The first workshop was held on Dec. 12, 2006, in Warwick, and additional assistance workshops will be offered through 2007. The workshops will assist municipalities by helping them identify and prevent problems with the operation and maintenance of their wastewater collection infrastructure, and will provide guidance on how to develop long-term management and investment plans for future protection.

Merisol USA Partners with EPA to Reduce Hazardous Chemicals

The EPA welcomes Merisol USA LLC., as one of the newest partners in its National Partnership for Environmental Priorities.

Merisol joined the program by pledging to eliminate a total of 2,391,444 pounds of hazardous chemicals, including 87,652 pounds of dibenzofuran, 1,558,115 pounds of naphthalene, 745,032 pounds of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and 645 pounds of mercury.

“Reducing hazardous materials is both a good environmental and smart business strategy,” said EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene. “By joining this program, Merisol is protecting the environment and reducing the high business costs that come with managing hazardous chemicals."

Merisol has implemented a major process change in its chemical manufacturing that will lead to reductions in hazardous chemicals and odors. The reductions will also make Merisol one of the largest decreasers of hazardous chemicals in EPA Region 6 to join the partnership.

“Partnering with the U.S. EPA and other regulatory agencies is a testimony of Merisol's values and how we choose to do business,” said Merisol Plant Manager Pieter Potgieter. “It demonstrates our commitment to the environment and our community, and it just makes good business sense. These kind of voluntary programs are proactive steps in reducing environmental impacts and thereby improving the long term sustainability of our business.”

The National Partnership for Environmental Priorities () is a voluntary program in which private and public organizations work with EPA to reduce the use or release of 31 priority chemicals beyond regulatory requirements. These chemicals are long-lasting substances that can build up in the food chain and harm humans and the ecosystem.

Salvation Army Fined Almost $77,000 for Asbestos NESHAP Violations

An Anchorage Salvation Army thrift store has agreed to pay a $76,906 penalty to settle with the EPA for alleged violations of the asbestos national emissions standards for hazardous air pollutants (asbestos NESHAP) under the Clean Air Act.

In response to customer complaints, EPA conducted an inspection of a thrift store operated by the Salvation Army in Anchorage in September 2005 and found untrained workers removing more than 7,500 square feet of asbestos-containing floor tile during business hours. EPA’s inspector determined the floor tile was in a deteriorated state and easily crumbled with hand pressure. The store had already disposed of much of the broken floor tile prior to the inspection. Samples collected by EPA’s inspector showed the floor tile contained asbestos.

Upon learning of the asbestos concern, the Salvation Army immediately closed the store and kept it closed until an abatement company was able to clean up the remaining asbestos waste materials and dispose of them properly. The Salvation Army also disposed of its inventory rather than risk exposing the public further to asbestos fibers.

“Exposure to asbestos dust can have serious health consequences,” said Marcia Combes, EPA’s Director of Alaska Operations. “In this case, the Salvation Army was very responsive upon learning of the problem. This dangerous situation could have been avoided if the store had followed the Salvation Army’s established asbestos management program.”

EPA regulations require building owners and contractors to survey buildings prior to renovation or demolition projects and to submit advance notice to EPA. To protect public health and the environment, only trained workers may handle asbestos materials and must be supervised by a person familiar with the regulations. Workers must keep asbestos wet to prevent dust from leaving the work area and dispose of asbestos waste in designated landfills.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral fiber, used extensively in building materials prior to the 1980’s due to its fire resistant properties. Exposure to asbestos fibers can lead to diseases including asbestosis and lung cancer. EPA has regulated asbestos under the Clean Air Act since the early 1970’s.

EPA Fines Contractor for Destroying Wetlands

Under the settlement with EPA, the former owner of Rochester Utility Contractors, Michael Maier, must restore the wetlands to their previous condition. Maier has removed the illegal fill as ordered. The case was referred to EPA by the Buffalo District office of the Army Corps of Engineers.

“Filling in a wetland effectively destroys it,” said Alan J. Steinberg, regional administrator. “Many companies may think that no one will notice if a small wetland area is destroyed, but EPA and its partners do notice and we will not only penalize violators, but we will make them reverse the damage that they have done, often at a great financial expense.”

The affected area is approximately 0.4 acres of a cattail wetland and is part of the Black Creek watershed. Water from the wetlands drains to Black Creek, and from there to the Genesee River and Lake Ontario. Rochester Utility Contractors filled the wetland with soil from other sites and then used the area to store equipment and materials beginning in the spring of 1994 and continuing periodically through December 2004. This destroyed the area of wetlands and disrupted the local ecosystem.

Wetlands, particularly freshwater marsh wetlands, purify water and keep our environment clean in several ways. Nutrients that are dissolved in water, such as nitrates and phosphates, are taken up by wetland plant roots and incorporated as plant tissue. These compounds, which are contained in animal wastes, fertilizers and the like, are found both in agricultural runoff and urban runoff. Wetlands, by removing such components from runoff, purify the water that ultimately enters downstream waters, and thus work to maintain healthy aquatic ecosystems. Freshwater wetlands also maintain water quality by removing sediments and waterborne toxic materials. Incoming sediments are trapped by groups of root complexes in wetland plants, and organic contaminants and heavy metals absorb and bind with the sediment/root complexes, protecting aquatic life. Finally, freshwater wetlands provide flood control by naturally storing excess rainwater that has run off from upland areas, including developed properties, and gradually releasing it to adjacent creeks and rivers.

The loss or degradation of wetlands can lead to serious consequences, such as extinctions and the decline in productivity of coastal fisheries. EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers share enforcement authority for the federal wetlands protection laws. Anyone planning construction activities in wetlands or streams must contact the Corps well in advance to obtain a permit.

New Jersey Tightens Soil Cleanup Standards for Chromium


Tier 2 Reports are Due March 1

Facilities covered by EPCRA must submit an emergency and hazardous chemical inventory form covering the previous year to the Local Emergency Planning Committee, the State Emergency Response Committee and the local fire department. Tier 2 reporting is required for facilities with threshold quantities of OSHA hazardous chemicals and extremely hazardous substances (note: this does include ingredients and finished products). 


EPA Cultivates Water-Efficient Landscapes

. As part of the agency's new water-efficiency partnership program, two certification programs for landscape irrigation professionals received the WaterSense label for their adherence to water-saving techniques.

"Landscapes can use less water and still be beautiful and healthy," said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles. "WaterSense irrigation partners can help you find the solution that makes sense for your lawn or garden—as well as your wallet and the environment."

 To earn the WaterSense label, IA's certification programs must test for the ability to design, install and maintain water-efficient landscape irrigation systems, including tailoring systems to the surrounding landscape, selecting water-efficient equipment, tracking local climate conditions, and developing appropriate schedules for watering.

IA's certified irrigation contractors and certified irrigation designers are now eligible to become WaterSense partners and may use the WaterSense partner logo to promote their water-efficient landscape and irrigation services to consumers. EPA is inviting professionals through these programs who share a commitment to water efficiency to become partners and help consumers save water and money while maintaining their yards.

WaterSense is a voluntary public-private partnership that identifies and promotes high-performance products and programs that help preserve the nation's water supply. The WaterSense program seeks to generate support for consumer use of water-efficient products such as high-efficiency toilets, water-saving faucets, and, in the future, weather-based controllers and soil moisture sensors for lawns and gardens.

EPA Approves Majority of Missouri’s Water Quality Standards

EPA has approved most of the provisions of the new and revised Missouri water quality standards submitted to EPA by the state. The approved provisions are now effective for implementation purposes under the Clean Water Act.

EPA commends the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for its diligent work in preparing the water quality standards revisions, which will further Missouri’s ability to protect its resources.

EPA received Missouri’s complete submission of its new and revised water quality standards for review and approval on March 28, 2006, pursuant to the Clean Water Act. Under the Act, states are required to review their water quality standards no less frequently than every three years and submit new or revised standards to EPA.

The March 28 submittal included revisions to the Missouri water quality standards approved Sept. 7, 2005, by the Missouri Clean Water Commission and published in the Missouri Code of State Regulations Nov. 30, 2005.

With this action, EPA is approving the following provisions of the new or revised water quality standards:

  • New and revised definitions to clarify the application of water quality standards
  • New language to help guide future development of wetland water quality criteria
  • New language pertaining to the water quality anti-degradation policy
  • Updates to the toxics, metals, and ammonia water quality criteria for protection of aquatic life
  • New language gives dischargers the opportunity to apply for a temporary suspension from bacteria standards during wet weather events
  • Revised legal descriptions for classified lakes and streams
  • Revisions to reference streams, identifying additional streams and including legal descriptions


EPA is approving part of a provision that would allow Missouri to include compliance schedules in discharge permits to meet the water quality criteria. However, EPA is disapproving another part of that provision that is inconsistent with the Clean Water Act and federal regulations. This part would have allowed Missouri to give dischargers compliance schedules solely to study whether recreational uses are attainable and whether disinfection is necessary to protect those uses. The recreational use designation is associated with certain water quality standards that are protective of swimming, boating, and wading.

This partial disapproval recognizes that the act does not allow compliance schedules to be granted solely for time to study whether meeting the water quality criteria is necessary. The act does allow such studies to be conducted by dischargers during the term of the compliance schedule, as long as dischargers meet the permit conditions to achieve compliance with the criteria by the end of that schedule.

This is the third EPA action on the March 28 water quality standards submission from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. EPA issued a decision that addressed some revisions to the water quality standards April 28, 2006, and made a determination on recreational uses for Missouri’s waters Oct. 31, 2006.

EPA’s February 20 decision letter provides a more detailed description of EPA’s review and the basis for this action. To obtain an electronic copy of this decision letter, please contact Martin Kessler by phone (913-551-7236) or e-mail 

BATG Environmental Fined $33,620 for Violating Solid Waste Rules

BATG Environmental, Inc. of Taunton, Mass., has been assessed a penalty of $33,620 by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) for violations of MassDEP's Solid Waste Management regulations at the landfill in the Town of Charlton.

During October and November 2005, the company spread approximately 12,000 cubic yards of construction and demolition waste fines over a portion of the Town of Charlton's landfill, located off 90 Flint Road, without being authorized to do so under a Solid Waste Management Facility permit.

In a consent order with MassDEP, BATG Environmental has agreed to mix the construction and demolition waste fines with acceptable soils prior to further construction at the landfill, in order to reduce the potential for nuisance odor. BATG will also construct storm water management controls, comply with an approved corrective action design permit issued by MassDEP to the Town of Charlton authorizing the final capping of the landfill, and comply with a superseding order of conditions issued by MassDEP to the Town of Charlton for construction activity at the landfill near adjoining wetlands.

The company must also comply with contractual construction requirements with the Town of Charlton, including the funding of a financial assurance mechanism ensuring that up to $1 million is available to complete the capping of the landfill.

"MassDEP and the local community's Board of Health are responsible for providing regulatory oversight for construction activity at any landfill within the commonwealth to avoid or minimize any negative environmental impacts associated with construction activities," said Martin Suuberg, director of MassDEP's Central Regional Office in Worcester. "We are pleased that BATG Environmental has agreed to complete the capping of the Town of Charlton's landfill in accordance with all of the regulatory requirements and permits in an expedited fashion."

As part of the consent order, $17,000 of the assessed penalty will be suspended as long as BATG complies with all requires of the order.

Cross Border Truck Safety Inspection Program

Truck safety inspectors working for the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will be able to travel to Mexico to conduct extensive safety audits on companies interested in hauling cargo into and out of the United States as part of a new program announced by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters.

Secretary Peters, who visited a local trucking company in Monterrey, Mexico, to announce the program with Mexican Secretary of Communications and Transportation Luis Tllez, said this step is needed before the United States can allow trucks from Mexico to operate beyond the currently existing border commercial zones that include cities like San Diego and El Paso.

“This program will make trade with Mexico easier and keep our roads safe at the same time,” Secretary Peters said.

Peters also noted U.S. inspection teams will now be able to visit Mexican trucking companies to ensure their trucks and drivers meet the same safety, insurance, and licensing requirements that apply to all U.S. truckers. She added the inspectors will evaluate truck maintenance and driver testing for compliance with U.S. requirements.

The inspection teams also will check that drivers have a valid commercial driver’s license, have a current medical certificate, and can comply with U.S. hours-of-service rules. The teams will review driving histories for each driver the company plans to use to operate within the U.S. and verify the company is insured by U.S.-licensed firms. Finally, each inspection team will verify that every U.S.-bound truck has passed a comprehensive safety inspection. Trucks lacking required documentation will be subject to a "hood to tail-lamps" inspection by the teams.

“With this new program, we prove that safety and economic growth are compatible,” Secretary Peters said.

$30,000 Penalty for Failure to Implement Risk Management Plan

Struktol Company of America will pay a $29,984 penalty to Ohio EPA for failing to follow environmental regulations at its chemical manufacturing company located at 201 E. Steels Corners Road in Stow.

Struktol failed to file a risk management plan with Ohio EPA for storing ethylenediamine. In addition, the company failed to have procedures for emergency shutdown and equipment inspections; establish and implement a written maintenance program; and provide evidence of employee training.

The deficiencies occurred between September 2004 and December 2006, when the company received and stored more than 20,000 pounds of ethylenediamine for use in the chemical manufacturing process. Struktol has since submitted the required documentation and now operates in compliance with risk management plan regulations.

Ethylenediamine is one of 140 hazardous substances that fall under the risk management program when stored in large quantities. The program is designed to prevent accidental releases that can cause serious harm to the public or environment and to mitigate the severity of releases that do occur.

The risk management program requires an analysis of the potential off-site consequences of a worst-case accidental release; a five-year accident history; a release prevention program; and emergency planning.

From Farm Waste to Fuel Tanks

Using corncob waste as a starting material, researchers have created carbon briquettes with complex nanopores capable of storing natural gas at an unprecedented density of 180 times their own volume and at one seventh the pressure of conventional natural gas tanks.

The breakthrough, announced in Kansas City, Mo., is a significant step forward in the nationwide effort to fit more automobiles to run on methane, an abundant fuel that is domestically produced and cleaner burning than gasoline.

Supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Partnership for Innovation program, researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU), and Midwest Research Institute (MRI) in Kansas City developed the technology. The technology has been incorporated into a test bed installed on a pickup truck used regularly by the Kansas City Office of Environmental Quality.

The briquettes are the first technology to meet the 180 to 1 storage to volume target set by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2000, a long-term goal of principal project leader Peter Pfeifer of MU.

"We are very excited about this breakthrough because it may lead to a flat and compact tank that would fit under the floor of a passenger car, similar to current gasoline tanks," said Pfeifer. "Such a technology would make natural gas a widely attractive alternative fuel for everyone."

According to Pfeifer, the absence of such a flatbed tank has been the principal reason why natural gas, which costs significantly less than gasoline and diesel and burns more cleanly, is not yet widely used as a fuel for vehicles.

Standard natural gas storage systems use high-pressure natural gas that has been compressed to a pressure of 3600 pounds per square inch and bulky tanks that can take up the space of an entire car trunk. The carbon briquettes contain networks of pores and channels that can hold methane at a high density without the cost of extreme compression, ultimately storing the fuel at a pressure of only 500 pounds per square inch, the pressure found in natural gas pipelines.

The low pressure of 500 pounds per square inch is central for crafting the tank into any desired shape, so ultimately, fuel storage tanks could be thin-walled, slim, rectangular structures affixed to the underside of the car, not taking up room in the vehicle.

Pfeifer and his colleagues at MU and MRI discovered that that fractal pore spaces (spaces created by repetition of similar patterns at different scales) are remarkably efficient at storing natural gas.

"Our project is the first time a carbon storage material has been made from corncobs, an abundantly available waste product in the Midwest," said Pfeifer. "The carbon briquettes are made from the cobs that remain after the kernels have been harvested. The state of Missouri alone could supply the raw material for more than 10 million cars per year. It would be a unique opportunity to bring corn to the market for alternative fuels—corn kernels for ethanol production, and corncob for natural gas tanks."

The test pickup truck, part of a fleet of more than 200 natural gas vehicles operated by Kansas City, has been in use since mid-October and the researchers are monitoring the technology's performance, from mileage data to measurements of the stability of the briquettes.

In addition to efforts to commercialize the technology, the researchers are now focusing on the next generation briquette, one that will store more natural gas and cost less to produce. Pfeifer believes this next generation of briquette might even hold promise for storing hydrogen.

New York, 8 Other States, and Environmental Groups Sue EPA over Cement Kiln Emissions

New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced a multi-state legal challenge to the federal government for adopting a rule that refuses to regulate mercury and other pollutants from existing portland cement plants. The states seek to have a federal court overturn the rule by finding that the agency’s rule violates the Clean Air Act. A petition, signed by nine states, was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Portland cement is the primary cement used in building projects and road construction; it is produced throughout the United States.

The federal Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set standards for various hazardous air pollutants, including mercury, based on the performance of the cleanest 12 percent of existing plants. The EPA’s rule would exempt existing portland cement plants from having to do anything to lower their emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants.

According to Cuomo, “EPA’s refusal to set emission standards for portland cement plants leaves a significant source of mercury pollution in the United States unregulated.” Collectively, these cement plants are a major source of mercury emissions nationwide. Mercury in the environment is blamed for neurological disorders, learning disabilities, and, in certain high dosage cases, even death. Recent studies suggest that mercury exposure may also contribute to adult cardiovascular problems. In addition, mercury contamination in many water bodies has led to the issuance of fish consumption advisories across the state of New York.

This will be the second time that the EPA has been challenged over its failure to set mercury pollution standards for the portland cement industry. In 2000, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit directed the EPA to set mercury standards. The EPA has since ignored the court’s ruling.

The states joining New York in the petition are Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Environmentalists have also challenged the EPA on this issue in a federal lawsuit filed on February 16. Earthjustice is representing Sierra Club, Downwinders At Risk (Texas), the Huron Environmental Activist League (Michigan), Friends of Hudson (New York), Desert Citizens Against Pollution (California) and Montanans Against Toxic Burning in the lawsuit. New York state is also expected to challenge this rule in a separate lawsuit.

According to Earthjustice, in addition to defying the Clean Air Act and repeated court orders, EPA's refusal to set mercury standards ignores the pleas of more than 20,000 people who wrote to the agency urging EPA to finally bring cement kilns' mercury pollution under control.

Mercury pollution is deposited in waters and eventually ends up in our food supply. People are exposed to unhealthy levels of mercury when we eat mercury-contaminated fish. EPA estimates that 15% of women of childbearing age, or one out of every six, have enough mercury in their blood to put a baby at risk of cognitive and developmental damage.

Half of Students, Teachers, and School Staff are Exposed to Polluted Indoor Air in Ill.

Illinois Lt. Governor Pat Quinn and State Rep. Karen May (D-Highland Park) ushered in a new era of clean and green schools when they announced the Green Cleaning Schools Act last week. The legislation – HB 895 – will require all elementary and secondary schools in Illinois to purchase environmentally sensitive cleaning supplies that do not expose students and teachers to harmful chemicals.

“Many of the chemicals found in everyday cleaning supplies are released as toxins and fumes into the air we breathe,” Quinn said. “It’s time to swap chemical-based cleaning supplies with natural, non-toxic products that are widely available and cost comparable.”

The Illinois EPA estimates that half of all students, teachers, and school staff are exposed to polluted indoor air that may be five to 100 times more polluted than outdoor air. The chemicals found in everyday cleaning supplies cause much of this pollution.

An estimated six billion pounds of chemicals are used in cleaning supplies each year. “Due to their smaller size and developing immune systems, children are more vulnerable to the effects of toxic chemicals than adults," said Rep. May, chair of the House Environmental Health Committee and General Assembly Environmental Caucus. "Years ago, we had the wisdom to ban lead-based paints because of its potential to impair a child's mental abilities. Given the fact that children spend hours every day in a classroom and that effective, non-toxic cleaning supplies are readily available, House Bill 895 is the next logical step toward making sure that our children grow up in a healthy environment."

In addition to creating a healthier school environment, natural products may also improve school attendance. The Healthy Schools Campaign estimates that students miss more than 14 million school days each year due to asthma that is exacerbated by poor indoor air quality.

Lockport Township High School, in Lockport, Ill., reported a three percent increase in the average daily attendance after implementing an Indoor Air Quality Management plan that included green cleaning.

When Danny Cassasanto, chief engineer at Jones College Prep, heard about green cleaning, he gave a plant-derived, multi-use product a shot. Finding it just as effective and affordable, he ultimately replaced a number of chemical-based products with the one multi-use cleaner. Thanks to Cassasanto’s efforts, students, teachers and staff at Jones College Prep are breathing cleaner, greener air – and the school is saving money.


Colorado Fines Companies for Failure to Pay Hazardous Waste Penalties

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced that the Department of Law has filed three separate lawsuits in state district court on behalf of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). The lawsuits seek overdue fines assessed against Robert Lewis, operator of The Cleaners in Boulder; Clean Parts, Inc. in Commerce City; and Compass Industrial Coatings, Inc., located in Colorado Springs. CDPHE ordered each of the three defendants to pay fines ranging from $8,332 to $23,280 for violations of Colorado’s hazardous waste regulations discovered during inspections of their facilities.

“Penalties levied by the state are not optional,” commented Attorney General Suthers. “The state contends these three defendants ignored Colorado statute, and is taking steps to ensure monetary fines are collected.”

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment enforces Colorado’s hazardous waste law and regulations. In these three cases, CDPHE issued administrative orders that required monetary penalties and cleanup actions to address the cited violations. Despite numerous meetings and informal attempts to obtain payment, the named defendants each have failed to pay the assessed amounts. Failure to pay an administrative penalty on time constitutes an additional violation of the law, and can carry added civil penalties of up to $25,000 for each day of nonpayment. In theses cases, overdue payments date as far back as May 6, 2006.

“Those subject to compliance orders of the state cannot ignore their obligations, including payment of assessed penalties,” said Gary Baughman, director of CDPHE’s Hazardous Materials and Waste Management Division. “Today, the Department is using these three cases to send a message to the entire regulated community that failing to pay penalties, no matter how small, will be met with a swift, decisive response that will result in a much more costly outcome than would have resulted from payment of the initial penalty.”

Trivia Question of the Week

The mission of the US Chemical Safety Board is to:

a. Screen new chemicals and require testing if they pose a threat to health or the environment
b. Report to OSHA recommendations for changes to permissible exposure limits
c. Investigate industrial safety accidents
d. Recommend clean-up levels for Superfund sites