Illegal Hazardous Waste Storage and Disposal Results in Over $300,000 Settlement

April 11, 2005

Roof Depot, which owned a store in Minneapolis, Minn., was sentenced on Feb. 16 in U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota in Minneapolis for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act by illegally storing and disposing of hazardous wastes.

The court ordered Roof Depot to pay a $75,000 criminal fine, pay restitution of more than $36,000 to the Hennepin County Department of Environmental Services (HCDES) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, pay an additional $50,000 in restitution to the Midwest Environmental Enforcement Association, provide in-kind contributions of goods worth $190,000 to Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, serve five years probation, and pay a special assessment of $400.

In September 1998, the company brought several pallet-loads of hazardous waste roofing cement, strippers and solvents to its facility on 28th St. in Minneapolis and stored them behind some buildings under a tarp. In March 1999, these hazardous wastes were buried in an unloading dock area that the company was filling and grading.

PA DEP Makes Watershed Stewardship Guide Available

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PA DEP) hosted the second of two watershed academies in Williamsport. Pa. to announce the public release of its Watershed Stewardship: A Planning and Resource Guide and to help local watershed interests understand and use the watershed guide effectively. The guide is available through the Department of Environmental Protection e-Library.

EPA Orders Sunsweet to Correct Clean Water Act Violations

Last week the EPA ordered Sunsweet Growers of Yuba City, Calif. to immediately correct wastewater treatment violations at its processing facility.

The EPA alleges that Sunsweet Growers, located at 901 N. Walton Ave., failed to correctly treat its wastewater before sending it to the local sewage treatment system.

The city must comply with the requirements in the EPA's order in several stages over the next two years, or face fines of up to $32,500 per day.

"Discharges of wastewater from industrial facilities can pose a serious threat to the integrity of sewer pipes and could cause local wastewater treatment plants to malfunction," said Alexis Strauss, the director of the EPA's water division in San Francisco. "We expect Sunsweet to comply with this order to protect Yuba CityÆs valuable treatment plant and the Feather River ecosystem."

The EPA determined that the company's wastewater has consistently exceeded local permit limits for pH, which indicates the amount of acidity in the wastewater. The EPAÆs regulations require the company to treat the wastewater before discharging it to Yuba cityÆs treatment plant to prevent any corrosion or impairment of the sewer system.

The EPAÆs order requires Sunsweet to outline how it will comply with local limits for pH and other pollutants. The company is also required to extensively monitor its wastewater and submit results to the EPA. The EPA discovered the violations based on information submitted by the company, at the agencyÆs request. Last July, the EPA had ordered Yuba City to make improvements to its pretreatment program.

Sunsweet makes dried fruit and fruit juices, which generates wastewater containing high concentrations of food residue and other organics. The wastewater is treated at the Yuba City treatment plant and discharged into the Feather River.

The EPAÆs pretreatment regulations require that industries treat chemicals and other contaminants in their wastewater before sending it to the local sewage treatment system. Local sewers can become corroded if highly acidic wastewater is sent through these systems. Local agencies must regulate industrial facilities by issuing permits, conducting inspections, sampling wastewater and reviewing each facility's monitoring data.

Twelve Additional Areas Now Meet National Air Quality Standards for Fine Particle Pollution

On April 5, 2005, the EPA added twenty-one counties in 12 areas across nine states to the list of counties that meet the nationÆs new, more protective air quality standards for fine particle pollution (PM2.5).

Across the United States, there are 30 states designated as ôin attainment.ö These areas are home to over 197 million people. The 12 additional newly designated attainment areas include more than 5 million people and represent continued progress toward cleaner air and improved public health.

The designations made by EPA in December 2004 were based on 2001-2003 air quality data. Following these designations, EPA provided an opportunity for states to submit updated, quality-assured, certified air quality data for 2002-2004 because EPA originally designated PM2.5 nonattainment areas so close to the end of 2004. The addition of these 12 new attainment areas updates the designations issued by EPA in December 2004. The December 2004 designations become effective today (90 days following Federal Register publication).

After reviewing the 2002-2004 air quality monitoring data provided by the states, EPA found that eight areas previously identified as not meeting the national air quality standards should be designated as ôin attainment.ö These areas and the counties include: Columbus, GA-AL (Muscogee, GA and Russell, AL counties); San Diego, CA (San Diego county); Athens, GA (Clarke county); Elkhart, IN (Elkhart and St. Joseph counties); Lexington, KY (Fayette and Mercer [partial] counties); Toledo, OH (Lucas and Wood counties); Youngstown-Warren, OH-PA (Columbiana, OH, Mahoning, OH, Trumbull, OH, Mercer, PA); and Marion, WV (Marion, Monongalia [partial] and Harrison [partial] counties).

In addition, based on updated 2002-2004 air quality monitoring data, EPA is also designating as in attainment four areas identified in December 2004 as ôunclassifiable.ö These single county areas include: Dekalb County, AL; Etowah County in Gadsden, AL; Delaware County in Muncie, IN; and McMinn County, TN.

The 39 final nonattainment areas remaining after todayÆs designations, home to over 90 million people, are required to attain clean air as soon as possible but no later than 2010. EPA may grant attainment date extensions of up to five years in areas with more severe PM2.5 problems and where emissions control measures are not available or feasible.

Fine particle pollution, also called PM2.5, is a mixture of microscopic solids and liquid droplets suspended in air. Fine particles can be emitted directly (such as smoke from a fire) or formed in the atmosphere from power plant, industrial and mobile source emissions of gases such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides. These tiny particles can aggravate heart and lung diseases and have been associated with very serious health problems including heart attacks, chronic bronchitis and asthma attacks.

Meeting the PM2.5 standards will prevent at least 15,000 premature deaths; 75,000 cases of chronic bronchitis; 10,000 hospital admissions for respiratory and cardiovascular disease; hundreds of thousands of occurrences of aggravated asthma; and 3.1 million days when people miss work because they are suffering from symptoms related to particle pollution exposure. Attaining clean air in these additional areas is a step towards realizing those benefits.

Areas not meeting the national air quality standards are called nonattainment areas. These areas have had (or have contributed to) PM2.5 levels higher than allowed under EPAÆs national air quality standard. States and tribes with designated nonattainment areas must submit plans that outline how they will meet the PM2.5 standards. States and tribes must submit their plans to EPA within three years (April 5, 2005) after the AgencyÆs final designations become effective.

For more information on fine particle pollution, see: .
For more information on the 2004 Clean Air rules, see: .
For more information on particulate matter trends, see: .
For information on ozone designations, see: .

Top 6 Most Frequently Encountered Compliance Issues at Medical Waste Generator Sites

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) conducted a medical waste compliance sweep in Ocean County in April 2004. Upon completion of the sweep, the DEP evaluated all findings and identified the top six most frequently encountered environmental issues. This is NOT a complete list of requirements affecting medical waste generators that you need to follow but is offered to help you avoid the most common transgressions.

1. All regulated medical waste (RMW) generators, no matter how small the amount produced, must register with the DEP and pay the appropriate fees. Registration forms can be obtained from the Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste, Bureau of Hazardous Waste Regulation, Medical Waste Generation Unit, PO Box 414, Trenton, NJ 08625-0414 or online at

2. All RMW generators are required to track RMW no matter how small the amount generated. The generator is responsible for obtaining and initiating the New Jersey RMW Tracking Form. These forms can be obtained from the Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste, Bureau of Resource Recovery and Technical Programs at PO Box 414, Trenton, NJ 08625-0414 or by calling (609) 984-6620 or from your licensed RMW transporter. The generator must retain both Copy 1 (which is mailed by the destination facility back to the generator) and Copy 6, for a period of three years.

3. Any person who stores RMW on-site prior to treatment or disposal or for transport offsite must:

  • Store the RMW in a manner and location that maintains the integrity of the packaging and provides protection from the elements, animals, insects, and rodents.
  • Maintain the RMW in a nonputrescent state and dispose of the RMW immediately according to regulations if it becomes putrescent.
  • Lock any outdoor storage areas containing RMW to prevent unauthorized access and limit access to all on-site storage areas only to authorized employees.
  • Store RMW for no longer than one year.

4. Generators must segregate RMW into:

  • Sharps (including sharps containing residual fluids)
  • Fluids (quantities greater than 20 cubic centimeters)
  • Other RMW

5 All generators of Regulated Medical Waste (RMW) must complete and submit an Annual Generator Report to the DEP for the period of June 22 through June 21 of each calendar year. The report is to be submitted to the Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste, Bureau of Resource Recovery and Technical Programs, PO Box 414, Trenton, NJ 08625-0414 by July 21 of each calendar year. A copy of the report must be retained at the generatorÆs site for at least three years from the date that the report was due.

6. All RMW must be properly marked and labeled.

Largest-Ever Penalty for Concealing Vessel Pollution

The United States Attorneys from five judicial districts with major ports Monday announced criminal charges against Evergreen International, S.A. (Evergreen), one of many Evergreen-related companies involved in the container ship business. Under the terms of a plea agreement, Evergreen will pay $25 million, the largest-ever amount for a case involving deliberate vessel pollution, and plead guilty to felony charges brought in Los Angeles; Newark, N.J.; Portland, Ore.; Seattle; and Charleston, S.C.

Evergreen pleaded guilty today to 24 felony counts and one misdemeanor five counts from each federal district involved in the case for concealing the deliberate, illegal discharge of waste oil and for a negligent discharge in the Columbia River. The charges include making false statements, obstruction of Coast Guard inspections, failing to maintain an accurate Oil Record Book, and one negligent violation of the Clean Water Act relating to the discharge in the Columbia River. Following the guilty pleas, U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter, Jr. ordered the company to pay $25 million to be divided equally among the five judicial districts involved. Of this amount, $10 million will be directed to environmental community service projects in each district.

Engine room operations on board large oceangoing vessels generate large amounts of waste oil. International and U.S. law prohibit the discharge of waste oil without treatment by an oil water separator a required pollution prevention device. The law also requires all overboard discharges be recorded in an Oil Record Book, a required log which is regularly inspected by the Coast Guard. In May 2001, the U.S. Coast Guard discovered Evergreen was using bypass pipes aboard their ships to illegally discharge waste oil into the ocean without treating it in an oil-water separator. The discharge of oil and other toxic petroleum-related wastes can cause significant harm to marine life.

The investigation of Evergreen ships and companies began on March 4, 2001 after the discovery of approximately 500 gallons of oil in the Columbia River near Kalama, Washington. Through vessel traffic reports and oil samples, the U.S. Coast Guard traced the spill to the Ever Group, a container vessel managed by Evergreen Marine (Taiwan) Ltd., which had negligently discharged the oil. On May 14, 2001, the Washington State Department of Ecology (WDOE) discovered a bypass pipe used by crew members on another Evergreen vessel, called the Ever Given, to illegally discharge waste oil into the ocean.

Four related Evergreen companies Evergreen Marine (Taiwan), Evergreen America, Greencompass Marine, S.A., and Evergreen International, S.A. will be bound by a detailed Environmental Compliance Plan to prevent future violations as a condition of probation. Under the terms of the proposed plan, Evergreen will need to secure every overboard valve and flange with numbered tags and make other hardware changes to make bypassing more difficult. The compliance plan also requires that Evergreen ships visiting the United States be audited by an outside firm which will be reviewed by a special court appointed monitor.

Chairman of Shipping Line Sentenced For Illegal Dumping of Waste Oil From Tanker

The Department of Justice and the EPA announced April 4, 2005, that Rick Dean Stickle, the Chairman and owner of Sabine Transportation Company, was sentenced Friday to 33 months in prison. The sentence was imposed by U.S. District Court Judge Alan S. Gold in Miami, Fla. A jury found Stickle guilty of the two counts in the indictment after a five week trial in November.

Stickle was convicted of ordering the illegal dumping of 440 tons of oil-contaminated grain into the ocean from the SS Juneau, a Sabine tanker, and of obstruction of an investigation conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard and Department of Agriculture. Judge Gold also imposed a $60,000 criminal fine.

Sabine Transportation, headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, previously pleaded guilty to violations of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships and paid a $2 million criminal fine. Stickle was the chairman of Sabine and owner of all of the company's ships and more than ten other related companies. Four others have been convicted in related prosecutions, including Michael R. Reeve, a former president of Sabine; Michael M. Krider, a former shore-side supervisory marine superintendent; Captain George K. McKay; and Chief Officer Philip J. Hitchens.

"Those who abuse our resources to make a profit are on notice," said Marcos Daniel JimTnez, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. "Our office is committed to holding accountable not only unscrupulous companies, but also their principals as well."

The government's investigation began when the SS Juneau arrived in Portland, Oregon at the end of a voyage and crew members alerted Coast Guard personnel that a diesel oil leak in one of the Juneau's main cargo tanks was discovered while the humanitarian shipment of grain was being off-loaded in Bangladesh in December of 1998. Approximately 440 metric tons of wheat became saturated with the oil and was rejected by Bengali authorities.

Over the course of the following month, while the ship was in Singapore, company officials and vessel officers discussed various ways of off-loading the cargo legally, but this option was ultimately rejected by Stickle as too expensive, according to the evidence introduced during the trial. Instead, Stickle and other company officials intentionally misled Coast Guard officers in Singapore and Portland by failing to disclose the true nature of the contaminated residue and seeking authorization to discharge the residue at sea by mischaracterizing the true nature of the waste.

Although concealed from the Coast Guard at the time, Stickle and other Sabine executives had decided to hire a team of 15 Bulgarian nationals to board the SS Juneau in Singapore and directly discharge the contaminated wheat into the ocean during the return voyage to the United States. During the first week of February 1999, the crew members of the SS Juneau dumped the 440 tons of diesel-saturated wheat directly into the South China Sea and lied to Coast Guard officials and agents for Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere (C.A.R.E.) to conceal the illegal dumping.