Reporting facilities will no longer have to mail reports on compact disks or paper to EPA, both of which consume more natural resources and slow down the availability of information to the public.
Reporting facilities are required to submit calendar year 2007 data to EPA and their State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) by July 1, 2008. Facilities will be able to use the Internet to send information directly to EPA through EPA’s Central Data Exchange. The TRI-ME software was launched for 2001 TRI reports, and moved to compact discs for 2005 reports. For 2006 reports, in addition to the compact disc, an online version was also offered in states participating in the TRI State Data Exchange.
TRI-MEweb is a Web-based application that may be accessed anywhere there is an Internet connection available. Unlike the desktop version of the TRI-ME software, TRI-MEweb requires no downloads or software installations. The preferred method to report to EPA is using the TRI-MEweb application. TRI-MEweb allows facilities to file a paperless report, significantly reduce data errors, and receive instant receipt confirmation of their submissions.
TRI-MEweb is similar to its predecessor, TRI-MEdesktop, in that it assists facilities with preparing their reporting forms; however, TRI-MEweb offers more assistance than ever before, such as:
- Enhanced Data Quality and Validation assistance
- Facility and Chemical Quick Lists
- Enhanced Section 8 Calculator
- Prior Year revision capability
- Trend Analysis Reports
- Electronic withdrawal
Once the TRI submission has been certified, a facility’s obligation to report to EPA and their state will be met.
Be aware that if your facility does not reside in a state participating in the TRI State Data Exchange, submitting via the Internet does not satisfy your state SERC’s reporting requirements for your facility. In this case, your facility must report to your SERC separately and in the required format specified by your state (i.e., diskette, paper, etc.).
Delivering information to the public more quickly and improving data quality are two important goals being addressed in EPA’s Dialogue on Access to Environmental Information. The Dialogue is designed to obtain input on how EPA might enhance access to its environmental information. EPA will use the information as it develops a strategy for improving access to EPA information.
Aircraft Drinking Water Regulation Proposed
The proposed Aircraft Drinking Water Rule (ADWR) will tailor existing health-based drinking water regulations to fit the unique characteristics of aircraft public water systems. The rule will protect the public from illnesses that can result from microbiological contamination.
“We’re upgrading airline drinking water standards to first-class status with better testing, treatment, and maintenance,” said Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles.
In 2004, EPA tested aircraft drinking water quality and reviewed air carrier compliance with regulations. EPA found that 15% of tested aircraft tested positive for total coliform bacteria. The agency also found that air carriers were not meeting existing regulations, primarily because those regulations were designed for stationary public water systems. In response, EPA began a process to tailor the existing regulations for aircraft public water systems and placed 45 air carriers under administrative orders on consent that are in effect until aircraft drinking water regulations are final.
The proposed ADWR will protect drinking water through monitoring, disinfection, and public notification, a combination that EPA believes will better protect public health. The approach will build on existing aircraft operations and maintenance programs and better coordinate federal programs that regulate aircraft water systems.
The proposed ADWR applies to the aircraft’s onboard water system only. The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for regulating the airport watering points that include the water cabinets, carts, trucks, and hoses from which aircraft board water. EPA and the states are responsible for regulating public water systems that supply drinking water to the airport watering points. While the proposed rule only addresses aircraft within U.S. jurisdiction, EPA is also supporting an international effort led by the World Health Organization to develop international guidelines for aircraft drinking water.
EPA Revises National Emission Standards for Hazardous Waste Combustors
EPA is amending the 2005 National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) rule for new and existing hazardous waste combustors. EPA has revised or clarified several compliance and monitoring provisions and has also corrected several omissions and typographical errors. This action will reduce compliance uncertainties and improve understanding of the final rule requirements.
The final rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register within the next two weeks.
The March 26, 2008 amendments to this rule revise or clarify several compliance and monitoring provisions in the 2005 rule. In addition, these amendments correct several omissions and typographical errors.
The amendments in the final rule are as follows:
- Finalizes a sunset provision for the interim standards for incinerators, cement kilns, and lightweight aggregate kilns
- Clarifies the applicability of the particulate matter detection system requirements for sources equipped with fabric filters
- Clarifies that periodic confirmatory performance testing for dioxin/furans is not required for sources that are not subject to a numerical dioxin/furan emission standard
- Clarifies the periodic performance testing requirements for sources operating under the interim standards
- Finalizes a performance test waiver provision for sources subject to hazardous waste thermal concentration limits if the source feeds low levels of metals or chlorine in the hazardous waste
- Clarifies the procedures to calculate rolling averages for the metals and chlorine standards
- Revises when a source must submit subsequent periodic reviews of its eligibility for the health-based compliance alternative for total chlorine
- Clarifies the mercury standard for new and existing cement kilns
- Clarifies whether interim status sources need to obtain approval before proceeding with facility modifications required to meet the MACT emission standards
- Corrects several typographical errors and rule citations
- Revises the Notice of Intent to Comply (NIC) provisions for new units
- Clarifies the applicability of Title V permit requirements for area sources for boilers and HCl production furnaces
- Revises the startup, shutdown, and malfunction plan provision
The revised provisions are effective immediately, and the final rule does not change the October 14, 2008, compliance date established by the 2005 final rule. EPA believes that these amendments to the October 2005 final rule will reduce compliance uncertainties and improve understanding of the final rule requirements.
This document has not been published in the Federal Register and is not an official version of the final rule. The official rule will be available as soon as it is published by the Federal Register Office.
May is American Wetlands Month
EPA will once again celebrate “American Wetlands Month” during the month of May with federal, state, tribal, local, non-profit, and private-sector organization partners. This annual celebration is a time to recognize and highlight the wonderful ways that wetlands enrich the environment and human society. In anticipation of this year’s celebration, EPA encourages individuals and groups to plan activities and events that raise awareness of the critical role wetlands play in our environment and build support for their protection and restoration. Some ideas for celebratory activities and events that could be planned in conjunction with American Wetlands Month include:
- Participate in a wetland walk, canoe trip, bird watch, or other outdoor activity
- Plan a wetland or stream clean-up
- Recognize a wetland hero
- Sponsor a talk or presentation about wetlands
- Start or participate in a volunteer wetland monitoring or restoration group
- Organize a wetland festival
New VOC Emission Standards for Aerosol-Coating Operations
EPA published a notice of final rule concerning the national volatile organic compound (VOC) emission standards for aerosol-coating operations in the March 24 Federal Register (). The final rule effects 40 CFR Parts 51 and 59 in an effort to control (VOC) emissions from certain categories of consumer and commercial products for purposes of reducing VOC emissions contributing to ozone formation and ozone nonattainment. This final rule is effective March 24, 2008.
In addition to the publication of the final rule, EPA also published a related, direct final rule on the same day in the Federal Register. The direct final rule is effective on June 23, 2008, without any further notice being necessary.
This regulation establishes nationwide reactivity-based standards for aerosol coatings. States have previously promulgated rules for the aerosol coatings category based upon reductions of VOC by mass; however, EPA has concluded that a national rule based upon the relative reactivity approach will achieve more reduction in ozone formation than may be achieved by a mass-based approach for this specific product category. This rule will better control a product’s contribution to ozone formation by encouraging the use of less-reactive VOC ingredients, rather than treating all VOC alike through the traditional mass-based approach. We are also revising EPA’s regulatory definition of VOC. This revision is necessary to include certain compounds that would otherwise be exempt in order to account for the reactive compounds in aerosol coatings that contribute to ozone formation. Therefore, certain compounds that would not be VOC under the otherwise applicable definition will count towards the applicable reactivity limits under this final regulation. The initial listing of product categories and schedule for regulation was published on March 23, 1995 (60 FR 15264). This final action announces EPA’s final decision to list aerosol coatings for regulation under Group III of the consumer and commercial product category for which regulations are mandated under Section 183(e) of the CAA.
The entities potentially affected by this regulation encompass all steps in aerosol-coating operations. This includes manufacturers, processors, wholesale distributors, or importers of aerosol coatings for sale or distribution in the United States, or manufacturers, processors, wholesale distributors, or importers who supply the entities listed above with aerosol coatings for sale or distribution in interstate commerce in the United States. The entities potentially affected by this action include, but are not necessarily limited to:
Examples of Regulated Entities
Paint and Coating Manufacturing
Manufacturing of lacquers, varnishes, enamels, epoxy coatings, oil and alkyd vehicle, plastisols, polyurethane, primers, shellacs, stains, water repellant coatings
All Other Miscellaneous Chemical Production and Preparation Manufacturing
Aerosol can filling, aerosol packaging services
Questions regarding the application of this final rule to a particular entity should direct questions to the appropriate EPA contact listed in the “For Further Information Contact” section of the full Federal Register Notice.
National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone
Based on its review of the air quality criteria for ozone (O3) and related photochemical oxidants and national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for O3, EPA is making revisions to the primary and secondary NAAQS for O3 to provide requisite protection of public health and welfare, respectively. With regard to the primary standard for O3, EPA is revising the level of the 8-hour standard to 0.075 parts per million (ppm), expressed to three decimal places. With regard to the secondary standard for O3, EPA is revising the current 8-hour standard by making it identical to the revised primary standard.
EPA is also making conforming changes to the Air Quality Index (AQI) for O3, setting an AQI value of 100 equal to 0.075 ppm, 8-hour average, and making proportional changes to the AQI values of 50, 150, and 200.
This final rule is effective May 27, 2008.
EPA Seeks Public Comment on Water Strategy to Respond to Climate Change
EPA is seeking public comment on a draft strategy that describes the potential effects of climate change on clean water, drinking water, and ocean-protection programs and outlines EPA actions to respond to these effects.
The National Water Program Strategy: Response to Climate Change focuses on actions designed to help managers adapt their water programs in response to a changing climate. Other elements of the draft strategy include steps needed to strengthen links between climate research and water programs and to improve education for water program professionals on potential climate change impacts. The strategy also identifies contributions that water programs can make to mitigate greenhouse gases. Some of the potential impacts of climate change on water resources reviewed in the strategy include increases in certain water pollution problems, changes in availability of drinking water supplies, and collective impacts on coastal areas.
The public comment period is open for 60 days.
EPA Announces Results of the 16th Annual Sulfur Dioxide Auction
On March 25, 2008, EPA held the acid rain auction giving private citizens, brokers, and power plants the opportunity to buy and sell sulfur dioxide (SO2) allowances, as part of the cap-and-trade program to reduce acid rain. When fully implemented in 2010, the Acid Rain Program will have cut SO2 emissions by 50% from 1990 levels.
The national emissions cap and SO2 allowance trading work to create one of the most successful environmental programs to date. Each allowance is equivalent to one ton of acid rain-causing SO2, emitted from power plants. The Acid Rain Program uses a market-driven cap-and-trade system to cut SO2 emissions from power plants.
Since 1990, SO2 emissions have declined more than five million tons, and acid deposition in the eastern United States has declined by at least 30%, improving the condition of lakes and streams. The Acid Rain Program has realized human and environmental benefits earlier, and at less cost, than would have occurred with conventional approaches. Current estimates indicate that program compliance costs are about 75% below those initially predicted by EPA.
Utility to Launch Nation’s Largest Solar Panel Installation
Southern California Edison (SCE) has announced their launch of the nation’s largest solar cell installation, a project that will place 250 megawatts of advanced photovoltaic generating technology on 65 million square feet of roofs of Southern California commercial buildings—enough power to serve approximately 162,000 homes.
“These are the kinds of big ideas we need to meet California’s long-term energy and climate change goals,” California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said. “I urge others to follow in their footsteps. If commercial buildings statewide partnered with utilities to put this solar technology on their rooftops, it would set off a huge wave of renewable energy growth.”
“This project will turn two square miles of unused commercial rooftops into advanced solar generating stations,” said John E. Bryson, Edison International chairman and CEO. “We hope to have the first solar rooftops in service by August. The sunlight power will be available to meet our largest challenge—peak load demands on the hottest days.”
SCE’s renewable energy project was prompted by recent advances in solar technology that reduce the cost of installed photovoltaic generation. When combined with the size of SCE’s investment, the resulting costs per unit are projected to be half that of common photovoltaic installations in California.
“The scale of this project is unprecedented,” said Mike Peevey, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) president. “It clearly illustrates once again Edison’s leadership position in the development of new renewable technology.”
SCE has asked the CPUC for approval to install the solar cell technology during the next five years. The request estimates the total project cost will be $875 million. The utility plans to begin installation work immediately on commercial roofs in Southern California’s Inland Empire, San Bernardino and Riverside counties, the nation’s fastest growing urban region.
SCE believes its commercial solar roofs program will boost several California environmental initiatives, especially the Million Solar Roofs program that provides incentives to encourage Californians to install solar projects by 2017. SCE’s solar program supports the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act requiring the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, as well as California’s renewable portfolio standard requiring that 20% of the state’s electricity be generated with renewable energy by 2010.
U.S. and Mexico Join Forces to Collect Unwanted Pesticides in Imperial County and Mexicali
With the goal of eliminating an estimated 37,000 pounds of harmful pesticides from local farms and communities, environmental agencies from the United States and Mexico have collected obsolete or unwanted pesticides from area growers this past week.
Preregistered growers on the U.S. side of the border brought in unwanted pesticides to the Allied Waste Facility in Imperial County, Calif. Preregistered growers on the Mexico side of the border did the same at a collection site near Mexicali, Mexico. The collected pesticides will be disposed of at a licensed hazardous waste facility.
“Because agriculture is prevalent in Imperial County and Mexicali, there’s a legacy of pesticide use. We encourage growers from the U.S. and Mexico to legally dispose of unwanted and obsolete pesticides, reducing the threat of exposure to toxic substances to people and the environment,” said Katherine Taylor, Associate Director for Agriculture at EPA Region 9.
This event is sponsored by U.S. EPA’s Border 2012 program, California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation, Imperial County Agricultural Commissioner, Mexico’s Secretariat for the Environment and Natural Resources–SEMARNAT, and Mexico’s health agency ISESALUD.
DPR works with state, federal, and Mexican agencies to foster safe pesticide use along a 100-mile section of the border.
The EPA’s Border 2012 U.S.-Mexico Environmental Program protects the environment and public health for 10 states on both sides of the 2000-mile border, including 26 U.S. tribes and 7 groups of Mexican Indigenous People. Border 2012 seeks to reduce pollution in water, air, and on land; reduce exposure to chemicals from accidental releases or terrorism; and improve environmental stewardship.
Mongolia, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Thailand Join Methane to Markets Partnership to Curb Greenhouse Gas Emissions
Methane to Markets now numbers 25 partners.
“Through the Methane to Markets Partnership, America is exporting our successes of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to our neighbors around the world,” said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. “By tapping into sources of clean energy, we are ensuring methane emissions do not go to waste.”
By 2015, Methane to Markets has the potential to deliver annual reductions in methane emissions of up to 50 million metric tons of carbon equivalent, which is roughly equal to the carbon dioxide emissions from the energy use of about 4.4 million American homes for one year.
As demonstrated by the partners, Methane to Markets focuses on reducing methane emissions from four sources: animal waste management, coal mines, landfills, and oil and gas systems.
- Mongolia intends to use cost-effective methane recovery techniques at both municipal landfills and in its agricultural sector; municipal landfills produce a significant portion of the country’s methane.
- Pakistan plans to capture and reduce methane emissions from the production and processing of coal and its largest energy sources, oil and gas.
- The Philippines have opportunities for methane capture and use in both the landfill and agricultural sectors; landfill gas assessment and extraction projects already operate across the country.
- Thailand plans to reduce methane emissions in its agricultural sector by improving manure management; the country has already begun work on a livestock waste management project that captures and reuses methane.
Methane is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the atmosphere at a rate 20 times higher than carbon dioxide; in addition, methane is a primary constituent of natural gas and an important energy source. As a result, efforts to prevent or utilize methane emissions can provide significant energy, economic, and environmental benefits.
In addition to the four new partners, Methane to Markets partners include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Ecuador, the European Commission, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Nigeria, Poland, Russia, South Korea, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vietnam.
Methane to Markets, launched in 2004, is a public-private partnership that reduces greenhouse gas emissions by promoting the cost-effective, near-term recovery and use of methane, while providing clean energy to markets around the world.
EPA Issues Imminent and Substantial Endangerment Order to Agrifos Fertilizer, Inc. and ExxonMobil
EPA has issued an administrative order on consent to Agrifos Fertilizer, Inc. and ExxonMobil Oil Corp. to address long-term wastewater management and prevent future imminent and substantial endangerment to human health and the environment.
The Agrifos facility has been in operation since the mid 1960s and was originally constructed and operated by the Mobil Corporation. Agrifos operates a mineral processing facility that extracts phosphorus from mineral ores for use in commercial fertilizer. The byproduct wastes include phosphogypsum, which is accumulated in large piles of gypsum stacks, and process wastewater. Surrounding each gypsum stack is a moat storing process wastewater that has leached through the gypsum and is normally treated within the plant.
In August 2007, the Pasadena facility accumulated excessive amounts of acidic wastewater that threatened catastrophic failure of the impoundments. An abnormal amount of rainfall caused an excess of wastewater at the South Stack, resulting in the failure of a portion of the retaining wall that released wastewater into a county drainage ditch, Cotton Patch Bayou, and then into the Houston Ship Channel. The overflow released approximately 54 million gallons of wastewater between August 16 and September 7, 2007, and at least one fish kill was reported in the bayou.
“This order is a reminder to those who own and operate these facilities of their responsibility to protect human health and the environment,” said EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene. “EPA will continue to vigorously enforce our nation’s environmental laws through a strong enforcement program.”
The EPA order requires Agrifos and ExxonMobil to promptly take steps to complete side-slope closure of the gypsum stacks over the next two years and develop a corrective action plan to address soil and groundwater contamination. Agrifos and ExxonMobil will also build a new wastewater treatment plant to treat wastewater and dispose of acidic wastewater using the deep injection well at the facility. The order also requires Agrifos and ExxonMobil to demonstrate, through modeling, a five-year plan for managing water balance during site closure activities.
EPA Issues Fourth Major Enforcement Order Following More Spills From Greka Oil and Gas, Inc.
EPA has ordered Greka Oil and Gas, Inc., to immediately comply with the Federal Water Pollution Control Act at their Williams B Lease, or face fines of up to $32,500 per day, for each violation.
This is the fourth enforcement order issued to Greka by the EPA since January 2008.
“Greka’s continued pattern of non-compliance with the Clean Water Act will result in continued enforcement actions by EPA,” said Daniel Meer, Chief of the Response, Planning, and Assessment Branch for the Superfund Division in the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “This company has to make a commitment at the corporate level to clean up its act.”
At the direction of the EPA, and with EPA oversight, Greka has been engaged in cleanup efforts at Greka’s recent spill sites.
EPA is issuing these enforcement orders to ensure that cleanup is completed expeditiously, comprehensively, and in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.
EPA continues to work with members of the California Department of Fish and Game, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Pacific Strike Team, and Greka Oil and Gas, the responsible party, to contain and clean up Greka’s multiple recent oil releases, to prevent further harm to the environment.
Electroplater Fined $285,000 for Hazardous Waste Violations
In its operations, the company routinely generates and treats spent hazardous, corrosive plating solutions, rinse waters, and sludges that include dissolved metals. Trident also generates extremely hazardous, potentially reactive wastes containing cyanide.
“Compliance with the Hazardous Waste Control Law is vital to protecting the environment and precluding health risks to workers and the community,” said DTSC Director Maureen Gorsen. “This settlement signifies the department’s continuing efforts to uphold both environmental safety and compliance with existing law.”
Although Trident has been authorized under a local permit to treat certain hazardous wastes on-site since 2001, in 2004 DTSC inspectors found a number of violations of California’s Hazardous Waste Control Law at the facility that could pose significant health and environmental risks. Among the most serious violations were Trident’s storage of incompatible acidic and cyanide-bearing wastes in the same tank system, its failure to adequately reinforce or shield the piping conveying such wastes from employees, and its neglect in providing training to two employees who regularly handled hazardous wastes.
Because Trident continued to violate the state’s hazardous waste laws and regulations by managing hazardous waste in an unsafe manner, DTSC asked the state’s Attorney General to request an injunction against the company, which was granted in 2007.
Because of ongoing difficulty in identifying and isolating cyanide, which is lethal in sufficient concentrations, Trident has agreed to suspend cyanide waste treatment.
EPA Fines Deli Meat Manufacturer $36,400 for Ammonia Release Reporting Violation
EPA recently fined the Bridgford Foods Corporation $36,400 for a 2006 ammonia air release violation at its food packaging plant located in Anaheim, Calif.
Bridgford Foods did not properly notify the National Response Center, the California Office of Emergency Services, or the Anaheim Fire Department, which was a responder to the emergency incident.
“Facilities using hazardous chemicals must provide timely and accurate information about the risks posed by these chemicals to local, state, and federal officials,” said Keith Takata, Superfund Director, EPA Pacific Southwest Region. “Without this information, emergency planners and first responders cannot be adequately prepared to protect our communities in the event of an accidental or intentional release of those chemicals.”
According to the EPA, in June 2006, Bridgford Foods Corporation released more than 4,000 pounds of ammonia due to equipment strainer failure. This release was a reportable quantity under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know-Act (EPCRA or SARA Title III) as well as under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA). Under the regulatory requirements, ammonia has an established 100-pound reportable quantity.
Exposure to ammonia can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory system. Ammonia is listed as a hazardous substance under CERCLA as well as an extremely hazardous substance under SARA Title III, or EPCRA.
Bridgford Foods Corporation manufactures bread, deli meats, and sandwiches. The firm has since made modifications at the facility and changed notification procedures, to ensure that any future accidental releases would be easier to curtail and would be immediately reported.
EPA’s regulations pertaining to CERCLA and SARA Title III require immediate notification of the release of a reportable quantity of a hazardous chemical, such as ammonia, in order to allow emergency response teams an opportunity to evaluate the nature and extent of the release, prevent exposure to the hazardous substance, and minimize consequences to public health and the environment.
Pennsylvania DEP Fines DeCesare Corporation $25,000 for Violating Clean Streams Law
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has fined DeCesare Corp., based in Murrysville, Penn., $25,000 after it was found to have done work at a development site that polluted Steels Run—a violation of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.
Beginning in 2004, the company began earth disturbance activities at its San Ria Court development in Murrysville, Pa. That activity led to stormwater runoff entering Steels Run, which is designated as a high-quality stream and cold water fishery. The NPDES permit prescribes erosion and sedimentation controls to prevent such runoff.
“Development cannot come at the expense of Pennsylvania’s water resources,” said Kenneth Bowman, DEP’s southwest regional director. “Working with our partners in the county conservation districts, DEP is committed to enforcing the regulations and laws that protect the commonwealth’s streams and rivers.”
Inspections by the Westmoreland Conservation District in 2004, 2006, and 2007 show that DeCesare failed to implement the erosion and sediment controls required to prevent stormwater runoff from carrying sediment from the site into Steels Run.
DEP works in partnership with county conservation districts to regulate erosion and sedimentation controls at construction sites. Trained staff from district offices review erosion and sediment control plans and perform site inspections.
MassDEP Fines Three Companies After Sheen Impacts Charles River
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has penalized three adjacent Waltham, Mass., businesses—Pro Equipment Rental, Inc., Pro Waste Disposal, Inc., and Pro Cut, Inc.—for multiple environmental violations found during January 2007 inspections.
The inspections were triggered after a river-watcher reported oil odors and an oily sheen on the Charles River emanating from the Pro Companies’ property.
While each of these companies maintains a separate corporate identity, each was found by MassDEP to be operating in violation of environmental regulations to an extent that additional enforcement investigation was warranted. Monetary penalties and significant steps were all found to be necessary to return these businesses to compliance.
“Public safety is paramount, and MassDEP will continue to ensure that businesses handle oil and hazardous materials waste in adherence with strict guidelines due to the potential impact mistakes and mismanagement can cause to neighborhoods and the environment,” said Richard Chalpin, director of MassDEP’s Northeast Regional Office.
The specific violations for each operation involve:
- Pro Equipment Rental was cited for air quality, hazardous waste, and stormwater management violations. Pro Equipment Rental was also required to perform an assessment of soil and groundwater conditions at the property to address any possible contamination from activity at the site. Pro Equipment Rental has been penalized $23,020.
- Pro Waste Disposal was cited for solid waste management violations. Specifically, segments of this facility were being used for the storage and/or disposal of solid waste, without being designated (or permitted) to conduct those activities as required under state regulations. Pro Waste Disposal has been penalized $23,070.
- Pro Cut was cited for hazardous waste management violations and improper storage and handling of asbestos-containing materials. Pro Cut has been penalized $26,410.
Pro Equipment Rental will also install temporary measures to control catch-basin runoff (e.g., hay bales and catch basin filter fabric), install permanent catch-basin insert filters, and install, by June 30, 2008, a six-inch asphalt curb to redirect stormwater into the existing catch-basin network.
In addition to the penalty amount, each business has also agreed to take corrective steps that will bring its business fully into compliance with all applicable environmental regulations.
Railroad Company Penalized for Air Quality Violations
Duluth Missabe and Iron Range Railroad Company (DM & IR) has paid a $20,000 civil penalty to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for three air quality violations in 2007.
A November 2006 enforcement settlement between DM & IR and MPCA, which resolved past air quality violations, also included a penalty provision in the event of subsequent violations. Ambient air quality monitors near the Duluth facility recorded three violations on July 17, August 10, and August 22 of 2007.
The DM & IR transports taconite pellets from three Minnesota taconite plants to its facilities in Duluth and Two Harbors for storage, loading, and shipment on the Great Lakes. Taconite pellets can generate dust emissions during railcar unloading and ship loading, moving, and stockpiling.
In response to its air quality violations, the DM & IR committed to improving dust suppression and continuing ambient air-quality monitoring for dust. For example, when air temperatures are above freezing, the DM & IR now wets the taconite pellets in rail cars with water prior to unloading them in Duluth. The company will also continue to implement required compliance plans at their Duluth and Two Harbors facilities.
Minnesota law requires owners and operators of facilities with the potential to release air pollutants to have MPCA permits. Facilities must also carefully monitor and maintain equipment because emissions exceeding state standards can degrade air quality.
EPA Fines Pacific Marine and Industrial Corp. $20,000 for Used Oil Violations
EPA reached a $20,000 settlement with Pacific Marine and Industrial Corp., for used oil and hazardous waste management violations at its power plant facility in Puerto Rico, Saipan, of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands ().
Pacific Marine and Industrial Corp. corrected the violations and also agreed to spend more than $68,000 to conduct a series of environmental projects that will focus on used oil management including storage and spill prevention at commercial facilities.
“Proper management of used oil is imperative on an island like Saipan,” said Nancy Lindsay, acting director of Waste Programs for the EPA Pacific Southwest Region. “Spilled used oil can contaminate soil and poison ocean ecosystems. I am pleased that the company will implement environmental projects that will benefit the CNMI by training other facilities about proper used oil management, spill prevention, and storage for proper disposal.”
Pacific Marine will:
- Sponsor a used oil collection event for Saipan
- Purchase pollution prevention equipment for used oil management and spill prevention
- Conduct pollution prevention evaluations at four hotels in Saipan
- Provide training to managers and workers on pollution prevention and used oil management.
EPA and CNMI Division of Environmental Quality inspectors discovered the violations during a routine inspection. The company also failed to notify the EPA of hazardous waste activity and properly mark or label containers of used oil. Other violations included failing to respond to a release of used oil, improper documentation, and lacking a certified spill response plan.
Facilities must also properly train employees to manage waste and to manage their used oil, as improperly stored used oil can potentially spill and pose a risk to workers and the environment.
Washington State Construction Project Fined $12,000 for Water-Quality Violations
Washington State’s Department of Ecology (Ecology) has fined a Lynnwood, Wash., construction site $12,000 for failing to take measures to help prevent polluted runoff into Swamp Creek. The pollution prevention measures were required under a state water-quality permit.
The eight-acre project, Blackstone Residential Community, failed to cover bare soils and protect cleared slopes, even though Ecology inspectors pointed out the need for these protections at repeated visits to the site. The measures protect exposed earth from washing away in rainy weather. They are required under Ecology’s construction stormwater permit, which applies to construction sites more than one acre in size.
“The permit requires contractors and developers to take necessary measures in preventing water pollution in the first place,” said Kevin Fitzpatrick, a regional supervisor for Ecology water-quality program. “Hundreds of construction sites follow these requirements every day around the state. At Blackstone, we saw what happens when prevention falls short.”
Inspectors informed the site’s managers of several problems after site visits on Nov. 7 and Dec. 20–21, 2007. The problems identified included:
- Exposed soil was not or inadequately covered and was exposed to rain erosion.
- Slopes needed erosion protection. Inspectors could see slope sediments and debris on the adjoining roadway.
- Channels leading to a stormwater treatment vault had no lining, so water flowing into the vault contained unnecessarily high amounts of silt.
The violations contributed to releases of muddy water from the construction site. The site’s stormwater discharges drain to Swamp Creek. High levels of silt in stream water can harm the breathing gills in fish. Swamp Creek already does not meet state standards for dissolved oxygen, temperature, and fecal coliform bacteria. The creek is the subject of a water improvement plan, in cooperation with local governments and organizations.
Swamp Creek flows to Lake Washington, which drains to Puget Sound. Ecology’s construction stormwater efforts are part of the department’s support of the Puget Sound Partnership’s efforts to protect and restore the Sound by 2020.
The permittee, Pacific Ridge Homes LLC of Bothell, may appeal the penalty to Ecology or to the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board within 30 days.
$10,000 Penalty for Violating Wetlands Protection Requirements
Conrad J. Donell, Robert J. Donell, and the DB Realty Trust have entered into an agreement with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to resolve violations to the Wetlands Protection Act that took place at a residential subdivision they are developing in Fitchburg, Mass., known as Kopley Place. The agreement includes payment of a $10,000 penalty.
MassDEP personnel conducted an inspection of the area in May 2007 at the request of the local Conservation Commission and area legislators and observed that stormwater drainage structures for the subdivision had not been installed as required in the Superseding Order of Conditions issued for this location. Also, a wetlands replication area had not been constructed as required, and work on the house lots was underway without first having obtained written approval from MassDEP as required in the Superseding Order of Conditions.
The developers agreed to enter into an Administrative Consent Order with MassDEP that requires the submission of a revised drainage plan to MassDEP for review and approval, placement of proper erosion and sedimentation controls at the site, and a schedule for the construction of the replicated wetland area.
“Construction of proper drainage control structures and replicated wetlands both provide important flood control functions,” said Martin Suuberg, director of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office in Worcester. “These factors are especially important in developed areas and when developing in the hilly environments common throughout northern Worcester County.”
EPA Halts Illegal Waste Handling at Lake Road Warehouse in Missouri
EPA Region 7 is stopping the illegal handling of hazardous wastes at a St. Joseph, Mo., chemical warehouse and storage facility, citing serious, long-term neglect of the environment and public health.
The EPA’s administrative order issued against Lake Road Warehouse Co., requires the business to immediately cease all solid and hazardous waste handling activity at its location and complete an inventory of all chemical materials stored there. The business also must develop within 30 days a long-term comprehensive plan to clean up any releases of hazardous wastes on its property and investigate whether those wastes have migrated beyond its facility boundary.
Lake Road Warehouse has served as a clearing house and commodity storage facility for bulk chemicals, including wastewater treatment chemicals, industrial cleaners, and laboratory chemicals purchased in large amounts and then resold in smaller quantities to its customers. The business has been in operation since the 1940s.
During a recent inspection of Lake Road Warehouse, EPA Region 7 personnel found 69 different waste chemicals in corroded, torn, or leaking containers, many with unreadable labels or no labeling at all. Inspectors also discovered multiple instances of chemicals or wastes being improperly stored together, such as strong acids near strong bases, or strong oxidizers next to combustibles. Mixtures of these so-called “incompatible wastes” can result in fire, explosion, or the generation of toxic gases.
Besides putting an immediate halt to further illegal waste handling at the location, the order also requires Lake Road Warehouse or its contractor to:
- Refrain from removing any materials from the facility without EPA approval
- Post warning signs on its property and restrict access to areas where releases of hazardous material have occurred
- Segregate all incompatible wastes and materials and safely contain all hazardous materials
- Clean up its buildings and any releases of hazardous materials that have occurred on the site
- Remove all hazardous wastes and ship them to an appropriate disposal facility
Air Force B-1B Flies With Synthetic Fuel
The Air Force News Agency announced on March 20, that a B-1B Lancer from the 9th Bomb Squadron became the first Air Force aircraft to fly at supersonic speed using an alternate fuel March 19 in a flight over Texas and New Mexico.
The fuel, a 50/50 blend of synthetic and petroleum gases, is being tested as part of an ongoing Air Force program to help the environment and to use a domestic-produced fuel.
Air Force officials are in the process of evaluating and certifying this alternative fuel, which is derived from natural gas using the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process, for use in all Air Force aircraft.
“The goal is to have every aircraft using synthetic fuel blends by 2011,” said Maj. Don Rhymer, assigned to the Air Force Alternative Fuels Certification Office. “By 2016, we hope at least 50% of this fuel will be produced domestically.”
Air Force officials previously have tested the fuel blend in the B-52 Stratofortress, the first aircraft to use the fuel, and the C-17 Globemaster III. The supersonic flight by the B-1B occurred over the White Sands Missile Range airspace in south-central New Mexico, but the flight took off from Dyess AFB in Texas.
Within the federal government, the Air Force is the single largest user of aviation fuel, using an estimated 3 billion gallons per year. Each time the price of oil goes up $10 per barrel, it costs the Air Force an additional $600 million for fuel. The FT process gives the Air Force a cleaner, more cost-efficient fuel source.
Synthetic fuel created using the FT process costs an estimated $30 to $50 less per barrel than its petroleum counterpart. Still, saving money is not the only reason the Air Force is looking to use synthetic fuel.
“A lot of people are quick to point to the cost-efficiency of alternative fuel,” Major Rhymer said. “But this innovative domestically produced fuel will also help alleviate our dependence on foreign energy sources.”
Alternative fuels can be produced from domestically available hydrocarbon products like natural gas, coal, and shale, and then gasified and converted into any number of liquid fuel products. These fuels are also proven to burn cleaner, reducing combustion-related emissions and particulates in the air—all without compromising performance.
“There was no noticeable difference flying with this fuel,” said Capt. Rick Fournier, the B-1B synthetic fuel flight mission commander. “I would have no problem flying an aircraft using this fuel in peacetime or combat.”
Maine Issues New Fertilizer Law in Effort to Cut Back Phosphorus Use
Maine lakes and streams now have a better chance of staying healthy thanks to a new law discouraging the use of lawn fertilizer containing phosphorus.
Just as fertilizers can help plants grow in yards, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) cautions that fertilizers also can help plants grow in lakes, streams, and bays. Rainwater and melting snow wash fertilizers and other pollutants from lawns down driveways, from road ditches into storm drains or directly into nearby waters. Excess nutrients from fertilizers, particularly phosphorus, can turn waters green, lead to smelly scums, and rob the water of its oxygen, potentially causing fish kills.
Maine’s new law, which was effective January 1, is meant to discourage the use of lawn fertilizer containing phosphorus where it is not needed. “Most lawns don’t need phosphorus,” according to the University of Maine Cooperative Extension’s Laura Wilson. “Over 90% of lawns tested in the past five years would not have become greener with additional phosphorus,” notes Wilson.
New research shows that a healthy lawn can be achieved with fewer lawn chemicals. If a lawn is ten or more years old, grass clippings, a natural fertilizer for the budget minded, provide enough nutrients in the soil to grow a healthy lawn, so additional fertilizer is not needed. Younger lawns may need some nitrogen, but phosphorus is not needed.
“If a lawn doesn’t need fertilizer and phosphorus in particular, don’t apply any,” says Wilson. “Homeowners can save time and money—and help protect local waters.”
Stores in Maine may still sell lawn fertilizers containing phosphorus, providing they post a sign stating these restrictions on its use:
- Only use phosphorus when starting a new lawn, overseeding, or reseeding
- When a soil test from a laboratory indicates that phosphorus is necessary
The law requiring the posting of signs about lawn fertilizers is designed to encourage the consumer to make the best choice. There are no actual prohibitions on the sale of particular fertilizers. People fertilizing their gardens (e.g., shrubs, flowers, vegetables) can still use fertilizer containing phosphorus.
The amount of phosphorus in a particular fertilizer is indicated by the three numbers on the package label. These numbers indicate the percent of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash, in that order. Look for packages where the middle number is zero, such as 10-0-5, for phosphorous-free fertilizer.
Remember it’s best to test soil before adding any fertilizer. Soil test kits are available at stores that sell fertilizer, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Offices, Soil & Water Conservation Districts, or by calling the state soil lab at 207-581-3591.
Small Businesses Grow Big Environmental Technologies
EPA’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is a “small” program with tremendous success stories. On March 26, EPA announced $1.75 million in SBIR contracts to 25 small businesses to research and develop new environmental technologies. As one example of previous SBIR success, Edenspace Systems developed plants that effectively extract arsenic from soil, avoiding digging up large tracts of residential properties. The plants were used by the U.S. Army to clean up contaminated areas of Spring Valley in Washington, D.C., a process that is called phytoremediation.
It might be a surprise to some that a small business created such an innovative and successful product. But it really isn’t unusual—the majority of new U.S. technologies are developed by America’s 25 million small businesses, which also employ more than 50% of workers. To participate in EPA’s SBIR program, a small business must have fewer than 500 employees, and at least 51% of the business must be owned by U.S. citizens.
“There are huge new opportunities for profits in the booming green technology business sector,” said Dr. George Gray, assistant administrator for the Office of Research and Development. “Many large corporations are already investing heavily in environmental applications. Through the SBIR program, EPA is helping small businesses also make significant contributions to new technologies that are both environmentally friendly and profitable.”
These awards will help small businesses develop new technologies in five areas: nanotechnology and pollution prevention, biodiesel and ethanol biofuels, solid and hazardous waste, air pollution control, and homeland security. Each company will receive $70,000 for Phase I or “proof of concept” awards. If Phase I is successful, the companies can apply for Phase II awards to commercialize their technology. EPA will be accepting submissions for the next year’s Phase I SBIR awards until May 21, 2008.
SBIR was established to ensure that new technologies are developed to solve priority environmental problems, and is just one example of EPA’s commitment to achieving real world environmental results though the use of innovative technology. In 2006, EPA established the Environmental Technology Council (ETC) to increase the Agency’s role as a facilitator in development and commercialization of technologies that measurably improve specific environmental problems. Since its inception in 1982, EPA’s SBIR program has helped fund more than 600 small businesses.
EPA is 1 of 11 federal agencies that participate in the SBIR program, enacted in 1982 to strengthen the role of small businesses in federal research and development, create jobs, and promote U.S. technical innovation in the United States.
EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region’s Business Assistance Center to Host Annual Workshop for Small and Disadvantaged Businesses
The EPA Mid-Atlantic region’s Business Assistance Center is hosting the eighth annual workshop for small and disadvantaged businesses on April 22 in Philadelphia to help prepare competitive proposals for an upcoming Small Business Innovation Research () solicitation. Each year, EPA makes monetary awards through the SBIR program to small, high-tech firms to develop and commercialize cutting-edge environmental technologies. The workshop will provide practical, useful information on the program, including writing winning proposals, commercialization, and sources of local assistance.
Three Texas Businesses Save More Than $276,000 While Cleaning the Air
Three small businesses in Denton County, Texas, recently received more than $276,000 in rebates by participating in the Texas Emissions Reduction Program (TERP). TERP provides rebates and grants to help replace aging diesel engines that consume more fuel and generate more pollution than newer models.
Lewisville-based Pro Tow Wrecker Service, a rebate recipient, received more than $106,000 to replace an old haul truck with a new, more efficient model. “At a time when diesel fuel is reaching all time highs of over four dollars per gallon, it makes economic and environmental sense for businesses like Pro Tow Wrecker to participate in TERP,” said Leslie Rauscher, EPA Project Manager. “This opportunity won’t last long so we encourage businesses to apply before time runs out.”
Two other Denton County businesses saved more than $170,000 by using TERP to replace two older dump trucks. Don Buttress and Joel Estrada are doing their part to clean the air by removing 17 tons of pollutants from our air by operating newer vehicles.
To date, North Texas businesses have saved more than $3.3 million while reducing nearly 353 tons of pollution. The $30 million allocated to the rebate grants under this funding cycle has been awarded, but there is still time to apply for grants. The application deadline is April 11, 2008. Individual application assistance is available at local TERP Community Help Desks.
The TERP serves as a national model for replacing and retrofitting older diesel engines and is managed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The EPA supports local efforts to encourage participation in TERP as a way to improve air quality.
Flash Drives: A Large Piece in the Eco-Puzzle
Eco-friendly is most often seen as picking up trash and recycling. What is often not thought about is the use of energy and how that adversely affects the environment.
Last year, more than 3 billion, one-time use CDs were sold throughout North America and Europe. The energy required to burn information onto a CD has been measured to be as much as 100 times the amount used to load the same information onto a USB Source Flash Drive. Comparatively, the use of petrochemicals in the manufacturing process is nearly negligible when compared to the consumption of petrochemicals used in CD creation.
Multiply this use of energy, which is electrical energy often produced by burning coal, natural gas, or hydro dams, by the billions of CDs burned each year and it becomes easy to see the huge positive environmental impact that the USB Source flash drive business model and its USB Source product line can have on the environment.
USB Source products and its company policies have been recognized by the Energy Star program and are in compliance with RoHS directive (certified as being lead-free under the Restriction of Hazardous Substances directive) and WEEE directive (complies with the Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment directive, which mandates the treatment, recovery, and recycling of electronic equipment to prevent it from winding up in landfills).
Ready-Mix Concrete Industry Agrees to Reduce Its Environmental Footprint
On March 9, EPA’s Region 3 Regional Administrator Donald S. Welsh and Water Protection Division Director Jon Capacasa signed a voluntary agreement with the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (NRMCA) to help ready-mix concrete industry plants nationwide meet their Clean Water Act compliance obligations. NRMCA agreed to follow EPA Green Star environmental management program guidelines, developed specifically for the industry, to promote compliance in pollution reduction