April 13, 2020
OSHA has issued interim guidance
for enforcing OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements (29 CFR 1904
) as it relates to recording cases of COVID-19.
Under OSHA’s recordkeeping requirements, COVID-19 is a recordable illness, and employers are responsible for recording cases of COVID-19, if the case:
In areas where there is ongoing community transmission, employers other than those in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations (e.g., emergency medical, firefighting and law enforcement services), and correctional institutions may have difficulty making determinations about whether workers who contracted COVID-19 did so due to exposures at work. Accordingly, until further notice, OSHA will not enforce its recordkeeping requirements to require these employers to make work-relatedness determinations for COVID-19 cases, except where: 1) There is objective evidence that a COVID-19 case may be work-related; and 2) The evidence was reasonably available to the employer. Employers of workers in the healthcare industry, emergency response organizations and correctional institutions must continue to make work-relatedness determinations pursuant to 29 CFR 1904
OSHA’s enforcement policy will provide certainty to the regulated community and help employers focus their response efforts on implementing good hygiene practices in their workplaces and otherwise mitigating COVID-19’s effects.
For further information and resources about the coronavirus disease, please visit OSHA’s COVID-19 webpage
Environmental Resource Center Update
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have combined our Safety and Environmental Tips of the week. This issue includes some of the latest recommendations for you to keep safe at work and at home in this evolving event.
The health and wellbeing of our employees, customers and our communities is what matters most to all of us. To continue serve you, our seminars have been converted to live online webcasts. You can find a list of upcoming live webcasts at this link
If you have enrolled in a seminar in April or May, in many cases the seminar will be held on approximately the same dates and at the same times via online webcast. We will contact you by phone or email regarding the details on how to attend the class. On-site training and consulting services are proceeding as usual. If you wish to convert these to remote services, please call your Environmental Resource Center representative or customer service at 800-537-2372.
Because many of our live and on-site training sessions have been postponed or canceled, we have staff available to assist you in coping with COVID-19 as well as your routine EHS requirements. If you have EHS staff that have been quarantined, we can provide remote assistance to help you meet your ongoing environmental and safety compliance requirements. For details, call 800-537-2372.
PHMSA to Use Enforcement Discretion for Cylinders that Are Past Requalification Date
In its continued efforts to support the need to move critical hazardous materials products during the COVID-19 public health emergency, PHMSA will impose an enforcement discretion
for cylinders that have exceeded their periodic requalification test dates. Due to the COVID-19 emergency, many members of the medical and industrial gas industry may be experiencing difficulty in obtaining cylinders due to the increased demand for these gases or a disruption in the normal business model for cylinder exchanges.
Accordingly, PHMSA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will not take enforcement action against any person who fills a DOT-specification cylinder used to transport Division 2.2 non-flammable gas by motor vehicle. The enforcement discretion does not extend to transport by air, vessel, or railroad.
According to the enforcement discretion, prior to filling and offering for transportation, all cylinders must be inspected in accordance with the applicable Compressed Gas Association Pamphlet (such as P-1
, or others as applicable) and DOT requirements
. Any cylinder that does not pass the prefill inspection criteria must not be filled.
DOJ and EPA Crack Down on Unregistered COVID-19 Disinfectant
Rong Sun, aka Vicky Sun, 34, of Fayetteville, Georgia, was charged with a criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office on April 8, 2020, and made her initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alan J. Baverman.
“In an event of this magnitude, the public needs facts, not fiction, on the best ways to protect themselves from viruses,” said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We must all remain vigilant against unsubstantiated or false claims that products ward off viruses. Those marketing such illegal products should beware they may end up on the radar of federal investigators, and be vigorously prosecuted.”
“The defendant took advantage of the current worldwide crisis to sell an illegal product with the claim that it protects individuals from viruses,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak of the Northern District of Georgia. “We will take quick action through the Georgia COVID-19 Task Force to put a stop to criminals preying on the public with Coronavirus-related fraud schemes.”
“Reliance on fraudulent products may increase the spread of COVID-19 and exacerbate the current public health emergency,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Susan Bodine. “EPA and our law enforcement partners are working hard to keep these illegal products off the shelves, off the internet, and out of this country. We ask American consumers to help by checking the list of approved products found at epa.gov/coronavirus before making any purchases.”
“The sale of this product not only violates several federal laws, it also gives people a false hope. During a global crisis, like we are experiencing right now, it is incredibly dangerous and reckless to exploit people’s fear for profit,” said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) acting Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees operations in Georgia and Alabama. “HSI Atlanta, in conjunction with our law enforcement partners, will continue to prioritize our efforts to protect Americans from COVID-19 fraud.”
“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service will pursue those individuals that are illegally utilizing the mail system to defraud victims during this coronavirus pandemic,” said Tommy D. Coke, Inspector in Charge of the Atlanta Division. “With the collaborative investigative efforts of our law enforcement partners, we remain resolute to pursue and bring to justice any criminals involved in these deceptive schemes.”
According to the charges, the defendant sold an unregistered pesticide, Toamit Virus Shut Out, through eBay, claiming that it would help protect individuals from viruses. The pesticide was marketed as “Virus Shut Out” and “Stop The Virus.”
Additionally, the listing stated that “its main ingredient is ClO2, which is a new generation of widely effective and powerful fungicide recognized internationally at present. Bacteria and viruses can be lifted up within one meter of the wearer’s body, just like a portable air cleaner with its own protective cover.” It also stated that “In extraordinary times, access to public places and confined spaces will be protected by one more layer and have one more layer of safety protection effect, thus reducing the risks and probability of infection and transmission.”
The listing further claimed that Toamit is “office and home essential during viral infections reduce transmission risk by 90%.”
The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, FIFRA, regulates the production, sale, distribution and use of pesticides in the United States. A pesticide is any substance intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest. The term “pest” includes viruses. Pesticides are required to be registered with the EPA. Toamit Virus Shut Out was not registered and it is illegal to distribute or sell unregistered pesticides. In addition, Sun allegedly imported the pesticide from Japan, violating the anti-smuggling law and then sent it via U.S. Postal Service priority mail.
An indictment is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. The EPA-Criminal Investigation Division, HSI, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service are investigating this case.
Safely Get Your EHS Training at Home or in Your Office
To help you get the training you need, Environmental Resource Center has added a number of dates to our already popular live webcast training. Stay in compliance and learn the latest regulations from the comfort of your office or home. Webcast attendees receive the same benefits as our seminar attendees including expert instruction, comprehensive course materials, one year of access to our AnswerlineTM
service, course certificate, and a personalized user portal on Environmental Resource Center’s website.
Upcoming hazardous waste and DOT hazardous materials webcasts:
DOT and NY DEC Guidance on Social Distancing While Signing Shipping Papers
DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) has received inquiries regarding the requirements applicable to the exchange of hazardous material shipping papers. Many of these inquiries have focused on the need to maintain social distancing between shippers and carriers.
PHMSA has indicated
that under the current regulations, no physical contact between parties is required for the purposes of shipping papers. Shippers and carriers may therefore meet all requirements for hazardous materials shipping papers while maintaining social distancing.
Shipping papers may be exchanged, for example, by physically attaching the document to a clipboard and placing it on a table and stepping away while the paper is signed, or sending the document via email or other means of electronic transmission.
Concerns have specifically been raised about the shipper's certification statement at 49 CFR 172.204(d) which states that the shipper's certification on a shipping paper: ''...[m]ust be legibly signed by a principal, officer, partner, or employee of the shipper or his agent; and ... [m]ay be legibly signed manually, by typewriter; or by other mechanical means."
DOT allows shippers to ask a person to sign on their behalf, i.e., to enter the shipper's name as the signature for the shipper's certification on the shipping paper. The request may be made verbally or in writing, and may be electronically transmitted (e.g., text message or email).
Using the methods outlined above, PHMSA indicated carriers and shippers may satisfy the safety requirements of the hazardous materials regulations while maintaining appropriate social distancing during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) offered similar guidance for hazardous and non-hazardous waste, used oil, and low level radioactive waste shipments. For a copy of the DEC’s guidance, see this link
Updated Policy on the Transportation of Hand Sanitizers
In last week’s Environmental Resource Center Tip of the Week
, we told you about DOT’s policy which has temporarily reduced requirements for the transportation of sanitizers. DOT has updated the policy
to allow the option to use labels that conform to FDA guidance (as a replacement for the DOT text markings required by the guidance), provided the FDA labels are visible in transportation. The revised notice also clarifies that registration with the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
has been waived irrespective of the quantity of hand sanitizer transported.
New Hampshire Governor Issues Emergency Order on Environmental Deadlines and Requirements
Governor Chris Sununu issued Emergency Order #29
to establish temporary modifications of certain Executive Branch deadlines and requirements, including New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services requirements, as part of the state's efforts to respond to COVID-19. The Emergency Order affects requirements for both the regulated community and NHDES programs to comply with deadlines associated with in the likelihood of increased adverse public health impacts as a result of encouraging otherwise unnecessary in-person contact, travel, or similar activities.
The Emergency Order allowed the following:
- No NHDES certification, license, or other approval, the renewal of which is dependent on the availability of department training, will expire prior to the department offering such training.
Air Resource Division
- For any entity or person holding an asbestos license or certification that would otherwise expire during the state of emergency, the expiration date is extended by six months.
- For any person with a current asbestos certification, that person will be allowed to perform work at asbestos projects without a current training certificate until such time as the required trainings become available.
- For permitted sources, the deadline to submit an annual emission report, nitrogen oxides statement, volatile organic compound statement, and annual compliance certification are extended to May 15, 2020.
- The deadline to submit annual emission fees is extended to June 15, 2020.
- For non-Title V permits that would otherwise expire during the state of emergency, the term of the permit is extended by six months.
- Permit applications that would otherwise need to be submitted 90 days prior to permit expiration will not be due until 30 days prior to permit expiration during the state of emergency.
Waste Management Division
The Emergency Order provides regulatory relief for New Hampshire underground storage tank operators, hazardous waste coordinators, solid waste operators, solid waste facilities, and asbestos disposal site owners as follows:
- Expiration dates for underground storage tank operator certifications coming due during the state of emergency have been extended by 180 days.
- Expiration dates for NHDES-issued hazardous waste coordinator certifications coming due during the state of emergency have been extended by 180 days, and certification renewal should be scheduled within 90 days of completion of the state of emergency.
- NHDES will endeavor to process all applications as expeditiously as possible; however, with the Governor’s consent, Commissioner Scott may extend solid waste facility permit and waste-derived product certification processing deadlines, if necessary due to the state of emergency.
- The submittal timeframes for solid waste facility reports due during the state of emergency have been extended by 90 days. This extension does not apply to incident reports for emergencies or action level conditions.
- Expiration dates for solid waste operator certifications coming due during the state of emergency have been extended by 180 days.
- The $25 late fee for late solid waste operator certification has been suspended for all applications received during, and up to 90 days after, the state of emergency.
- The Solid Waste Rules require that each facility have at least one principal solid waste operator present at the facility during operations. The Governor has authorized NHDES to waive this requirement, at the request of the facility, if conditions related to the state of emergency prevent compliance. For facilities seeking this relief, NHDES is authorized to place conditions on the waivers to ensure safe operations of the facilities.
- NHDES will endeavor to process all inactive asbestos disposal site work plans and waiver requests as expeditiously as possible; however, with the Governor’s consent, Commissioner Scott may extend inactive asbestos disposal site work plan and waiver request processing deadlines, if necessary due to the state of emergency.
- The wetland application requirements for signature by a town or city clerk, by a municipal conservation commission, by a local river management advisory committee, or by the New Hampshire Rivers Council may be met through electronic means by sending your email with key information including land owner and location address to DES.WetlandsTownConn@des.nh.gov.
- The NHDES is continuing to process all Alteration of Terrain, Shoreland and Wetland applications as expeditiously as possible. However, with the Governor’s approval, Commissioner Scott may extend these permit processing timelines if the state of emergency prevents timely processing.
- Deadlines for processing of Shoreland Permit by Notifications received during the declared state of emergency are extended 30 days.
- Because of the state of emergency, all large public water systems are only required to test back flow prevention devices annually for 2020.
For more information, please contact Jim Martin, NHDES Public Information Officer, at email@example.com
Temporary Guidance for Respirator Fit-Testing Expanded to All Industries During COVID-19 Pandemic
OSHA has expanded temporary guidance
provided in a March 14, 2020, regarding supply shortages of N95s or other filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This expanded guidance applies to all workplaces covered by OSHA where there is required respirator use. OSHA field offices will exercise enforcement discretion concerning annual fit-testing requirements, as long as employers have made good-faith efforts to comply with the requirements of the Respiratory Protection standard and to follow the steps outlined in the March 14, 2020 memorandum.
Employers should assess their engineering controls, work practices, and administrative controls on an ongoing basis to identify any changes they can make to decrease the need for N95s or other FFRs. When reassessing these controls and practices, employers should, for example, consider whether it is possible to increase the use of wet methods or portable local exhaust systems or to move operations outdoors. In some instances, an employer may also consider taking steps to temporarily suspend certain non-essential operations.
In light of concerns about a shortage of fit-testing kits and test solutions, OSHA encourages employers to prioritize use of fit-testing equipment to protect employees who must use respirators for high-hazard procedures. In the absence of fit-testing capabilities, if a user's respirator model is out of stock, employers should consult the manufacturer to see if it recommends a different model that fits similarly to the model used previously by employees.OSHA field offices may exercise additional enforcement discretion when an employer switches to an equivalent-fitting make/model/size/style N95 or other filtering facepiece respirator without first performing an initial quantitative or qualitative fit test.
This expanded guidance is in effect now and remain in effect until OSHA issues further notice. It is intended to be time-limited to the current public health crisis. Check OSHA's webpage at www.osha.gov/coronavirus
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Eyewear Products Don’t Have to Be Labeled as Carcinogens
The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) received a request for a Safe Use Determination (SUD) for exposures to bisphenol A (BPA) from certain polycarbonate eyewear products manufactured, distributed, or sold by The Vision Council (TVC) member companies. The request was made by TVC, pursuant to Title 27 of the California Code of Regulations, section 25204(b)(3).
As provided in Sections 25204(a) and (k), OEHHA has issued a Safe Use Determination for exposures to BPA from certain polycarbonate prescription glasses and sunglasses, over-the-counter (OTC) reading glasses, non-prescription sunglasses, and safety glasses that are manufactured, distributed, or sold by TVC member companies, with acetonitrile extractable concentrations of BPA (as determined by LC/MS/MS) in the temple, nose pad, frame, and lens at or below 25 micrograms per gram (µg/g), 68 µg/g, 120 µg/g, and 302 µg/g, respectively.
Based on OEHHA’s screening-level analysis of the information and data provided by TVC, the upper-end estimate of dermal exposure to BPA for users of certain polycarbonate eyewear products (prescription glasses and sunglasses, OTC reading glasses, non-prescription sunglasses, and safety glasses) manufactured, distributed, or sold by TVC member companies, with acetonitrile extractable concentrations of BPA as specified above, is 0.53 µg/day. This exposure estimate falls below the "Maximum Allowable Dose Level (MADL)” for BPA (dermal exposure from solid materials) of 3 µg per day . The MADL is defined as the level of exposure that corresponds to the “no observed effect level” divided by 1000. Thus, exposures to BPA from use of such eyewear products, under the conditions described in OEHHA’s assessment, would not require a Proposition 65 warning.
OSHA Alert: Keep Retail Workers Safe During Coronavirus Pandemic
OSHA has issued an alert listing safety tips employers can follow to help protect retail workers from exposure to coronavirus.
Safety measures employers can implement to protect employees working in pharmacies, supermarkets, big box stores and other retail establishments include:
- Routinely cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and equipment with Environmental Protection Agency-approved cleaning chemicals from List N or that have label claims against the coronavirus;
- Using a drive-through window or offering curbside pick-up;
- Recommending that workers wear masks over their nose and mouth to prevent them from spreading the virus; and
- Practicing sensible social distancing, which could include opening only every other cash register, temporarily moving workstations to create more distance and installing plexiglass partitions between workstations.
The alert is the latest effort by OSHA to educate and protect America's workers and employers during the coronavirus pandemic. OSHA has also published Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
, a document aimed at helping workers and employers learn about ways to protect themselves and their workplaces during the ongoing pandemic.
Employers Cannot Retaliate Against Workers Who Report Unsafe Conditions During Coronavirus Pandemic
OSHA has reminded employers that it is illegal to retaliate against workers because they report unsafe and unhealthful working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. Acts of retaliation can include terminations, demotions, denials of overtime or promotion, or reductions in pay or hours.
“Employees have the right to safe and healthy workplaces,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Loren Sweatt. “Any worker who believes that their employer is retaliating against them for reporting unsafe working conditions should contact OSHA immediately.”
Workers have the right to file a whistleblower complaint
online with OSHA (or 1-800-321-OSHA) if they believe their employer has retaliated against them for exercising their rights under the whistleblower protection laws enforced by the agency.
OSHA enforces the whistleblower provisions of more than 20 whistleblower statutes
protecting employees from retaliation for reporting violations of various workplace safety and health, airline, commercial motor carrier, consumer product, environmental, financial reform, food safety, motor vehicle safety, healthcare reform, nuclear, pipeline, public transportation agency, railroad, maritime, securities and tax laws. For more information on whistleblower protections, go to OSHA’s Whistleblower Protection Programs webpage
Interim Final Rule Published on Approval Tests and Standards for Air-Purifying Particulate Respirators
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) announces the publication of an interim final rule
to update the regulatory requirements used by NIOSH to test and approve air-purifying particulate respirators for use in the ongoing pandemic.
With this rulemaking, parallel performance standards are added to existing regulatory requirements for powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) to allow for the approval of a new class, PAPR100. This new class of PAPRs may be better suited to the needs of workers in the healthcare and public safety sectors needing protection against COVID-19. In addition, the interim final rule:
- Consolidates the technical standards for all types of air-purifying particulate respirators into one subpart,
- Removes standards pertaining to obsolete respirators designed for dust, fume, and mist; pesticide; and paint spray from the regulation entirely,
- Aligns the particulate filter testing for the new class PAPR100 with the current requirements for non-powered particulate respirators.
Over the past 20 years, PAPRs have played an increasing role in respiratory protection programs in the United States in the healthcare sector. As seen during the 2002 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), the 2009 H1N1 influenza, and the 2014 Ebola virus outbreaks, PAPRs are often used in high-hazard procedures in the healthcare setting because they are designed to filter chemicals, blood-borne pathogens, and aerosol-transmissible diseases. Current shortages of non-powered particulate respirators underscore the need for approval of PAPRs more suitable for use by the healthcare workers and first responders dealing with the disease.
Environmental Lab Fined $90,000 for False Representations in Reports
A Chino, California environmental testing laboratory has been fined $90,000 and denied renewal accreditation by the State Water Resources Control Board’s Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program (ELAP) for making false representations about a wastewater treatment facility’s compliance with permit requirements.
Adopted by the State Water Board, the fine stems from an investigation that
found privately owned Western Analytical Laboratories, Inc. created reports for the Skyline Ranch Country Club in San Diego County with data taken by an unaccredited laboratory at the wastewater treatment plant. This was the first laboratory enforcement to come before the board for adoption since the program moved over from the California Department of Public Health in July 2014.
“It’s important the data we are receiving can be trusted because state agencies rely on this data to make decisions that affect public health and the environment,” State Water Board member Sean Maguire said. “These reports falsely represented that the analysis was done by Western Analytical, but it was not.”
ELAP launched an investigation in April 2018 after the San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board observed Skyline personnel performing laboratory tests during a routine inspection of the wastewater treatment facility. This conflicted with monitoring reports submitted to the Regional Board indicating the tests were performed by Western Analytical.
During an unannounced inspection in June 2018, ELAP found that Western Analytical was using data from the unaccredited lab in official lab reports for regulatory purposes. Regulators require tests to be performed by an accredited lab to ensure data reliability and accuracy.
The State Water Board agreed to allow Western Analytical’s current accreditation to remain in place and continue to process samples for clients while it works to correct issues with its quality assurance program, including implementation of a data integrity and ethics training program for employees.
In addition, the $90,000 penalty will be reduced by $50,000 if Western Analytical implements a quality management system that includes data integrity procedures that are above and beyond what is currently required by law. The Board also indicated it would consider extending the due date of the fine because of economic conditions created by the COVID-19 response.
This draft order
provides more detail on the investigation that led to the penalty.
Food Manufacturer Cited for Exposing Employees to Machine Hazards
OSHA has cited Hearthside Food Solutions Inc. – a manufacturer of brand name cookies and crackers – for violations of OSHA’s machine safety standards after two employees suffered severe injuries in separate incidents at the McComb, Ohio, facility. The company faces $262,169 in penalties.
OSHA received an employer-reported referral from Hearthside Food Solutions Inc. after an employee suffered a finger amputation after coming into contact with an unguarded chain and sprocket on Oct. 25, 2019. OSHA opened a second inspection at the facility when another employee suffered an amputation injury on Dec. 11, 2019, while conducting maintenance on a packaging machine.
OSHA cited the company for one willful violation for failure to control hazardous energy sources, and two repeat violations for not training employees to perform energy control procedures during service and maintenance operations, and inadequate machine guarding.
“Hearthside Foods has a history of OSHA violations for machine hazards,” said Toledo OSHA Area Director Kimberly Nelson. “Employers have a responsibility to train and protect workers from such hazards in their facilities.”
“Amputations are preventable when employers comply with machine guarding and lockout/tagout standards, as required by law,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt.
TCEQ Fines Totaled $921,787
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has approved penalties totaling $866,208 against 26 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations. Agreed orders were issued for the following enforcement categories: one agricultural, two air quality, one Edwards Aquifer, one industrial wastewater discharge, seven municipal wastewater discharge, four petroleum storage tank, and four public water system, and one water quality.
Default orders were issued for the following enforcement categories: one air quality, two municipal solid waste, and two petroleum storage tank.
Included in the total is a fine of $607,617 against Buckeye Texas Processing LLC
in Nueces County for air quality violations stemming from failure to obtain a federal operating permit, and failure to comply with maximum allowable emissions requirements, among other violations, at various times from 2016 through 2018. As part of a supplemental environmental project, $303,808 will be paid to the Texas Association of Resource Conservation and Development Areas, Inc. for the Public Water System Assistance Project to repair or replace public water systems.
In addition, on April 7, the executive director approved penalties totaling $55,579 against 37 entities.
North America’s Largest Mushroom Grower to Pay $911,000 For Polluted Stormwater Discharges
The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board has ordered Monterey Mushrooms, Inc. to pay $911,800
for discharging polluted stormwater into Fisher Creek, harming water quality and threatening aquatic life.
The company, which is the largest grower of fresh mushrooms in North America, discharged more than 650,000 gallons of polluted water from its Morgan Hill facility into Fisher Creek. Nearly half of the penalty ($440,364) will fund a Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority project to restore 3.5 acres of habitat along the creek, downstream of the Morgan Hill facility.
“This penalty sends a clear message that Monterey Mushrooms must improve their operations and protect the aquatic life in Fisher Creek and drinking water uses of the underlying groundwater,” said Lisa Horowitz McCann, Assistant Executive Officer.
The San Francisco Bay Water Board’s investigation found that in March 2016, Monterey Mushrooms discharged 258,000 gallons of polluted stormwater from one of its compost storage areas to a ditch that flowed into Fisher Creek. Inspectors found deficiencies in stormwater management practices that resulted in stormwater coming into contact with compost, becoming polluted and then running off the facility.
The investigation also found that in February 2017, Monterey Mushrooms pumped 400,000 gallons of polluted water from a pond to Fisher Creek. The discharge contained ammonia over five times the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s water quality criterion intended to protect aquatic life.
Fisher Creek flows into Coyote Creek, which flows into San Francisco Bay. These waters provide habitat for aquatic life. When improperly managed, compost waste can degrade water quality with nutrients, pathogens, and other pollutants. Excess nutrients can lead to conditions that suffocate fish or cause toxic algal blooms. If released to groundwater, nutrients can also harm drinking water supplies.
As a result of the San Francisco Bay Water Board’s enforcement action, as well as a separate action brought by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, Monterey Mushrooms has improved its compost management by increasing process water storage and minimizing the amount of process water on-site.
New OSHA Poster Aimed at Reducing Workplace Exposure to the Coronavirus
OSHA has issued a new poster listing steps all workplaces can take to reduce the risk of exposure to coronavirus. The poster highlights 10 infection prevention measures every employer can implement to protect workers' safety and health during the coronavirus pandemic. Safety measures include encouraging sick workers to stay home; establishing flexible worksites and staggered work shifts; discouraging workers from using other workers' phones, desks and other work equipment; and using EPA-approved cleaning chemicals with label claims against the coronavirus.
CNX Cited for Erosion and Sedimentation Violations at Well Sites in Greene and Washington Counties
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has executed a consent order and agreement
(COA) with CNX Gas Company, LLC (CNX) to address numerous violations of the operator’s erosion and sediment control authorizations at unconventional natural gas well sites in Greene and Washington Counties. In lieu of collecting a civil penalty, DEP has accepted CNX’s proposal for streambank stabilization and the installation of fish habitat structures, in addition to correcting and remediating the damage from the violations.
Erosion and sediment control general permit authorizations allow earth disturbance for the construction of well sites and related facilities. Permit requirements include the use of erosion and sediment control and stormwater management best management practices (BMPs) and overall stability.
At the sites below, CNX failed to take required measures to ensure that these sites were constructed in a manner to prevent off-site sediment discharges. These measures include failing to implement or maintain BMPs, failing to stabilize the sites, and failing to install post construction stormwater BMPs. CNX’s failure to follow its authorizations and to maintain these sites resulted in the sites not being adequately stabilized, which caused sediment runoff from these sites—in some instances—discharges into waters of the commonwealth. Violations were found at the following sites:
- MOR30 in East Finely Township, Washington County
- MOR31 in East Finely Township, Washington County
- MOR40 in Richhill Township, Greene County
- RHL22 in Richhill Township, Greene County
- RHL27 in Richhill Township, Greene County
- RHL28 in Richhill Township, Greene County
- NV35 in South Franklin Township, Washington County.
In several instances, CNX failed to notify the department of its operative or ineffective BMPs.
The violations have since been corrected. DEP accepted CNX’s proposal to fund a community environmental project in Nottingham Township, Washington County in lieu of a civil penalty. CNX will provide no less than $180,000 toward 2,500 linear feet of streambank stabilization and installation of fish habitat structures along and within Mingo Creek, a high-quality trout stocked fishery that flows through the eponymous county park. Completion of this project is expected to improve the environment through a reduction in sediment deposits entering Mingo Creek, significantly increase recreational opportunities by providing additional access for trout fishing and improve the overall aesthetics of Mingo Creek County Park. The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy is the proposed entity to perform the stream work.
Details of the specific violations—that occurred between July 2017 and September 2018—and the corrective measures already taken by CNX are detailed in the COA linked above.
New Crisis Standards For Emergency Medical Services and Personal Protective Equipment in Colorado
The Chief Medical Officer for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment activated new crisis standards for emergency medical services and personal protective equipment earlier this week to help health care providers make decisions when responding to COVID-19. These standards are specific to the COVID-19 response.
The state has not enacted crisis standards of care for hospitals, as ongoing physical distancing policies have helped delay the strain on hospitals.
With the activation of the emergency medical services and personal protective equipment crisis standards in Colorado, entities will then adopt the standard for their organization and should report this adoption to CDPHE by completing the Crisis Standards of Care Adoption Form
“The activated crisis standards provide recommendations on the questions ambulance dispatchers should ask and the equipment first responders should wear -- among other recommendations. They also clarify which first responders go out when, minimizing the number of people who could be exposed to COVID-19, while still providing care to people in need,” said Dr. Eric France, chief medical officer, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. “The public can help preserve precious emergency resources by staying home, and only contacting 911 when it’s an emergency. We all play a role in slowing transmission of the virus and protecting the heroes on the frontlines.”
The Governor's Expert Emergency Epidemic Response Committee approved these crisis standards of care on April 5. Several sub-groups reviewed the content, and community feedback and engagement were considered throughout the process to update these recommendations.
The complete crisis standards of care are available here
. The state will continue to activate portions of the standards as the need becomes apparent.
OSHA Is Seeking New Director of Whistleblower Protection Programs
OSHA is hiring a director for the Directorate of Whistleblower Protection Programs (DWPP). The position will provide executive-level direction to a cadre of professionals and has responsibilities to ensure effective administration of the whistleblower provisions of the 22 whistleblower statutes under OSHA's authority. The deadline to apply is April 20. For details, see this link
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Trivia Question of the Week