The former manager of the Inwood Dairy, David Inskeep, was sentenced on July 13 to 30 days in prison, one year of supervised release and a $3,000 fine for a criminal misdemeanor violation of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). Inskeep, who formerly served as manager and operator of the Inwood Dairy located in Elmwood, Ill., pleaded guilty to one count of negligently discharging pollutants into waters of the United States without a permit on March 24.
Inskeep managed the Inwood Dairy and its 1,250 dairy cows and operated a waste management system consisting of a lagoon designed to hold approximately 40 million gallons of animal waste at full capacity. The system used water to flush cattle manure and waste water from the dairy’s barns to a central collection point; waste was then pumped to the lagoon for storage until it could be lawfully removed.
According to the plea agreement, on February 14, 2001, an Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) official observed that the waste level in the Inwood Dairy lagoon was three inches from the top of the berm wall and advised Inskeep to stop pumping waste in to the lagoon. The following day, another IEPA official allegedly found the lagoon was completely full with the pump still operating. Despite the official’s request to turn off the pump to prevent an overflow and discharge into a local tributary—and subsequent flow to the West Fork of Kickapoo Creek—Inskeep refused to turn off the pump. Inskeep failed to hire waste haulers to remove the waste, and he ultimately decided to pump more than a million gallons of animal waste from the lagoon to a tributary located on his property despite being told by state regulators that such action was illegal.
Inskeep pleaded guilty to one count of negligently discharging pollutants (animal waste) into waters of the United States, without a permit in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.
New Rule for Mercury in Motor Vehicle Switches Proposed
This action would require persons who intend to manufacture (including import) or process mercury for these uses, including when mercury is imported or processed as part of an article, to notify EPA at least 90 days before commencing such activity. EPA believes that this action is necessary because manufacturing, processing, use, or disposal of mercury switches can produce significant changes in human and environmental exposures. The required notice would provide EPA with the opportunity to evaluate the use of mercury in these switches, and, if necessary, to prohibit or limit such activity before it occurs to prevent unreasonable risk of injury to human health or the environment.
New Report Sets EPA’s Toxic Chemical Priorities
Section 4(e) of TSCA established the ITC to recommend chemicals and chemical groups to the Administrator of EPA for priority testing consideration. Section 4(e) of TSCA directs the ITC to revise the TSCA section 4(e) Priority Testing List at least every 6 months.
In the 58th ITC Report, the ITC is revising the TSCA section 4(e) priority testing list by removing 8 high production volume (HPV) orphan chemicals, 3 indium compounds, 12 tungsten compounds, and 12 vanadium compounds. Pursuant to the statements made in the 56th and 57th ITC Reports, the ITC is listing 286 new HPV chemicals in the appendix of this report to provide interested federal and state agencies, stakeholders, and the public with the Chemical Abstract Registry Numbers (CAS No.) and names of chemicals with production or importation volumes exceeding 1 million pounds on only the 2002 inventory update rule (IUR). These include sources of acute and chronic toxicity, mutagenicity, reproductive effects or developmental toxicity, ecological effects, environmental fate and National Toxicology Program data for which there were publicly available studies. The ITC is providing these data sources to facilitate the efforts of federal and state agencies, interested stakeholders, and members of the public in obtaining basic health effects and environmental data for new HPV chemicals.
Shipyard to Pay $19,534 for Hazardous Waste Violations
EPA recently reached a settlement that requires the Guam Shipyard to spend $25,000 to create an environmental management system and pay a fine for hazardous waste violations.
The shipyard will pay $19,534 for storage of hazardous waste without a permit, and for its failure to close hazardous waste containers. The environmental management system will improve the shipyard’s management of hazardous waste by encouraging pollution prevention and requiring regular employee training. The shipyard will also conduct a yearly review and certification of its waste management efforts.
“The storage and management of hazardous waste needs to be done correctly to ensure community, worker and environmental safety,” said Jeff Scott, the EPA’s director for the waste management programs in the Pacific Southwest region. “We are pleased that the company will move forward with the project to improve its compliance and environmental practices at the shipyard.”
The waste has since been shipped for disposal to a proper hazardous waste disposal facility as required by the EPA’s hazardous waste regulations.
EPA’s hazardous waste rules require facilities to properly store, label and seal hazardous waste containers. Facilities must also have properly trained staff. Improperly stored hazardous waste can potentially spill and pose a risk to workers and the environment.
EPA Fines Waterworks Authority $55,000 for Failure to Submit Water System Master Plan
EPA has fined the Guam Waterworks Authority $55,000 for again failing to comply fully with a 2003 stipulated court order to develop a master plan for its wastewater and drinking water systems.
The $55,000 fine is a result of GWA’s inability to complete the final master plan by the date agreed to in the order.
“The master plan will become the road map, showing what GWA will need to do over the next 20 years to provide safe drinking water for its residents and provide proper wastewater disposal,” said Alexis Strauss, the EPA’s director for water programs in the Pacific Southwest region.
The master plan will be used by the utility to make immediate and long-term infrastructure improvements to the island’s water systems.
“The residents of Guam will not be able to enjoy a consistent, fully compliant utility until the infrastructure is improved,” said Strauss. “We await GWA’s complete, comprehensive plan for addressing the many drinking water and wastewater deficiencies. Only then will GWA be able to turn short-term improvements into a long-term solution.”
GWA was previously fined $20,000 in December 2005 and $35,000 in March 2006 for violations relating to the master plan. With the fine GWA has accrued $110,000 in penalties related to their inability to complete the master plan.
Guam’s drinking water system is currently undergoing repairs and improvements to provide a more reliable supply of water to Guam residents. The island’s wastewater treatment system is also being upgraded to ensure proper disposal of treated wastewater and to prevent any spills and overflows.
Hoku Scientific to Pay $14,200 for Hazardous Waste Violations
EPA recently reached a settlement that requires Hoku Scientific to pay a fine of $14,200 as a result of hazardous waste violations at its former facility on Oahu. In November 2004, EPA inspectors found the facility did not have a hazardous waste identification number, failed to properly label two 55-gallon drums in a waste storage area, and had not posted emergency contact information in the area where the waste was stored. The company has since moved to a new facility.
“Every facility that creates hazardous waste is required to have an EPA ID number to help ensure proper handling and disposal of hazardous waste,” said Jeff Scott, the EPA’s director for the waste management programs in the Pacific Southwest region. “We are pleased that Hoku has corrected its violations, as safe storage and management of hazardous waste protects the community and our environment.”
EPA’s hazardous waste rules require facilities to properly store, label and seal hazardous waste containers. Each facility is also required to have an EPA hazardous waste identification number. Facilities must have properly trained staff.
$24,400 Fine for Pesticide Violations
EPA has fined a Water & Energy Systems Technology, Inc. of Mesa, Ariz., $24,400 for violating federal pesticide law. The company allegedly sold its pesticide, C124, with a composition that differed from the composition described in the registration for this pesticide. The company also allegedly continued to sell or distribute pesticide C1204 after its registration had been canceled. Both products are used to control algae in recirculating cooling water.
“Pesticide producers have a responsibility to ensure that pesticides are EPA-registered and to use correct ingredients when repackaging for their own labels,” said Enrique Manzanilla, the community and ecosystems director for the Pacific Southwest region. "Manufacturing facilities selling or distributing pesticides must ensure that those products are legal.”
The EPA noticed irregularities in the company’s annual production report, and at the request of the EPA, the Arizona Department of Agriculture conducted a special inspection in January 2005.
The sale or distribution of a pesticide whose registration has been canceled, or a pesticide whose composition differs from that of the registered product, is a violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. This law requires registration of pesticide products and pesticide-production facilities, and proper pesticide labeling. These requirements protect public health and the environment by ensuring safe production, handling, and application of pesticides, and by preventing false, misleading, or unverifiable product claims. The law also prohibits marketing of misbranded, improperly labeled, or adulterated pesticides.
Recycling at Baseball All Star Game
Baseball fans at the All Star game are doing more than watching top athletes play ball – they're helping the environment, too. The EPA and the City of Pittsburgh are encouraging fans to "recycle on the go" by depositing their cans and bottles in bins in the tailgate area and at other key locations in the stadium area.
"Public venues and events present a great, and largely untapped, opportunity to help the environment through recycling," said EPA Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine. "It is our hope that events like the All Star Game in Pittsburgh will encourage more Americans to think about 'recycling on the go' and encourage more organizations to start recycling programs in public venues."
More than 40,000 fans are expected to attend the game and other All Star-related activities. Revenue generated from the collected recyclable material will benefit Pittsburgh youth programs.
According to municipal authorities, Pittsburgh collects about 20,000 tons of recyclable material in an average year, which is below the national average reported by similar cities. Mayor Bob O'Conner is challenging the city to double the city's collection to 40,000 tons—to "make Pittsburgh one of the cleanest, safest cities in America."
EPA's "Recycle on the Go" initiative works with partners like the City of Pittsburgh to encourage people to recycle wherever they go by making recycling easy and convenient. EPA is working toward a 35% national recycling rate by 2008. Recycling saves energy, conserves resources, reduces the need for new landfills and incinerators, and stimulates the development of green technologies.
Society for Healthcare Engineering Commits to Improving Energy Efficiency in Hospitals
ASHE is launching a two-year campaign, E2C, to educate its members about the environmental and economic benefits of pursuing energy efficiency improvements in healthcare facilities.
"It is encouraging to see that those who care for our health are also concerned with the health of our environment," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "With the help of leaders like ASHE, President Bush and EPA are proving that getting the most out of our energy dollars through Energy Star just makes sense."
Energy Star is a government-backed program helping businesses and consumers protect the environment through superior energy efficiency. More than 8,000 organizations partner with EPA in the Energy Star program. In 2005 alone, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved about $12 billion and prevented greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 23 million vehicles.
As a participant in the Challenge, ASHE is agreeing to:
- Identify hospitals with successful energy programs
- Develop case studies of their energy management methods
- Produce an energy efficiency section on ashe.org
- Develop a chapter-focused energy program
- Recognize members for energy efficiency improvements of 10% or more
ASHE estimates that in the first year of the campaign, members will save more than $65 million on energy costs while helping to protect our environment by preventing nearly 3 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions.
ASHE will recognize members based on their self-reporting of energy efficiency improvements using EPA's national energy performance rating system. The system rates a building's energy efficiency, on a scale of 1 to 100, relative to similar buildings across the country. Buildings with lower ratings are typically good candidates for improvement, as the low rating reflects an important operational issue or outdated technology. The rating system is available for hospitals, medical office buildings, schools, and hotels, among others.
Energy Star partners with building portfolios achieving energy efficiency improvements of 10% or more qualify as Energy Star Leaders.
Recycler Fined for Storm Water Violations
Wood Waste of Boston, an Everett, Mass., construction and demolition debris recycling facility, is facing a fine of up to $157,500 and will be required to prevent pollution from entering the Mystic River watershed.
An EPA complaint against Wood Waste alleges that the company violated the federal Clean Water Act by discharging storm water from industrial activities on its site to the Island End River without a permit, and for failing to prepare a storm water pollution prevention plan (SWPPP).
EPA also issued a compliance order to the facility. Because storm water can contain potentially harmful pollutants, EPA’s order requires Wood Waste to apply for a storm water permit and to develop a storm water pollution prevention plan. The SWPPP will contain a series of “best management practices” designed to prevent or reduce the discharge of pollutants to the river, including oil and heavy metals. The company will also be required to periodically monitor storm water discharges from the site and to submit reports to EPA.
EPA has recently been focusing on water pollution problems in the Lower Mystic River Area, including those caused by municipal and industrial storm water discharges. Storm water discharged from the Wood Waste facility flows into the Island End River, a tributary of the Mystic River. This action is one part of a larger, comprehensive effort by EPA to reduce the volume of pollutants discharged to the Lower Mystic River watershed, thereby improving the environment and human health conditions in this historically disadvantaged area.
EPA Releases Natural Gas Regulatory Roadmap
In an effort to solve the nation's energy supply challenges, EPA released the "Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Regulatory Roadmap.” The roadmap offers guidance to industry on maintaining high environmental standards while new LNG facilities are being built.
The roadmap will serve as an aid to industry to ensure a clear understanding of the environmental obligations that EPA is required to enforce. These requirements will provide greater regulatory certainty during the construction and operation of LNG facilities, both onshore and offshore.
Natural gas continues to play an important role in meeting our nation's growing energy needs. In 2005, natural gas accounted for 23% of our nation's total energy consumption. Recent studies suggest that domestic consumption of natural gas will continue to increase and that imports of LNG will meet much of the increased demand.
LNG presents an efficient way to transport natural gas via ship from foreign production areas to the United States. The cooling process reduces the volume of natural gas by a factor of more than 600, enabling one ship to transport enough energy to heat more than 43,000 homes per year. Once LNG arrives at an import facility, the LNG is typically stored at atmospheric pressure in super-insulated tanks before it is converted back into a gaseous state for shipment via pipeline or, in some instances, transported via truck to market.
EPA, Siemens Settle Case over Improper Hazardous Waste Handling
EPA recently settled with Siemens Water Technologies Corp., formerly Westates Carbon-Arizona, Inc., requiring the company to pay a $27,059 fine for improper hazardous waste handling at its facility located on the Colorado River Indian Reservation near Parker, Ariz.
The company will also install a new double-walled tank, replace secondary containment for other tanks, and implement revised inspection procedures.
“We are pleased that Westates has taken significant steps to come into full compliance and improve their hazardous waste management practices,” said Jeff Scott, the EPA's Waste Management Division director for the Pacific Southwest region. “Proper waste management is critical, and the EPA is committed to ensure that companies handling hazardous waste comply with the law.”
Joint EPA and Colorado River Indian Tribe inspections discovered that Westates:
- Stored discarded hazardous waste samples in an open drum
- Failed to record inspection results, necessary repairs and schedule of repairs
- Failed to comply with the requirement to maintain adequate secondary containment
Firms that handle hazardous waste must properly manage and store waste to prevent spills and safeguard worker health and the surrounding community.
EPA Region 5 Steps Up Pesticide Export Oversight
EPA Region 5 has increased oversight of pesticide exporters over the past two-and-a-half years. During that time, $440,000 in penalties were assessed against seven companies for violations.
The seven companies are:
- Nufarm Americas Inc., Chicago Heights, Ill., fined $33,000, November 2004
- State Industrial Products Corp., Cleveland, Ohio, fined $56,360, July 2005
- BioLab Inc., Adrian, Mich., fined $23,680, July 2005
- Dow Corning Corp. and Aegis Environmental Management, Midland Mich., fined $262,288, November 2005
- J.T. Eaton & Co. Inc., Twinsburg, Ohio, fined $15,840, December 2005
- Arch Wood Protection, Valparaiso, Ind., fined $29,704, April 2006
- Minntech Corp., Minneapolis, Minn., fined $16,640, May 2006.
They failed to take one or more of these required steps:
- Translate portions of pesticide labels into the predominant language of the country of import
- Export registered products with proper labeling and translation
- Obtain written acknowledgement from foreign customers verifying that they understand the products were not registered in the United States
Federal pesticide export requirements provide some of the same protections to foreign purchasers of pesticides that are provided in the United States and lets foreign customers know if the United States has not registered a certain pesticide.
EPA Cites American Energy for Clean Air Violations
EPA Region 5 has cited American Energy Corp. for alleged Clean Air Act violations at the company's coal preparation plant in Beallsville, Ohio.
EPA alleges AEC failed to comply with testing, notification and reporting requirements at the plant, which processes coal from a mine. The company was required to test particulate (dust) emissions from the plant to ensure that they comply with emission limits.
"EPA's mission is to protect public health and the environment," said Acting Regional Administrator Bharat Mathur. "We will take whatever steps are needed to ensure compliance with the Clean Air Act."
These are preliminary findings of violations. To resolve them, EPA may issue a compliance order, assess an administrative penalty or bring suit against the company. AEC has 30 days from receipt of the notice to meet with EPA to discuss resolving the allegations.
Inhaling high concentrations of particulates affects children, the elderly and people with heart and lung diseases the most.
EPA Cites Meridian Automotive for Clean Air Violations
EPA Region 5 has cited Meridian Automotive Systems for alleged Clean Air Act violations at the company's composite plastic manufacturing plant in Jackson, Ohio.
EPA alleges that Meridian violated its state permits and state regulations by emitting excessive amounts of styrene, a hazardous air pollutant and a smog-producing volatile organic compound, from January 2001 through May 2006.
Styrene vapor irritates the eyes, nose and throat. It can also affect the human nervous system. Health effects associated with breathing small amounts in the workplace over long periods of time include alterations in vision and hearing loss.
Volatile organic compounds contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog. Smog is formed when a mixture of air pollutants is baked in the hot summer sun. Smog can cause a variety of respiratory problems, including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain. People with asthma, children and the elderly are especially at risk, but these health concerns are important to everyone.
New Washington Department of Ecology Website Improves Access to Environmental Information
The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has good news for people wanting easy access, 24 hours a day, to information about Washington's environment and the agency charged with protecting it.
As a result of a major redesign of the Ecology website, citizens no longer need an Ecology organization chart to find the information they need.
Clickable text in the photographic sections for Puget Sound, Columbia River and Hanford take users to topical information about cleanup plans, economic impacts, vital statistics, frequently asked questions and more.
A new "How do I" section creates a direct path to some of Ecology's most popular services, while the "Spotlight" section showcases Ecology's action agenda, new initiatives, hot topics, cleanup activities and other timely issues.
Information about program-specific issues such as air and water quality, environmental science, hazardous, nuclear and solid wastes, shorelands, spills, toxics cleanup and water resources are now available in one click from the front page.
"It's all about service to the public," said David Workman, Ecology's director of communication and education. "We've made it easier for our citizens to find environmental information and get where they want to go on our website. We now have the flexibility to bring relevant information forward, while helping our environmental programs meet their business needs. And the compelling photos throughout the site help remind us all of Washington's extraordinary environment, people and natural resources."
Ecology's new website architecture and design are part of an ongoing process to make information more accessible to Washington's citizens. Further site improvements are planned for 2006 and beyond, including an enhanced geographic-based system of providing environmental information to Washington citizens. Ecology will also undertake ongoing usability studies to learn more about citizen expectations in order to constantly improve the process of providing timely, relevant environmental information.
Ohio EPA Fines SynChem for Storing Hazardous Waste without a Permit
SynChem, Inc., has agreed to pay a $12,000 penalty to settle hazardous waste violations at its facility in Aurora, Ohio.
During a September 2005 facility inspection, Ohio EPA found the company had established and operated a hazardous waste storage facility without a permit. Other violations included failing to determine if generated wastes were hazardous; failing to properly label, date and keep closed hazardous waste containers; and failing to conduct and document inspections of emergency equipment.
No releases of hazardous waste were evident during the inspection. SynChem has addressed the violations and now operates in compliance with Ohio's hazardous waste regulations.
SynChem manufactures chemicals for the biotech and electronic industries and generates spent solvents, resins and other hazardous wastes.
The settlement includes $9,600 to Ohio's hazardous waste cleanup fund and $2,400 to Ohio EPA's clean diesel school bus program.
Summer Camp Fined $15,000 for Drinking Water Violations
The Pennsylvania DEP levied a $15,000 fine against Camp Morasha Inc. of Buckingham Township, Wayne County, for drinking water violations related to a waterborne outbreak at the camp in 2004. The fine also covers previous bacteriological violations as well as construction of two water wells in 2005 without DEP approval.
“Properly maintaining these facilities and monitoring the quality of water are essential duties to ensure the health of camp residents and staff,” DEP Northeast Regional Director Michael Bedrin said.
Camp Morasha, which owns and operates a summer camp in Buckingham Township, is subject to the Safe Drinking Water Act for its water supply system.
DEP inspections and reviews of the camp’s drinking water supply showed bacteriological violations during the camping season, failure to operate the chlorinators to disinfect the drinking water in 2004, failure to comply with a DEP field order related to the chlorinator problem, and the development of two new wells without DEP approval.
DEP issued another field order to the camp in December 2005 requiring the facility to ensure that its drinking water supply would be safe and of sufficient quantity. The camp appealed that order to the Commonwealth’s Environmental Hearing Board.
The camp subsequently submitted a corrective action plan to DEP on May 10. Under that plan, the camp developed a new well, improved two existing wells and made improvements to its drinking water disinfection and distribution systems.
The camp also withdrew its appeal and is subject to penalties of $500 per day for failure to comply with this agreement with DEP.
“Camp Morasha has made a commitment to providing safe drinking water to its residents, pay the $15,000 penalty and operate in compliance with its water supply responsibilities,” Bedrin said.
The penalty will be paid into the state’s Clean Water Fund, which finances water quality improvement projects across the commonwealth.
TCEQ Approves Fines Totaling $369,355
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has approved penalties totaling $369,355 against 54 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations. Agreed orders were issued for the following enforcement categories: 19 air quality, one industrial waste discharge, one municipal solid waste, five municipal waste discharge, nine petroleum storage tank, six public water system and three water quality. The commissioners approved four field citations for petroleum storage tank violations. Default orders were issued for four petroleum storage tank violations. Also, administrative penalties were assessed following administrative law judge’s proposals for decision in two cases that had been referred to the State Office of Administrative Hearings.
In other agenda action, the commissioners finalized the Clean Air Interstate Rules (CAIR) and Clean Air Mercury Rules (CAMR) required by the federal government to address the interstate transport of air pollutants, the regulation of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), and the regulation of mercury emissions.
Oregon DEQ Announces Penalties Totaling $198,204 in June
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) assessed 14 penalties totaling $198,204 in June. Year-to-date, DEQ has issued 87 penalties totaling $906,481.
The month’s largest penalty, totaling $78,024, was issued to Specialized Pavement Marking Inc. for hazardous waste violations ranging from improper storage and disposal to inadequate labeling and recordkeeping at its former facility at 1255 SW Tualatin Sherwood Road and its current facility at 11095 SW Industrial Way, both in Tualatin. The company has appealed the penalties.
Specialized Pavement Marking operates a pavement striping company that generates ignitable and toxic hazardous waste, including paint solvents and equipment-cleaning solvents.
The penalty stems originally from a July 29, 2005 DEQ inspection of Specialized Pavement Marking’s former facility after a fire and subsequent release of hazardous materials. As a result of the May 27, 2005 fire, hazardous substances generated and stored at the facility entered nearby Hedges Creek, killing at least 255 fish (lamprey and sculpin) in that creek. DEQ cited several hazardous waste violations at the old facility, noting particular concerns about the company’s practice of storing large amounts of volatile hazardous wastes in open containers, which can release hazardous materials directly into the environment.
During the second half of 2005, Specialized Pavement Marking moved its operations to a new location on SW Industrial Way in Tualatin. After the company failed to register the new location, DEQ inspected the new facility on Jan. 11, 2006 and found additional hazardous waste violations.
In total, Specialized Pavement Marking was assessed penalties for six separate hazardous violations among the two facilities:
- Failing to determine if wastes generated at both facilities (including ignitable waste paint, paint solids and spent propane cylinders) were hazardous ($18,743 penalty).
- Illegally disposing of about 24,000 pounds of hazardous waste (drums of hard residues from evaporated waste solvent and waste paint) over a four-year period from its former facility on Tualatin Sherwood Road. The company allegedly disposed of the material at the Metro South Transfer Station, at 2001 Washington St., Oregon City, which is not permitted to accept hazardous waste from facilities generating more than 220 pounds per month ($21,367 penalty).
- Failing to file annual hazardous waste generation reports for its former facility from 2001 to 2005 and for its current facility in 2005 ($14,400 penalty).
- Illegally treating hazardous waste (allowing open containers of solvent flush to evaporate and solidify) at its current facility without a permit ($4,157 penalty).
- Failing to properly mark and date hazardous waste stored at its current facility ($12,932 penalty).
- Failing to properly label containers of flush waste and spent aerosol cans at its current facility ($6,425 penalty).
Hospital Fined $44,500 for Improper Disposal of Infectious Waste
The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) issued a compliance order on July 10 to Community Health Systems Professional Services Corp., which manages the Alta Vista Regional Hospital in Las Vegas. The order assesses a civil penalty of $44,500 for the unlawful disposal of infectious waste at the Northeastern New Mexico Regional Landfill (NENMRL) near Wagon Mound.
The infectious waste was discovered during an unannounced, two-day inspection of the NENMRL on April 18 and 19, which included the inspection of every truckload of waste arriving at the landfill. Three trucksloads of solid waste arriving from the Las Vegas Transfer Station were found to contain infectious waste generated by the Alta Vista Regional Hospital.
“Generators of hazardous and infectious wastes must be held accountable for the proper management and disposal of their byproducts and wastes in order to protect New Mexico’s water quality and public health,” NMED Secretary Ron Curry said. “These unannounced inspections serve as an important deterrent for both waste generators and landfills and ensure that they follow state laws and their permit requirements.”
The illegal waste included a sharp, uncapped syringe with attached needle, gloves, pipettes, drapes, gauze, pillows, accumulation bags, suction containers, and plastic tubing that contained or was contaminated with blood or bloody liquid. The infectious waste was discovered inside one or more layers of black plastic bags, some of which contained red biohazard bags holding the medical waste.
Infectious waste is considered a special waste under the New Mexico Solid Waste Management Regulations and is specifically prohibited from New Mexico landfills. Such waste has unique handling, transportation, treatment and disposal requirements, as it carries the risk of transmitting disease, such as HIV/AIDS or hepatitis, to humans.
Los Alamos National Laboratory Fined for Improper Disposal of 20 Tons of Lab Waste
The New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) issued a notice of violation on Wednesday to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Los Alamos National Security, LLC, for violating the order on consent that specifies cleanup requirements at Los Alamos National Laboratory. In its notice, NMED alleges that the laboratory and DOE disposed of potentially hazardous waste in a municipal landfill, contrary to the requirements in the NMED-approved work plan.
DOE disposed of more than 20 tons of waste in the Los Alamos County’s municipal landfill in November 2005 that had been removed in the cleanup of the Ash Pile site near Los Alamos County Airport. NMED issued the notice of violation because the approved workplan specified that the cleanup waste would be disposed of at a landfill in Utah specially designed to accept hazardous and radioactive waste.
“NMED-approved workplans are designed to protect the environment and the public health and safety of New Mexicans, especially the laboratory’s neighbors in Los Alamos and White Rock,” NMED Secretary Ron Curry said. “DOE and LANL agreed to abide by all NMED-approved workplans when they signed the consent order. This notice of violation underscores the importance NMED ascribes to cleanup workplans and the approval process agreed to in the fence-to-fence cleanup order. My hope is that the new Lab managers institute systems that ensure cleanup sticks to the approved workplans.”
NMED approved DOE’s workplan in September 2005 for cleanup of the contaminated site near the Los Alamos County Airport. The site, known as the Incinerator Ash Pile, contained an incinerator that was used through the 1950s to destroy laboratory documents and refuse.
Sampling of the resulting ash revealed the presence of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins and furans (degradation products of the combustion of PCBs), and metals such as lead and cadmium in the ash. The site was slated for cleanup in the historic order on consent, signed in March 2005. Because the ash was in contact with other debris at the site, such as metal cans and construction materials, NMED required in its approval letter that all debris be handled in the same manner as the ash. The debris was therefore prohibited from being disposed of in a conventional municipal landfill.
NMED’s notice of violation was accompanied by a proposed penalty for settlement purposes. The maximum penalty under the state Hazardous Waste Act for this violation is $125,000.
Tasse Fuel Fined $6,000 for Violating Waste Site Cleanup Requirements
Tasse Fuel Corporation, a home heating oil storage and distribution facility in Southbridge, Mass., has agreed to pay the Commonwealth a penalty of $6,000 for failing to notify the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) of a release of oil within the deadlines established under MassDEP's waste site cleanup program.
In August 2004, Tasse Fuel excavated and stockpiled approximately 160 cubic yards of oil-contaminated soil during the construction of a containment dike around the company's seven large above-ground fuel oil storage tanks. MassDEP regulations require persons to notify MassDEP of their knowledge of a release of oil or hazardous materials before undertaking remedial actions, such as the excavation and management of contaminated soil. Tasse Fuel provided notification of this oil release to MassDEP in December 2004, several months after conducting the excavation.
"It is very important that parties responsible for releases notify MassDEP in a timely manner to ensure that cleanups are completed properly in a manner that is protective to the public and the environment," said Martin Suuberg, director of MassDEP's Central Regional Office in Worcester.
EPA Cites Dow Chemical for Clean Air Act and EPCRA Violations
EPA Region 5 has cited Dow Chemical Co. for alleged Clean Air Act violations and has filed an administrative complaint against the company for alleged chemical release reporting violations at the company's Midland, Mich., facility.
EPA alleges that Dow violated the Clean Air Act by failing to comply with national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants. Specifically, EPA said the company violated testing, operating, monitoring, recordkeeping, reporting and notification requirements. In addition, EPA alleges Dow has exceeded emission and other limits.
"EPA's mission is to protect public health and the environment," said Acting Regional Administrator Bharat Mathur. "We will take whatever steps are needed to ensure compliance with the Clean Air Act."
These are preliminary findings of violations. To resolve them, EPA may issue a compliance order, assess an administrative penalty or bring suit against the company. Dow has 30 days from receipt of the notice to meet with EPA to discuss resolving the allegations.
Hazardous air pollutants can cause serious health effects, including birth defects and cancer. They can also cause harmful environmental and ecological effects.
The company has been cited for failure to file the required chemical release forms for 2,4-D butoxyethyl ester during calendar years 2000, 2001 and 2002. Dow was also cited for underreporting the volume of chloromethane and propylene oxide released from the facility during 2000, 2001 and 2002.
EPA has proposed a $53,109 penalty. Under the EPCRA statute, the company may request a hearing and/or settlement conference with EPA within 30 days to discuss the allegations.
Pollution Control Industries Fined for Clean Air Act Violations at Hazardous Waste TSD
EPA Region 5 has reached an agreement with Pollution Control Industries Inc. on alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at the company's hazardous waste treatment, storage and disposal facility in East Chicago, Ind.
The agreement, which includes a $25,000 penalty and environmental projects costing $117,120, resolves EPA allegations of multiple violations of the Clean Air Act.
The environmental projects are designed to reduce volatile organic compounds and particulate emissions from the facility.
EPA Prevents Illegally Imported Engines from Endangering U.S. Air Quality
The substandard equipment, which includes tractors, lawn and garden equipment, off-road motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and electric generators, poses a significant risk to the U.S. public health and the environment.
The federal Clean Air Act requires new gasoline and diesel engines sold or distributed in the United States to meet EPA emissions requirements to protect public health and the environment from air pollution. There has been a recent and dramatic increase in imports of gasoline and diesel equipment, chiefly from China, that do not meet these standards.
EPA's Assistant Administrator of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, Granta Y. Nakayama, emphasizes that the agency will "…continue to enforce the Clean Air Act and stop illegal imports. The public's assistance and cooperation, along with EPA's commitment to enforcing these regulations, is essential to preserving and protecting the nation's air quality."
More than half the air pollutants in America come from mobile sources, such as cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles, construction, agricultural and lawn and garden equipment, marine vessels, outboard motors, jet skis, and snowmobiles. Mobile source pollutants include smog-forming volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, toxic air pollutants such as cancer-causing benzene, and particulate matter or soot. These pollutants are responsible for asthma and other respiratory illnesses.
Prospective purchasers should look for an emissions label before buying engines or equipment; if the label is missing, the equipment most likely is an illegal import and should be avoided. Sellers of such equipment should be reported to EPA.
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Trivia Question of the Week
Which of the following constitutes the highest percentage of household waste by weight?
c. Food scraps
d. Electronic waste