Minimizing Fuel Explosions and Fires from Accidents and Terrorist Acts with Polymers

April 08, 2019
When an act of terrorism or a vehicle or industrial accident ignites fuel, the resulting fire or explosion can be devastating. Now, scientists have described how lengthy but microscopic chains of polymers could be added to fuel to significantly reduce the damage from these terrifying incidents without impacting performance.
The researchers presented their results at the American Chemical Society (ACS) Spring 2019 National Meeting & Exposition. The project was motivated by the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. On that day, passenger planes loaded with fuel were crashed into the Twin Towers at New York City’s World Trade Center. The impact set off a chain of events that ultimately brought down the buildings, Julia Kornfield, Ph.D., says.
When the planes struck the buildings, their fuel turned into mist. Ignition of the mist blew out hundreds of windows (providing more air to feed the fire), ruptured concrete membranes between floors and stripped insulation off steel beams, she says. If fuel misting hadn’t occurred, the initial destruction wouldn’t have been as severe, and the buildings might have been able to withstand the lesser damage, says Kornfield, who studies polymers and flow behavior at the California Institute of Technology.
After the attack, one of her colleagues suggested that adding small amounts of polymers to fuel could limit misting during a high-speed impact and reduce the risk of subsequent fire or explosion. Prompted by the suggestion, Kornfield and her team began a quest for suitable polymers that could dissipate the impact energy that would ordinarily break fuel drops into a mist.
Other researchers pursuing this goal have developed “ultralong” polymers that can diminish the outcome of an impact, resulting in cooler, shorter fires. However, ultralong polymers aren’t very practical because they interfere with engine operation, Kornfield notes. They also irreversibly break down into smaller molecules when they run through pipelines or pumps, losing efficacy.
As an alternative, her team created polymers that can reversibly link up end-to-end via carboxylic acid and amine groups to form “megasupramolecules,” which are as long as ultralong polymers but don’t break apart in pipelines or pumps. The researchers, who created videos about the work, cofounded the startup company Fluid Efficiency to further develop the polymers and provide samples for evaluation to petrochemical companies, lubricants producers and pipeline operators.
Results have been encouraging. Misting was significantly reduced in fuel treated with the polymers, and after the fuel was ignited, the flame self-extinguished. A recent test suggests that megasupra-molecules added at a refinery or fuel depot would remain active after passing through more than 600 miles of pipeline and hundreds of pumps, Kornfield says, noting ultralong polymers would have lost most of their potency after 50 miles. “This is an important step toward providing an additive that could improve transportation safety for all users receiving fuel through a pipeline network without concern that protection was lost in transit,” she explains.
Kornfield’s molecules have other advantages. They enhance lubrication and flow through pipelines and hoses during fuel distribution. Because the polymer molecules’ hydrocarbon backbone resembles that of fuel, they remain soluble even at low temperatures. In addition, the molecules break up into smaller ones when they pass into engines and burn with the fuel, so they don’t interfere with engine performance. As an unexpected bonus, the additive reduces soot formation by diesel fuel engines by 12%, according to preliminary testing at the University of California, Riverside.
At present, the polymers would add a penny or two to the cost of a gallon of fuel, which she says is a bit costly. They would like to collaborate with partners who can reduce the price and test the molecules’ performance with a variety of fuels. The U.S. Army plans to study the utility of the additives in scenarios involving various impacts and projectiles such as improvised explosive devices.
Kornfield acknowledged funding from the U.S. Army, NASA, the California Institute of Technology and the National Science Foundation.
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New Wetland Definition and Procedures in California
California’s State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) has adopted rules to protect wetlands and other environmentally sensitive waterways throughout the state.
More than 90 percent of California’s historic wetlands have been lost to development and other human activity. Wetlands are a critical natural resource that protect and improve water quality, provide habitat for fish and wildlife, and buffer developed areas from flooding and sea-level rise.
The newly adopted rules provide a common, statewide definition of what constitutes a wetland. They also provide consistency in the way the State Water Board and nine regional water boards regulate activities to protect wetlands and other waterways, such as rivers and streams, and bays and estuaries.
“Californians take pride in balancing both the ecologic and economic needs of our state,” said State Water Board Chair E. Joaquin Esquivel. “It’s critical we established this consistent statewide framework that protects and enhances our most sensitive water resources, while creating regulatory certainty for housing, agriculture, water managers, conservationists, and communities.”
The rules have two components that support each other. First, the rules define what is considered a wetland and include a framework for determining if a feature defined as a wetland is a “water of the state” subject to regulation. Second, the rules clarify requirements for permit applications to discharge dredged or fill material to any water of the state.
The rules are largely based on the scientific conclusions used for the existing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ wetland definition and regulatory programs. One exception is that in arid portions of the state, the State Water Board’s definition protects non-vegetated wetlands, such as desert playas, that otherwise would not be covered under federal jurisdiction.
Furthermore, waters of the state are, by definition, broader than “waters of the United States” covered by federal regulation. The newly adopted rules do not change that and will ensure that waters of the state will continue to be protected even if protections for federal waters are narrowed by administrative actions or the courts.
As adopted the rules will:
  • Clarify what is considered a wetland – and what is not – for the entire state.
  • Provide a common framework for monitoring and reporting the quality of California’s remaining wetlands.
  • Help ensure no overall net loss, and promote an increase, in the quantity, quality, and sustainability of waters of the state, including wetlands.
  • Improve transparency and consistency across the State Water Board and the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards in how discharges of dredged or fill material in sensitive waterways are monitored and regulated.
  • Avoid duplicative work and streamline requirements to cover all waters of the state, so both state and federal environmental concerns are addressed at once.
Adoption of the rules culminates an effort begun more than a decade ago. In 2008, staff began conducting informal stakeholder meetings to develop the wetland definition and requirements. Early draft versions were released for public comment in 2016 and 2017. Following extensive public and stakeholder input, a revised draft was issued in January 2019. Since January, State Water Board staff held four workshops, as well as one-on-one meetings with various interest groups, to listen to and address stakeholder concerns.
For more information on the State Wetland Definition and Procedures for Discharges of Dredged or Fill Material to Waters of the State, visit the program home page. A fact sheet is also available.
Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Promote Innovation in Sustainable Chemistry
U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) reintroduced the Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act of 2019. A companion bill was introduced in the House by Representatives John Moolenaar (R-Mich.) and Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.).
This bipartisan, bicameral bill encourages the development of new and innovative chemicals, products and processes with an improved environmental footprint through efficient use of resources, reducing or eliminating exposure to hazardous substances, or otherwise minimizing harm to human health and the environment.
“Encouraging innovation, creating new jobs, and improving human health and the environment is something that should bring us all together,” said Senator Coons. “We can do more to ensure the things we use every day—from our laundry detergent to our cars—are produced in a way that maintains their high quality while protecting our health and our planet. The bipartisan Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act will create a cohesive vision for sustainable chemistry research and development, improve training and retraining of scientists and other professionals, and build new partnerships with the private sector. This is an exciting opportunity to maintain our scientific leadership and ensure the sustainability of our chemical enterprise for years to come.”
“Sustainable chemistry aims to improve the efficiency of the chemical production process while reducing risks to human health and the environment,” said Senator Collins. “Our legislation would establish a coordinated national effort to promote this promising field of research; provide grants, training, and educational opportunities for scientists and engineers; and support American jobs by maintaining our nation’s scientific leadership.”
“We must continue to invest in sustainable research and development to unleash the next generation of scientific breakthroughs,” Klobuchar said. “This bipartisan bill will encourage innovation in approaches to chemistry research, development, and training - helping to increase partnerships and economic benefits across the field.”
“The American chemical industry was born in West Virginia and remains a key economic driver and job creator in our state,” Senator Capito said. “Industry stakeholders and researchers at our universities are making great strides in creating products and processes that are more environmentally sustainable. The bipartisan Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act will direct federal research agencies to act as partners with industry and institutions of higher education in advancing these goals that are so vital for our economy, environment, and public health – all at no additional cost to taxpayers.”
“This legislation strengthens cooperation between the federal government, the private sector, and the scientific community to further research and development in chemistry,” said Congressman Moolenaar. “It will keep our country at the forefront of innovation and help create new products that will benefit all Americans.”
“I’m proud to lead the Sustainable Chemistry Act of 2019 in the House, along with my colleague, Representative Moolenaar,” said Congressman Lipinski. “Chemistry is the foundation of countless industries, including agricultural pesticides, cleaning products, cosmetics, and textiles.  As global demand increases for products that are safer and sourced in a more environmentally-friendly way, significant coordination and research is needed to support these industries as they transition to alternative chemicals.  This bill will direct coordination at the federal level to encourage research and practices that incorporate sustainable chemistry, including technology transfer programs.  These efforts can lead to economic growth while also improving environmental quality.”
The Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act of 2019 supports efforts in sustainable chemistry across all federal research agencies through research and development programs, technology transfer, commercialization, education, and training; including partnerships with the private sector. The bill aims to better coordinate federal activities in sustainable chemistry and encourage industry, academia, nonprofits, and the general public to innovate, develop, and bring to market new sustainable chemicals, materials, products, and processes. A one-pager is available here.
The legislation has been endorsed by the GC3 Sustainable Chemistry Alliance, the American Chemical Society, the American Chemistry Council, the American Sustainable Business Council, Ashland, BASF, Beautycounter, the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), Delaware Sustainable Chemistry Alliance, The Dow Chemical Company, DuPont, Environmental Working Group, The LEGO Group, Procter & Gamble, and the University of Delaware. Statements of support can be found here.
Clean Water Better Separations
A team of scientists led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory used carbon nanotubes to improve a desalination process that attracts and removes ionic compounds such as salt from water using charged electrodes. Carbon nanotubes have superior ability to conduct electricity. When applied to the desalination process known as flow-electrode capacitive deionization, the nanotubes boosted electroconductivity by 13.2 times and increased the desalination rate by 34%, with only a slight increase in solution viscosity.
The result was salt water removal efficiency of 93.6%, as detailed in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering. “The process is particularly good at treating industrial wastewater and could help meet the global challenge of fresh water availability,” said ORNL’s Costas Tsouris. He added that exploring the use of carbon fiber in the process could result in similar improvements at a lower cost. 
Houston Chemical Fire and Spill Bolsters Case for Needed Reforms
The aftermath of a huge fire at the ITC chemical plant in Houston has reinforced ongoing oversight and enforcement gaps, according to a coalition of groups that filed suit last week in federal court to force the chemical industry to undertake “worst-case scenario” planning.
“In Houston, we've seen disaster after disaster and things still aren't getting better. The situation shows that the regulatory agencies charged with protecting community health in the area are far too focused on the needs of industry and doing too little to protect our families,” said Juan Parras, Executive Director of the Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services (TEJAS).
The fires at ITC damaged a dike which allowed unidentified chemicals (including reports of the carcinogen benzene) to spill into the Houston Shipping Channel, forcing closure of the busy waterway that some estimates say will cost the region’s economy $1 billion. The Environmental Justice Health Alliance, of which TEJAS is an affiliate, Clean Water Action, and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sued the EPA for its failure to pass regulations requiring the most dangerous chemical facilities to develop plans to prevent and respond to worst-case scenario spills of hazardous substances. The Clean Water Act suit is focused on situations similar to the Shipping Channel spill.
“That suit looks prescient in light of the fire and chemical spill in Houston,” says Kaitlin Morrison with NRDC. “The Trump Administration had a chance to head off situations like these. The situation in the shipping channel shows how dangerous these spills can be—threatening millions of people and freezing critical economic activity. If the feds do not see why these rules need to change, we think the courts will.”
The state legislature and Governor of Texas recently passed a bill restricting cities and counties from monitoring pollution and taking action to protect public health. These efforts have been especially notable in Harris County, which had been more aggressively tackling this problem on behalf of Houston’s residents until the state government intervened. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and EPA region 6 recently turned down a state-of-the-art pollution monitoring service from NASA.
“TEJAS has been involved in a number of national lawsuits trying to protect the people of Houston. If the state and EPA are not willing or able to do the needed work of protecting the public and sharing data on the toxins released in our community, this latest suit becomes all the more important—the chemical industry needs to plan for the worst possible outcomes. The ITC disaster shows that is not happening, so we hope the courts will step in,” said Juan Parras.
Tesla Fined for Hazardous Waste Violations
On April 1, EPA announced a settlement with Tesla Motors Inc. over federal hazardous waste violations at their automobile manufacturing plant in Fremont, Calif. Under the agreement, Tesla will take specific steps to properly manage hazardous wastes at its factory.  Tesla will also purchase $55,000 in emergency response equipment for the City of Fremont Fire Department and pay a $31,000 penalty.
“It's vital that businesses comply with hazardous waste laws that keep facilities safe for workers and the community,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “We are pleased that this settlement will bring much needed emergency response equipment to the City of Fremont.”
As a result of the inspections, EPA determined that Tesla:
  • Failed to comply with air emissions standards for equipment leaks
  • Failed to comply with management requirements for generators of hazardous wastes
  • Failed to make an adequate hazardous waste determination for certain solid waste generated at the facility.
In addition to paying the $31,000 penalty, Tesla is required to complete a supplemental environmental project to purchase and provide at least $55,000 worth of emergency response equipment for the City of Fremont Fire Department. This equipment will improve the department’s ability to respond to hazardous materials incidents. The company has since addressed all the identified violations and has come into compliance with RCRA requirements. Tesla also delivered hazardous waste training to over 1,100 paint shop associates, technicians and supervisors at its facility. 
EPA led unannounced inspections at the Fremont facility in 2017 along with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. The inspections identified violations of federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) regulations. RCRA rules require the safe management of hazardous waste to protect public health and the environment and to prevent costly cleanups. The settlement is part of the EPA’s National Compliance initiative to reduce hazardous air emissions at hazardous waste facilities. 
Contractors Fined After Unsecured Fuel Containers Fell off a Truck
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality fined two out-of-state construction companies $18,303 each for failing to clean up a diesel and gasoline spill in Boardman last summer.
An employee of one of the companies, Valentine Welding Services Inc., spilled about 50 gallons of diesel and 35 gallons of gasoline on SW Front St. when two unsecured fuel containers fell off a truck the employee was driving. The other company, Eastern Constructors Incorporated, owned the fuel. The companies were working on a construction project in the area.
Neither company took responsibility for cleaning up the spill, forcing DEQ to hire contractors and pay the costs of cleanup. The City of Boardman assisted DEQ with oversight of the cleanup.
The diesel and gasoline flowed from the road into a storm drain that discharges to a pond in the Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge. The fuel did not reach the pond. DEQ’s spill responders cleaned fuel from the catch basin and several storm pipes, excavated and removed contaminated soil beneath the road and took soil samples to monitor for additional contamination.
Oregon law requires people and companies to immediately report and then clean up spilled petroleum products to minimize threats to waterways, wildlife and human health.
If the companies reimburse DEQ and the City of Boardman for cleanup and oversight costs, DEQ may recalculate and reduce the penalty.
The companies have until April 9 to appeal the violations.
New Haven Property Owners Who Illegally Removed Asbestos Are Sentenced
John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Tyler C. Amon, Special Agent in Charge of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in New England, announced that Rezart Rakaj, 35, of Ansonia, and Kliton Rakaj, 39, of Monroe, were sentenced in New Haven federal court for offenses related to the illegal and dangerous removal of asbestos at a New Haven property they were renovating in 2015.  U.S. District Judge Janet Bond Arterton sentenced each defendant to one year of probation, a fine of $9,500, and 50 hours of community service.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in November 2015, Rezart Kliton Rakaj, who are brothers, and another family member purchased a commercial property located at 206-220 Wallace Street in New Haven.  Prior to purchasing the property, the realtor informed the purchasers that the property contained asbestos, and that a prior potential purchaser had already obtained a bid of approximately $117,000 for the legal asbestos abatement of the property.  Shortly after the purchase was completed, the defendants chose not to engage a hazardous materials firm to perform lawful asbestos abatement and instead employed workers who spent multiple days demolishing portions of the property, ripping out piping, breaking tiles, and conducting other renovation and construction activities, including the removal of significant quantities of friable asbestos.
On November 20, 2015, inspectors from the City of New Haven Health Department, acting on an anonymous complaint, discovered the illegal asbestos removal project at 206-220 Wallace Street.  The inspection revealed multiple instances of illegal removal of asbestos containing “air cell” pipe wrap and asbestos-containing “mag block” tank and boiler insulation, both of which contain significant quantities of dangerous, friable asbestos.  Inspectors observed workers removing asbestos-containing material and throwing it to the floor.  The workers performed no wetting, used no negative air machines to create the required vacuum effect within workspaces and set up no critical barriers or protective sheeting to guard against the release of dangerous asbestos fibers into the environment.  Though the workers wore dust masks and suits, the masks were not designed for use in asbestos abatement and failed to provide protection against asbestos fibers.  Similarly, because the suits were worn repeatedly over the course of days and not decontaminated and disposed of after use, they did not protect the workers against exposure.  Inspectors also observed and photographed 100-150 standard garbage bags filled with suspected asbestos-containing material.
“These defendants recklessly cut corners and endangered the lives of their workers,” said U.S. Attorney Durham.  “The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committing to prosecuting all who deliberately harm the environment and risk public health in order to save money.”
“The illegal removal of asbestos insulation and the associated removal of scrap pipe and boilers from old buildings continues to be a problem throughout the Northeast,” said EPS-CID Special Agent in Charge Amon.  “Inhalation of asbestos fibers can result in lung cancer and it therefore poses significant health risks to all exposed.  EPA will continue to hold accountable those who commit such offenses.”
On November 16, 2018, Rezart and Kliton Rakaj each pleaded guilty to one count of illegal asbestos removal in violation of the Clean Air Act. In addition to the sentence imposed, the defendants also face a fine from OSHA.
Man Charged for Discharging Landfill Leachate to Creek
In January, prosecutors charged Michael Greene with violating the Clean Water Act for illegal wastewater discharges (33 U.S.C. § 1319(c)(2)(a)).
Greene worked for an A&D Environmental, Inc., a company offering a variety of environmental services, including hazardous waste disposal. He was responsible for transporting the liquid runoff from solid waste at a landfill to the Florence Wastewater Management Facility.
Between May and July 2017, Greene discharged the liquid runoff, or ‘leachate,’ on several occasions directly into the Leesburg Branch Creek, without a permit. Samples of the leachate revealed lead, mercury, selenium, cadmium, and chromium.
This case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
U-Haul Charged for Improper Shipment of Propane Cylinders After Explosion
On January 29, 2019, the U-Haul Company of Pennsylvania (U-Haul) and general manager Miguel Rivera, pleaded guilty to violating the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act related to an explosion that caused two fatalities (49 U.S.C. § 5124).
In July 2014, a propane cylinder attached to a food truck exploded while parked on a street in Philadelphia. As the propane ignited, a fireball enveloped the truck, seriously injuring several individuals and causing significant property damage. Two people later died from injuries sustained in the explosion.
A subsequent investigation revealed that U-Haul willfully and recklessly allowed untrained workers to handle propane. As the manager, Rivera was trained and certified to handle propane, but many of the workers were not. Surveillance footage revealed untrained workers filling propane cylinders more than 60 times over a three-week period.
This case was investigated by the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; with assistance from the Philadelphia Police, the Philadelphia Fire Department, and the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
Lab Operator Sentenced for RCRA Violations
A court recently sentenced Ahmed el-Sherif to complete a two-year term of probation, perform 80 hours’ community service, and pay $544,288 in restitution to the EPA. A judge convicted el-Sherif for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) following a bench trial in 2018 (42 U.S.C. § 6928 (d)(2)(A)).
El-Sherif formerly owned and operated Beta Chem Laboratory, a radioactive pharmaceutical synthesis lab licensed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to use Carbon-14 to tag chemicals for pharmaceutical companies to incorporate into their experimental drugs. El-Sherif used numerous solvents in the process, many of which were ignitable, reactive, and toxic.
In the mid-2000s, state officials determined that the Beta Chem lab had become contaminated with radioactive material and suspended its license. U.S. EPA at that time determined that el-Sherif failed to conduct waste characterizations as required by RCRA. Until October 2013, when it took control of the lab, KDHE attempted to work with el-Sherif to address the radiation contamination. They entered into a consent agreement in which he agreed to come up with a plan to remediate and dispose of the radioactive waste. While he engaged a number of consultants, el-Sherif did not hire any of them to clean up the lab.
After the facility was closed, agents found extensive contamination throughout the lab, lavatory, office, and in outside soils. After executing a search warrant in January 2014, they found many incompatible waste chemicals which could have ignited, flammables not in a flammables cabinet, and one chemical for which the bomb squad responded. Investigators identified more than a thousand containers of chemicals, most of which contained RCRA ignitable, reactive, toxic, and listed hazardous wastes.
The EPA Superfund program spent more than $760,000 to remove and dispose of the hazardous waste. El-Sherif was required to pay the EPA the direct costs it incurred during the lab cleanup ($544,287.77). The total cost the EPA Superfund program spent was more than $760,000 to remove and dispose of the hazardous waste.
Pennsylvania Company Found Guilty of Hazardous Waste Violations at Cuyahoga County Facility
Tier Environmental LLC pleaded guilty on January 24, 2019 to a single felony charge of recklessly violating a hazardous waste permit issued under Chapter 3734 of the Ohio Revised Code. The company operated a hazardous waste transfer, storage and disposal facility in Bedford, Ohio, from 2013 through 2017.
“This company had three times the permitted limit for highly flammable and dangerous hazardous waste, which is unacceptable,” Attorney General Yost said. “This is an example of a bad company that didn’t follow the rules put in place to protect the public and environment.”
Regulatory inspections by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and a criminal investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division found the company exceeded its permitted storage capacity by more than 130,000 gallons of hazardous waste between March and May of 2015.
Judge Brian J. Corrigan of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court ordered the company to pay restitution of $20,000 to the Ohio EPA and BCI for investigative costs. The company also must pay a $25,000 fine, with $15,000 of the amount suspended.
In November, the company’s president and vice president pleaded no contest to charges of criminal endangering, a second-degree misdemeanor. The Bedford Municipal Court found them guilty and ordered each to pay a $500 fine, $3,100 in restitution and complete 40 hours of community service.
Michigan Man and His Company Plead Guilty to Illegally Storing Hazardous Waste
Gary Alfred Sayers and his company, Electro-Plating Services Inc., both pleaded guilty in federal court on February 14, 2018 in Detroit, Michigan, to illegally storing hazardous wastes at the company’s premises in Madison Heights, Michigan, in knowing violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Department of Justice and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Sayers and Electro-Plating Services each pleaded guilty to a felony charge of illegally storing hazardous waste and will pay the EPA $1,444,510 for its direct costs to clean up the plating facility. The court will decide any term of incarceration and fine at sentencing.
According to the plea agreement, Sayers — who owns and has been the President of Electro-Plating Services from the late 1990s — used various dangerous chemicals in his electroplating business that became hazard- ous wastes when they no longer fulfilled their industrial purpose. Sayers almost never sent those wastes away for proper disposal, preferring to keep them on site indefinitely.
“Sayers’s knowing, illegal storage of waste cyanide, highly corrosive wastes, toxic chromium waste, and reactive wastes posed a significant danger and threat to nearby communities and the environment. He and his company continued their illegal and poor handling despite many years of warnings by environmental regulators, and they are now being held accountable for their willful refusal to comply with the law,” said Jeffrey Bossert Clark, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division.
“Illegal storing of hazardous waste is a danger not only to the environment but to communities as well,” stat- ed United States Attorney Matthew Schneider. “The actions by this defendant showed a blatant disregard for the law. It is our hope that prosecutions such as this one will serve as a deterrent to others who seek to serve their own interests rather than the safety of the environment.”
“Hazardous wastes pose serious risks to the health of entire communities, so it’s imperative they be handled and disposed of safely and legally,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Susan Bodine. “EPA and its law enforcement partners are committed to the protection of public health and will continue to pursue those who blatantly undermine those efforts.”
According to the plea agreement, Sayers knew that such storage was illegal because he also managed the company’s former Detroit facility — where he kept hazardous wastes illegally until 2005 — and because the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) repeatedly sent him warnings. In 2005, Sayers was charged with and pleaded guilty to illegally transporting hazardous wastes. During the ensuing years, MDEQ attempted to get Sayers and Electro-Plating Services to properly manage the amounts of hazardous wastes piling up at the Madison Heights location. MDEQ issued numerous Letters of Warning and Violation Notices to the company regarding its hazardous wastes.
Duke Energy Ordered to Excavate Coal Ash at Six Remaining Sites
On April 1, N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) ordered Duke Energy Progress, LLC to excavate all remaining coal ash impoundments in North Carolina. After conducting a rigorous scientific review of Duke Energy’s proposals for Allen, Belews, Cliffside/Rogers, Marshall, Mayo and Roxboro facilities, and conducting public listening sessions in impacted communities, DEQ has determined excavation of all six sites is the only closure option that meets the requirements of Coal Ash Management Act to best protect public health. The coal ash must be disposed of in a lined landfill.
“DEQ rigorously reviewed the proposals, and the science points us clearly to excavation as the only way to protect public health and the environment,” said DEQ Secretary Michael S. Regan. “Today’s action sends another clear message that protecting public health and natural resources is a top priority of the Cooper Administration.”
Duke Energy must submit final excavation closure plans to DEQ by August 1, 2019. In those plans, Duke must propose where excavated coal ash will reside and estimate how long that process will take. By law, DEQ must reject any plan that does not protect public health and the environment.
By August 1, 2019 Duke Energy is required to submit final closure plans consistent with the detailed requirements of the Coal Ash Management Act (CAMA) and based on the election made by DEQ on April 1, 2019 to excavate all remaining sites. Duke Energy will have the opportunity to propose beneficiation options (such as recycling) as well as full excavation in that proposal.
CAMA requires DEQ to review any Closure Plan for consistency with detailed requirements in CAMA and reject any proposed Closure Plan that DEQ finds does not meet these requirements. DEQ must find that a Closure Plan is protective of public health, safety, welfare, the environment and natural resources before a plan can be approved. By October 1, 2019 (within 60 days of receipt of a proposed Closure Plan), DEQ will conduct a public meeting in the county or counties in which the site is located, with at least a 30-day notice prior to meeting. By December 1, 2019 Duke Energy is required to submit corrective action plans for addressing groundwater contamination from the impoundments at all six sites.
Kyocera Senco Industrial Tools, Inc. Case Settles for $85,000
Kyocera Senco Industrial Tools, Inc. (KSIT) is a Cincinnati, Ohio, based company that manufactures power tools. KSIT sold or offered for sale power tools in California, from February 2013 to July 2018.
This case was the result of an investigation performed by California Energy Commission (Energy Commission) staff. The Energy Commission’s investigation and testing process identified that KSIT was manufacturing and offering for sale power tools containing a small battery charger system that failed the marking requirement and were not certified to the Modernized Appliance Efficiency Database System (MAEDbS).
To settle this matter, KSIT executed a Settlement Agreement with the Energy Commission on March 21, 2019, for $85,000.00. The penalty monies are deposited into the Appliance Efficiency Enforcement Subaccount established by SB 454 of 2011 (Pavley). KSIT has also agreed to a compliance plan to add the appropriate marking and certify all models to MAEDbS before continuing to sell in California.
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