EPA has added a nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) category to the list of toxic chemicals subject to TRI reporting under section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) and section 6607 of the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA). EPA added this chemical category to the EPCRA section 313 list because the Agency has determined that NPEs meet the EPCRA section 313(d)(2)(C) toxicity criteria. EPA has determined that short-chain NPEs are highly toxic to aquatic organisms and longer chain NPEs, while not as toxic as short-chain NPEs, can break down in the environment to short-chain NPEs and nonylphenol, both of which are highly toxic to aquatic organisms.
This final rule goes into effect on November 30, 2018 and will apply for the reporting year beginning January 1, 2019 (reports due July 1, 2020).
Hazardous Waste Training
Annual hazardous waste training is required for anyone who generates, accumulates, stores, transports, or treats hazardous waste. Learn how to manage your hazardous waste in accordance with the latest state and federal regulations. Learn how to complete EPA’s new electronic hazardous waste manifest, and the more than 60 changes in EPA’s new Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule. Environmental Resource Center’s Hazardous Waste Training is available at nationwide locations, and via live webcasts. If you plan to also attend DOT hazardous materials training, call 800-537-2372 to find out how can get your course materials on a new Amazon Fire HD10 tablet.
Update on Redefinition of Waters of the United States
On June 15, EPA and the Department of the Army (Army) sent a proposed “Step 2” rule that would redefine “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review. The agencies will issue the proposal for public comment after the interagency review process is complete.
“Farmers, ranchers, landowners, and other stakeholders are counting on EPA to listen to their input when it comes to defining ‘waters of the United States,’” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Today, we are taking an important step toward issuing a new WOTUS definition and answering President Trump’s call to ensure that our waters are kept free from pollution, while promoting economic growth, minimizing regulatory uncertainty, and showing due regard for the roles of the federal government and the states under the statutory framework of the Clean Water Act.”
“From day one we have been focused on bringing common sense and fairness back to the rulemaking process,” said Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works R.D. James. “Today’s action highlights our commitment to listening to public input, providing clear and transparent rules, and ensuring that our waters remain clean and our economy can continue to thrive.”
EPA and the Army are working through a two-step process to consider revisions to the definition of “waters of the United States,” consistent with the February 2017 Presidential Executive Order 13778.
Proposed Asbestos SNUR
Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), EPA has proposed in the June 11 Federal Register, a significant new use rule (SNUR) for asbestos as defined under the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act. The proposed significant new use of asbestos (including as part of an article) is manufacturing (including importing) or processing for certain uses identified by EPA as no longer ongoing.
Because EPA has found no information indicating that the following uses are ongoing, and therefore, the Agency has determined that following uses are subject to this proposed SNUR: Adhesives, sealants, and roof and non-roof coatings; arc chutes; beater-add gaskets; extruded sealant tape and other tape; filler for acetylene cylinders; high-grade electrical paper; millboard; missile liner; pipeline wrap; reinforced plastics; roofing felt; separators in fuel cells and batteries; vinyl-asbestos floor tile; and any other building material (other than cement).
Persons subject to the SNUR would be required to notify EPA at least 90 days before commencing any manufacturing (including importing) or processing of asbestos (including as part of an article) for a significant new use. The required notification initiates EPA's evaluation of the conditions of use associated with the intended use within the applicable review period. Manufacturing (including importing) and processing (including as part of an article) for the significant new use may not commence until EPA has conducted a review of the notice, made an appropriate determination on the notice, and taken such actions as are required in association with that determination.
Comments on the proposal must be received on or before August 10, 2018.
What’s on EPA’s Regulatory Agenda?
All federal agencies that publish regulations are required to publish a semiannual regulatory agenda in order to inform the regulated community of pending, as well as recently completed regulatory actions. In the past, EPA published regulatory agendas spanning dozens of proposed rules. The Agency’s most recent agenda identifies just two pending rules, a TSCA Section 6(a) restriction on methylene chloride and N- methylpyrrolidone (NMP) paint removers and a separate 6(a) restriction on trichloroethylene (TCE) in vapor degreasers. The NMP and methylene chloride rule is classified as a long term action, with an anticipated final regulation not published until 2021. Although a notice of proposed rulemaking was published on TCE last year, EPA has listed the anticipated publication of the final rule as “to be determined.”
Washington Delays Pharmaceutical Waste Rule
While the EPA still plans to finalize its Pharmaceutical Rule in October 2018, the provisions of this final rule are not yet available and are subject to change. EPA has notified the Washingto State Department of Ecology that often there can be significant changes between proposed and final rules. Therefore, Ecology has decided to remove the draft state dangerous waste pharmaceutical rule from its current rule amendment package. The Agency has determined that waiting for a final EPA pharmaceutical rule is necessary to ensure Washington’s regulations remain as stringent as their federal counterparts; however, the rules will not align exactly because of Washington State’s state-only requirements.
To this end, in the near future Ecology will start a new, separate CR-101 rulemaking process just for dangerous waste pharmaceutical rules. Ecology plans to formally propose these rules after EPA adopts final regulations and adopt new state pharmaceutical regulations as soon as possible after proposal. Ecology’s hope was to have one rulemaking process that included these important pharmaceutical regulations. While the Agency awaits a final rule adoption by the EPA, Ecology will proceed with the current rule amendment process, including the Generator Improvement Rule, Solvent-contaminated Wipes, some parts of the Definition of Solid Waste rule, E-Manifest and Hazardous Waste Export-Import rules.
Court Rules the EPA Must Address Smog Pollution from Upwind States
Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Attorney General George Jepsen announced that the State of Connecticut and the State of New York won their joint lawsuit in federal court against the EPA and its administrator, Scott Pruitt, over the agency’s failure to adequately control ozone pollution from other states that negatively impacts air quality in the two downwind states.
In the lawsuit, which Connecticut and New York filed in January, the states alleged that EPA failed to perform its mandatory duty to develop federal implementation plans that fully address requirements for upwind states under the Good Neighbor Provision of the federal Clean Air Act for the 2008 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
“The Clean Air Act protects the people of Connecticut from other states’ pollution and the EPA is obligated to enforce these commonsense air quality standards,” Governor Malloy said. “Today’s decision by the district court is welcomed news for the people of Connecticut. As a downwind state, our residents have suffered for too long from other states’ lax clean air standards. The EPA’s recent failure to hold upwind states accountable is not acceptable. We are grateful to have Attorney General Jepsen and his team fighting for the people of Connecticut by holding the EPA accountable and fighting to protect the air we breathe.”
“Connecticut suffers from air quality problems due to pollution sources in other states that are out of our control,” Attorney General Jepsen said. “Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA has a duty to take action when upwind states do not meet certain air quality standards and, in this case, the EPA clearly failed to do so. We are gratified by the district court’s ruling in this matter, and we will continue to work with our partners in New York to hold EPA accountable on this and other matters where it has not met its legal obligations.”
Improved Lead and Copper Rule in Michigan
Strengthened state standards for the federal Lead and Copper Rule will better safeguard Michigan residents from lead in their drinking water, Gov. Rick Snyder announced after the rules were filed, making the new standards part of official state statute.
“The federal Lead and Copper Rule simply does not do enough to protect public health,” Snyder said. “As a state, we could no longer afford to wait on needed changes at the federal level, so Michigan has stepped up to give our residents a smarter, safer rule – one that better safeguards water systems in all communities. With these more stringent standards, Michigan will serve as a role model to other states looking to improve their own public health protections.”
Reforms to the state’s standards were made through administrative rules proposed by Gov. Snyder and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. The rules went through a yearlong administrative process, widely supported by public health experts and environmental advocacy groups.
"The new Michigan Lead and Copper Rule is the most stringent in the world when applied to cities with lead pipes, yet it strikes a reasonable balance between cost and benefit. It provides the EPA with a good exemplar to follow, if they ever begin to wage their long-promised war on lead in water." Dr. Marc Edwards, Charles P. Lunsford Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech University
The updated rules will:
- Reduce the Lead Action Level from 15 parts per billion to 12 ppb in 2025.
- Require all public water systems to replace lead service lines. Beginning in 2021, service lines must begin to be replaced at a rate averaging 5% per year, not to exceed 20 years total for replacement of all service lines, unless an alternate schedule in an asset management plan is approved by the DEQ.
- If 90% of a public water system’s tests exceed the action level, they must replace 7% of their lead service lines per year as well as make public notifications to all customers on the system.
- Partial lead service line replacement is prohibited due to the potential for elevated lead levels and the risk to public health.
- Require a second sample collection at sites served by lead service lines. Following the first draw 1-liter sample at residential and non-residential sites, a second sample will be required immediately after three more liters of water have been drawn through the tap.
- Create a statewide water system advisory council to assist the DEQ in developing lead public awareness campaign materials and advise the department on efforts to educate the public about lead in drinking water. The council must consist of one representative from each of the following: community water supply, non-community water supply, administrative branch of a local government agency, medical professional, professor of public health at a state university, environmental or public health advocacy group, public health educator, and two members of the public.
- Additionally, water systems that serve 50,000 or more customers will be required to create local advisory councils.
- Require all public water systems to conduct asset inventory, including a preliminary inventory that must be completed by January 1, 2020, and a complete distribution system inventory and verification methodology by January 1, 2025.
The new rules are designed to be flexible for communities that have asset management plans.
Chlorpyrifos Banned in Hawaii
Hawaii Governor David Ige signed a bill that bans the use of chlorpyrifos—a pesticide linked to learning disabilities—in the state. Meanwhile, at the federal level, under Administrator Scott Pruitt’s leadership the EPA reversed a proposed nationwide ban on the chemical last year.
The move comes after nearly six years of advocacy from Protect our Keiki coalition, Hawaii Center for Food Safety, Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action, Pesticide Action Network, Hawai'i SEED and communities across the islands who have been demanding protections from harmful pesticides and healthier farming practices.
The EPA was on track to ban it at the end of 2016. Shortly after taking office, however, the Trump administration reversed course—allowing it to continue being sprayed all over numerous U.S. food crops, including kid favorites like apples and oranges.
Significant science—including from EPA itself—shows that exposure to low levels of the pesticide in early life can lead to increased risk of learning disabilities, including reductions in IQ, developmental delay and ADHD.
EPA Reversed Course on Pesticide Safety Training Following Lawsuit
Late last month, New York Attorney General Underwood led a multistate lawsuit against the Trump administration for its indefinite delay of a key requirement that provides improved training intended to better protect farmworkers, pesticide handlers, and their families from pesticide poisoning. Following the announcement of the lawsuit, EPA has decided to reverse course.
New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood released the following statement:
“Last month, our office led a lawsuit against the EPA for purposefully denying farmworkers the tools they need to protect themselves and their families from poisonous pesticides.
Today, the EPA reversed course.”
On June 14, the EPA announced that it will publish a notice in the Federal Register stating that the expanded pesticide safety training materials are available for use.
EPA to Prevent Child-Lead Dust Exposure
The EPA has issued new national enforcement guidance designed to help prevent exposure of children and pregnant women to lead dust during repairs or renovations in older housing, a primary cause of childhood lead poisoning. The actions came in response to a whistleblower disclosure from a now-retired EPA employee represented by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
While serving as a Lead Advisor at EPA’s Southeastern Regional Office in Atlanta, Elizabeth Wilde reported inadequate and improper agency inspections of older homes, day-care centers, and other child-occupied buildings. The agency often failed to identify which inspected units were child-occupied, allowed un-credentialed, poorly trained staff to conduct inspections, entered false inspection reports, and compromised enforcement by not collecting evidence or keeping files intact, among other problems.
PEER filed her disclosure with the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) on April 27, 2016. Nearly a year later, on April 5, 2017, the Special Counsel directed EPA to answer her charges within 60 days. After receiving extensions, EPA ultimately responded this past December. Under the federal whistleblower law, OSC invites Ms. Wilde to comment on the agency response. Her comments triggered an additional EPA response in February. These first two responses primarily dealt with EPA promising improvements in keeping inspector credentialing and training current and maintaining enforcement files.
Ms. Wilde and PEER kept pressing EPA to accept an affirmative responsibility for ascertaining the presence of pregnant women and children. In a final response on March 19, 2018, EPA –
- Promised to “issue a national policy statement to all ten EPA regions” stressing the need to identify “occupants who are pregnant women or children under the age of 18” in older building undergoing repairs or renovations;
- Adopted a “documentation checklist for inspectors to assure proper documentation of attempts to check for evidence of the presence of pregnant women and children”; and
- Posted online guidance for inspectors on the topic.
“While I am pleased with these improvements, I am struck at EPA’s failure to hold anyone to account for the past deficiencies which put the very people we are trying to help at risk,” said Wilde, pointing out that no one was punished after she had reported to agency management that EPA staff had been throwing away enforcement files. “Without accountability what prevents these new protocols from also being ignored?”
In 2008, PEER successfully sued EPA to force the agency to adopt regulations for lead-safe repair and renovations in older buildings. The program aims at closing a major lead exposure pathway for an estimated 1.4 million U.S. children every year. Absent lead-safe techniques, lead particles fly into the air, permeating carpets, drapes, and other surfaces, and become an inhalation danger.
“EPA has still not fully embraced its duty to protect pregnant women and children from exposure to lead dust,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the latest EPA reforms say only that official attempts to “confirm occupancy is a helpful practice.” “EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt says he has ‘declared war’ on lead exposure but his agency is issuing voluntary guidance and checklists, suggesting he is on war footing for a pillow fight.”
Cascade Windows Fined for Stormwater Permit Violations
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has fined Window Products Inc., doing business as Cascade Windows, $26,203 for several stormwater permit violations at its Tualatin facility.
In 2016-2017, the company failed to conduct all required monitoring for pollutants in its stormwater runoff, failed to implement elements of its Stormwater Pollution Control Plan, and failed to conduct required monthly facility inspections.
Window Products discharges stormwater to Hedges Creek Wetland, which flows into the Tualatin River. The company's stormwater permit requires staff to monitor stormwater runoff for lead, zinc and other pollutants, and follow additional practices to control and limit pollution to local waterways.
DEQ has ordered the company to complete required actions under the stormwater permit to bring the facility back into compliance. The company has until June 25 to appeal the penalty.
International Task Force Focuses on Protecting West Coast from Oil Spills June 12, 2018
Western states and provinces on the Pacific Ocean will gather this year in Portland to discuss how best to protect the West Coast from spills and pollution associated with derelict and abandoned vessels.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is hosting this year's Annual Meeting of the Pacific States/British Columbia Oil Spill Task Force, comprised of Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, and Hawaii. The Task Force provides a forum where members can work together to implement regional initiatives to help protect 56,600 miles of coastline stretching from Alaska to California, including the Hawaiian Islands.
The half-day meeting is taking place on Tuesday, June 19 from 8 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. at the Oregon Convention Center, room B117-B118. The event is open to the public and attendance is free of charge.
This year's event will feature a series of panel discussions with guests who are actively involved in federal, state or provincial efforts to manage abandoned and derelict vessels. Panels will share information on funding, prevention, cleanup and removal, and other challenges associated with managing these vessels across the Task Force jurisdictions.
The Task Force was authorized by a Memorandum of Cooperation in 1989 by Governors of Alaska, Oregon, Washington and California, and the Premier of British Columbia following the Exxon Valdez and Nestucca oil spills. These events highlighted the common concerns regarding oil spill risks shared by West Coast states and provinces, and the need for cooperation across shared borders.
The Task Force members include:
- Thomas M. Cullen Jr., Administrator, Office of Spill Prevention and Response, California Department of Fish and Wildlife
- Keith Kawaoka, Deputy Director of Environmental Health, Hawaii Department of Health
- Larry Hartig, Commissioner, Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
- Dale Jensen, Spills Program Manager, Washington Department of Ecology
- Lydia Emer, Land Quality Administrator, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
- Mark Zacharias, Deputy Minister, British Columbia Ministry of the Environment
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Trivia Question of the Week
How much ice has melted in Antarctica over the past 25 years?
- 300 million pounds
- 300 million gallons
- 300 billion pounds
- 3 trillion tons
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