New Guidelines Encourage Responsible Recycling of Electronics

November 10, 2008

EPA’s “Responsible Recycling (R2) Practices for Use in Accredited Certification Programs for Electronics Recyclers” promotes better environmental, worker safety, and public health practices for electronics recyclers.

The R2 guide lists 13 principles to help electronics recyclers ensure that potentially toxic material is handled safely and legally in the nation and abroad. Properly reusing and recycling used electronics helps the environment, saves energy, and conserves natural resources. However, when improperly managed or dismantled, used electronics can release materials that harm the environment and public health.

EPA Proposes to Reduce Air Toxics from Petroleum Refineries by 2,250 Tons Per Year

EPA is seeking comment on additional options for reducing emissions of air toxic pollutants from petroleum refineries based on a 2007 proposal.

Included in this proposal are options for controlling air toxics emissions from storage tanks located at petroleum refineries and revisions to the maximum achievable control technology work practice standards for cooling towers. In addition to reducing 2,250 tons of air toxics each year, EPA proposes to slash nearly 19,000 tons of volatile organic compounds with a $3.8 million savings nationwide.

EPA will accept public comment on this proposal for 45 days following publication in the Federal Register.

California Demands End to Weakening of Endangered Species Act

California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. warned the U.S. Department of the Interior for a second time that its proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act could put “entire species and ecosystems at risk for complete destruction,” after the Department ignored initial warnings. The Attorney General believes that the Bush Administration’s proposed changes are in violation of federal law and could gut the scientific review process of the Endangered Species Act.

“In its final days in office, the Bush Administration is trying to make wholesale changes to the Endangered Species Act,” Brown said. “The Bush Administration wants to eliminate a requirement in the Endangered Species Act that mandates scientific review and consultation of any land-use decision that might threaten endangered species and their habitats. These proposed changes are unlawful, contrary to the National Environmental Policy Act, and put entire species and ecosystems at risk for complete destruction. The Administration should abandon this effort, or at the very least, complete a full Environmental Impact Statement.”

Passed in 1973, the Endangered Species Act protects threatened species and ecosystems from extinction. In August 2008, the Department of the Interior proposed to eliminate a requirement in the Endangered Species Act that mandates scientific review and consultation of any land-use decision that might threaten endangered species and their habitats. The proposed changes could allow a government agency to permit mining, logging, and other commercial activities to take place on federally protected land without scientific review. The Department is required to open its proposal to public comment in order to make any changes, and it received approximately 300,000 comments. Yet, the Department took only three days to review the letters, including detailed evaluations of the proposed changes.

Essentially ignoring the public comment, the Department has concluded that that the proposed changes have no impact on the environment.

November 15 is America Recycles Day

Do you have materials to eCycle? Take your old computers or other electronics to a local recycling center. This helps keep lead, cadmium, and other substances out of the landfill.

Energy-Efficient Televisions Now Available

If you are shopping for an energy-efficient TV, beginning in November, televisions that meet the new energy-efficiency rating will be available in stores nationwide.

“EPA encourages consumers to look for the Energy Star label when buying new televisions,” EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson said. “Energy Star’s new specifications for televisions are turning the channel on energy-guzzling sets.”

Televisions that meet the new Energy Star specification will be up to 30% more energy efficient than conventional models. If all televisions sold in the United States met the new Energy Star requirements, the savings in energy costs would grow to be about $1 billion annually and greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced by the equivalent of about 1 million cars.

The new specification requires energy efficiency when televisions are on, as well as off or in “standby” mode. It also requires the use of external power supplies that have earned the Energy Star label where applicable. This new specification is important since televisions being sold now are larger, in use more hours a day, and offer more vibrant pictures, which can impact the amount of electricity they use. In fact, some of the largest, high-resolution televisions can use as much as 500 kWh per year.

Energy Star qualified televisions can be found at most stores where electronics are sold. 

New Assessment Highlights Effective Mercury-Free Alternatives

According to a recently released preliminary assessment of the uses of elemental mercury in a number of products, alternatives to mercury do exist. EPA has concluded that switches, relays, button cell batteries, non-fever thermometers, and measuring devices, such as thermostats, don’t have to contain mercury.

Under the Chemical Assessment and Management Program, EPA evaluated the use of elemental mercury in certain products and the availability of effective, economical mercury-free alternatives. The assessment determined that the use of mercury in certain products poses a “high-priority, special concern.” The agency plans to take prompt regulatory and voluntary action to encourage the use of mercury-free alternatives and reduce the use of mercury in products.

EPA has also developed a searchable database that pulls together publicly available information from various sources to help identify consumer and commercial products that contain mercury and their possible non-mercury alternatives. EPA encourages people to use non-mercury alternatives whenever possible as an important way to prevent exposure to mercury, including exposure due to breakage.

Court Prevents New York City from Implementing Fuel-Efficient Taxi Cab Program

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has issued the following statement concerning a court ruling that will prevent the city from implementing a fuel-efficient taxi program.

“We are very disappointed in the decision and we are exploring our appellate options,” Mayor Bloomberg stated. “The decision is not a ruling against hybrids cabs, rather a ruling that archaic Washington regulations are applicable and therefore New York City, and all other cities, are prevented from choosing to create cleaner air and a healthier place to live. The sad irony here is the laws being relied on by the plaintiff, the Clean Air Act and the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, were designed to reduce air pollution and reduce our dependence on foreign oil—which is exactly what moving to fuel-efficient cabs will do.”

In an attempt to reach the city’s goal of a cleaner fleet of taxi cabs, Bloomberg has instructed the Taxi and Limousine Commission to develop a program with strong incentives for the use of fuel-efficient vehicles and heavy disincentives for the use of inefficient vehicles of a past generation.

“Additionally, we will be working with our Congressional delegation to produce legislation to update the outdated laws, originally written in the 1970s, to reflect the current realities of environmental stewardship,” Bloomberg said. “Greening the taxi fleet is a major priority and we are going to use every mechanism at our disposal to make New York a cleaner, healthier city. Taxis are a part of our public transportation system. They must be part of the solution to air pollution, not a contributing cause of the problem.”

EPA Finalizes Development of CERS

 The CERS provides a standards-based format for emissions (criteria, toxic, and greenhouse gas) data to be transferred to and from different programs and parties.

Fuel-Additive Company Fined More Than $1 Million

Biofriendly Corp., incorporated in Nevada with principal offices in Covina, Calif., has agreed to pay EPA $1.25 million for manufacturing and selling an unregistered fuel additive in Texas and California.

“The fuel-additive requirements of the Clean Air Act are a critical part of EPA’s program to reduce air pollution,” said Granta Nakayama, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This is the largest penalty ever levied for violation of the Clean Air Act’s registration requirements for fuels and fuel additives.”

Biofriendly sold “Green Plus,” an unregistered fuel additive it claimed reduced emissions in diesel fuel, between September 2002 and May 2006. When Biofriendly discovered it was in violation, it stopped selling Green Plus domestically.

The Clean Air Act (CAA) requires that motor vehicle fuels and fuel additives meet stringent environmental standards before they can be distributed. Biofriendly failed to register Green Plus according to EPA procedures that ensure fuel additives do not increase emissions of harmful air pollutants or interfere with vehicle emission control devices. At a minimum, companies must provide EPA with information on the chemical composition and structure of the additive, and they also may be required to test products before obtaining EPA registration.

Biofriendly operates in the United States and internationally. The company manufactures, sells, and distributes fuel additives and fuels that contain additives.

Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division Fined More Than $1 Million for Alleged PCB Violations

EPA has entered into a settlement with Memphis Light, Gas & Water Division (MLGW) in Memphis, Tenn., that resolves alleged violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) for polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The alleged violations included improper PCB disposal, storage, marking, recordkeeping, and marketing at several of MLGW’s facilities. In a consent agreement with EPA, MLGW will pay a $1,220,576 civil penalty to resolve the alleged TSCA violations and conduct a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP). The penalty is the highest in an EPA TSCA PCB enforcement action that includes an SEP.

Under the SEP, MLGW will conduct a Voluntary Accelerated PCB Removal Program that within three years will significantly reduce the number of transformers, capacitors, and oils that contain regulated quantities of PCBs. The SEP is part of MLGW’s long-term 10-year effort to remove from service all PCB equipment that contains regulated amounts of PCBs. Both the short-term and long-term efforts will result in an overall reduction of PCBs in use and decrease the risk for potential adverse environmental and health impacts associated with PCB exposure. Upon completion of the SEP, it is estimated that approximately 1.2 million pounds of PCBs will be removed from the environment. An SEP is an environmentally beneficial project that a violator voluntarily agrees to undertake in settlement; it must be a project that a violator will not otherwise be required to perform.

The alleged violations were discovered during inspections conducted by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), EPA’s authorized representative, at MLGW’s Central Shops and Substations 1, 3, and 4 to determine compliance with the TSCA PCB regulations. Based on the findings of TDEC’s inspections, EPA determined that violations of TSCA PCB regulations had occurred.

PCBs were once widely used as a nonflammable coolant for transformers and other electrical equipment. More than 1.5 billion pounds were manufactured in the United States before EPA banned the production of this chemical class in 1978. Concerns about human health and the extensive presence and lengthy persistence of PCBs in the environment led Congress to enact the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1976.

Plantation Pipe Line to Pay Penalty for Fuel Spills and Upgrade Pipeline

Plantation Pipe Line Company, of Alpharetta, Ga., has agreed to pay a civil penalty and implement safeguards in order to resolve a Clean Water Act (CWA) lawsuit over fuel pipeline spills in three states, according to a joint announcement by the Justice Department, EPA, and the state of North Carolina.

The company has agreed to pay a $725,000 penalty for discharges of jet fuel and gasoline in Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina, and for inadequate spill prevention safeguards at a Virginia facility. The company also has agreed to implement $1.3 million in new spill prevention safeguards.

“Companies like Plantation Pipe Line that operate oil production infrastructure have a responsibility to ensure the safety and integrity of their operations,” said Ronald J. Tenpas, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “We continue to work closely with the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce this nation’s environmental laws.”

“Oil spills can cause significant harm to the environment,” said Jimmy Palmer, EPA Regional Administrator in Atlanta. “EPA will continue to ensure that facilities handling oils follow established procedures to minimize risk to our water and sensitive ecosystems.”

The lawsuit cited Plantation for four separate fuel spills from 2000 to 2006, totaling 1,005 barrels (or 42,210 gallons):

  • On Nov. 27, 2006, at least 97 barrels of gasoline leaked from a Plantation pipeline in Mecklenburg County, N.C., some flowing into Paw Creek.
  • On Feb. 22, 2003, at least 788 barrels of gasoline spilled from a pipeline in Hull, Ga., some entering a tributary of East Sandy Creek.
  • On Mar. 13, 2002, at least 20 barrels of jet fuel were discharged from a pipeline in Alexandria, Va., some flowing to a tributary of Hooff Run.
  • On Jan. 10, 2000, at least 100 barrels of jet fuel leaked from a pipeline in Newington, Va., some of which spilled into Accotink Creek.

The lawsuit also cited Plantation Pipe Line for failing to prepare and implement a required spill prevention, control and countermeasure plan (SPCC) for a 420,000-gallon oil storage tank at its Newington, Va., facility.

The settlement requires Plantation to pay a $715,000 penalty to the federal government’s Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and $10,000 to the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. In addition, the company will implement $1.3 million in spill prevention safeguards, including upgrades to pipelines and excavating buried valves to improve regular inspection capabilities.

The CWA prohibits discharges of oil into waterways and coastal areas in quantities that may be harmful to the environment or public health. Oil spills threaten both fresh water and marine environments, harming plant and animal life through physical damage and the toxicity of the oil itself, which may poison exposed organisms.

The proposed consent decree, filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of EPA and North Carolina, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. 

Texas Approves Fines Totaling $895,607

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has approved penalties totaling $895,607 against 70 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations.

Agreed orders were issued for the following enforcement categories: 3 agricultural, 22 air quality, 2 dry cleaner, 6 multi-media, 3 municipal solid waste, 4 municipal waste discharge, 9 petroleum storage tank, 8 public water system, 2 wastewater operator, and 1 water quality. There were three field citations. In addition, default orders were issued for the following categories: two drycleaner, one multi-media, and three petroleum storage tank. Penalties were also assessed in one municipal waste discharge action following hearings at the State Office of Administrative Hearings.

Included in the total were fines against Formosa Plastics Corporation, Texas, of Calhoun County in the amount of $121,443 for numerous air violations documented in inspections, conducted between 2005–2006, and unauthorized emissions during the same period. Of the fine total, $60,721 will be used for a supplemental environmental project (SEP) to fund wastewater treatment-plant repair in Point Comfort, Texas.

Also included in the total were fines against BASF FINA Petrochemicals Limited Partnership, Jefferson County, in the amount of $200,603. The fines were the result of nine air violations, documented routine inspections conducted during 2007–2008. Of that fine total, a $100,301 SEP amount will be contributed to the South East Texas Regional Planning Commission to conduct energy audits and weatherize homes of low-income residents in the West Port Arthur area.

Bacardi Agrees to Purchase and Protect Sensitive Land and Pay Fine to Settle EPA Water Pollution Case

EPA and the Bacardi Corporation have reached an agreement that spells out the resolution of Clean Water Act (CWA) violations at Bacardi’s rum manufacturing facility in Cata?o, Puerto Rico. Under the agreement, a consent decree approved by the U.S. District Court for Puerto Rico, Bacardi has paid a $550,000 penalty and will donate and preserve land valued at $1 million.

“The violations in this case were serious, and EPA is pleased to see Bacardi’s willingness to address them and to take steps to prevent future violations,” EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg said.

EPA alleged in its complaint that from March 2002 to July 2008, Bacardi failed to comply with certain pollutant limits in its permit and, in some instances, failed to report monitoring results for discharges into the Atlantic Ocean. EPA cited Bacardi for failure to meet pollutant limits for cadmium, lead, copper, oil and grease, selenium, zinc, and two types of organic compounds.

In addition to the penalty, Bacardi will donate a two-acre parcel of land in the watershed, which was appraised for $1 million. The land comprises wetlands and upland areas, and is bordered by tidal black mangroves, trees that are vital to preserving Puerto Rico’s unique ecosystem. The land transfer is considered a supplemental environmental project (SEP) under the agreement. A SEP is an environmentally beneficial project that a violator voluntarily agrees to undertake in settlement; it must be a project that a violator will not otherwise be required to perform.

Additionally, Bacardi will be given two years to address stringent bacteria limits and will be required to meet interim limits for bacteria during that period. Bacardi also agreed to undertake enhanced monitoring of its discharges should it have operational problems at its treatment facilities in the future.

Hershey to Pay $100,000 Fine for Failure to Develop and Implement RMP for Ammonia

Hershey Creamery Company has pled guilty to a Clean Air Act (CAA) felony involving its failure to develop and implement a Risk Management Program (RMP) at two of its facilities in Pennsylvania. The company was immediately sentenced to pay a $100,000 fine and placed on one year of probation. This is the first CAA prosecution involving RMPs in the country.

Hershey, a Pennsylvania ice cream manufacturer and distributor headquartered in Harrisburg, Pa., entered the plea in federal court in Harrisburg. The CAA charge concerns the company’s failure to develop and implement a RMP concerning the storage and use of a regulated substance, anhydrous ammonia, between September 2004 and April 2007, after twice certifying to EPA that it had developed such a plan.

“Risk Management Programs are not simply ‘papers on a shelf,’” Special Agent in Charge David Dillon said. “They protect workers, the community, and the environment by reducing the likelihood and seriousness of a release of potentially harmful substances, and companies that do not take their obligations seriously will be prosecuted.”

U.S. Attorney Martin Carlson also underscored the importance of this landmark prosecution. “We are all stewards of our environment,” Carlson said. “The Clean Air Act is an important measure protecting our environment, and the act’s requirement that businesses have appropriate Risk Management Programs is an essential aspect of this environmental stewardship mandated by law. This prosecution sends a vital message that these laws must be followed, and those who make false statements regarding their compliance with the law face serious criminal sanctions.”

Hershey uses refrigeration systems to manufacture and store ice cream at its plants in Harrisburg and Middletown, Pennsylvania. Anhydrous ammonia is a refrigerant used in food processing facilities, and Hershey stored and used approximately 42,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia at its plant in downtown Harrisburg not far from the state Capitol and approximately 23,000 pounds at the Middletown facility.

Anhydrous ammonia is regulated under the CAA because it is flammable and can irritate both the skin and eyes. The CAA regulations required Hershey to develop and implement a Risk Management Program for each facility to, among other things, protect worker safety, minimize the chance of a release from refrigeration processes at the facilities that would endanger workers and surrounding communities, and to develop and implement prevention and emergency response plans.

Hershey certified to EPA in 1999 and on Sept. 30, 2004 that it had a RMP in place for both plants. However, a subsequent inspection by EPA concluded that the company lacked viable RMPs at either the Harrisburg or Middletown plants. After a followup investigation, EPA issued Hershey a detailed CAA civil compliance order on Dec. 7, 2006, identifying specific areas where the company had failed to comply with RMP requirements. EPA ordered Hershey to develop and implement RMPs for both plants, with specific dates identified for compliance with major tasks. Hershey submitted RMPs satisfactory to the Agency in April 2007. EPA has since inspected both facilities and found that the company was executing the RMPs satisfactorily.

New Report Looks Under the Hood of Vehicle and Engine Compliance Program

The 2007 model year report provides information about vehicle recalls, emissions certification testing, and emission defects. This report will help stakeholders better understand the compliance program’s requirements, process, and results. EPA’s compliance program is an important part of improving the nation’s air quality.

Two Phoenix Companies Fined $75,000 and Ordered to Develop RMP to Protect First Responders and the Public

EPA recently fined Reddy Ice Corporation and Granite Capital LLC $75,000 for failing to follow emergency response regulations. EPA inspectors discovered the violations following an accidental release of 14,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia at Reddy Ice Corporation and Granite Capital, LLC’s jointly owned ice manufacturing and cold storage facility in Phoenix, Ariz. The facility is being fined for failing to immediately report the accidental release to local authorities, failing to report the storage of an extremely hazardous substance, and failing to prepare, submit, and implement a Risk Management Plan (RMP), violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know-Act (EPCRA) and the Clean Air Act (CAA), respectively.

“Companies have a corporate and legal responsibility to comply with all laws and regulations governing the reporting of their chemical inventories and any releases they may have,” said Keith Takata, the EPA’s Superfund director for the Pacific Southwest region. “When companies fail to submit chemical inventory information and report chemical releases, the health of the public and local responders is put at risk, and we will take action against any company that fails to comply with these laws.”

During an accidental release of 14,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia, employees from a neighboring electronics facility were hospitalized, streets were closed, and residences evacuated from their homes as a result of the release. The EPA worked closely with the Phoenix Fire Department to complete their investigation of the facility, which also failed to comply with local regulations.

Under the CAA, facilities, like Reddy Ice Corporation and Granite Capital, LLC must prepare, submit, and implement an RMP, including steps for normal and emergency shut-down operations for on-site gaseous materials over a certain threshold.

EPCRA (or SARA Title III) requires all facilities using hazardous substances to report the amount of chemicals (or a chemical) on-site and to notify state and local authorities immediately following an accidental release.

Exposure to high concentrations of ammonia causes immediate burning of the eyes, nose, throat, and respiratory tract. In severe cases, it can result in blindness, lung damage, or death.

Efforts to Protect Water Supplies from Leaking Underground Tanks Result in Record Year

Since October 2007, the U.S. EPA, in coordination with tribal governments throughout the Pacific Southwest, inspected 136 underground fuel tank sites in an effort to increase compliance and prevent petroleum releases to the environment.

In Arizona, 25 fuel tank owners operating in the Phoenix, Tucson, and Navajo lands were fined a total of $71,776 for violations of underground storage tank (UST) regulations.

“EPA enforces underground tank operation requirements for a reason. Leaks and spills are a threat to limited groundwater supplies,” said Jeff Scott, the EPA’s Waste Management Division director for the Pacific Southwest region. “A hole in a tank the size of a pinhead can release 400 gallons of fuel in a year’s time, enough to foul millions of gallons of fresh water.”

On Navajo lands, 12 field citations were issued and $12,200 was collected in fines. In Phoenix and Tucson, five field citations were issued and $4,500 was collected in fines. A close collaboration between EPA inspectors and the Colorado River Indian Tribes Environmental Protection Office yielded the largest penalty ever collected on tribal lands against the Lost Lake Resort near Poston. Lost Lake Resort was fined $55,076 for UST violations that caused groundwater and soil contamination on the Colorado River Indian Tribes reservation.

The most common problem found during inspections was the failure to properly maintain and operate leak prevention and detection equipment. Facilities also failed to provide current paperwork for annual testing of tanks and piping systems, or fail to provide proof of financial liability insurance. The EPA will continue to work with state and tribal governments to increase awareness and compliance.

Compliance with leak prevention and leak detection requirements help ensure that petroleum releases from UST occur less frequently and that facilities are properly alerted when releases do occur. To prevent releases, federal law required all regulated USTs to have spill and overfill equipment, as well as corrosion protection in place by Dec. 22, 1998. Releases that are detected quickly can be cleaned up at far less expense than releases that go undetected for long periods of time.

EPA Combats Improper Pesticide Manufacturing, Labeling, and Use in the Pacific Northwest

EPA, in its continuing effort to protect the public from illegally produced, improperly labeled, and misused pesticides in the Pacific Northwest, has reached settlements with four companies for violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

Among EPA’s latest actions:

  • Two agricultural chemical companies, Genesis Agri-Products, Inc. and Kleenco Products, Inc. (Kleenco), have agreed to pay $4,800 and $800 penalties (respectively) to settle claims that they submitted late annual pesticide production reports required under FIFRA more than once in a three-year period. Two separate Genesis Agri-Products facilities located in the greater Yakima area and the Kleenco Products facility, in Kent, Wash., failed to submit their annual pesticides production reports to EPA for the past two years in a timely manner.
  • Buckman Laboratories, Inc, of Memphis, Tennessee (Manufacturer) and CH2O, Inc, of Olympia, Washington, (Distributor) agreed to pay $35,100 and $11,700 (respectively) for producing and selling a misbranded pesticide. EPA found that product labels were missing critical updates to the first-aid statement, directions for use, and the directions for proper disposal. Documents associated with the case allege that under an agreement between the companies, CH2O was allowed to produce and distribute the Buckman product MECT-5-T under the CH2O brand name PACT-5. EPA determined that both the registrant (Buckman) and the distributor (CH20) were liable for this violation.


According to Scott Downey, manager of EPA’s Pesticide and Toxics Unit in Seattle, maintaining required records and strictly following the law is crucial in the manufacturing and handling of pesticides and other agricultural chemicals.

“Annual pesticide production information is vitally important to us,” Downey said. “Knowing the type, amount, and location of pesticides not only helps us keep illegal and unsafe products off the market, but the information can be used in case of emergencies or natural disasters. For instance, such information was used after Hurricane Katrina to help emergency responders identify, prioritize, and secure sites where large amounts of toxic chemicals were located.”

Downey also noted that accurate pesticide labels are very important since they provide EPA-approved details on what to do if you are exposed to the product and how to use the product safely to minimize harm to people and the environment.

“This is all about public health and safety,” Downey said. “Pesticide producers have a responsibility to follow the law by reporting required information on time and by properly labeling their products. Our top priority is ensuring that the public is protected.”

According to EPA officials, all four companies have now taken necessary measures to comply with FIFRA regulations.

EPA Cites Kenneth Schell and Twin Peaks Excavating for Dredge and Fill Violations

Kenneth L. Schell and Twin Peaks Excavating, Inc. of Erie, Colo., have agreed to pay a civil penalty of $35,000 for alleged unauthorized discharges of excavated material to Rock Creek.

The alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) occurred during the spring of 2007, when Schell and Twin Peaks excavated a new stream channel in Rock Creek and filled adjacent wetlands and approximately 150 feet of the original channel. Schell and Twin Peaks did not obtain a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers prior to performing this work. These actions occurred on the City of Lafayette’s open space property and were performed without the city’s permission or knowledge.

“EPA is taking this action to protect Colorado’s water resources and to deter future violations of federal laws,” said Mike Gaydosh, EPA’s assistant regional administrator for Enforcement in Denver. “Waters such as Rock Creek provide a variety of functions, including flood control, groundwater recharge, pollutant filtering, and habitat for plants and animals. To maintain those functions, it is imperative that those undertaking activities that alter Colorado’s waters and wetlands secure a permit for their actions.”

In December 2007, EPA issued a compliance order that required Schell and Twin Peaks to correct the environmental damage and restore the impacted creek and wetlands. In March 2008, EPA approved Schell and Twin Peaks’ restoration plan, which is being implemented in accordance with an approved schedule.

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permit is required before performing any work that results in material being placed into lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands.

EPA Fines Champion-Arrowhead for Not Providing Toxic Chemical Information Required by SARA Title III

EPA has fined El Monte, Calif.-based Champion-Arrowhead, LLC, $16,000 for allegedly failing to submit toxic chemical reports detailing the amounts of copper, lead, and zinc compounds it processed, a violation of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA or SARA Title III). The facility manufactured irrigation and plumbing products in 2005.

“The EPA takes enforcing community right-to-know laws very seriously—this fine against Champion-Arrowhead, LLC, proves that,” said Enrique Manzanilla, Communities and Ecosystems Division director for EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “Because exposure to high levels of copper, lead, and zinc compounds causes a wide range of illnesses and environmental damage, communities need to know if and when these chemicals have been released.”

According to EPA, in 2005, Champion-Arrowhead, LLC, processed more than 408,000 pounds of copper compounds, more than 29,000 pounds of lead compounds, and more than 86,000 pounds of zinc compounds. The company failed to submit reports to the EPA listing the amount of these processed chemicals released to the environment, as required by federal emergency planning regulations.

Each year, EPA compiles the information submitted to it from the previous year regarding toxic chemical releases, producing a national Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) database for public availability. The TRI database estimates the amounts of each toxic chemical released to the environment, treated or recycled on-site, or transferred off-site for waste management.

GLSynthesis Pays $11,000 Penalty for Violating Hazardous Waste Management Requirements

GLSynthesis Inc., which provides contract organic synthesis and research to various customers at its Worcester, Mass., location, has paid an $11,000 administrative penalty for violating hazardous waste management regulations.

During an inspection conducted by the Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) last March, it was determined that the company failed to notify MassDEP of its hazardous waste generation activity, stored hazardous waste in excess of time periods allowed by the regulations, and failed to comply with numerous other hazardous waste container management requirements.

In a recently finalized consent order, the company agreed to comply with applicable regulations, many of which have already been complied with, and pay the administrative penalty.

“Hazardous waste management regulations are designed to prevent the illegal or accidental release of waste chemicals to the environment,” said Lee Dillard Adams, deputy director of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office in Worcester. “The company has acted quickly to comply since being notified of the violations.”

$6,000 Penalty for Distributing Unregistered Pesticides

EPA has fined Four Quarters Wholesale, Inc., a Los Angeles, Calif., distributor of general merchandise, $6,000 for distributing unregistered pesticides in violation of federal pesticide law.

EPA determined that the Four Quarters Wholesale, Inc., distributed disinfectants and a mothball product on 22 separate occasions. Because these products are considered pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), distributing them when they were not registered with the EPA is a violation of federal law.

The pesticides illegally distributed by Four Quarters Wholesale, Inc. are a bleach product produced in Mexico; Fabuloso Pasion De Frutas; Fabuloso Fresca Menta; Fabuloso Lavanda Citrica; and Heavenly Scent Mothball Odor Eater.

According to EPA, in early 2006, Four Quarters Wholesale, Inc., distributed these products to a variety of grocery stores in Los Angeles and Long Beach, as well as in Yuma, Ariz.; San Elizario, Texas; Church Rock, N.M.; and Las Vegas, Nev. These violations were identified based on an inspection performed by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation in March 2006.

“Without proper labeling and registration, these illegal pesticides could harm families and communities,” said Katherine Taylor, associate director of EPA’s Communities and Ecosystems Division for the Pacific Southwest region. “The EPA’s responsibility is to make sure that products claiming to be pesticides have been properly evaluated and are clearly labeled so that consumers can use them safely.”

Manufacturers and distributors whose products claim to prevent, destroy, or repel any pest must register the products as pesticides with the EPA. The agency will not register a pesticide until it has been tested to show that it will not pose an unreasonable risk when used according to the directions. Consumers should be careful to look for the EPA registration number printed on product labels and to follow directions for use.

Four Quarters Wholesale, Inc., has agreed to cease operations and formally dissolve the corporation as part of this settlement. 

Ten California Water Systems Face Fines for Failing to Monitor E. Coli in Drinking Water

EPA has ordered 10 California public drinking water systems to monitor for Escherichia coli (E. coli) in the source water of their drinking water systems, or face penalties of up to $32,500 per day for each violation.

E. coli is a type of fecal coliform bacteria commonly found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals and humans. The presence of E. coli in water is a strong indication of recent sewage or animal waste contamination.

“It is vital that drinking water systems develop their plans and sample promptly,” said Alexis Strauss, the Water Division director for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “This requirement protects the public from potentially harmful microorganisms in drinking water.”

EPA’s orders require these public drinking water systems to develop monitoring plans and conduct pathogen monitoring, as required by the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. The monitoring plans are required of all public water systems that obtain their water from a surface source (such as a river, lake, or well that is under the influence of surface water) and are part of a year-long source water monitoring effort for E. coli, designed to prevent contaminated drinking water.

EPA has issued orders to the following 10 California public water systems:

  • Markleeville Water Co., Alpine County
  • Lake Alpine Recreation Area, Alpine County
  • Cedar Crest Resort, Fresno County
  • Panoche Water District, Fresno County
  • PG&E Balch Camp, Fresno County
  • San Andreas Farms, Fresno County
  • Elk Creek Community service district, Glenn County
  • Town of Scotia Company, Humboldt County
  • Coffee Creek Ranch, Trinity County
  • Riverview Acres Water Systems, Trinity County

The requirements are part of the Long-Term 2 Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule (LT2), which increases treatment requirements for water systems that have high levels of Cryptosporidium in their source water. Systems serving fewer than 10,000 people have the option of initially monitoring for E. coli in their source water, which may be an indicator of Cryptosporidium. If the E. coli levels are too high, the system is required to monitor for Cryptosporidium.

Consuming water with Cryptosporidium, a waterborne pathogen, can cause gastrointestinal illness, which can be severe in people with weakened immune systems, such as infants or the elderly. It can be fatal to those with severely compromised immune systems, such as cancer and AIDS patients. This type of monitoring protects public health by reducing illness due to Cryptosporidium and other harmful microorganisms in drinking water.

Water systems with high levels of Cryptosporidium or that do not filter their water must provide additional protection, such as ultraviolet disinfection and watershed control programs. 

Public Television Stations to Air “Liquid Assets” Documentary on Challenges Facing Nation’s Water Infrastructure Systems

At least two public television stations in EPA’s Region 7 are planning to broadcast “Liquid Assets: The Story of Our Water Infrastructure,” a special documentary about the challenges facing the nation’s rapidly aging drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems.

Produced by Penn State Public Broadcasting (WPSU-TV), the program is being made available nationwide to all public broadcasting stations without charge. Currently two public television stations in Missouri and Kansas are scheduled to air the program, though others may choose later to carry it:

  • KCPT-TV, Channel 19, Kansas City, will air “Liquid Assets” at 8 p.m. on November 13, followed at 9 p.m. that same date by a special one-hour locally produced program, “Sewers: KC’s 4 Billion Dollar Headache.” On November 16, KCPT will repeat broadcasts of “Liquid Assets” and “Sewers: KC’s 4 Billion Dollar Headache” at 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., respectively.
  • KTWU-TV, Channel 11, Topeka, will air “Liquid Assets” at 2:30 p.m. on November 9.

"We salute these stations and Penn State Public Broadcasting for making this program available to viewers across the country,” EPA Region 7 Administrator John Askew said. “Water infrastructure is something that all of us tend to take for granted. But systems everywhere are aging, and many cities are already in crisis over how to maintain and improve their infrastructure, some of which is more than a century old. This program has the potential to raise consciousness about a very important issue, and prompt local conversations about how to address it.”


National Instruments Launches Global Take-Back Program

National Instruments (NI) has announced a new no-charge service that gives customers the option to return NI hardware products to be recycled.  This new service helps reduce the impact on landfills and other disposal sites and provides an environmentally safe end-of-life solution.

“National Instruments is committed to being a responsible corporate citizen to our global communities and our employees, customers, suppliers, and shareholders,” said John Graff, vice president of marketing and customer operations at National Instruments. “The launch of the global take-back program is another example of how National Instruments is consistently working toward our long-term goal to reduce our environmental footprint and help create a better world for employees, customers, and fellow global citizens.”

NI is committed to developing products and services that empower engineers and scientists to create innovations that improve the world. NI offers measurement, automation, and design tools that make it possible for customers to acquire and analyze real-world data and correct or fix any problems discovered, resulting in more efficient, economic technologies that are better for the planet.

. After the product is recycled, NI can also provide a Certificate of Destruction upon customer request.

Utilities Join Forces for Plug-In Vehicle Trial

Advanced Energy, in partnership with Duke Energy and Progress Energy, will initiate a smart charging trial of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). Twelve converted Toyota Priuses will be equipped with charging management technology from Seattle-based V2Green, now a part of GridPoint, and deployed in North Carolina and Florida. The trial will assess the potential of plug-in vehicles to positively impact electric grid operations, maximize use of clean energy, and prove PHEVs are a viable alternative to today’s carbon-emitting cars.

“This is the nation’s first PHEV trial to involve multiple utilities,” said Ewan Pritchard, hybrid program manager at Advanced Energy, the organization that will lead the design and implementation of the charging management scenarios to be explored in the trial. “Our collaboration will lay the foundation for the wide-scale adoption of plug-in vehicles to deliver cleaner, more cost-effective transportation and diminish our dependence on foreign oil.”

Each of the Priuses involved in the trial will be equipped with a V2Green Connectivity Module (VCM) to establish two-way communication with the electric grid and make the vehicles grid-aware. V2Green server software will be used to manage the flow of electricity to the Priuses, successfully meeting the needs of both drivers and the grid. When renewable energy, such as wind or solar power is available, charging behavior can be altered to maximize the use of cleaner energy. In periods of peak demand, charging can be delayed or slowed to avoid grid congestion and the need to provide electricity from high-cost sources.

“Developing the necessary infrastructure to enable widespread use of electric vehicles is part of our balanced strategy to address the challenge of global climate change, while meeting growing energy needs,” said Bill Johnson, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Progress Energy and co-chairman of the Edison Electric Institute CEO Taskforce on Electric Transportation.

The involvement of both Progress Energy and Duke Energy will allow the trial to explore the billing and operational requirements of supporting plug-in vehicle “roaming” between adjoining utility service areas. Many plug-in vehicle owners will charge their vehicles at home in one service area, then commute to work and connect to the grid in a different service area. Valuable insight into driver behavior will result from the PHEV trial, informing future consumer programs and inter-utility information exchange.

Advanced Energy will operate one of the grid-aware vehicles while Progress Energy will operate six, deploying four in North Carolina and two in Florida. Duke Energy will utilize four plug-in Priuses. The University of Florida’s Program for Resource Efficient Communities, along with UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences extension service, will also participate with one vehicle.

Similar to the hybrid vehicles available today, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles use both a gasoline engine and an electric motor. The primary difference lies in the PHEV’s larger lithium ion battery that can be “plugged in” and charged at a household electrical outlet. The battery pack functions as a second fuel tank that can be cost-effectively filled with electricity. PHEV technology has enabled vehicles to travel 100 miles or more on a gallon of gas, while producing significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Advanced Energy is a Raleigh, N.C.-based nonprofit committed to a future in which energy needs are met at reasonable costs and with the least negative consequences. The organization continues to work collaboratively to demonstrate that industry, government, and nonprofits can successfully work together to improve the environment and encourage the economy. 

Clean Currents Offers Special Discount on Renewable Energy Credits for USGBC Members

Clean Currents, LLC, a Washington, D.C.-area clean energy business, has announced that it has entered an agreement with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to provide discount pricing as a unique member benefit for USGBC members. Under the agreement, Clean Currents will provide USGBC members a 25% discount off its published prices for Green-E certified Renewable Energy Credits (RECs).

“We are excited to expand our reach to the thousands of architects, developers, and other green building professionals who make up the membership of the USGBC,” Clean Currents President Gary Skulnik said. “Clean Currents shares the USGBC mission to promote a cleaner future by sparking the growth of green practices.”

Clean Currents provides low cost Green-E certified RECs from wind farms in Texas and other parts of the nation. It has more than doubled sales of RECs in the past year. Clients include St. Mary’s College, Plug Power, St. Lawrence University, and more than a dozen small businesses in the D.C. area.

“We’re very happy that Clean Currents has given us the opportunity to add value to the member experience by providing our members another great benefit,” said Troy Adkins, director of membership for the USGBC, “The new USGBC member promotions page highlights offerings to our members that expand beyond LEED workshops and other education offerings. Our members now have access to a wide range of great services and products.”

Clean Currents was established in 2005 to promote solutions to today’s biggest environmental challenges—global warming and air pollution. The company seeks to assist businesses in taking a greater responsibility for protecting the environment while conducting their operations.


Governor Schwarzenegger Applauds Facilities for Going Green

Highlighting companies and facilities that are going green, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the installment of the last of 1,727 solar panels on the rooftop of the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. The 345-kilowatt photovoltaic solar system covers 24,196 square feet of the arena’s rooftop and is the latest green action taken by the STAPLES management team. Following this event, the governor will tour the Contessa Manufacturing Plant, the first frozen food facility in the world to be certified as a green building under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. The plant has waterless urinals that will save 200,000 gallons of water each year and solar panels the length of two football fields on its rooftop. As a result, the plant is on track to reduce its energy use and carbon-dioxide emissions by 65%.

“I am thrilled to be celebrating the commitment of these companies to reducing their carbon footprints,” Governor Schwarzenegger said. “They are examples that going green is not only good for the environment but also for business. Our landmark global warming law calls for 30% reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, and projects like these will help us get there while also helping us meet our long-term renewable energy goals.”

The governor has set a goal of increasing California’s renewable energy sources to 20% by 2010, and he supports reaching 33% by 2020. California’s push to increase renewable energy and fight climate change will also boost the economy.

Recently, the governor announced that California has partnered with SunEdison to provide a zero-emission 8-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic system to power 15 California State University campuses. Further development is also under way by state departments, including the Department of General Services, Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and Department of Mental Health, to generate approximately 7 MWs of solar power at five state prison sites and three state mental hospitals. Since 2006, 4.2 MWs of solar power have already been deployed at eight other state facilities through similar power purchase agreements.

 Now known as the California Solar Initiative, it will provide 3,000 MWs of additional clean energy and reduce the output of greenhouse gases by more than two million tons. The more than $3 billion incentive plan for homeowners and building owners who install solar electric systems will lead to one million solar roofs in California by the year 2017.

Green Seal Inc. Announces its First-Ever Laureate Company Recognition Program

Green Seal has launched a new Laureate Program in an effort to recognize and grow the most sustainable companies in the United States. In an economy where green is the new buzz word, misleading claims (greenwashing) are not only discouraging for customers but dangerous for brand integrity. Solid proof of sustainability is critical. Green Seal identifies and recognizes companies that are truly environmentally responsible.

Green Seal Laureate recognition aligns consumer product companies with the impeccable reputation of Green Seal, a 20-year-old, third-party seal of approval recognized by Fortune 500 companies, retailers, and consumers alike. Green Seal uses science-based standards and the power of the marketplace to create a more sustainable world.

In keeping with Green Seal’s long-standing approach to environmental recognition and product labeling, acceptance into the Laureate Program is open and transparent. Requirements are lifecycle based and focus on areas such as energy use, air and water impacts, waste, and toxic chemicals. A company’s key product lines must be certified where environmental standards exist for those products. Laureate recognition is not a one-time award but a rigorous program that involves regular monitoring to ensure ongoing high performance.

Green Seal Laureate Companies will be recognized as environmental stewards and will enjoy the benefits of being proven green leaders. Find out more information about Green Seal’s Laureate Recognition Program by contacting Dr. Mark Rentschler, director of Institutional Green Programs, Green Seal Inc., at 202-872-6400

EPA Grants to Help Prevent Pollution in New Jersey and New York

From promoting the use of less toxic dry cleaning methods, to encouraging environmentally protective practices at marinas, to education about the proper disposal of prescription drugs, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making its grant money count across New Jersey and New York. EPA has awarded more than $400,000 in grants geared toward funding projects that help prevent pollution in those two states.

“Preventing pollution at its source is one of the best ways we can protect our air, water, and land,” EPA Regional Administrator Alan J. Steinberg said. “These grants help give the experts who work on these issues every day the resources to make a real difference for our environment.”

EPA awarded the New Jersey Small Business Development Center at Rutgers University a grant for $181,240 to promote alternatives to traditional dry cleaning, which often uses toxic chemicals that threaten human health. The center will partner with New Jersey state officials and manufacturers to give technical support, fund demonstration projects, and educate dry cleaners on viable non-toxic alternatives that they can use to replace commonly used dry cleaning chemicals.

The New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation, a state government-funded organization based in Albany, N.Y., received a $174,500 grant to encourage better environmental practices at marinas throughout the state. The corporation will work with other state agencies and non-governmental organizations to develop simple best management practices for, and lend technical and compliance assistance to, marinas across New York.

EPA gave the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) $50,000 to encourage the proper disposal of pharmaceutical drugs, which when simply flushed or washed down the sink, often find their way into our waterways and drinking water. DEC will use the money to reach out to pharmacies, hospitals, and nursing homes to educate them and get them to educate their customers and patients.

The three grants are part of the more than $4 million in EPA national pollution prevention grants given each year.

EPA Video Available: “Wetlands and Wonder: Reconnecting Children with Nearby Nature”

EPA has produced a 12-minute video, “Wetlands and Wonder: Reconnecting Children with Nearby Nature,” presenting a passionate case for protecting urban wetlands as places to experience nature. The video focuses on urban and suburban wetlands as valuable resources to be restored, protected, and enjoyed. These places, often the only remnants of the natural world in developed areas, can play a key role in connecting people to nearby nature—thereby improving the health of our children and our communities.

As more Americans dwell in cities and suburbs, our society becomes increasingly distanced from the natural world. This absence of everyday connections to nature has negative effects—especially for children. Wetlands can offer a solution to this problem. Pockets of remaining wetlands in developed areas often provide immediate and easy access to nature. Yet these wetlands may be threatened or degraded, and often go unnoticed.


EPA Authorizes Alaska to Assume Water Quality Permitting Authority

EPA has approved the State of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s (ADEC) application to run the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting program in the state.

The NPDES permit program, a key part of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA), controls water pollution by regulating sources that discharge pollutants to waters in the United States. EPA officials noted that while today’s official approval gives Alaska responsibility for water quality permitting, EPA will continue its government-to-government relationship with tribes as it oversees the state’s permitting program.

By seeking and accepting the NPDES program, Alaska’s environmental regulators gain the authority to both write wastewater discharge permits for local businesses and industry and to enforce those permits to ensure compliance with permit conditions.

“Alaska has achieved a significant milestone,” said Elin Miller, EPA’s regional administrator in Seattle. “Today, Alaska joins 45 other states that control water quality permitting for local waters. With that privilege comes the responsibility to administer a robust, well-funded program that produces strong, water quality-based permits. Hanging in the balance are Alaska’s waters, which are among the most pristine in the United States.”

“Our permits and efforts to protect water quality will be worthy of our tremendous water resources and their unique value to Alaskans,” said Larry Hartig, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). “We are particularly looking forward to making the permit program work for our rural residents who often have great interest and much to contribute when it comes to protecting water quality. Their voices must be heard. We also appreciate EPA’s efforts in helping us reach this important goal, along with the support of the state legislature, the public work group that helped us, and the many, many Alaskans who have contributed.&#