New Power Adapters Save Energy, More Efficient

January 17, 2005

EPA recently announced that the ENERGY STAR label is now available for external power adapters that meet EPAÆs newly established energy efficiency guidelines. Power adapters recharge or power many electronic products û from PDAs and MP3 players to many other electronics and appliances. As many as 1.5 billion power adapters are in use in the US, averaging about five for every American. In the US, more efficient adapters have the potential to save more than 5 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy per year and prevent the release of more than 4 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions the equivalent of taking 800,000 cars off the road.

Despite the fact that power adapters are crucial to the operation of virtually all small electronic devices, they still tend to be very inefficient. In the US, total electricity flowing through external and internal power supplies is about 207 billion kWh/year, equal to about $17 billion a year, or six percent of the national electric bill. ENERGY STAR-qualified power adapters will average 35% better efficiency.

Because they are commonly bundled with so many of today's consumer electronic and information technology products, the agency is promoting the most efficient adapters. If the trend of explosive sales growth worldwide continues, the energy use from consumer electronics and small appliances could account for almost 30 percent of a typical homeÆs electricity bill by 2010. By comparison, the average household today spends 45% of its energy bill on heating and cooling, and just six percent to continuously run a refrigerator. Encouraging the use of more efficient power adapters will help stem this growing energy consumption.

ENERGY STAR qualified power adapters will soon be shipped or sold with a variety of products, such as cell phones, PDAs, digital cameras, camcorders. In time, these new efficient adapters will be incorporated into a wide spectrum of products including laptops, cordless phones, and office equipment, as well as other products and as replacement adapters sold separately. Products with qualified adapters will be identified by the ENERGY STAR label on product packaging.

Power adapters join the more than 40 categories of products, including lighting, appliances, home office equipment, home electronics and heating and cooling equipment that can earn the ENERGY STAR label. Annually, ENERGY STAR helps save enough energy to power 20 million homes and avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 18 million cars -- all while saving $8 billion. For additional information on, visit EPAÆs ENERGY STAR Web site and power adapters web site.

Switch Safety Guidelines Issued to Railroad Industry to Prevent Train Accidents Caused by Misaligned Switches

The Federal Railroad Administration is issuing a new safety advisory to all of the nation's railroads to strengthen procedures for monitoring track switching operations. The advisory is in response to a recent number of incidents involving trains that derailed because switches that divert them from one track to another were left in the wrong position.

In its ongoing investigation of a January 6 Norfolk Southern Railway accident in Graniteville, South Carolina, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has indicated that a misaligned switch may have been one of the factors that resulted in a freight train being diverted from a main track onto a siding and into the path of parked locomotives.

The safety advisory states that railroads should document when a manually operated switch in non-signaled territory is changed from the main track to a siding and returned back to the normal position for main track movements. In addition, these actions should be communicated to all crewmembers and the train dispatcher. This increased attention and communication will better ensure that switches are not inadvertently left misaligned.

FRA Operating Practices inspectors will aggressively monitor railroadsÆ adoption of this advisory to help determine if additional steps are needed. "An improperly lined switch invites disaster and can be easily avoided," said FRA Acting Administrator Robert D. Jamison. "All railroads need to adopt the safety measures outlined in this advisory."

Railroads operating rules currently govern the operation of manual switches and several have modified those rules in recent months.

Pesticide Violations Result in Citations for Three Northwest Companies

EPA issued Consent Agreement and Final Orders (CAFO) to three Pacific Northwest companies for violating Section 7 of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Section 7 requires companies to submit Annual Pesticide Production Reports to EPA on March 1 of each year.

As part of an on-going regional campaign to insure compliance with federal pesticide regulation, Skylane Farms in Woodburn, OR, Pro-Energy Service System in Burley, ID, and Steritech LLC in Spokane Valley, WA, each received CAFOs including pre-settlement agreements and penalties of $1000.

Skylane Farms has submitted late annual pesticide production reports twice in the last three years. In 2002, Skylane Farms submitted their annual report to EPA on March 19. A Notice of Warning was issued on March 29, 2002, which notified the establishment that a civil penalty would be issued if their annual report was late in the future. Last yearÆs report, due to the EPA by March 1, 2004, was received on April 7, 2004.

Pro-Energy Service System was late in providing required annual pesticide production reports for the past two reporting years. In 2003, Pro-Energy Service System submitted their report to EPA on April 9th. EPA then issued the Company a "Notice of Warning" on August 20, 2003, which notified the establishment that a civil penalty would be issued if their annual report was late in the future. Last year=s annual report was received on May 28, 2004.

Steritech has submitted late annual pesticide production reports for the past two years. In 2003, Steritech LLC submitted their annual report to EPA June 17. A "Notice of Warning" was issued on August 20, 2003, which notified the establishment that a civil penalty would be issued if their annual report was late in the future. Last yearÆs report was received on December 1, 2004.

Penalties can be as high as $6500 for reporting violations. The pre-settlement agreement was reached at $1,000 because the companies are not currently producing pesticides and have agreed to cancel their establishment registrations.

New Jersey Land Use Enforcement to Propose Grace Period Rule

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has proposed a grace period rule for the state.

Any person who interacts with New Jersey rules regulating activities in freshwater wetlands, coastal wetlands, flood ways and flood plains, waterfronts, beaches, docks and bulkheads, and areas regulated by the Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA) should be aware of this proposal. Consultants, engineers, attorneys, property owners, municipalities and environmental organizations would also have an interest in these regulatory changes.

The Grace Period proposal will categorize violations of the following Land Use rules as either minor or non-minor:

  • Coastal Zone Rules: N.J.A.C. 7:7, specifically CAFRA, N.J.S.A. 13:19-1 and the Coastal Wetland Law of 1970, N.J.S.A. 13:9A-1
  • Freshwater Wetlands Protection Act: N.J.S.A. 13:9B-1 and N.J.A.C. 7:7A
  • Flood Hazard Area Control Act: N.J.S.A. 58:16A-1 and N.J.A.C. 7:13

For minor violations, the proposal establishes a period during which compliance can be achieved without the threat of fines or formal enforcement action. The proposed grace period is intended to encourage compliance and foster a greater sense of cooperation between the DEP and the regulated community.

An informal stakeholder meeting or workshop will be held on January 24, 2005 from 10-12 am in conference room #1, third floor, Department of Environmental ProtectionÆs Pesticide Control Office, 22 South Clinton Ave., 4 Station Plaza, Trenton NJ. During the meeting, DEP representatives will present a brief summary of the minor and non-minor violations, answer questions about the rule proposal and accept public comment for further consideration. Comments may also be made via email to the email address below until January 24. This informal information session supplements the formal public participation that is held as part of the rule-adoption process scheduled for early to mid-2005.

Questions can be addressed to the Bureau of Coastal and Land Use Compliance & Enforcement, care of Scott Brubaker at (609) 292-1240. For further information, see

Model Application/Information Request for CERCLA Service Station Dealer Exemption

EPA recently announced the availability of the "Model Application/Information Request for CERCLA Service Station Dealer Exemption" (69 FR 65596).

This model will be valuable tool in the implementation of the Service Station Dealer Exemption (SSDE) under section 114(c) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).

Under CERCLA Section 114(c), certain service station dealers may be exempt from generator or transporter liability for a release or a threatened release of recycled oil. A party may be eligible if it: (1) is a "service station dealer;" (2) accepts "do-it-yourselfer" used oil; (3) does not mix hazardous substances with used oil generated or collected by the service station dealer; (4) complies with EPA's RCRA used oil management standards in 40 CFR 279; and (5) transported or sent used oil to a Superfund site after March 8, 1993. The SSDE is intended, in part, to encourage service station dealers to accept do-it-yourselfer used oil for recycling.

Under CERCLA, EPA typically issues general information requests to parties at a Superfund site to help decide which parties it should or should not treat as responsible parties. To expedite EPA's review of a service station dealer's status, EPA developed a model application/information request directed at service station dealers. The model generally will be used for any party EPA has reason to believe may be eligible for the SSDE. EPA finalized the model after providing two opportunities for public comment and a public meeting.

For additional information, contact Susan Boushell at (202) 564-2173.

Hotel Builders Penalized for Storm Water Violations

EPA reached a settlement with Premier Homes, Inc., and Scott Hedrick Construction, Inc., for failure to control storm-water running from their projects at the Hampton Inn and Comfort Inn sites, respectively, in Meridian, ID.

Premier Homes will pay $6,000 and Scott Hedrick Construction will pay $4,000 for violating federal Clean Water Act rules that require construction sites larger than one acre to apply for a National Pollution discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit and to prevent run-off from polluting local lakes and streams. Uncontrolled and sediment-laden storm water from the two sites polluted nearby Five Mile Creek.

Local EPA officials expressed concern that the violations had occurred despite considerable outreach to educate the regulated community regarding the new storm water requirements, which came into being last year.

Database Identifies How EPA Regulates Chemicals

If you are interested in finding out how EPA regulates a particular chemical, or if you want to determine if EPA has data on a chemical, then the EPAÆs substance registration system should be the first place you look.

The Substance Registry System (SRS) is the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) central system for information on over 93,000 regulated and monitored substances. The system provides a common basis for identification of chemicals, biological organisms, and other substances listed in EPA regulations and data systems, as well as substances of interest from other sources, such as publications.

The SRS supports and conforms to EPA's Chemical Identification Data Standard and the EPA's Biological Identification Data Standard. The SRS is a part of the centralized Systems of Registries (SoR), which provides access to the Agency's core registry systems.

New Source for Disposal of Old Computers

Online auction house eBay recently launched a recycling initiative to confront the problem of "e-waste." The Rethink Initiative brings together leading technology companies, government agencies, environmental groups and millions of eBay users to work on the problem of unused or obsolete computers that may pose environmental hazards when disposed of in landfills.

Approximately 133,000 computers are currently being replaced daily by their original owners. These retired systems contain hazardous materials, such as plastic, lead, cadmium, chromium, and mercury. While these materials need to be handled in an environmentally responsible manner, only about 10% of unwanted computers in the U.S. are recycled.

With Intel Corporation as eBay's primary ally, the initiative coordinates efforts by Apple, Gateway, HP, IBM and Ingram Micro with the EPA, the non-profit Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, UPS, and the U.S. Postal Service, among others.

The Rethink Initiative web site identifies product disposition alternatives, such as recycling and refurbishing, and makes it easy to put this knowledge into action.

The initiative also provides value guides to help estimate the value of e-waste items, which in turn may prove useful in choosing the best disposal option. Computers which are still functioning may be sold or donated via the initiative site. Included in eBayÆs selling tools are a safe data destruction utility, listing helpers that automatically identify system components, and information on how to purchase protective shipping kits. The initiative also provides access to a directory of third-party sellers able to pick up one or more items, who can then act as sellers on behalf of the items' owners. An additional directory helps businesses outsource the disposition process to a local asset recovery specialist.

As an alternative, visitors to the site can opt to donate their working PCs to the National Cristina Foundation. The non-profit organization works nationally to provide donations of used computer equipment to schools, charities, and public agencies committed to training people with disabilities, students at risk and economically disadvantaged persons.

For systems which are past their useful life, the web site includes a list of responsible recyclers, as well as links to additional recycling resources administered by Rethink's member organizations.

For systems which are past their useful life, the web site includes a list of responsible recyclers, as well as links to additional recycling resources administered by Rethink's member organizations.

EPA Encourages Responsible Redevelopment

EPA has made redevelopment of former contaminated sites a major priority. Redevelopment brings abandoned or underused properties back into use thereby preserving undeveloped land and revitalizing communities.

However, for all its virtues, redevelopment is not without cost. Building new structures requires the use of raw materials, and businesses and residences consume energy and resources and generate waste. According to Department of Energy estimates, the 76 million residential and 5 million commercial buildings in the US consume 37% of all US energy and 40% of all raw materials.

A new initiative called Environmentally Responsible Redevelopment and Reuse (ER3) seeks to "green" the redevelopment process by encouraging developers to adopt more environmentally-friendly building practices and materials. Through ER3, the agency will use existing tools, including comfort letters, prospective purchaser agreements, and green building supplemental environmental projects (SEPs), to give developers incentives.

For example, a settler could agree to a green building SEP-a project which EPA will take into account in setting appropriate penalties-that aids a nearby redevelopment effort.

The Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) launched this initiative in September with the Office of Site Remediation Enforcement taking the lead. In the near term, OECA is partnering with other EPA offices and the Regions to develop a catalogue of incentives. In the future, the program could grow to include other federal agencies, including the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Energy. For additional information on the new initiative, contact K.C. Schefski at (202) 564-8213 or Phil Page at (202) 564-4211.