New Source for EPA Chemical Information

August 29, 2016

CompTox Dashboard went live at the ACS Philadelphia meeting on Monday August 22nd. This new web database provides access to over 720,000 chemical structures, a path into the Toxcast bioassay screening data from the National Center for Computational Toxicology, and a link hub to many other EPA and public sites.

Search for any chemical and you can quickly find not only simple chemical data, such as vapor pressure, boiling point or flash point, but also data you can use to asses the environmental and health hazards of the chemical, such as Octanol-water partition coefficient, solubility, atmospheric hydroxylation rate, soil adsorption coefficient, and biodegradation and bioconcentration factors. For each chemical, you’ll find estimates for where the chemical is used in industry, the major manufacturers, and direct links to the best sources for toxicology and related information.

New Exclusions for Solvent Recycling and Hazardous Secondary Materials

EPA’s new final on the definition of solid waste creates new opportunities for waste recycling outside the scope of the full hazardous waste regulations. This, which went into effect on July 13, 2015, streamlines the regulatory burden for wastes that are legitimately recycled.

The first of the two exclusions is an exclusion from the definition of solid waste for high-value solvents transferred from one manufacturer to another for the purpose of extending the useful life of the original solvent by keeping the materials in commerce to reproduce a commercial grade of the original solvent product.

The second, and more wide-reaching of the two exclusions, is a revision of the existing hazardous secondary material recycling exclusion. This exclusion allows you to recycle, or send off-site for recycling, virtually any hazardous secondary material. Provided you meet the terms of the exclusion, the material will no longer be hazardous waste.

Learn how to take advantage of these exclusions at Environmental Resource Center’s live webcast on October 14 where you will learn:

  • Which of your materials qualify under the new exclusions
  • What qualifies as a hazardous secondary material
  • Which solvents can be remanufactured, and which cannot
  • What is a tolling agreement
  • What is legitimate recycling
  • Generator storage requirements
  • What documentation you must maintain
  • Requirements for off-site shipments
  • Training and emergency planning requirements
  • If it is acceptable for the recycler to be outside the US

Reconsideration of Final Air Toxics Standards For Industrial, Commercial, And Institutional Area Source Boilers

On August 23, 2016, EPA issued a notice announcing final decisions on the five specific issues for which reconsideration was granted for the agency’s 2013 final amendments to its standards limiting hazardous air pollutant emissions from industrial, commercial, and institutional area source boilers.

The agency issued decisions on the following five reconsideration issues:

  • Establishment of a subcategory and separate requirements for limited‐use boilers
  • An alternative particulate matter (PM) standard for new oil‐fired boilers that combust low‐sulfur oil
  • Establishment of a provision that eliminates further performance testing for PM for certain boilers based on their initial compliance test
  • Establishment of a provision that eliminates further fuel sampling for mercury for certain coal‐fired boilers based on their initial compliance demonstration
  • Definitions of startup and shutdown periods

EPA has retained the subcategory and separate requirements for limited‐use boilers, consistent with the February 2013 final rule. The agency is amending three provisions, consistent with the alternatives for which comment was solicited in the January 2015 proposal, as follows:

  • An alternative PM standard for new oil‐fired boilers that combust ultra‐low‐sulfur liquid fuel in place of the alternative PM standard for new oil‐fired boilers that combust low‐sulfur oil
  • A provision that requires further performance testing for PM every five years for certain boilers based on their initial compliance test in place of the provision eliminating further performance testing for such boilers
  • A provision that requires further fuel sampling for mercury every 12 months for certain coal‐fired boilers based on their initial compliance demonstration in place of the provision eliminating further fuel sampling for mercury for such boilers.

EPA is also making minor changes to the proposed definitions of startup and shutdown based on comments received. This final action also includes a limited number of technical corrections and clarifications on the rule that will clarify and improve the implementation of the February 2013 final Area Source Boilers Rule.

This action does not change the coverage of the final rule, nor does it substantially affect the estimated emission reductions, costs or benefits of the rule, or change the compliance deadlines of March 21, 2014, for existing sources and upon startup for new sources. These rule revisions address continuous compliance requirements applicable in the future.

Proposed Rule to Streamline E-Reporting Requirements for the Mercury And Air Toxics Standards for Power Plants

On August 23, 2016, EPA proposed changes to the electronic reporting requirements for the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) for power plants. This is the next step toward streamlining the e-reporting requirements in MATS so power plants can submit all the required emissions data through a single, familiar electronic system rather than two separate systems.

EPA is making revision so power plants can submit all MATS data through the Emissions Collection and Monitoring Plan System (ECMPS) Client Tool the same e-reporting system these facilities have used to report data for the Acid Rain Program since 2009.

Using a single system is common sense and will also make the data about emissions from power plants more transparent and accessible to the public. This proposed rule only affects how power plants submit data and does not affect the stringency of MATS in any way. MATS protects the health of all Americans from toxic air pollution, including mercury, from power plants. Mercury can damage children's developing nervous systems, reducing their ability to think and learn. Other toxic air pollutants emitted by power plants, including nickel and arsenic, can cause a range of dangerous health problems in adults, from cancer to respiratory illnesses.

Overall, this proposed rule will ease burden on power plants, increase MATS data flow and usage, and encourage wider use of continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS) for MATS compliance. Collecting the data in ECMPS means more of the MATS data will be in Extensible Markup Language (XML), a searchable format that enhances transparency of the data for all stakeholders, including the public, the sources, and federal, state, local, and Tribal governments. EPA has been working to compile the required data elements, to develop reporting instructions, and to prepare program modifications.

In this action, EPA is proposing revisions to and asking for comment on a number of details about MATS e-reporting, including:

  • The reporting and recordkeeping requirements associated with performance stack tests, particulate matter (PM) and hydrogen chloride (HCl) continuous emissions monitoring systems (CEMS), and PM continuous parameter monitoring systems (CPMS)
  • Revisions to electronic reporting requirements of mercury CEMS and mercury sorbent trap monitoring systems
  • Specific identification of required data elements, along with their Extensible Markup Language (XML) schema
  • Minor clarifications and corrections to the mercury (Hg) and HCl monitoring provisions

Power plants do not have to submit MATS data to two systems during this transition to a single system.

  • In a March 2015 direct final rule, EPA put interim provisions in place so power plants could submit PDF reports to the ECMPS Client Tool on a temporary basis.
  • EPA had allowed PDF submittals through April 2017. In this action, EPA is extending the use of PDF submittals through December 31, 2017.

EPA plans to complete the transition to a single MATS e-reporting system by January 2018. The proposal will be open for public comment for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Washington Department of Ecology Issues $272,530 In Fines for Second Quarter 2016 Violations

The Washington Department of Ecology issued $272,530 in penalties of $1,000 or more April through June in 2016. A detailed list of the violations and resulting penalties is available in the table below.

Ecology works with thousands of businesses and individuals to help them comply with state laws. Penalties are issued in cases where non-compliance continues after Ecology has provided technical assistance or warnings, or for particularly serious violations.

The money owed from penalties may be reduced from the issued amount due to settlement or court rulings. Funds collected go to the state’s general fund or to dedicated pollution prevention accounts.

Ecology strives to protect, preserve, and enhance Washington’s environment and promote wise management for current and future generations. When someone pollutes Washington’s air, land or waters, Ecology enforces state and federal regulations in hopes of changing behavior and deterring future violations.

Click here for a complete list of violations.


EPA and Partners Emphasize Children’s Environmental Health at Annual Conference

The EPA and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) and the Southwest Center for Pediatric Environmental Health brought together healthcare workers, environmental experts, and community leaders from the U.S. and Mexico for this year’s Children’s Environmental Health Symposium. The event, also sponsored by EPA’s US-Mexico Border program, the Border Environmental Cooperation Commission and the “Strong Cities, Strong Communities” White House initiative, highlighted health challenges for children living in the border area.

“Protecting children’s health is one of EPA’s most important priorities, a goal that factors into nearly all our decisions,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “We are so pleased to have UTRGV and our other partners help bring together and educate people who share this goal.”

“The health and education of our youth is the highest priority,” said Veronica Gonzales, UTRGV vice president for Government and Community Relations. “Our local and regional health care providers, in collaboration with the EPA and Congress, will continue to work tirelessly to ensure all children grow up in nourishing environments. Strong, healthy children excel in school, make the right choices, and develop into positively contributing members of their communities.”

Topics included environmental factors that contribute to children’s health issues, such as air quality, pesticides, and tobacco, as well as guidance on building awareness of these and other issues in border communities. Panels were conducted in English and Spanish, with speakers including doctors and other healthcare workers, community advocates and EPA experts.

EPA places special focus on children’s health because kids are often more vulnerable to pollutants than adults due to differences in behavior and biology, which can lead to greater exposure and susceptibility during development. EPA’s children’s environmental health policy directs the agency to explicitly and consistently take into account environmental health risks to infants and children in all risk characterizations and U.S. public health standards.

EPA’s Border 2020 program sets a framework for achieving environmental goals in areas along the U.S.-Mexico border. The program emphasizes regional, bottom-up approaches for decision-making, priority setting, and project implementation to address the environmental and public health problems in the border region while encouraging meaningful participation from communities and local stakeholders.

The White House Strong Cities, Strong Communities initiative aims to strengthen neighborhoods, towns, cities and regions around the country by strengthening the capacity of local governments to develop and execute their economic vision and strategies. Strong Cities, Strong Communities bolsters local governments by providing necessary technical assistance and access to federal agency expertise, and creating new public and private sector partnerships.

Instructions for Debris Disposal from Louisiana Flooding

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality has issued a revised chart that explains how residents who are dealing with flood debris should go about segregating their debris into six distinct waste streams. LDEQ asks that residents voluntarily follow the guidelines and separate the waste into individual piles on the curb, one for regular household garbage and waste, one for electronics, one for household hazardous waste, one for white goods, one for construction and demolition debris and one for vegetative debris like tree limbs.

The chart explains what items fall into each category, how to stage the piles for pickup and where to put items that you are drying and don’t want picked up. LDEQ reminds residents that carpet, furniture and mattresses are not Construction and Demolition Debris and should be included in the Household Trash pile.

LDEQ Secretary Dr. Chuck Carr Brown said he appreciates the public’s cooperation in this necessary chore. “By segregating your debris into six piles, you can help speed up the cleanup process and get this debris off the streets and into a proper disposal facility. It’s going to be a long journey to get back to anything like normal in south Louisiana, but we can all help facilitate the process by doing this little extra work.”

Brown also cautioned residents about burning any debris. “It is never allowable to burn solid waste, even in areas where open burning may be allowed.”

“This is a difficult, trying time, but everyone is rolling up their sleeves and tackling the job of cleaning up and getting rid of debris. Our federal partners and sister agencies are working with us to facilitate that goal. We all want to get through this, and we will. Let’s do it safely and do it right,” Brown said.

Pennsylvania’s Climate Action Plan Focuses on Energy Efficiency and Economic Benefits

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf recently accepted the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) 2015 Climate Change Action Plan Update that details how increasing energy efficiency in all sectors and at all levels will play a key role in reducing Pennsylvania’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by target year 2030.

The Pennsylvania Climate Change Act of 2008 mandated the Climate Change Action Plan in 2009 as well as updates every three years. The 2015 update presents data from the EPA State Inventory Tool for 2000 through 2012 (the most recent data available), showing an overall decrease of 15.93% in net emissions, reflecting a shift by some power plants from coal to natural gas, as well as the success of Pennsylvania’s energy efficiency programs. Overall, Pennsylvania’s total greenhouse emissions are projected to be lower in 2030 than in 2000, with reductions in the residential, commercial, transportation, agriculture and waste sectors.

“Addressing climate change and the real impact on the health of our citizens, the costs of our businesses and the environment must be a priority for not just the commonwealth, but all sectors,” Governor Wolf said.

The update presents 13 work plans to further reduce GHG emissions by 2030. An economic analysis of the work plans included in the Plan shows that the majority have the potential to generate not only GHG emissions reductions but also significant improvements in total employment, total income and real disposable personal income.

With Pennsylvania being the third largest emitter of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in the country, additional reductions are needed. Pennsylvania will be 3?C (5.4?F) warmer by 2050 than it was in 2000, according to the 2015 Climate Impacts Assessment Report by the Penn State University Environment and Natural Resources Institute. The result will be dangerously high summer temperatures and more severe storms, increased threat of certain insect-borne diseases, and drastic changes to agriculture and water quality.

“The consequences of inaction on climate change will be felt by all Pennsylvanians,” said DEP Acting Secretary McDonnell, “It will affect the food we grow, the energy we use, our recreation, and even our health.”

The majority of work plans in the 2015 Climate Change Action Plan Update focus on energy efficiency measures. The greatest emissions reductions would be achieved by holding new buildings to an emissions performance standard 60% lower than the regional average. Sizable emissions reduction would also be attained by continuing Act 129 of 2008, which requires utilities to come up with plans to encourage energy efficiency among their customers, through 2031.

Other work plans address coal mine methane recovery, the latest building energy codes, heating oil conservation and fuel switching, combined heat and power systems, ground source heat pumps, energy technical assistance for manufacturers, tree-planting programs, energy efficiency financing for homeowners, semi-truck adaptations, and anaerobic manure digesters.

The plans were created in partnership with the Climate Change Advisory Committee, whose members include the secretaries of the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and Department of Community and Economic Development; the chair of the Public Utilities Commission; and Governor’s Office and legislative appointees. All plans were voted on, with most approved unanimously.

The Center for Climate Strategies conducted macroeconomic analyses to determine the potential costs, benefits, and job impacts of the work plans. In addition to environmental benefits, the analysis shows economic benefits, including increased jobs.

Highlighting the important role that all Pennsylvanians play in helping to lower emissions, the update includes 25 actions individuals can take, including lowering their energy use, finding energy efficiency financing, reducing food waste, and planting trees to absorb carbon.

Community Groups Across Country Challenge EPA Over Failure to Update Protections from Lead Poisoning

A coalition of national and regional groups across the country is suing the United States Environmental Protection Agency for failing to update standards that protect families against neurotoxic lead-based paint and lead dust.

The “unreasonable delay” lawsuit, filed recently in U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, argues that seven years after EPA granted a 2009 petition to update these standards, EPA has yet to propose—much less finalize—any new standards.

The organizations taking action include A Community Voice, California Communities Against Toxics, Healthy Homes Collaborative, New Jersey Citizen Action, New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning, Sierra Club, WE ACT for Environmental Justice and United Parents Against Lead National.

In the filing, the coalition asked the court to require the EPA to propose an updated rule within 90 days and finalize that rule within six months, noting that federal courts have compelled action on other matters when public health is at risk.

“The Flint crisis puts the dangers of lead poisoning in the national spotlight,” said Earthjustice attorney Hannah Chang, who filed the suit on behalf of the groups. “These organizations want people to know that lead exposure is irreversibly damaging people’s health in communities all over the country and they want EPA to do its job to protect children from harm. The most common cause of lead poisoning in children in this country is the ingestion of lead dust from old house paint.”

A number of organizations made the initial request to EPA in 2009 based on scientific evidence that showed the existing lead standards were inadequate to protect the public’s health. Children under the age of six are particularly vulnerable to neurological damage from lead because they’re growing rapidly.

“At the age of three, my youngest son was diagnosed with lead poisoning. He had a shockingly high lead level of 89 in his blood from the lead dust on surfaces throughout our home,” said Virginia mother Shate Cummings. “My son now faces challenges like a speech impairment that he’s working with a speech therapist to overcome. His doctor says that we’ll begin to see the full effects of his lead poisoning when he’s five or six years old. Families need to know if they live in homes that can poison their children. That’s why we need the Environmental Protection Agency to act now to update their lead standards.”

Lead poisoning can cause severe physical and mental impairment and death, according to the Mayo Clinic. In adults, lead exposure, even in miniscule amounts, can cause high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and damage to the male reproductive system. In children, it can cause diminished I.Q., learning disabilities, hyperactivity, impaired hearing, and attention-related behavioral problems.

Housing stock constructed before 1980 contains more than 3 million tons of lead in the form of lead-based paint, with most homes constructed before 1950 containing substantial amounts of lead-based paint.

“In Los Angeles County we know that 99% of cases of lead-poisoned children are from old housing and the surrounding contaminated soil," said Linda Kite, Executive Director of the Healthy Homes Collaborative. “Revising the dust standards is a critical step in primary prevention and will tackle this problem efficiently.”

“Our children have no chance against lead poisoning if we keep these dangers hidden,” said Queen Zakia Rafiqa Shabazz, mother of a lead-poisoned son and Founder of United Parents Against Lead. “EPA’s outdated standards and lack of enforcement let lead remain hidden and silent, causing irreversible brain damage, learning disabilities and reduced IQ in children. We as parents want to protect our children but we can do little against an invisible enemy. A child is a terrible thing to waste.”

"Nearly forty years since lead in paint was banned for residential use, it is simply outrageous that our children and grandchildren continue to be used as human lead detectors. The EPA must revise their standards to protect the millions of children living in homes built before 1978 from irreversible damage from an entirely preventable toxic hazard,” said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, Executive Director of New Jersey Citizen Action.

Communities of color and low-income families are more at risk of lead exposure and poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. WE ACT for Environmental Justice, one of the nation’s largest environmental justice organizations, called on EPA to do more to protect communities from lead, which has disparate impacts on communities of color and low-income families.

“We know that low-income children and children of color are the most at-risk for lead poisoning in New York City. Over 80% of all newly identified cases of lead poisoning at 15 μg/dL blood lead level or greater are Asian, African American and Latino children,” said Dr. Adrienne L. Hollis, Director of Federal Policy, WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

“Since EPA has failed to revise the dust lead hazard standards and the definition of lead-based paint, WE ACT strongly supports the current lawsuit aimed at their delay.”

Leslie Fields, Director of the Sierra Club's Environmental Justice and Community Partnerships Program also expressed concern about disparate impacts on communities of color: "Lead poisoning is one of the top childhood environmental health problems, and low-income and minority children and their families disproportionately suffer its lifelong effects. The crisis in Flint—and there are ‘Flints’ everywhere—has underscored the need for EPA to act quickly to address this widespread public health problem."

Jane Williams, Executive Director of California Communities Against Toxics, said “EPA needs to take strong action to ensure that after a lead remediation is completed children are safe in their homes. The existing standards for how much lead can remain in a home are not protective enough and need to be updated.”

EPA Closed Pflueger Stormwater Case After Clean Water Act Violations Addressed

The EPA announced the successful conclusion of its case against James Pflueger for construction activities that damaged his former property and the beach and coral reefs at Pila’a on Kauai. The consent decree settling the Clean Water Act violations was closed after Pflueger stabilized and restored the slopes and streams.

“Thanks to the work completed under this settlement, this once-degraded land has a healthy population of native trees and shrubs and restored stream channels,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “With continued care by the new owners, these restoration efforts can be sustained for the future.”

EPA initiated its case after Pflueger conducted extensive grading and construction at the 378-acre coastal site without obtaining necessary Clean Water Act permits. Those activities included excavating a hillside to expose a 40-foot vertical road cut, grading a coastal plateau, creating new access roads to the coast, and dumping dirt and rock into three perennial streams. As a result, massive discharges of sediment-laden stormwater flowed to the ocean at Pila’a Bay in November 2001.

The settlement required Pflueger to build a wall to stabilize the road cut adjacent to the shoreline, remove dam material in streams, install erosion controls on roadways and trails, terrace slopes to slow runoff, use native plants to control erosion, and control invasive plants and animals on the property. He was also required to reconstruct natural rock-lined stream beds and reestablish native plants along the banks.

The 2006 stormwater settlement was the largest for federal Clean Water Act violations at a single site, by a single landowner, in the United States. Pflueger paid $2 million in penalties to the State of Hawaii and the United States, and was expected to spend approximately $5.3 million to conduct the required restoration efforts.

The State of Hawaii was a co-plaintiff in EPA’s case against Pflueger, and the settlement was joined by the Limu Coalition and Kilauea neighborhood organizations, which had also filed a lawsuit against Pflueger.

EPA and local community organizations involved in the settlement conducted oversight inspections throughout a ten-year restoration effort that was slowed by funding obstacles and the necessity of adapting the restoration projects to changing field conditions.

AGRIService Fined $166,914 for Clean Water Act Violations

EPA Region 7 has reached a proposed settlement with Central Missouri AGRIService, LLC, concerning alleged Clean Water Act violations associated with construction of a railroad loop track and grain loading facility in Marshall, Missouri. As part of the settlement, Central Missouri AGRIService has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $166,914 to the United States.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers notified EPA Region 7 in July 2015 that Central Missouri AGRIService had discharged fill material into wetlands and streams without required authorization under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

Subsequently, EPA inspected the construction site in November 2015 to evaluate the company’s compliance with its stormwater permit, and found construction-related activities had occurred on nearly 60 acres of the 130-acre site. EPA’s inspection identified several CWA violations, including failure to timely develop a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP), failure to develop an adequate SWPPP, failure to update the SWPPP, failure to implement the SWPPP, failure to install or implement adequate stormwater control measures, failure to perform and document stormwater self-inspections, and failure to notify on-site workers of the SWPPP. The violations resulted in sediment being discharged to unnamed tributaries to North Fork Finney Creek.

The CWA seeks to protect streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources. Construction projects have a high potential for environmental harm because they disturb large areas of land and significantly increase the potential for erosion. The CWA requires construction sites to have controls in place to limit pollution discharged via stormwater into nearby waterways.

Without proper on-site pollution controls, stormwater runoff can carry pollutants into waterways and degrade water quality, threatening aquatic life and its habitat, and impairing the public’s use and enjoyment of waterways. Protecting streams and wetlands is also part of adapting to climate change impacts like drought, sea level rise, stronger storms, and warmer temperatures.

Following the EPA inspection, Central Missouri AGRIService took actions to address the observed stormwater violations. The company is also working with the Corps of Engineers to return the site to compliance with the CWA.

The proposed settlement with Central Missouri AGRIService is subject to a 40-day public comment period before it becomes final. Information on how to submit comments is available online.

DEP Fined Pipeline Companies for Modifying Construction Plans Without Proper Approval

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has fined CNX Gas Company, LLC, (CNX) and CONE Midstream Partners LP (CONE) for not constructing pipelines as approved in their permits with the agency. CNX was directly fined $139,000 and CONE was fined $45,000 for violating the state’s Clean Streams Law and Oil and Gas Act.

During routine inspection in December 2015, inspectors from DEP’s Southwest Oil and Gas District discovered that CNX’s McQuay to Morris Pipeline and the Morris Spur Pipeline were not constructed to the standards contained in their Erosion and Sediment Control General Permits (ESCGP). The inspection showed that the pipelines were constructed outside the exact area specified in the permit (the limit of disturbance) and in one case a gravel road and a pad for a valve were constructed but not identified in the permit application.

During a follow up meeting with DEP, the companies acknowledged that other pipelines were in violation for earthmoving beyond the boundaries contained in the ESCGP permits. Ultimately, 20 pipelines belonging to CNX and 7 owned by CONE Midstream Partners were determined to be in noncompliance. The pipelines are located in Greene, Washington, Indiana and Jefferson counties.

Under the Consent Order and Agreements, CNX and CONE have until November 15, 2016 complete a review of their pipelines. The companies will have 90 business days after DEP approval of their plan to bring those pipelines into compliance. If the reviews reveal additional pipeline projects that are out of compliance, the companies can add those to the Consent Order. The additions will be reviewed by DEP on a case-by-case basis and additional penalties could be added.

The companies had until July 31, 2016 to either permanently stabilize and restore locations where the ESCGP’s have expired or apply for new ESCGP authorization. They have since been working with DEP towards compliance at these sites.

The companies face additional stipulated penalties for each day if they fail to meet time frames set in the Consent Order and Agreement.

For more information, visit

BNSF Fined $75,000 for Water Quality Violations

BNSF Railway will pay a $75,000 fine and improve environmental protections during track maintenance work in Skagit and Whatcom counties under an agreement with the Washington Department of Ecology to settle a 2015 penalty for water quality violations.

Ecology originally cited BNSF for four water quality violations after the company placed creosote-treated railroad ties and other materials in nearby waters during maintenance projects in Whatcom and Skagit counties.

Ecology reduced the penalty amount from $86,000 to $75,000 with BNSF’s agreement to take specific steps to prevent water pollution when replacing wooden railroad ties.

“The long-term environmental benefit that will come from this agreement is significant,” said Heather Bartlett, water quality program manager at Ecology. “This sets a platform for future conversations, and we look forward to continuing our work with BNSF to protect water quality and the environment.”

As part of the settlement, BNSF agrees to:

  • Work with wood suppliers to obtain seasoned ties, or ties free of dripping preservative
  • Seek to identify and use staging and storing areas where new ties are less likely to contact flowing or standing water
  • Take reasonable care to ensure that ties remain in place and do not roll down nearby embankments during unloading

Proceeds from the fine will pay for environmental improvement projects. Ecology and BNSF will select a project to receive $45,000 in the South Fork of the Nooksack River or the near shore marine environment in Whatcom or Skagit counties. The remaining $30,000 will be deposited into Ecology’s coastal protection fund, which provides grants to state agencies and local and tribal governments for environmental restoration projects that improve water quality.

Creosote-treated wood is toxic to aquatic life. Washington agencies have invested millions of dollars to remove creosote treated wood from marine and estuary waters.

Visalia Dairy to Pay $59,850 for Failing to Report the Impacts of Dairy Operations on Water Quality

The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board issued a penalty of $59,850 against the Sweeney Dairy of Visalia for failing to file an annual report on the impacts of its dairy operations on water quality.

James and Amelia Sweeney, owners of the dairy, failed to file a 2014 annual report required by dairies regulated under the Dairy General Order. The annual reports contain information the Central Valley Water Board needs to evaluate potential impacts on water quality from dairy operations.

The Dairy General Order, first adopted by the Central Valley Water Board in 2007, requires dairies to handle waste in ways that preserve water quality. The Dairy General Order contains a number of requirements, including standards for manure and dairy wastewater storage, and criteria for the application of manure and dairy wastewater to cropland. The Dairy General Order also contains reporting requirements for regulated dairies, including the submission of an annual report. Failure to submit the required report is a violation of the Dairy General Order.

“Annual reports contain vital information regarding manure handling at dairies, and about nutrient management planning on dairy cropland,” said Clay Rodgers, assistant executive officer for the Central Valley Water Board. “It is critical that dairies submit these annual reports to show they are taking the steps necessary to protect water quality. In assessing this penalty our Board recognized that running a dairy comes with the responsibility of complying with waste discharge requirements, including submitting the required documents.”

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