Now On-line "Growth and Water Resources" Training Module

February 07, 2005

A new on-line, distance learning training module called "Growth and Water Resources" has recently been posted on EPA's Watershed Academy Web . This training module explains how changes in land use affect water resources, and presents national data on trends in development patterns and activities on land that have become increasingly significant challenges for achieving water quality standards. The module describes a combination of approaches to accommodate future growth in a way that benefits the economy and the environment and will help us meet out water resource goals. The module also includes a "tools" section with links to on-line resources. This training module was developed by EPAÆs Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds Smart Growth Team.

EPA Under Pressure from Sewer Groups to Finalize 2003 Wastewater Blending Policy

A coalition of 20 groups representing the interests of local and state governments and sewer agencies has written a letter urging the EPA to finalize its wastewater blending policy proposed on Nov. 7, 2003.

The letter was signed by the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies, the National Association of Towns and Townships, the National League of Cities, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and several other groups. It accuses environmental groups of mischaracterizing the EPA¦s blending policy as an "environmental rollback."

In its letter to former EPA Administrator Michael Leavitt, the coalition argues that blending is an essential component of local sewer agencies¦ strategies for dealing with heavy rains and snowmelt. The agency is considering a proposal known as sewage blending at the request of wastewater plant operators who have complained that their systems become overwhelmed during heavy rainstorms. Blending allows the system operators to mix partially treated wastewater into the discharge to prevent systems from involuntary overflows resulting in the release of raw sewage.

Wastewater systems across the country need expensive upgrades to correct overflow problems, but they lack funding. Federal estimates of funding shortfalls range from $9 billion to $12 billion annually.

According to the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies, existing regulations allow blending, but the language needs clarification.

EPA New England Enforcement Actions Achieve Over $11.5 million EPA New England Enforcement Actions Achieve Over $11.5 million EPA New England Enforcement Actions Achieve Over $11.5 million

As a direct result of incorporating supplemental environmental projects, or "SEPs," into EPAÆs regional enforcement agreements in fiscal year 2004 and the first three months of fiscal year 2005, violators will spend over $11.5 million on environmental programs in New England.

A SEP can be part of an enforcement settlement, where an alleged violator voluntarily agrees to undertake an environmentally beneficial project. In recognition of the partyÆs agreement to undertake the project, EPA agrees to accept a lower penalty than would normally be the case. A project must have an adequate connection to the underlying violation and must not be one that the alleged violator is legally required to do or was planning to do. While in some cases a SEP may provide the alleged violator with indirect benefits, there must be no doubt that the project primarily benefits public health or the environment. SEPs can also help foster good will between environmental violators and the local community.

EPA entered into two large settlements last year that will yield significant environmental benefits to air quality. The Boston-based MBTA agreed to a project valued at $1 million to operate 33 commuter trains at Boston's South Station on lower-polluting low sulfur diesel fuel for at least three years. The project came six weeks after EPA announced that all commuter trains operating from Boston's North Station will be operated with low sulfur diesel fuel as part of a settlement of an enforcement case with Mystic Exelon, the owners of the Mystic Station power plant in Everett, Mass. The combined effect of the North and South Station projects will be to remove about 687 tons of sulfur dioxide and 76 tons of particulate matter from the air around Boston over the next three years. Mystic Exelon also agreed to spend $3.25 million to retrofit 500 Boston school buses with pollution control equipment and supply them with ultra low-polluting diesel fuel.

In another SEP agreement, the City of Bangor, Maine last month agreed to convert its entire fleet of diesel vehicles to biodiesel a cleaner burning fuel source made partially from soybeans.

Other SEPs included in enforcement agreements over the past 15 months include:

  • An agreement with Doctor's Research Group, Inc., a medical-device manufacturer, to spend $38,000 for much-needed medical supplies at publicly funded health centers in Conn. The case settled allegations that the company violated federal law governing antimicrobial pesticides;
  • A settlement with the Mass. electric company, NSTAR, to spend $47,000 to demonstrate the effectiveness of a new system for capturing and reusing storm water. The demonstration project, which is being built at Harvard University's vehicle washing facility, will capture water used in vehicle washing, by recycling rainwater and limit the amount of water entering the combined sewer system. The case settled EPA allegations stemming from two oil spills in the Charles River;
  • An agreement with Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Conn. to spend $93,750 to reduce PCB pollution in New Britain through a two-year project that requires the University to identify vacant industrial facilities with PCB-containing transformers or electrical equipment; assess the risk of PCB release; and remove and dispose of the equipment posing the greatest risk of release;
  • A settlement with United Oil Recovery, a hazardous waste disposal facility in Meriden, Conn., that has required it to spend nearly $700,000 at 57 high schools, to help them properly manage and minimize hazardous waste at the schools. The company has also spent $168,000 to supply recycling parts washers to the public works departments of 20 Conn. cities and towns. The SEP is expected to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds to the air by 25,000- 70,000 pounds per year;
  • An agreement with American Biophysics Corp., a North Kingston, RI company and maker of the "Mosquito Magnet, to spend at least $200,000 to help research, surveillance and control efforts relating to mosquito- borne illnesses like West Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis. The money will be used to institute a mosquito control effectiveness and surveillance program in RI; to buy mosquito source control equipment; and to provide mosquito traps to numerous local or state entities nationwide for mosquito-related research, surveillance, and control.

Scoop the Poop

AlaskaÆs Scoop the Poop Program is addressing the issue of the 22 tons of dog waste deposited every day by 59,000 dogs. The problem is compounded when the pet waste is frozen during winter and then hits the streams during the spring thaw. The Cooperative Extension Service in Anchorage, in partnership with others, has embarked on a public education program with catchy posters. Pet waste stations are sponsored by Extension, civic groups, and individuals. For details visit scoop the poop.

USTs Leaking in Idaho

For just over a year, EPA has increased the number of inspections at gas stations and convenience stores in Idaho as part of an initiative to protect the stateÆs groundwater. Most of the underground storage tanks at these facilities were inspected by EPA for the first time. Nearly 70 percent were not complying with federal leak-prevention rules. "The bottom line is we found only one-in-three facilities complying with key operational requirements," said Jim Werntz, EPAÆs Idaho Office Director. "While some in the industry are doing everything right, there are a large number of facilities in Idaho that are not making leak detection and prevention a priority.

This should be a concern not just to EPA, but to every resident who drinks water or irrigates from a well. UST requirements are critical to protecting groundwater from petroleum leaks and preventing costly cleanups for taxpayers.* Each facility was notified by mail before the inspection. EPA conducted 76 inspections, identifying 93 violations for a total of $14,550 in penalties. Since Idaho is the only state in America without an underground storage tank program, the responsibility to inspect 1,350 facilities statewide falls to EPA. For more information, contact Erik Sirs, EPA, Idaho, at 208-378-5762, or

New Jersey Law Promotes Brownfield Development

In an effort to promote economic growth and the cleanup of contaminated sites in New Jersey, Acting Governor Richard J. Codey signed legislation that provides qualified developers liability protection against natural resource damage claims at brownfield sites across the state.

"The GovernorÆs action provides innocent companies assurance that they will not be held liable for costs related to natural resource injuries," said New Jersey DEP Commissioner Bradley M. Campbell. "This new law rightly puts the costs of injuries to our ground water supplies and other natural resources on the backs of polluters, while encouraging cleanup and redevelopment of blighted sites."

The legislation also provides brownfield developers liability protection for off-site contamination and makes changes to the statute of limitations under which DEP can assess NRD claims.

"Because of their location and commercial zoning status, brownfield sites are becoming increasingly attractive in the eyes of commercial developers," McKeon added. "These liability protections give yet another incentive for increased restoration and redevelopment while continuing to protect our regionÆs important natural resources."

The liability protections apply to developers that already acquired or will acquire property on or after January 6, 1998, which is the effective date of the Brownfield and Contaminated Site Remediation Act. Developers must also have acquired the property after any discharge of a hazardous substance occurred. In addition, developers cannot be responsible for the discharge of a hazardous substance at the property or be corporate successors to the discharger or any other liable person. Lastly, the liability protections do not apply to developers that have already agreed to the payment of compensation for natural resource damages.

The new statute also provides developers liability protection for cleanup costs related to contamination that has migrated beyond their own property. To be eligible for this protection, developers must meet similar conditions to those required for NRD liability release. In addition, developers are required to demonstrate that the off-site contamination is from more than one source and that it will not pose a risk to public health or the environment if it is not remediated.

DEP assesses natural resource damages to compensate the residents of New Jersey for injuries to natural resources that are held in the public trust. Injuries can include both ecological injuries such as damage to wetlands, wildlife, ground water or surface water as well as public use injuries such as the closure of a waterway to fishing, a beach to swimming or an aquifer to use as a drinking water supply. New JerseyÆs Spill Compensation and Control Act holds any entity that has discharged hazardous substances onto the land or into the waters of the state liable for cleanup and removal costs, as well as the cost of restoring or replacing natural resources injured by the discharge.

Wabash Alloys Cited for Clean-Air Violations

EPA cited Wabash Alloys LLC for alleged clean-air violations at the company's Cleveland, OH aluminum recovery plant. The agency alleges that Wabash Alloys failed to comply with federal requirements for operating its scrap dryer afterburner, its scrap dryer filter system and its furnace filter system.

These are preliminary findings of violations. To resolve them, EPA may issue a compliance order, assess an administrative penalty or bring suit against the company. The company has 30 days from receipt of the notice to meet with EPA to discuss resolving the allegations.

Pennsylvania Scrap Tire Generators Sued for Refusal to Remove Tires

The State of Pennsylvania has brought suit against 21 waste tire generators for refusing to remove thousands of scrap tires from the stateÆs largest tire pile in Greenwood Township, PA.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has already reached agreements with 10 waste tire generators to remove 130,000 tires from the Starr tire pile, which contains an estimated 6 million scrap tires.

The state signed an agreement with the Starr family in March 2004 that gave the DEP unrestricted access to the site, which contains an estimated 6 million scrap tires, and required the family to pay a $400,000 civil penalty. The Pennsylvania General Assembly has earmarked $2 million for work at the site, which includes forcing responsible generators remove waste tires.

Pollution Control Plan for Everglades Approved

EPA recently approved the majority of a controversial state rule designed to curb phosphorus pollution in the Everglades. The agency found Florida's Everglades cleanup target to be in compliance with the federal Clean Water Act. The EPA approved provisions of the rule that may extend a December 2006 cleanup deadline for up to 10 years, provided that pollution controls show continued progress and the best cleanup technology is used.

The agency said it intends to examine requests for variances that might come from the cleanup coordinator, the South Florida Water Management District, on a case-by-case basis.

The EPA rejected one portion of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection rule as not protective enough of the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge west of U.S. 441 in Palm Beach County.

The agency determined that 14 pollution-monitoring stations inside the 147,000-acre refuge do not suffice to guard it against phosphorus contamination. Phosphorus contamination is a problem caused by agricultural and suburban runoff fed into the Everglades by canals and pumps.

The EPA's findings were met with the objections of environmental groups and the Miccosukee Indian Tribe. The Tribe has a perpetual lease from the state on 189,000 acres of the central Everglades. It has vigorously attacked the cleanup rule as too soft on polluters and apt to spread still-dirty water farther through the Everglades.

Clean Air Agreement with ConocoPhillips to Reduce Air Emissions Announced

EPA and the Justice Department recently announced a comprehensive Clean Air Act settlement with ConocoPhillips that is expected to reduce harmful air emissions by more than 47,000 tons per year from nine U.S. petroleum refineries.

Located in seven states, the refineries represent nearly 10 percent of total refining capacity in the United States. Over 50 percent of domestic refining capacity is covered by settlements to date under EPA's Petroleum Refinery Initiative. These settlements, when fully implemented, will reduce emissions of air pollutants by approximately 240,000 tons per year at 57 refineries in 26 states.

The states of Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as well as the Northwest Clean Air Agency (Washington State) are joining the settlement. The agreement with the nationÆs largest petroleum refining company is part of EPA's national effort to reduce air emissions from refineries.

A consent decree filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District in Texas will require ConocoPhillips to spend more than $525 million to install and implement innovative control technologies to reduce emissions at its refineries. ConocoPhillips actions under this agreement are expected to reduce annual emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) by more than 10,000 tons and sulfur dioxide (SO2) by more than 37,100 tons per year. Emissions of particulate matter are expected to be significantly reduced. The air pollutants addressed by these latest agreements can cause serious respiratory problems and exacerbate cases of childhood asthma.

To meet obligations under EPA's New Source Review program, ConocoPhillips will cut emissions significantly from its largest emitting units through the use of innovative technologies. Under the negotiated settlement, ConocoPhillips will upgrade its leak detection and repair practices, implement programs to minimize flaring of hazardous gases, reduce emissions from its sulfur recovery plants and adopt strategies to ensure the proper handling of hazardous benzene wastes at each refinery.

ConocoPhillips will pay a $4.5 million civil penalty and spend more than $10 million on supplemental environmental projects to reduce emissions further and to support activities in the communities where it operates. The states joining the settlement will share in the cash penalties and supplemental projects to be performed by ConocoPhillips.

This is the 13th in a series of multi-issue, multi-facility settlements reached by EPA under its Petroleum Refinery Initiative. These settlements provide for a comprehensive, cooperative approach to addressing environmental problems across the industry. The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period. For more information see EPA's Petroleum Refinery Initiative.

Clean Diesel Technology

On January 28, 2005, EPA and Ford Motor Company announced a technology partnership to further develop a new diesel emission technology called Clean Diesel Combustion (CDC). Ford and EPA are making significant investments in advancing CDC technology, starting with an evaluation for diesel engines sized for the truck market intended to meet the stringent EPA Tier 2-bin 5 nitrogen oxide (NOx) emission levels while maintaining the excellent fuel economy, performance, and reliability of diesel engines.

EPA Watershed Indicators

EPA's Office of WaterÆs Index of Watershed Indicators Version 1.3 updates six of the original fifteen original indicators and adds atmospheric deposition estimates for total nitrogen as a data layer. It expands the original 305(b) data layer to include lakes and estuaries. The Index of Watershed Indicators is a compilation of information on the "health" of aquatic resources in the United States that looks at a variety of indicators that point to whether rivers, lakes, streams, wetlands and coastal areas are healthy and whether activities on the surrounding lands that affect our waters are placing them at risk.

EPA Issues Interpretive Statement on Application of Pesticides

On Jan. 27, EPA announced the issuance of a final interpretive statement and a proposed rule on clarification of Clean Water Act (CWA) permitting requirements for the application of pesticides to or over the nationÆs waters. The statement and proposed rule reflect EPA's long-standing policy that a CWA permit is not required where application of a particular pesticide to or over water is consistent with requirements under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). Upon publication of this notice in the Federal Register, you may provide input on the proposal during a 60-day comment period. You can find the statement and proposed rule on EPAÆs web site at day comment period.

New EPA Administrator

Stephen L. Johnson assumed the role of Acting Administrator of the EPA on January 26. His stated goal is to promote and maintain the utilization of sound science while using collaborative, innovative approaches to solving environmental problems.

Prior to becoming the Acting Administrator, Mr. Johnson served as the Deputy Administrator of the EPA. He was sworn in on August 2, 2004 after serving as the Acting Deputy Administrator since July 10, 2003. Mr. Johnson has been a part of the EPA for 24 years. He was Assistant Administrator of EPAÆs Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances (OPPTS) since June 2001. The OPPTS office has responsibility for implementing the nationÆs pesticide, toxic substances, and pollution prevention laws.

Mr. Johnson had been OPPTS Acting Assistant Administrator since January 2001, and had held top leadership positions in that office since January 1999, first serving as Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator. He was named Deputy Assistant Administrator in April 2000, and then was reassigned as Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator.

He had also served as Deputy Director of the Office of Pesticide Programs (OPP) since May 1997. And he served for three years in OPP as Director of the Registration Division, where he administered the pesticide registration program, establishing or revoking pesticide tolerances and exemptions and making decisions on emergency exemptions, experimental use permits, new active ingredients, new uses, and state registrations for special local needs.

Other senior level positions held by Mr. Johnson at the EPA include: Director of OPPÆs Field Operations Division, Deputy Director of OPPÆs Hazard Evaluation Division and Executive Secretary of the Scientific Advisory Panel for the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act. Mr. Johnson also has represented the EPA in various national and international pesticide forums sponsored by the United NationsÆ World Health Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. He has held staff and management positions in the EPAÆs Office of Research and Development and Office of Toxic Substances.

Prior to joining the EPA, Mr. Johnson served as the Director of Operations at Hazelton Laboratories Corporation and Litton Bionetics, Inc.

He received numerous awards and commendations, capped in 2001 when Mr. Johnson received the Presidential Rank Award for distinguished executives for sustained extraordinary accomplishments. This is the highest award that can be given to a civilian federal employee. In 1997 he was awarded the Presidential Rank Award for meritorious executives for sustained accomplishments, which is the second highest federal employee award.

Mr. Johnson also received the EPAÆs Excellence in Management Award, seven bronze medals, and the silver medal for superior service as well as the Vice PresidentÆs Hammer Award for streamlining the pesticide registration program.

Guess who the next EPA Administrator will be and win a Hazmat Hat from Environmental Resource Center. Click here to submit your entry.

Air Quality Criteria for Ozone

The first external review draft of the revised Air Quality for Ozone and Related Photochemical Oxidants (EPA 600/R-05/004aA-cA) is now being released for a 90-day public comment period and for review by the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC). As required by the Clean Air Act, the EPA Office of Research and Development's National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) is reviewing and, as appropriate, revising the EPA document, Air Quality Criteria for Ozone and Related Photochemical Oxidants, EPA-600/AP-93/004aF-cF, published in 1996.