Owner of Environmental Training School Indicted

September 04, 2007

The owner of Environmental Compliance Training was charged in federal court on August 22 with falsely reporting that the school had trained dozens of individuals in asbestos removal work. One employee of the company was also charged, in a case jointly investigated by the EPA and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.

Albania DeLeon, of Salem, N.H., and Jose Francisco Garcia, of Lawrence, Mass., were charged with one count of making a false statement to EPA.

The indictment alleges that from approximately 2001 to 2006, DeLeon owned and operated a certified asbestos training school located in Methuen, Mass. According to the indictment, the company issued certificates to many untrained people, allowing them to obtain authorization from the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety to work in the asbestos removal industry. Many of the untrained people were directed to work for Methuen Staffing, DeLeon's temporary services company that specialized in asbestos removal.

Under federal and state law, anyone interested in working in the asbestos abatement industry must complete a 32-hour introductory training course. DeLeon's company offered these courses on a weekly basis and issued certificates of completion to participants.

If convicted on these charges, DeLeon and Garcia face up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

Asbestos, which is commonly used in thermal insulation and other building materials, is a carcinogen and exposure can result in serious or fatal respiratory diseases, including lung cancer.

The case was investigated by EPA, Immigration Customs and Enforcement, Internal Revenue Service, U.S. Social Security Administration, U.S. Department of State, and the Massachusetts Insurance Fraud Bureau.


Henry Products Fined $175,000 for VOC Emissions



The EPA, U.S. Department of Justice, and Maricopa County Air Quality Department fined a Phoenix expanded-polystyrene foam manufacturer $175,000 for releasing excess emissions into the air.

Henry Products Inc., located at 302 S. 23rd Ave., installed a new polystyrene foam pre-expander that increased the concentration of its volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions. With the new equipment, the facility could not safely operate its VOC emissions control device and vented VOCs directly into the air.

This action was taken shortly after discovering the venting. As part of the action, the facility has installed a state-of-the-art emissions capture and control device to reduce 95 percent of its VOC emissions.

“It is important that Henry Products follow the law and operate proper VOC emissions controls to prevent smog-forming emissions from entering the atmosphere,” said Deborah Jordan, director of EPA’s Air Division for the Pacific Southwest region. “Today's action will improve air quality by substantially reducing emissions of smog-forming chemicals.”

“Today’s announcement solidifies the commitment of Maricopa County and the EPA to hold polluters accountable and clean up the air we breathe,” said Bob Kard, director of the Maricopa County Air Quality Department.

In February 2004, the EPA and Maricopa County jointly inspected the facility and discovered the violations. In June 2004, when the facility refused to come into compliance, the EPA ordered Henry Products to submit engineering plans for permanent air pollution control by the end of the month. The company failed to comply, and the case was referred to the U.S. Department of Justice in July 2004. Since then, Henry Products designed, installed, and tested its new emission control device and obtained a revised permit from the Maricopa County Air Quality Department.

The company’s manufacturing process produces VOCs that, in the presence of sunlight, react with nitrogen oxide to create ground-level ozone, or smog. Emissions from industrial facilities such as Henry Products, as well as electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents, are some of the major sources of poor air quality.

EPA Region 2 Launches New Online Media Center

The media center offers information on EPA activities throughout the region, which includes New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and seven tribal nations. In addition to press releases, the new media center includes podcasts, recorded speeches, media contact information, public service announcements, and an image gallery. EPA Region 2 continues to provide Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds to notify users of new press content. These features are intended to give citizens greater exposure to the agency’s programs and actions.

“This initiative is part of EPA’s ongoing commitment to providing timely, relevant information about the environment and human health,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. “With its multimedia format, the online media center aims to engage and inform a public that is increasingly turning to the Internet for news.”

In the most recent podcast, entitled “Back-to-School,” EPA staff members discuss opportunities for waste reduction in the home and in the classroom. The free, downloadable photographs in the image gallery include such diverse subjects as lead paint, alternative energy, recycling, and Superfund sites. EPA also is able to post pictures of current events in its image gallery, as it did during the cleanup following the recent New York City steam pipe explosion.

Massachusetts-Based Property Manager Charged With Failing to Warn Tenants About Lead Paint

A large Massachusetts-based property management company and several related associates may be subject to a significant penalty for violating federal lead paint disclosure laws. Notifying prospective tenants about potential lead paint hazards in housing helps parents protect young children from ingesting lead.

Chestnut Hill Realty Corp., as well as the owners of properties managed by the company, violated the federal Lead Disclosure Rule when they failed to disclose information about lead paint to people who rented or purchased apartments in 2004 and 2005. The company, based in Chestnut Hill, Mass., manages more than 5,000 apartments in both the Boston metropolitan area and Providence, R.I.

"Exposure to lead paint is a serious public health concern for children in New England," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "Property managers and owners play an important part in helping to prevent lead poisoning by following lead paint disclosure requirements and making sure families are aware of potential lead hazards in homes."

The EPA complaint details that the company and their associates failed to inform 135 tenants of known lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards in apartments, and failed to provide records concerning the lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards to tenants. EPA alleges that Chestnut Hill Realty Corp. also failed to provide 42 tenants with copies of an EPA-approved lead hazard information pamphlet or the Massachusetts Tenant Lead Law Notification. A financial penalty for the alleged violations has not yet been determined.

Infants and young children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure, which can cause intelligence quotient deficiencies; reading and learning disabilities; impaired hearing; and reduced attention span, hyperactivity, and behavior problems. Adults with high lead levels can suffer difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, nerve disorders, memory problems, and muscle and joint pain.

This case is among dozens of lead-related civil and criminal cases that EPA New England has taken as part of a collaborative effort between federal, state, and municipal agencies and grassroots organizations to make sure property owners, property managers, and real estate agents are complying with federal lead disclosure laws. EPA has conducted hundreds of inspections in New England, and, in collaboration with its partners, has conducted many compliance assistance workshops in the region for realtors, property managers, and legal counsel.

The purpose of the Lead Disclosure Rule is to provide residential renters and purchasers of pre-1978 housing with enough information about lead-based paint in general and known lead-based paint hazards in specific housing, so that they can make informed decisions about whether to lease or purchase the housing.

Federal law requires that sellers and landlords selling or renting housing built before 1978 to:

  • Provide a lead hazard information pamphlet to inform renters and buyers about the dangers associated with lead paint
  • Include lead notification language in sales and rental forms
  • Disclose any known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in the living unit and provide available reports to buyers or renters
  • Allow a lead inspection or risk assessment by home buyers
  • Maintain records certifying compliance with federal laws for a period of three years

United States, Canada, and Mexico Take Lead to Manage Industrial Chemicals


The United States, Canada, and Mexico are strengthening their efforts to ensure the safe manufacture and use of industrial chemicals by developing a regional partnership for assessing and managing potential risks. This regional partnership, announced in Montebello, Quebec, is the result of discussions between President Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Mexican President Felipe Calderon at the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America Leaders' Summit.

As part of the regional agreement, the three countries' top environmental officials agreed that their agencies would coordinate efforts to assess and take action on industrial chemicals. The United States, by 2012, will complete risk characterizations and take action, as needed, on more than 9,000 chemicals produced above 25,000 pounds per year. The agreement also provides for the sharing of scientific information and technical understanding, best practices, and research on new approaches to chemical testing and assessment. The countries established goals to be met by 2020, which includes creating and updating chemical inventories, as well as coordinating the management of chemicals in North America as outlined in other international agreements.

This U.S. commitment to completing assessments and taking needed action on 9,000 chemicals will apply the results of EPA's work on High Production Volume (HPV) chemicals and extend its efforts to moderate production volume chemicals. The 2012 goal is to ensure that these chemicals are produced and used in ways that minimize risks to health and the environment.

This agreement will build on Canada's Chemical Management Program to categorize chemicals for review, assessment, and management and EPA's HPV Challenge Program. The HPV program successfully challenged the U.S. chemical industry to provide the public with basic health and safety data on chemicals that are manufactured or used in quantities in excess of a million pounds a year. Later this month, EPA will release an initial set of reports evaluating the potential hazards of HPV chemicals.

EPA plans to use the Canadian results as a starting point for U.S. efforts to assess the hazards of moderate-volume chemicals, using available data and hazard estimation approaches to prepare initial scientific assessments.

Oklahoma Officials Found Guilty of Environmental Crimes


Last week, a federal jury found two Oklahoma City officials guilty of negligently allowing the release of asbestos, a hazardous air pollutant, in a case jointly investigated and prosecuted by the EPA, the Department of Justice, and the State of Oklahoma.

The evidence presented at trial showed that the City Manager of Elk City, Okla., Guy R. Hylton Jr., and a building superintendent, Chick Arthur Little, used inmates from the Elk City Work Center to remove asbestos from an old railroad depot in 2003. The inmates were not provided with protective clothing and other protective measures, as required by law. By doing so, city officials negligently caused the release of asbestos into the air and risked the health of the inmates.

"Public officials used prisoners to remove cancer-causing asbestos without protective equipment," said Granta Nakayama, EPA's assistant administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "All people deserve protection from exposure to environmental hazards."

"These senior city officials held a sacred public trust to ensure that the laws established to protect the people they serve were followed," said John C. Richter, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma. "Instead, as the jury found, they neglected their duty when they allowed the public to be exposed to danger by the release of hazardous asbestos and took advantage of inmate labor by sending them to work in the depot without protection. Cases like this one are central to the Department of Justice's efforts to vigorously enforce our environmental laws that are designed to protect each and every citizen, no matter their station in life."

The city purchased the Elk City Railroad Depot in May 2002 for renovation and use by the city. The depot was built in the early 1900s and contained asbestos insulation.

Additionally, the jury found that Little lied to investigating agents when he falsely stated that the waste from the depot had been properly disposed in a permitted landfill. The jury found both defendants not guilty of illegally disposing of hazardous asbestos. The jury also found Hylton not guilty of lying to investigators about the disposal of asbestos.

A sentencing hearing will be held in approximately 90 days. Hylton faces up to one year in prison plus a fine of up to $100,000. Little faces up to five years in prison plus a fine of up to $250,000. Hylton and Little were originally indicted by a federal grand jury on Dec. 19, 2006.

Asbestos, which is commonly used in thermal insulation and other building materials, is a carcinogen and exposure can result in serious or fatal respiratory diseases, including lung cancer. When asbestos containing materials become damaged or disturbed, the fibers separate and may become airborne and inhaled into the lungs. The EPA requires building materials that may contain asbestos be kept wet in order to prevent the fibers from becoming airborne.

The case is the result of a joint investigation conducted by the EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office, and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Randy Sengel and Nick Lillard.

New Guidance on Watershed Permitting

"Watershed-Based NPDES Permitting Technical Guidance" is a follow up to the 2003 implementation guidance and leads permitting interested parties through the analysis of watershed data and developing a framework for implementing an NPDES program.

The guidance supports approaches to permitting that may help target the watershed's most pressing environmental needs. The approaches will help achieve water quality-based effluent limitations based on water quality standards, while providing opportunities for cost reductions and improved efficiencies such as water quality trading. The guidance includes case studies describing how watershed approaches involving NPDES permitting have been implemented across the country. The agency is accepting comments on the guidance on a continuing basis.

Chemical Spill Reporting Violations: EPA Settles Ohio Cases


EPA Region 5 recently settled administrative cases involving hazardous chemical release reporting violations in Alliance, Greenville, Cincinnati, and Toledo, Ohio.

"Federal law requires immediate notification to the National Response Center for chemical releases above certain thresholds," said EPA Region 5 Superfund Director, Richard Karl. "NRC activates the appropriate response authorities. Responders need to know what they're dealing with so they can take steps to protect people living and working in the area."

Alliance Tubular Products Co., 640 Keystone St., Alliance, paid a $21,178 penalty and will perform two environmental projects worth $73,435 to resolve EPA's complaint. The company was cited for failing to provide immediate notification to the NRC, the state emergency response commission, and the local emergency planning committee of a 4,257-pound release of sulfuric acid. Follow-up reports were also late. The environmental projects will improve the containment areas at the facility. Sulfuric acrid is used in metal treatment, waste water pH control, and chemical processes. It can irritate the eyes, skin, nose, and throat, and can cause pulmonary edema and skin burns.

BASF Corp., 1175 Martin St., Greenville, paid $13,359 to resolve EPA's complaint for failure to provide immediate notification to the NRC of a 508-pound release of xylene from over-pressurized valves. It was reported more than two days after it occurred. The xylene did not go off-site, and BASF has cleaned up the area. Xylene is a solvent that can irritate the eyes and skin.

City of Cincinnati paid a $17,550 penalty to resolve EPA's complaint for failure to provide immediate notification to the NRC of an 11,276-pound release of aluminum sulfate at its Richard Miller Water Treatment Plant. The release, more than twice the reportable quantity, was reported five hours after it occurred. The city is now in compliance. Aluminum sulfate is a water treatment chemical.

Owens Corning Corp., 2790 Columbus Road, Granville, paid a $3,000 penalty and will perform an environmental project to resolve EPA's complaint for failure to provide immediate notification to the NRC of an 852-pound release of trichloroethylene. The release, more than eight times the reportable quantity, was reported 14 hours late. Trichloroethylene is a solvent that can irritate the eyes and skin.

Western Climate Initiative Members Set Regional Target to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Eight States, Provinces Agree to Reduce Emissions by 15 Percent Below 2005 Levels by 2020



The eight members of the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) announced the establishment of a regional goal to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the West to 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. In February, the governors of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington created the WCI with a long-term commitment to significantly reduce regional GHG emissions, thus lowering the risk of dangerous threats to the climate. Science suggests that this will require worldwide reductions between 50 percent and 85 percent in carbon dioxide emissions from current levels by 2050.

As part of this commitment, members of the WCI agreed to establish a Western regional GHG reduction goal by the end of August 2007 and design a multisector market-based mechanism, such as a load-based cap-and-trade program, by the end of August 2008 to help reach the goal. Each member also will participate in a multi-state GHG emissions registry.

Since February the state of Utah and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Manitoba also have joined the WCI. All eight states and provinces jointly agreed to the economy-wide regional goal.

The regional goal reflects the combined impact of the individual GHG emissions goals that each WCI member has already set for itself and does not replace the members’ individual goals. WCI members will use the regional goal in the design of the multisector market-based mechanism. Other U.S. states, tribes, Canadian provinces, and Mexican states seeking to join the WCI must have an economy-wide greenhouse gas reduction goal that is consistent with the regional goal, in addition to other factors.

Presently, four other U.S. states (Colorado, Kansas, Nevada, and Wyoming), three other Canadian provinces (Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan), and one Mexican state (Sonora) are participating as observers to WCI’s deliberations. Some of these entities, as well as others, may seek to join the WCI as full members.

WCI members also have begun work on meeting the August 2008 deadline for designing the multi-sector market-based mechanism. All eight WCI members joined The Climate Registry, a GHG emissions registry consisting of more than 40 U.S. states, tribes, Canadian provinces, and Mexican states. 

Utah to Set its Own Greenhouse Gas Reduction Goal


Governor Jon Huntsman announced that he will work with Utah industry and other stakeholders to develop state goals to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as part of a regional initiative to reduce emissions by 15 percent by 2020.

In May, the governor joined with the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), six states, and two Canadian provinces, committed to reducing GHG emissions in the West, including establishing a regional GHG reduction goal by the end of August 2007. Presently, Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, and the provinces of British Columbia and Manitoba, have individual state/provincial GHG goals.

The regional goal is an aggregation of goals from all eight WCI members, but it does not replace the members’ individual goals.

As part of joining the WCI, Huntsman committed the state to developing a GHG reduction goal by June of 2008. He intends to use a stakeholder-based process to establish targets for greenhouse gas reductions based on economic factors and consideration of all economic sectors that generate greenhouse gas emissions. The goal also will reflect the Blue Ribbon Advisory Council’s pending recommendations to the governor.

In Utah, electricity generation and vehicles are the two largest sector emitters of GHG. Coal-fired generation provides about 85 percent of Utah’s electricity. Technologies can be implemented to capture and sequester carbon dioxide from coal-fired power plants. Emissions of GHG from vehicles can be reduced through changes to lower carbon fuels and increased miles per gallon ratings on vehicles.

“Coal-fired generation will remain an important part of our energy mix,” Huntsman said. “Utah’s goal will encourage economic development through new and innovative technologies, while improving energy security, broadening and enhancing our renewable energy sector of our economy, and improving the air quality in our state.”


BATG Environmental, Inc. Assessed More Than $100,000 in Penalties for Failure to Complete Closure of Millville Landfill


The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has demanded payments totaling $102,070 from BATG Environmental, Inc., of Taunton, for its failure to complete closure activities at the Millville Landfill.

BATG entered into a consent order with MassDEP on June 27, 2006, in which they agreed to complete, and certify to the department, the closure of the Millville Landfill. Over one year later and despite numerous discussions with MassDEP staff, the company has failed to complete the specific closure activities outlined in the consent order.

BATG failed to complete the installation of a 12-inch-thick protective layer and vegetative seeding over the top of the landfill, failed to complete the installation of a stormwater sedimentation basin and stormwater controls, and failed to complete the repair and replacement of six monitoring wells on the site.

BATG must now pay the commonwealth a penalty of $12,070 for previous violations of MassDEP's Solid Waste Management regulations at the site, as well as a stipulated penalty in the amount of $90,000 for its failure to complete the closure of the landfill according to the terms of the consent order.

"Those undertaking closure activities at landfills must abide by MassDEP's regulations and complete closure activities according to the timelines established in our policies and regulations," said Martin Suuberg, director of MassDEP's Central Regional Office in Worcester. "It is unfortunate that BATG failed to abide by its agreement with the department and complete the work on the mutually agreed upon schedule. MassDEP must enforce these requirements to protect the land and the waters of the Commonwealth."

Alumitech of Cleveland, Inc., Agrees to Pay Penalty for Violating Air Emissions Requirements


Under an agreement with Ohio EPA, Alumitech of Cleveland will conduct emissions testing, pay $50,106, and contribute to Ohio EPA's Clean Diesel School Bus Fund. The aluminum recycling facility is located at 4181 Bradley Road, Cleveland.

The company operates equipment that dries aluminum metal byproducts, which requires an air pollution control device. The company was sent notices of violation due to excess visible air pollution from one of its aluminum dryers. The air pollution control equipment being used was ineffective in controlling the excessive emissions. The company installed a new scrubber designed to reduce air emissions and visible pollution.

Due to the variety of violations, the company was required to submit a schedule to the Cleveland Division of Air Quality, which acts as an agent of Ohio EPA. A corrective action plan letter also was requested.

The company agreed to submit a permit modification to include the new scrubber and an intent-to-test form, followed by emissions testing to demonstrate that they are able to comply with the revised emissions limits. This must be shown within 90 days of the effective date of the revised permit.

The settlement calls for a $50,106 penalty, including a $10,021 contribution to Ohio EPA's Clean Diesel School Bus Program Fund and $40,085 to be paid to Ohio EPA Division of Air Pollution Control.

TCEQ Approves Fines Totaling $646,339

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has approved penalties totaling $646,339 against 71 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations.

Agreed orders were issued for the following enforcement categories: 16 air quality, 6 dry cleaner, 3 field citations, 1 industrial hazardous waste, 3 industrial waste discharge, 4 licensed irrigator, 4 multi-media, 1 municipal solid waste, 12 municipal waste discharge, 5 petroleum storage tank, 1 public water system, 1 sludge, 4 water quality, and 1 water right. In addition, there were default orders issued for the following categories: five dry cleaner, one industrial hazardous waste, one licensed irrigator, and two public water supply.

The fines are the result of 24 reporting, equipment failure, monitoring, emissions, and notification violations stemming from investigations in May 2006. Of the total, $48,266 will be used to maintain and repair the existing Southeast Texas Regional Air Monitoring Network of seven air monitoring stations.

Rule Changes Ease Legal Limits on Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining


The federal Office of Surface Mining (OSM) this week will announce plans to try again to make stream annihilation legal by exempting coal mining wastes from a 1983 regulation.

For years, the agency has ignored the law and allowed thousands of miles of headwater and perennial streams in Appalachia to be permanently buried by coal companies under millions of tons of waste generated by mountaintop removal coal mining. Known as the "stream buffer zone rule," this decades-old regulation has prohibited surface coal-mining activities from disturbing areas within 100 feet of streams. 

"The Bush administration just doesn't give up in its quest to give away more and more legal protections to the mountaintop removal polluters," said Joan Mulhern, Senior Legislative Counsel for Earthjustice. "Despite the federal government's own studies showing widespread, harmful, and irreversible stream loss in the region, the OSM proposes exempting the most harmful mountaintop removal mining activities from the buffer zone rule. Once again, OSM is demonstrating that it is not an effective regulator for the public, but the 'Office for Slicing Mountains' and 'Office of Stream Mangling' for coal companies."

The new exemption will allow coal companies to avoid compliance with both the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (administered by OSM) and the Clean Water Act. According to OSM's own figures, 1,208 miles of streams in Appalachia were destroyed from 1992 to 2002, and regulators approved 1,603 more valley fills between 2001 and 2005 that will destroy 535 more miles of streams. Those actions were taken in defiance of the plain language of the existing rule. Under the plan announced this week, OSM proposes to change the rule to conform with its deviant behavior. It would exempt from the stream buffer zone rule those very mountaintop removal activities that are most destructive to streams, including "permanent excess spoil fills and coal waste disposal facilities"—in other words, giant valley fills and sludge-filled lagoons.

"OSM has chosen to turn its back on irreplaceable water resources of the Appalachian region," said Cindy Rank with West Virginia Highlands Conservancy. "Headwater streams are the lifeblood of the mountains and those of us privileged enough to live in those mountains. This new interpretation of the buffer zone rule is an unholy reversal of the original intent of the Surface Mine Act, which was to protect communities and streams, not bury them."

The effort to repeal the buffer zone rule dates back to 2004, when OSM proposed repealing the Reagan-era rule to allow coal companies to accelerate mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia. In response to protests from coalfield residents and conservation groups, OSM agreed it would do an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before changing the longstanding rule. But in its new draft EIS, OSM rejected and failed to analyze all alternatives that would have restricted stream filling. In its own words, "OSM would not anticipate a major shift in on-the-ground consequences from any of the alternatives."

"OSM summarily rejected all alternatives that would reduce harm and only considered those that would allow stream burials to continue at the same rate as in the past," said Jim Hecker, Environmental Enforcement Director at Public Justice. "OSM's own report shows that valley fills harm downstream water quality but this proposal does nothing to address it."

The agency also assumes all stream loss will be fully mitigated, even though it freely admits that stream mitigation has generally failed. "While proven methods exist for larger stream channel restoration and creation, the state of the art in creating smaller headwater streams on-site has not reached the level of reproducible success," the OSM wrote. "Attempts to reestablish the functions of headwater streams…have achieved little success to date."

"The coal companies have yet to show that they can successfully recreate streams after they completely destroy these mountains and bury these waters, yet OSM still gives them this major exemption from the law," said Dianne Bady, with the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. "These headwater streams are the sources of our drinking water and our heritage, and this administration is knowingly allowing them to be buried and poisoned."

This wholesale exemption for mountaintop removal mining will have significant impact to downstream water quality, permanently filling and destroying important headwaters that feed larger waters that function as drinking water sources and fishing and recreational waters for thousands of Americans. Already, mountaintop removal mining has flattened more than 500,000 acres and permanently buried 2,000 miles of streams.

"The OSM essentially wants to destroy our most valuable, life-giving resource to extract a filthy, polluting resource," said Vernon Haltom of Coal River Mountain Watch. "We who live near mountaintop removal sites are having our future sustainability destroyed for someone else's short-term profits."

"This proposal amounts to a stamp of approval for the nation's most destructive form of coal mining," said Ed Hopkins, Director of Sierra Club's Environmental Quality program. "Instead of loosening protections for our waters, we should be strengthening our commitment to cleaner, renewable sources of energy that can protect our communities, boost the economy, and help fight global warming."

Momentum Grows for Global Warming Action as Western States, Provinces Announce Pollution Reduction Goal


The Western Climate Initiative (WCI)—a partnership of the states of Arizona, California, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington and the provinces of British Columbia and Manitoba—has announced a regional goal of reducing global warming pollution 15 percent below 2005 levels by 2020.

Ned Farquhar, western energy and climate advocate for the Natural Resources Defense Council, commented, “Today’s announcement by the Western Climate Initiative shows major momentum in the fight against global warming at a time when there is little action in Washington. A growing wave of energy-producing states is seizing the problem of heat-trapping pollution and pledging to find solutions. The next step is for these leaders to take concrete actions to make efficiency and clean renewables the top priority in their energy toolbox.”

Eureka to Pay $93,350 Penalty for Air Quality Violations at Three Quarries


The Environmental Hearing Board has ruled against Eureka Stone Quarry Inc.’s appeal of actions taken by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for air violations at the company's Chalfont, Rush Valley, and Warrington quarries in Wrightstown and Warrington townships, Bucks County, Pa.

In the company's appeal, Eureka claimed it lost approximately $750,000 when it could not get a plan approval application reviewed for its new asphalt plant in Rush Valley. The company also appealed DEP’s decision to place it on the compliance docket—a move that prevents Eureka from obtaining air quality permits or approvals until full compliance has been achieved.

"The board did not accept Eureka's claim that DEP, as well as the Environmental Hearing Board, should have considered the financial hardship such an action had on a company,” Southeast Regional Director Joseph A. Feola said. “We are pleased that this ruling upheld our earlier decision to place Eureka on the compliance docket. The hearing board agreed that the company clearly lacked the intent to comply with our regulations, leaving us no choice but to take this serious action.”

DEP originally ordered Eureka to submit corrective action plans and pay civil penalties for numerous air violations. In addition to the order and penalty assessment, the agency placed Eureka on the compliance docket from Jan. 3 until May 1, 2006, when the company entered into an agreement with DEP to comply with state regulations.

In its August 6 ruling, the Environmental Hearing Board also reduced the January 2006 civil penalty from $126,550 to $69,600 and the June 2006 penalty from $48,750 to $23,750.

Eureka Stone Quarry owns three quarries: Rush Valley Quarry, 911 Swamp Road. in Wrightstown, which operates a stone-crushing and three asphalt plants; Chalfont Quarry, at the intersection of Lower State and Pickertown Roads in Warrington, which operates a stone-crushing and one-batch asphalt plants; and Warrington Quarry, Route 611 and Bristol Pike in Warrington, which operates a stone-crushing plant.

EPA, India-Based Corporation Join Forces to Reduce Greenhouse Gas


EPA and India’s largest oil producer last week signed an agreement to work together to reduce emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. The Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd. (ONGC), headquartered in Dehradun, India, has joined seven other large oil and natural gas companies as a partner in EPA’s Natural Gas STAR International Program. This program, implemented in support of the Methane to Markets Partnership, aims to identify and implement projects in the oil and natural gas sector that cost-effectively reduce methane emissions and deliver more gas to markets around the world.

"Pollution knows no geographic or political borders" said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "By exporting our successes in methane recovery, the United States is helping India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation take methane waste and turn it into environmental and economic wealth."

Methane is more than 20 times as effective as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. In addition to the greenhouse gas mitigation benefits, capturing and using methane as a clean fuel provides economic and energy security benefits, because methane is the primary component of natural gas.

By joining Natural Gas STAR International, ONGC agrees to implement technologies and practices to reduce methane emissions where it is deemed cost-effective and submit annual reports detailing methane emission reductions achieved. For its part, EPA agrees to assist ONGC with analysis of emerging technologies, development of workshops and training courses, and assistance with implementation of industry best practices.

"I am pleased that ONGC has joined hands with U.S. EPA to combat greenhouse gas emissions," said R S Sharma, chairman and managing director, ONGC. "As an environmentally conscious company, ONGC is committed to the cause of mitigating global warming. This present endeavor will be a good and fruitful step towards that end and will pave a way for a good relationship between ONGC with U.S. EPA."

Natural Gas STAR International is administered under the Methane to Markets Partnership. The Partnership has 20 partner countries and nearly 600 Project Network members across the globe and is preparing for its “Partnership Expo: A Forum for Projects, Technology, Financing, and Policy,” which will be held from October 30 to November 1 in Beijing, China.

Natural Gas STAR International builds on the domestic Natural Gas STAR Program. Working with EPA, the 110 Natural Gas STAR Program industry partners have collectively reduced U.S. methane emissions by about 578 billion cubic feet since 1990. This is equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions of more than 50 million U.S. vehicles. Today, the U.S. oil and gas industry emits approximately 10 percent less methane than it did in 1990, largely because of the industry’s voluntary methane emissions reductions in collaboration with the Natural Gas STAR Program.

Other partners in the Natural Gas STAR International Program include ConocoPhillips Canada, Devon Energy Corp., Enbridge Energy Co. Inc., ExxonMobil, Marathon Oil Corp., Occidental Petroleum Corp., and TransCanada.

Subaru 2008 PZEV Lineup Receives EPA SmartWay™ Certification

Subaru of America, Inc., announced that its 2008 PZEV (Partial Zero Emission Vehicles) Legacy, Outback, and Forester 2.5 liter, naturally aspirated models have received EPA’s SmartWay™ certification and are now listed in its Green Vehicle Guide that recommends the cleanest and most fuel-efficient vehicle choices. 

“Customers are increasingly concerned with the environmental performance of their vehicles,” said Tim Mahoney, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Subaru of America, Inc. “The EPA’s website is a great source of information for car shoppers as it shows them the best vehicle to meet their needs. Subaru is pleased to be among the EPA’s SmartWay choices and we continue to look for ways to reduce our impact on the earth, while providing the fun, freedom, adventure, confidence, and control that only a Subaru all-wheel drive vehicle can deliver.”

The EPA Green Vehicle Guide uses emission levels and fuel economy values to determine environmental scores for cars and trucks. Vehicles with very good or superior environmental scores are indicated with the SmartWay or SmartWay Elite™ designation. Every vehicle listed in this guide meets minimum federal emission and fuel economy requirements. Three pieces of information about a vehicle's environmental performance are presented: the Air Pollution Score, the Greenhouse Gas Score, and, if eligible, the SmartWay or SmartWay Elite designation. Together, they give a complete picture of the relative environmental performance a vehicle is expected to achieve. EPA assigns the SmartWay and SmartWay Elite designations to those vehicles that score well on both the Air Pollution and Greenhouse Gas Scores.

To date, Subaru has sold more than 100,000 Subaru PZEV vehicles, which have 90 percent cleaner emissions than the average new vehicle. PZEV vehicles are the cleanest gasoline vehicles available today and they meet emissions standards that are sometimes even cleaner than some hybrid or alternative fuel vehicles. These vehicles have such tight pollution controls, with the burning of fuel so complete, that in very smoggy urban areas, exhaust out of the tailpipe can actually be cleaner than the air outside. 

Boise Paper's Wallula Mill Signs on to Measure Environmental Footprint

How does an industrial facility measure its impact on the surrounding community? And with a voluntary commitment to sustainable practices, can it improve its environmental, economic, and social "footprint" over time?  Boise's Wallula mill has volunteered, along with three other pulp and paper mills in the state, to provide baseline data to Ecology on a range of environmental, economic, and social indicators.

Working with a consultant, the public, and the participating mills, Ecology will use the data to create a scoring system to establish a "footprint" measurement for each facility. The footprint will serve as a baseline and the goal will be to reduce that footprint over time.

"This is not about laws or regulations," said Cullen Stephenson, manager of Ecology's Solid Waste Program. "These facilities are working with us voluntarily. We are advisors, helping encourage more sustainable practices and communities. This is a laboratory for a new way of doing business."

"We believe the Environmental Footprint project will transform how we look at our business," said Ray Lam, environmental manager for Boise's Wallula mill. "Reducing our footprint is great for our business, great for the environment, and great for the community."

Environmental data that will be collected includes the kind of waste the facility generates and the recycling done at the facility. It also will include air emissions, water consumption, and information about the purchase of raw materials.

One part of the project will be an energy challenge, asking each facility to voluntarily reduce its energy usage. On the economic side, some data analyzed will include jobs provided and the costs of good and services. Social indicators will include odor and noise complaints, community involvement, and health and safety records.

"We are looking for a model that measures the whole picture and the interactions," Stephenson said. "If the company changes an environmental practice that then has an economic or social impact, it could be important for the business and the community to know that."

The Wallula pulp and paper mill operates on the east bank of the Columbia River, about 15 miles southeast of Pasco. Owned and operated by Boise Paper, a business unit of Boise Cascade, LLC, the mill employs about 400 people and produces approximately 1,600 tons a day of bleached market pulp, fine paper, and corrugated products.

Boise Wallula also is participating in the EPA’s Performance Track program. To qualify for this program, a facility must demonstrate its commitment to sustained environmental compliance, sound environmental management, continuous improvement, pollution prevention, and public outreach.

$1.5 Million Investment in Recycling Save $3.3 Million in Disposal Costs

Seventy-eight communities in western Massachusetts received approximately $1.5 million from Waste Management Recycle America (WMRA) in fiscal year 2007 for delivering 44,278 tons of recyclables to the Springfield Materials Recycling Facility (MRF).

Communities are paid a flat rate of $15.67 per ton in addition to a revenue share when markets are good. These communities also have saved an estimated $3.3 million in solid waste disposal fees by recycling their newspaper, magazines, junk mail, cardboard, plastic, glass, and metal containers at the Springfield MRF.

"The significant environmental and economic benefits of recycling are very visibly realized in western Massachusetts," said Acting Commissioner Arleen O'Donnell of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). "We hope that municipalities in the Springfield MRF will continue to educate residents about the importance of recycling in their community."

The MRF, owned by MassDEP and operated by WMRA, issues revenue payments every six months. The most recent payments for the period of January to June 2007 ranged from $705.79 for the Town of Rowe to $83,047.76 for the City of Springfield [a full listing of community payments follows].

Incoming tonnage has been on the decline since 2001, when the annual tonnage was approximately 48,000 tons. While some of the decline can be attributed to lighter and less packaging and newspapers, and a decreasing population in western Massachusetts, there are still recyclables being unnecessarily disposed. It is estimated that 1.5 million tons of paper and paper products that could be recycled are still being thrown away in Massachusetts.

In response to this issue, a statewide paper recycling campaign will be launched this month with a series of initiatives to increase awareness and participation. The Springfield MRF and WMRA are sponsors of the "Mass Recycles Paper!" campaign and will implement some local initiatives over the next year.

MassDEP opened the Springfield MRF in 1990 to help reduce waste, divert material away from landfills and incinerators, and encourage the reuse of recyclable materials. Since that time, the MRF has processed more than one billion pounds of recyclables from western Massachusetts.

Green Gearing-Up for Back to School

Autumn is right around the corner, and a new school year has already begun for some. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) offers several tips for changing your approach to back-to-school shopping this year—simple changes and actions that will make for a "greener" school year.

Reuse supplies: Search for products that can be used again such as lunch bags, reusable containers, and refillable pens or pencils.

Buy in bulk: Stock up on items that will be needed in the future to reduce unnecessary packaging.

Responsible paper use: Buy 100 percent post-consumer recycled and chlorine-free paper, reducing solid waste and emissions of dioxin.

Go organic: Whether it's clothing, food, or hygiene products, it's hard to go wrong when something is natural, chemical-free, or locally produced.

Rethink transportation: If your children take the bus to school, encourage bus drivers not to idle while waiting to pick up students. If your students walk or bike to school, map out a safe route for them. Carpool the kids to school to decrease the amount of vehicles miles traveled.

These are just a few ideas to encourage you to make eco-friendly decisions when it comes to preparing your family for the upcoming school year. 

Environmental Management System Implementation Assistance Available to Maryland Businesses


The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) and Maryland Technology Extension Service (MTES) are offering an intensive Environmental Management System (EMS) Implementation Program for Maryland companies. The course is scheduled to begin Sept. 24, 2007 and there is no cost for participation.

The MDE/MTES program assists manufacturing organizations in implementing environmental management systems based on the international ISO 14001 standard. The program is comprised of workshops followed by specific work assignments and individual meetings with the program facilitator. Program participants also will be offered technical assistance in implementing cost-saving pollution prevention practices and technologies. The implementation phases are designed so that the organization puts the environmental management system in place at a pace that is manageable and that delivers measurable results from the outset.

Environmental management systems help organizations systematically identify, measure, and manage their environmental impacts. Among some of the benefits of implementing these systems are improved communications, improved efficiency, reduced costs, and increased consistency of results. The system also helps to overcome barriers to organizational change; increases top management participation and involvement in day-to-day activities; and helps to resolve and prioritize organizational issues.

Thirty-four Maryland manufacturers have participated in the MDE/MTES EMS program. These organizations have reported improvements in their environmental regulatory compliance and competency in addressing overall environmental impacts.

There is no charge for participating in this program. Grant funding from the U.S. EPA provides for all costs of instruction, materials, and technical assistance for implementation. Participating organizations are encouraged to send three or more persons to the training workshops and are asked to make a commitment to completing the workshop program.


Flexible Air Permits Proposed by EPA


The proposed changes would affect both EPA's operating permits and New Source Review () programs. Under the proposed changes to the operating permits program, a facility with a flexible permit would explain its operational plans and possible changes to those plans for the duration of the permit term—typically five years. The state, local, or tribal air quality permitting authority would include permit conditions to ensure protection of public health and the environment for all of those operating conditions. These flexible permits do not provide approval for operational changes not within the scope of conditions considered at the time of the permit application, and facilities would still be required to meet their requirements under the Clean Air Act.

The proposed revisions to the NSR program would govern when advance approvals of certain changes would be appropriate.

EPA and states have been testing many of the flexible permitting approaches for more than a decade. Based on the agency's evaluation of pilot projects, EPA expects that these proposed changes will promote significant environmental and economic benefits, while reducing administrative workload for both permitting authorities and facilities.

EPA will accept comment on this proposed rule for 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

Up to $157,500 in Penalties for Lack of SPCC Plan and Failure to Submit Tier II Reports

C.P. Burdick & Son, Inc., a Connecticut fuel supply company, faces a penalty of up to $157,500 for alleged violations of federal Clean Water Act at its oil storage and distribution facility in Essex, Conn., and at its office and shop in Ivoryton, Conn. The company is also subject to additional penalties of up to $32,500 per day for its failure to have filed chemical storage reporting information with local authorities, such as the fire department under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA).

EPA conducted an inspection of both of the company’s Essex and Ivoryton facilities after the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection brought a September 2006 oil spill at the Essex site to EPA’s attention. The inspection revealed that neither facility had prepared or implemented a spill prevention control and countermeasure (SPCC) plan, which is required under the Clean Water Act. To date, C.P. Burdick has failed to respond to EPA information requests or submit evidence of its compliance with SPCC requirements. Subsequent to the inspection, EPA also discovered that the company had failed to file annual EPCRA forms regarding its oil inventory at the Essex facility.

“Oil spills can do significant damage to the environment,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. “EPA will continue to ensure that facilities handling oils follow established procedures to minimize risks of oil spills.”

Spill prevention and control laws help ensure that a tank failure or spill does not lead to oil being released into rivers or streams, and EPCRA reporting ensures that emergency planning and response personnel are able to respond safely and effectively in the event of a release.

EPA Continues Enforcement of Drinking Water Rules in Northeast Louisiana

In its continuing effort to ensure that the residents of northeast Louisiana have safe drinking water, the EPA announced it has issued an additional nine administrative orders to owner-operator Jeffrey Pruett of West Monroe, La.

The public water systems named in these orders are the Hancock Haven Water System, Ebeneezer Water System, Waterside Subdivision Water System, Taylor Water System, Spillway Estates Water System, Paradise Point Water System, Hillside Park Subdivision Water System, Richland Heights Water System, and the Mer Rouge Water System/Rankin Subdivision, all in the Monroe, La., area.

“These actions are a reminder to those who own and operate public water supply systems of their responsibility to provide clean and safe drinking water,” said EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene. “When these systems fail to follow the rules and jeopardize public health, immediate actions will be taken to return them to compliance.”

In July 2007, staff from the EPA and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (LDHH), inspected these water systems. They found numerous operations and maintenance violations requiring immediate compliance action. These violations included failure to provide written notice to LDHH confirming ownership, improper disinfection and use of improper disinfectant, lack of a backup source of potable water, lack of sanitary easement around wellheads, and no monthly reports of systems operations.

Based on these findings, the owners and operators of these public water supply systems have been ordered to immediately take action to bring the systems into compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Aguadilla Agrees to Close Its Municipal Landfill

The EPA and the Municipality of Aguadilla and Landfill Technologies, the landfill operator, have signed an Order on Consent, which requires the town and landfill operator to stop receiving waste at the landfill by early August, to permanently close the landfill by April 2010, and to conduct post-closure monitoring and maintenance.

“This municipality has really stepped up to the plate by agreeing to do the right thing for its community and for the environment,” said Alan J. Steinberg, EPA Regional Administrator. “EPA recently announced similar agreements with the municipalities of Florida and Vega Baja to close their landfills. I am hopeful that this is the start of a commitment to proper management of solid waste across the island. At present, many landfills in Puerto Rico are so poorly run that closure is needed to protect the health of the surrounding communities. Along with correcting the landfill problem in Puerto Rico, the commonwealth also needs to promote reduction of waste, recycling, and waste-to-energy plants.”

In October 2006, EPA proposed that the Aguadilla landfill close because, after being operated in an unsafe manner over a long period of time, it poses a potential threat to drinking water sources (both groundwater and surface water), adjacent land, and ecologically sensitive Karst Terrain in which it is located.

Under the Order on Consent, the Municipality of Aguadilla and the landfill operator, Landfill Technologies of Aguadilla Corp., have agreed to stop accepting waste at the landfill, to implement protective measures to control landfill pollution, such as systems to collect and treat liquid seepage, to complete final closure by the spring of 2010, and to monitor and maintain the closed landfill into the future.

Prior to signing this agreement with the municipality, EPA held a public meeting in Aguadilla to hear what the community had to say about the agency’s plans to close its existing landfill. In general, the community favored closing the landfill and expressed concerns about contaminants that might be leaking from it.

Renewable Fuel Standard Program Initiated

The nation's first renewable fuels standard () program took effect September 1. Authorized by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the program will promote use of fuels largely produced from American-grown crops.

September 1 marks the deadline when obligated parties, such as major refiners, blenders, and importers must meet reporting, registration, and other key compliance requirements. The RFS program requires that at least 7.5 billion gallons of renewable fuel be blended into motor vehicle fuel sold in the United States by 2012. It also requires the obligated parties to use a minimum volume of renewable fuel each year between 2007 and 2012. That minimum volume is determined as a percentage of the total volume of fuel a company produces or imports. The minimum volume will increase every year through 2012. For 2007, 4.02 percent of the fuel sold or dispensed to U.S. motorists will have to come from renewable sources (roughly 4.7 billion gallons).

The RFS is also serving as one of the many pieces to help inform the greenhouse gas regulation that EPA and federal partners are developing under an Executive Order issued by President Bush in May. A proposal is expected by year's end.

To ensure smooth and successful implementation, EPA worked collaboratively with stakeholders and hosted numerous public workshops and webinars, as well as posted online compliance tools. In addition, EPA has extended the hours of the RFS Helpline to assist companies with registration-related questions. For more information, contact the RFS Helpline at 202-343-9755.

Chemical Spill Reporting Violations: EPA Settles Illinois, Wisconsin Cases

EPA Region 5 recently settled administrative cases i