EPA is planning to establish a model system for electronic reporting and recordkeeping that will result in a more efficient process and reduced paperwork in the implementation of regulations across all Agency programs. The system will be an optional means of fulfilling any reporting or recordkeeping requirement with EPA.
The proposed rule governing this system, known as the Cross-Media Electronic Reporting and Recordkeeping Rule (CROMERR), potentially could affect all Agency environmental compliance reporting, including delegated states programs. In cases where the implementation of Federal laws has been delegated to states, the responsible agencies will be required to adhere to technical criteria proposed in the rule for electronic submissions. Eventually, state and Tribal National agencies are expected to copy the system for reporting and recordkeeping requirements under their laws.
The proposed rule will be published soon in the Federal Register.
The public comment period will extend to 90 days after
publication. You can download a copy of the rule at
TWO CONNECTICUT MEN PLEAD GUILTY TO CLEAN WATER ACT VIOLATION
John Miele of Waterbury, Conn., and William Schweikher of Wolcott, Conn., pleaded guilty on Jan. 10 to violating the Clean Water Act.
Both Miele and Schweikher were employed during the early and mid-1990s at a chemical manufacturing facility owned by MacDermid Inc., in Waterbury, Conn. Beginning in early 1993, employees at the MacDermid facility developed a practice of not reporting wastewater samples which indicated that the facility was exceeding its allowable levels for zinc and copper under its wastewater discharge permit. In their pleas, Miele the former plant manager, and Schweikher, the former plant engineer, admitted that they were criminally negligent in failing to detect and stop the practice of discarding samples. Each defendant faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison and/or a fine of $100,000.
The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation
Division and is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office
for the District of Connecticut in Bridgeport.
OWNER OF MASSACHUSETTS HAULING COMPANY CHARGED WITH FRAUD
Frederick Fish of Ipswich, Mass., was charged on Jan.10 with mail fraud in connection with disposal of over 10 million gallons of sewage. The defendant is the owner and president of Raggs Inc., a sewage hauling business in Concord, Mass.
Between January 1996 and September 1998, Fish allegedly disposed of sewage pumped from residential septic tanks and restaurant grease traps by discharging it into manholes connected to municipal sewers. This dumping was allegedly done to avoid paying treatment fees. Fish allegedly charged his customers ten cents per gallon, claiming that the sewage was being properly disposed of at a local treatment facility. Such facilities in Massachusetts usually charge four and a half cents per gallon to accept sewage. Fish allegedly illegally pocketed the money that should have been paid to the treatment facilities. If convicted, Fish faces up to five years in prison and/or up to $250,000 in fines.
The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation
Division, and is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office
for the District of Massachusetts in Boston.
CALIFORNIA SHIPPER AGREES TO PLEAD GUILTY AND PAY $3 MILLION FINE
Matson Navigation Co. of San Francisco, Calif. agreed on Jan. 11 to plead guilty to six felony charges of making false statements.
Matson used the vessel, Lihue, primarily to ship cargo between the mainland U.S. and Hawaii. The charges state that, from 1966 through 1998, crew members of the vessel made false entries into the vessel's Oil Record Book. The entries falsely stated that bilge waters, potentially contaminated with oil, had been processed through a pollution-control device, known as an oil water separator, before being discharged into the ocean. However, the oil water separator on the ship was not working at the time, creating the potential for the release of oil into the ocean and potentially harming fish and other aquatic resources.
As part of the agreement Matson will pay a total of $3 million in fines, the maximum amount allowed under the law. Of the fines, $1.5 million will be used to provide environmental enhancements in California at the Channel Islands National Park, the Santa Monica National Recreation Area, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the Point Reyes National Seashore in California and in Washington state at the Olympic National Park.
The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation
Division and the U.S. Coast Guard. The case is being prosecuted
by the U.S. Attorney's Offices in Los Angeles, Calif.; San
Francisco, Calif.; and Seattle, Wash.
COMPANIES VOLUNTEER IN CLEAN AIR ACT COMPLIANCE PROGRAM
Under EPA's Storage Tank Emission Reduction Partnership Program, developed with the American Petroleum Institute, 61 companies nationwide have voluntarily agreed to install emission controls on approximately 866 above-ground storage tanks. These emission controls are expected to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs) by 2,000 tons annually -- the equivalent of removing 76,000 cars from the nation's roads.
VOCs are key contributors to ground-level ozone, or smog, which can decrease lung function and aggravate respiratory problems. Companies participating in the program include those with above-ground tanks that store substantial quantities of volatile organic liquids, including petroleum products. These companies will install enhanced emission control devices on their above-ground storage tanks that are equipped with fittings called "slotted guide poles." The guide poles are slender columns built on the inside of the tanks that allow for fuel sampling and drainage. While guide poles enable accurate sampling to be conducted for environmental compliance, they also allow releases of VOCs into the air. In return for participation, EPA has agreed to eliminate any penalty obligations from companies that agree to audit, disclose and correct leaks from slotted guide poles.
There was a June 12 deadline for companies to register their intent to participate in the program. The submission for the participation agreement was Dec. 11, 2000. Participating companies also agreed to install acceptable controls no later than June 13, 2002. More time will be allowed for those tanks that must be taken out of service to install these controls.
The Storage Tank Emission Reduction Partnership Program
exemplifies how government and industry can work together to
achieve significant environmental benefits. Details of this
program were published in the Federal Register (FR) on Jan.14,
2000 and can be found at
EPA RELEASES FY 2000 ENFORCEMENT AND COMPLIANCE ASSURANCE DATA
EPA released data on its major enforcement and compliance assurance activities for FY 2000. Continuing its focus on the most serious health and environmental violations, the Agency placed a high priority on correcting violations among major corporations with multiple facilities throughout the United States.
The Agency took a record cumulative total of 6,027 civil judicial, criminal and administrative enforcement actions, requiring polluters to pay $2.6 billion in injunctive relief for environmental cleanup, superfund site remediation, pollution control cleanup, improved monitoring and additional environmental improvements. Polluters were also required to pay $224.6 million in civil and criminal penalties. The combined level of civil and criminal penalties assessed in FY 2000 was the third largest total in EPA history.
EPA's enforcement actions were taken in response to significant emissions or discharges of toxic or hazardous pollutants. The major pollution reductions realized through civil enforcement included: 905 million lbs. of soil and sediments contaminated with toxins; over 11.6 million lbs. of chromium, a heavy metal, which can cause neurological illness; over 12.2 million lbs. of fecal coliform, which can cause severe illness from drinking contaminated water; over 116.9 million lbs. of solvents, which can be carcinogenic and are used in numerous industries; and over 20.8 million lbs. of PCB wastes. The cases resolved by the criminal enforcement program included those involving the illegal management or release of serious pollutants such as: over 80 million lbs. of lead, which can cause neurological damage and reduce learning in children; 7.4 million lbs. of asbestos, another carcinogen; and over 1 million lbs. of ozone-layer depleting CFCs.
During FY 2000, the Agency referred 368 civil judicial cases to the U.S. Department of Justice. Several cases under the Clean Air Act were part of EPA's national focus on electric power utilities that the government alleged had illegally expanded the capacity of their facilities, causing millions of excess tons of nitrogen oxides to be emitted into the air. The first case, lodged in February 2000, commits Taexa Electric Company to spend $1 billion to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) by a combined 190,000 tons annually. Other cases under the Clean Water Act involved cleanup of three million gallons of oil spilled from pipelines in six states.
A record 1,763 administrative complaints and 3,660 administrative compliance orders and field citations were issued, almost double the number issued in FY 1999. More than 1,700 of the administrative orders were issued to local water suppliers to ensure that they provided reports to their consumers on the quality of their drinking water, a major "public right to know" requirement of the 1996 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act. EPA also took 32 enforcement actions against federal agencies in FY2000, involving violations of the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Six hundred and sixty civil investigations were conducted in FY 2000. These investigations, which are more complex and intensive assessments of a facility's compliance status, are a key component of EPA's strategy to identify and resolve the most serious environmental violations involving significant environmental or public health impact.
The criminal enforcement program, used for those who violate the law knowingly or willfully, initiated 477 cases, referred 236 cases to the Justice Department, and charged 360 defendants. The federal courts imposed 146 years of criminal sentences in FY 2000. The courts also assessed $122 million in criminal fines, the second highest in the history of the program and almost double the FY 1999 total of $61.6 million.
The civil enforcement program is off to a strong start in FY 2001 by completing several multi-year enforcement actions in various industries in the first three months of FY 2001. Seven cases settled will make the air safer to breathe, reducing air pollutants by an estimated 841,000 tons annually as well as reducing hazardous waste. These cases also required about $3.9 billion to be spent by violators for environmental cleanup, pollution control equipment, and improved monitoring -- more than was spent on environmental compliance in FY 2000.
Complementing its civil and criminal enforcement authorities, the Agency continued to successfully use its several incentive programs to encourage industries to self-audit their facilities and correct violations. In FY 2000, 430 companies disclosed potential violations at nearly 2200 facilities under EPA's Audit Policy, a sizeable increase over last year's results of 260 companies disclosures at 989 facilities. The Agency continues to expand the use of its voluntary self disclosure policies, working cooperatively with multi-facility corporations and whole industry sectors to use the policy to correct and disclose violations.
Compliance assistance efforts were expanded in FY 2000. EPA
launched a web site to improve environmental compliance by
federal agencies, bringing to 10 the number of Internet-based
national Compliance Assistance Centers. The centers offer
interactive web sites, telephone assistance lines, document
fax-back systems and e-mail discussion groups. The centers were
used over 400,000 times by regulated entities and the public in
FY 2000, a 56 percent increase over FY 1999. Other compliance
assistance tools such as hotlines, workshops and guidance
materials effectively reached more than 450,000 regulated
entities, a 36 percent increase over the number reached in FY
NATIONAL COASTAL CONDITION REPORT AVAILABLE FOR COMMENT
EPA is requesting public comment on a draft National Coastal Condition Report that contains currently available data on the condition of the Nation's coastal waters. Currently available data shows that the condition of the Nation's coastal waters is fair to poor, but varies from region to region.
The draft report is based on a combination of data, mostly from EPA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The data is used to formulate indicators of coastal condition in relationship to ecological and human health. Comments on the report and new data submitted to EPA will be used to refine the report and better assess the condition of the nation's coasts.
The report is the first federal attempt to provide the public
with a comprehensive picture of the health of the nation's
coastal waters. It will serve as a benchmark for analyzing the
progress of coastal management programs in the future. To review
the report, visit http://www.epa.gov/owow/oceans/cwap/index.html.
EPA PROPOSES SPECIAL OCEAN SITES
EPA proposed new protections for "Special Ocean Sites" that have outstanding environmental value, including prohibitions for new and expanded ocean development. Also, for the first time, development activities such as mining, oil and gas exploration, and fish farming in federal ocean waters beyond three miles offshore would have to meet protective new standards under the Clean Water Act.
EPA is proposing to establish four Special Ocean Sites: 1) Flower Garden Banks, located off Texas; 2) Gorda Ridge-Blanco Fracture zone, located off Oregon; 3) Escanaba Trough of the Gorda Ridge, located off California; and, 4) Northern Right Whale Critical Habitat Areas, located off Massachusetts and the Florida/Georgia border. Permits for new discharges and significantly expanded existing discharges would be prohibited in these areas.
At the direction of President Clinton in an Executive Order issued on May 26, 2000, EPA is taking a number of steps to strengthen protection of coastal and ocean waters. This proposal responds to increasing threats to oceans, marine environments and coastal areas by a rapid increase in coastal population and other pressures.
Under this proposal, ocean sites within U.S. jurisdiction that have outstanding value, such as critical habitat established under the Endangered Species Act, high value coral reefs, hydrothermal vents and others, could be designated as "Special Ocean Sites." EPA is also proposing a petition process to allow citizens and states to request additional Special Ocean Sites.
In addition, all ocean areas outside state jurisdiction, beyond three miles off shore, would be designated as "Healthy Ocean Waters." For the first time, these areas would have to meet 16 specific water quality criteria, in addition to other conditions necessary to support aquatic life and wildlife, recreational, and aesthetic values. The proposal would strengthen the requirements for permits to discharge into ocean waters.
Additional information on the proposed ocean sites, revisions to the Clean Water Act ocean discharge criteria, and the draft coastal condition report is available on EPA's Office of Water Web site at: http://www.epa.gov/ow, under "What's New."