Pollution Causes 40 Percent of Deaths

August 20, 2007

David Pimentel, Cornell professor of ecology and agricultural sciences, and a team of Cornell graduate students examined data from more than 120 published papers on the effects of population growth, malnutrition, and various kinds of environmental degradation on human diseases. 

About 40 percent of deaths worldwide are caused by water, air, and soil pollution, concludes the Cornell researcher. Such environmental degradation coupled with the growth in world population are major causes behind the rapid increase in human diseases that the World Health Organization has recently reported. Both factors contribute to the malnourishment and disease susceptibility of 3.7 billion people, he says.

"We have serious environmental resource problems of water, land, and energy, and these are now coming to bear on food production, malnutrition, and the incidence of diseases," said Pimentel.

Of the world population of about 6.5 billion, 57 percent is malnourished, compared with 20 percent of a world population of 2.5 billion in 1950, said Pimentel. Malnutrition is not only the direct cause of 6 million children's deaths each year but also makes millions of people much more susceptible to such killers as acute respiratory infections, malaria, and a host of other life-threatening diseases, according to the research.

Among the study's other main points:

  • Nearly half the world's people are crowded into urban areas, often without adequate sanitation, and are exposed to epidemics of such diseases as measles and flu.
  • With 1.2 billion people lacking clean water, waterborne infections account for 80% of all infectious diseases. Increased water pollution creates breeding grounds for malaria-carrying mosquitoes, killing 1.2 million to 2.7 million people a year, and air pollution kills about 3 million people a year. Unsanitary living conditions account for more than 5 million deaths each year, of which more than half are children.
  • Air pollution from smoke and various chemicals kills 3 million people a year. In the United States alone about 3 million tons of toxic chemicals are released into the environment – contributing to cancer, birth defects, immune system defects and many other serious health problems.
  • Soil is contaminated by many chemicals and pathogens, which are passed on to humans through direct contact or via food and water. Increased soil erosion worldwide not only results in more soil being blown but spreading of disease microbes and various toxins.


At the same time, more microbes are becoming increasingly drug-resistant. And global warming, together with changes in biological diversity, influence parasite evolution and the ability of exotic species to invade new areas. As a result, such diseases as tuberculosis and influenza are re-emerging as major threats, while new threats – including West Nile virus and Lyme disease – have developed.

"A growing number of people lack basic needs, like pure water and ample food. They become more susceptible to diseases driven by malnourishment, and air, water, and soil pollutants," Pimentel concludes.

Home Depot to Pay More than $9.9 Million for Improper Handling of Hazardous Materials and Hazardous Waste


Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo announced last week that a settlement had been reached between his office, the California Attorney General’s Office and a number of district attorney’s offices across the state with The Home Depot USA Inc. resolving allegations that the company improperly handled hazardous waste and hazardous materials at many of its stores throughout the state of California. The allegations are the result of an investigation following a May 2004 incident in which the improper handling of hazardous waste and materials at a Playa Del Rey Home Depot store led to an explosion, fire, and evacuation of store employees and customers.

The settlement reached with The Home Depot USA Inc. calls for a payment of $9.9 million, including $7.25 million in civil penalties; $1.3 million for investigative costs; and $1.35 million for specified supplemental environmental programs. In addition, The Home Depot will be required to expend resources and contribute money towards additional environmental training for employees regarding hazardous waste management procedures, and must implement a new fire code program at its stores throughout California. The settlement has been filed with the Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles and is subject to final approval by the court.

The company cooperated with the investigation and also has agreed to significant additional environmental commitments across California, including the building of five Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) stores that serve as a benchmark for green buildings; the implementation of an “EcoFriendly Virtual Tour” on the Home Depot Website that will highlight eco-options and products available for home use; as well as substantial advertising of environmental products and home improvement suggestions which may benefit California consumers.

The terms of the proposed permanent injunction will require The Home Depot to only contract with waste haulers licensed by the California Department of Toxic Substances and use only Department of Transportation-approved containers for off-site disposal. The Home Depot is also required to submit annual certification of their hazardous waste management program to the state for all facilities that contain or generate hazardous waste in California and to maintain accurate records of all disposal of hazardous wastes.

The statewide enforcement action against The Home Depot was brought by the California Attorney General, Los Angeles County District Attorney, Monterey County District Attorney, Riverside County District Attorney, San Joaquin County District Attorney, Santa Clara County District Attorney and the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office alleging multiple violations of environmental laws including but not limited to Health and Safety Code, Fire Code, Department of Transportation Regulations, and CAL-OSHA statutes and regulations.

“This settlement demonstrates the importance of prosecutors working together across the state on complex environmental matters to ensure public health and safety,” said Los Angeles City Attorney Delgadillo.

The investigation against The Home Depot followed an incident involving the improper handling of ignitable wastes and combustible materials at a Playa Del Rey Home Depot Store in May 2004. The contents of a 55-gallon drum exploded, causing a fire during regular business hours and leading to the evacuation of store employees and customers and an emergency response from the Los Angeles City and County Fire Departments.

Prompted by the incident in Playa Del Rey, a waste hauler contracted by The Home Depot was stopped by the California Highway Patrol in Ripon, California. The waste hauler was found to be transporting hazardous wastes and hazardous materials, and lacking proper certification by the state. These incidents prompted the statewide investigation of The Home Depot’s hazardous waste and hazardous materials handling procedures.

TEPPCO Agrees to More Than $2.8 Million Settlement for Clean Water Violations


EPA has announced that TE Products Pipeline Company, LLC and TEPPCO Crude Pipeline, LLC (collectively “TEPPCO”) will pay a $2.865 million penalty to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act.

In addition, the Houston-based oil and gas distributor will be required to make modifications to its pipeline operations that involve performing corrosion control surveys, installing surveillance cameras, and updating its computer system to better detect leaks and spills.

“It is imperative that business and industry do their part to minimize the risks of oil and fuel spills,” said EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene. “Keeping our waters clean must be a priority and must be viewed as a fundamental responsibility. EPA and our state partners will continue to ensure that companies make conscientious efforts to follow environmental laws.”

TEPPCO discharged approximately 6,470 barrels (271,740 gallons) of jet fuel, gasoline, and crude oil on four different occasions into waters of the United States between November 2001 and May 2005 at locations in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. The following describes each discharge:

  • A release of approximately 2,575 barrels (108,150 gallons) of Jet A Kerosene, or jet fuel, into the Neches River and its tributaries near Vidor, Texas, on Nov. 27, 2001. This spill resulted from disbonded coating and external corrosion on the pipeline.
  • A release of approximately 500 barrels (21,000 gallons) of unleaded gasoline into an unnamed tributary of the Moro Creek, which flows into the Ouachita River, near the Fordyce Pump Station in Cleveland County, Arkansas, on March 12, 2004. This spill resulted from corrosion of a ½-inch bleeder line that was part of a pipeline block valve used to equalize pressure across the valve.
  • A release of approximately 2,497 barrels (104,874 gallons) of Jet A Kerosene, a portion of which escaped containment and reached Big Cow Creek, a tributary of the Sabine River, near Newton, Texas, on Feb. 28, 2005. This spill was caused by an operator error that involved the over-tightening of a coupling at a cooling line at the top of a mainline pump.
  • A release of approximately 898 barrels (37,716 gallons) of crude oil on May 13, 2005, into Eastman Creek, which is a tributary of the Red River, and an unnamed tributary of Eastman Creek near Colbert, Oklahoma. This spill was caused by a longitudinal seam split on a pipeline that resulted from a stress crack that may have been induced by conditions occurring during rail transport and enlarged by pressure-cycle-induced stresses over the years of the pipe’s operation.

Under the terms of the consent decree, TEPPCO will pay a total of $2,865,000 and be required to:

  • Perform a close internal survey of the segment of the pipeline system from Beaumont, Texas, to Many, Louisiana. The Vidor spill occurred on this segment. For each nonconforming location, corrective action must be taken to bring the cathodic protection into compliance.
  • Install remote surveillance cameras at the Newton, Texas, and Many, Louisiana, pump stations. The cameras will provide around-the-clock site surveillance of pump stations by the Houston Pipeline Control Center and the field operation centers located in Beaumont, Texas, and El Dorado, Arkansas.
  • Update its Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system on the pipeline by installing leak detection functionality based on a computational pipeline model software system. The objective of the update is to enable TEPPCO to more precisely monitor and balance the volume of product in the pipeline with the integration of pressure and temperature data to monitor pipeline pressure deviations, which can be indicators of leaks or spills from the pipeline.
  • Submit various reports to EPA on the status and completion of the injunctive relief requirements.


The complaint and agreement for the TEPPCO violations were filed in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont, Texas.

EPA Provides D.C. with $1.2 Million to Control Polluted Runoff


The EPA has awarded a $1.2 million grant to help control pollution from storm water runoff in the District of Columbia.

The grant, which goes to the D.C. Department of Environment’s non-point source program, will be combined with about $800,000 in local funding for a total award of $2 million.

“EPA is pleased to be a partner in the district’s aggressive approach to cleaning up waterways in and around our nation’s capitol. This funding supports projects that are vital to protect and improve water quality for drinking water, recreational activities, and to preserve the natural habitat,” said Donald S. Welsh, administrator for EPA’s mid-Atlantic region.

Storm water pollution (sometimes called non-point source pollution) is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over or through the ground and carrying natural or human-made pollutants into lakes, streams, rivers, oceans, and other water bodies.

The funding will support several projects with specific emphasis on urban sections of the Anacostia River. Projects will include designing and installing low impact development projects to control runoff, and conducting stream restoration work on waterways that have been damaged by runoff.

EPA Stops Illegal Waste Handling Activities at HPI Products


The EPA now has stopped illegal waste handling activities at four of eight HPI Products locations in St. Joseph, Mo., because of serious, long-term neglect of the environment and public health, EPA Region 7 Administrator John B. Askew announced.

“We are serious about protecting human health and the environment and will not tolerate companies violating our laws,” Askew said. “We have ordered HPI Products to cease illegal waste handling activities at two additional locations. We have ordered immediate cleanup of releases in the buildings and any surrounding areas.”

EPA found 426 drums and 24,000 containers of waste at HPI’s warehouse, located at 313 S. Third St. Also, EPA found 53 drums and 330 containers of waste at its main production facility, 222 Sylvanie St. Most of the drums were unlabeled or leaking and had been stored for a number of years. EPA found more than 1,000 pounds of hazardous waste and some wastes that were potentially corrosive and/or flammable. During an inspection, EPA also discovered large spills and residue buildup at the main production facility that could not be identified by HPI.

In addition to immediate cleanup of releases, EPA is ordering the facility to immediately restrict access to areas with releases of solid or hazardous waste, to post warning signs at location entrances, to immediately ship all hazardous wastes to an appropriate hazardous waste disposal facility, and to develop a work plan that outlines field sampling and quality assurance measures to determine off-site migration.

HPI, a 20-year-old pesticide registrant and producer, has two pesticide-producing establishments and six storage warehouses in the St. Joseph, Mo., area. HPI has never applied for a hazardous waste treatment, storage, or disposal facility permit.

Erickson Metals Faces $157,500 Penalty for Failure to Have an SPCC Plan


Erickson Metals Corp., a Cheshire, Conn., aluminum processing company faces a penalty of up to $157,500 for violating the federal Clean Water Act in July 2006. EPA recently announced it has filed an enforcement complaint against the company for failing to prepare an oil spill prevention plan, which led to extensive pollution during an oil spill last summer damaging wildlife and surrounding bodies of water.

According to the complaint filed by EPA’s New England office, Erickson Metals Corp. illegally discharged as much as 6,000 gallons of cutting oil from its facility. The oil spill occurred when a water tank in the Cheshire facility ruptured, activating a sump pump that pumped the released water into a reservoir tank containing cutting oil. The oil tank subsequently overflowed and oil traveled into a nearby pond, Judd Brook, and the Tenmile River, oiling swans, geese, and turtles as well as damaging aquatic vegetation. Oiled animals were captured and washed and some were moved to a wildlife rehabilitation clinic before release.

The oil discharge prompted an emergency response, including EPA, the local fire department and the Conn. Dept. of Environmental Protection. EPA’s New England office determined that the company had not prepared a spill prevention, control and countermeasure (SPCC) plan, as required by the Clean Water Act. SPCC plans specify spill prevention and response measures at facilities that store oil above threshold amounts and help ensure that a tank failure or oil spill does not lead to oil reaching bodies of water. After the spill, the facility worked cooperatively with EPA and prepared an SPCC plan.

“The impacts to wildlife and habitat from this spill are examples of the harm that oil spills can cause to the environment,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Companies that store significant quantities of oil must follow established procedures to prevent and minimize the impacts of oil spills.”

$20,000 Penalty for Failure to Conduct Furnace Performance Testing


EPA Region 5 has reached an agreement with Stroh Die Casting Inc. on alleged Clean Air Act violations at the company's secondary aluminum plant at 11123 W. Burleigh St., Milwaukee, Wis.

The agreement, which includes a $20,000 penalty, resolves EPA allegations that Stroh failed to do performance testing on its furnaces that melted coated aluminum returned by its customers, and failed to comply with notification, planning, reporting, and operating requirements.

Secondary aluminum plants must test for emissions of dioxins and furans, both hazardous air pollutants. There is evidence that dioxins may cause liver damage and probably cause cancer in humans, while furans also may cause cancer.

Court Decides in Favor of EPA in Clean Water Act Storm Water Decision

EPA Region 8 announced that a federal environmental administrative law judge has ruled for EPA in a clean water enforcement case against the Service Oil, Inc., a gasoline and diesel fuel retailer headquartered in West Fargo, N.D.


In an initial decision, Chief Administrative Law Judge Susan L. Biro ordered the company to pay a civil penalty of $35,640. EPA had sought a penalty of $40,000. Service Oil has 30 days from Aug. 3, 2007, to appeal.

Judge Biro found that Service Oil failed to acquire an applicable discharge permit for construction activities and discharged pollutants without a permit, both in violation of the federal Clean Water Act.

“Region 8 resolves most of its enforcement actions through negotiation,” said Michael Risner, acting deputy assistant regional administrator for EPA's Denver headquarters. “When necessary, we will pursue a formal hearing to ensure that enterprises are meeting their environmental responsibilities. We hope that the judge’s decision will encourage other companies to comply with the law.”

David Janik, Region 8 supervisory enforcement attorney, said, “It is gratifying that Judge Biro upheld our complaint in the Service Oil case and validated the hard work of our inspectors and case team.” The case stems from an EPA inspection in 2002.

Former St. Louis-Area City Councilman Gets Prison for Illegally Removing Asbestos


Last week, a former East St. Louis, Ill., city councilman, Charles Powell Jr., was sentenced to a 15-month prison term and two years of supervised release for illegally removing asbestos during building renovation, in violation of the federal Clean Air Act.

Powell, owner of Powell's Demolition Co., was sentenced in the federal district court for the Southern District of Illinois.

In June, Powell pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act and one count of failure to notify authorities prior to removing asbestos material.

In 2002 Powell contracted with real estate developer Phil Cohn to renovate the 12-story Spivey Building in East St. Louis into an office and shopping center. Powell directed workers to remove the asbestos without protective gear and without wetting the asbestos prior to removal, which is required by EPA in order to safely remove the cancer-causing materials. In addition, Powell did not identify the waste properly for the contract waste haulers and did not notify the Illinois EPA prior to the removal work.

In 2005, Cohn was indicted, convicted, and sentenced for his involvement in the renovation project to 60 months imprisonment and five years supervised release, which included charges unrelated to removal of asbestos at the Spivey Building.

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 and mesothelioma. When asbestos-containing materials become damaged or disturbed, the fibers separate and may become airborne and inhaled into the lungs. EPA requires keeping building materials wet that may contain asbestos in order to prevent the fibers from becoming airborne.

The case was investigated by the EPA and FBI and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of Illinois.

Five Months in Prison for Hazardous Waste Transport Crimes


Dennis Rodriguez of El Paso, Texas, was sentenced to five months in prison for violating hazardous waste transport laws while operating his company, North American Waste Assistance, located in the same city. Rodriguez also was sentenced to five months home confinement, two years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.

Under a plea agreement reached last February, Rodriguez admitted to one count of making a false statement in a manifest used to transport hazardous waste, and to two counts of transporting hazardous waste to a facility that was not authorized to accept hazardous waste.

Both Rodriguez and his company were indicted in November 2005 for the hazardous waste violations. According to the indictment, Rodriguez and his company were hired to dispose of more than155 gallon drums of construction-related waste. Approximately 75 of the drums contained petroleum-based concrete curing compound, which is classified as a flammable hazardous waste. In March 2002, Rodriguez and his company transported the drums using several hazardous waste manifests that stated that the drums contained non-hazardous waste. Rodriguez illegally disposed of the drums at landfills in Avalon, Tex., and Walterboro, S.C., which were not permitted under federal law to accept hazardous waste.

The case was investigated by the EPA's criminal investigation program, with assistance from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and was prosecuted by the Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Texas.

Hazardous Materials and Hazardous Waste Reporting Requirements under Emergency Conditions



Oregon Law to Require Cuts in Greenhouse Gas Emissions


HB 3543, which was signed on Aug. 6, directs the state to stop the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by 2010 and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 10 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and to 75 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Connecticut Warns Mattel of Environmental Obligations in Disposing Lead-Contaminated Toys


Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal warned Mattel, Inc. officials of their obligation to comply with federal and state environmental laws in disposing of lead-contaminated toys in Connecticut.

In a letter to Mattel CEO Bob Eckert, Blumenthal said the recent recall of Mattel toys containing dangerous lead paint is an essential first step toward resolving this issue – but more steps are necessary to protect against further public harm from lead.

Under state law, if toys are disposed in Connecticut, Mattel will have to determine – through sample testing or otherwise – whether the toys being disposed constitute a hazardous waste. The company must also determine whether the entity conducting the disposal, whether it be Mattel, a distributor or a retailer, must be designated a hazardous waste generator.

Blumenthal has requested that Mattel officials certify in writing within 30 days that any disposal of Mattel toys containing lead in Connecticut will be done in compliance with federal and state law, and that the company has instituted a plan to monitor disposal.

"Our message to Mattel: Get the lead out – and keep it out," Blumenthal said. "Mattel's responsibility to protect our children from lead contaminated toys does not end with this recall. Improper disposal of lead threatens pernicious perpetual public harm, including contamination of soil and water." Blumenthal said in the letter, "Connecticut, like many states, seeks to protect the health and safety of its citizens by minimizing and eventually eliminating the release of dangerous chemicals, such as lead, into our environment. If we are to truly protect our children, the lead in these toys must not be allowed to contaminate our environment."

Oil Refinery Fined $10,000 for Leaky Pipes


The Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) has levied a $10,000 fine against U.S. Oil and Refining Co. for a leaking pipeline that saturated the ground at its refinery near Blair Waterway in Tacoma. On Aug. 10, 2005, a Tacoma city employee reported stained soil along the pipeline corridor from the refinery to the marine terminal. At the time, an oil transfer was under way and an investigation was held off until the transfer was finished. The pipeline was excavated, and a hairline crack was discovered in the 16-inch crude oil line. About 6,552 gallons of crude oil were recovered from this location.

A year earlier in Aug. 2004, a three-inch jet fuel line was discovered to be corroded and leaking fuel through a small hole eventually saturating the ground. Seven recovery wells were installed and monitored for leaking oil. Over the next year, more than 13,700 gallons of jet fuel were captured and another 378 gallons was recovered through excavation.

U.S. Oil is in the tideflats within the Port of Tacoma. Depending on the time of year, the water table below the refinery and its pipelines ranges from one to two feet below the surface to eight to 12 feet. Therefore, leaks from buried pipelines can potentially contaminate groundwater at least six to 10 months a year. In addition to the penalty, Ecology is requiring U.S. Oil to provide a schedule for replacing the pipelines from the refinery to the marine terminal and to clearly identify all buried pipelines and have them inspected and certified fit for service by Dec. 2007.

The order addresses the risk of future pipeline leaks similar to the ones that occurred in 2004 and 2005.

U.S. Oil is regulated under the state's Oil Spill Contingency Plan requirements and Facility Oil Handling Standards rules. "All pipelines are subject to annual pressure hydro-tests," said Chip Boothe, Ecology's spills prevention section manager. "That doesn't eliminate the possibility of an oil spill, but careful examination of all the pipelines and replacing them as needed will prevent most spills from happening."

Construction Without Stormwater Permit Leads to Penalty


The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has fined Whatcom County Fire District 18 a total of $21,000 for allowing soil to erode into Lake Whatcom during un-permitted construction activities.

Lake Whatcom is the drinking water source for approximately 95,000 people.

On June 29, 2007, Fire Chief George Henderson began clearing, grading, and filling the shoreline behind the fire station at 3250 South Bay Drive in Sedro Woolley. Vegetation was cleared from the shoreline, the bank was removed and soil entered the lake along the shoreline. Wave action caused the exposed soil to erode into south Lake Whatcom.

Ecology received a citizen report on July 2 describing a plume of mud in the lake, coming from the fire district's construction activity. An Ecology inspector responded on July 3 and coordinated with staff from Whatcom County and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Ecology informed Chief Henderson that immediate action was required to prevent wave action along the shoreline and avoid further water quality violations.

"Ecology's express concern is the health of Lake Whatcom," said Richard Grout, manager of Ecology's Bellingham Field Office. "The water quality of Lake Whatcom is dependent on the individuals within the watershed behaving responsibly to prevent pollutants of any kind from entering the lake."

Chief Henderson told state inspectors that the project was intended to create a landing zone for an emergency medical helicopter. No written plans, designs, or dimensions for the helicopter pad were available. No permits had been acquired from local, state, or federal agencies to conduct either the near-shore or in-water work.

Ecology inspected the site again on July 10 and found the Fire District had taken some measures to stabilize soils on site, but nothing had been done to reduce the wave activity along the shore. Soil was still eroding into Lake Whatcom.

Portions of Lake Whatcom are named on the state 303d list of impaired water bodies for dissolved oxygen and total phosphorus. Soil transports phosphorus into the lake feeding the growth of algae and resulting in a reduction of dissolved oxygen. Increased algae levels increase the cost of treating drinking water from the lake.

Muddy water can also harm fish and other aquatic life. Cutthroat trout and kokanee are fish species present in the vicinity of the Fire District 18 site.

Washington's Electronics Recycling Management Program Progressing


Washington state continues to make progress toward creating a program that will allow consumers to recycle electronic products, such as computers and TVs, at no charge beginning Jan. 1, 2009. The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is seeking public comment on a second set of proposed rules setting up the program.

The rule proposals include requirements for all manufacturers, including the Materials Management and Finance Authority. This body, established in the electronics recycling legislation passed in 2006, is made up primarily of representatives of manufacturers. The authority board was appointed in February. At its June meeting, the board adopted bylaws and signed an agreement for a $500,000 loan from Ecology to help with start-up costs. The loan is due to be paid back by June 30, 2009. The authority must submit a plan for the collection, transportation and recycling program to Ecology by Feb. 1, 2008.

"This legislation is unique in that it reflects the concept of product stewardship – it puts the responsibility for running the waste recycling program on the makers of the products and gives consumers the responsibility for returning their products at end-of-life," said Cullen Stephenson, manager of Ecology's Solid Waste Program. "Ecology's role is to assure that the environment and human health will be protected in the process."

Among the other proposed rules are requirements for manufacturer recycling plans; performance standards for operators, product collectors and transporters; and reporting processes.

Ecology is accepting public comments on the rule proposal through 5 p.m. Aug. 30, 2007. Please submit written comments to Jay Shepard, Department of Ecology, PO Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600. 

Since Ecology adopted a rule requiring all covered electronics manufacturers to register with the department and pay an administrative fee, nearly 200 manufacturers have registered and nearly 100 percent of fees have been collected.

Electronic products contain heavy metals and other chemicals at hazardous levels that make them difficult to dispose of safely. For example, every cathode ray picture tube contains an estimated four to eight pounds of lead. By recycling televisions and computers, Washington's residents contribute to a safer, cleaner environment. Most services currently available do have a cost.

WBCSD Launches Global Water Tool to Help Companies Manage Water Use


It's a free and easy-to-use tool for companies and organizations to map their water use and assess risks relative to their global operations and supply chains.

Under the old business adage “what gets measured, gets managed,” the tool should help companies better manage their water use. Better local management leads to better global management.

The Global Water Tool allows companies to quickly and accurately answer such key questions as:

  • How many of our sites are in extremely water-scarce areas? Which sites are at greatest risk? How will that look in the future?
  • How many of our employees live in countries that lack access to improved water and sanitation?
  • How many of our suppliers are in water-scarce areas now? How many will be in 2025?


It does not provide specific guidance on local situations, which require more in-depth, systematic analysis. Through an easy to manage process, the tool allows companies to quickly and accurately:

  • Compare their water use (including staff presence, industrial use, and supply chain) with validated water and sanitation availability information, both on a country and watershed basis.
  • Calculate water consumption and efficiency.
  • Establish relative water risks in their portfolio.
  • Create key water Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) indicators, inventories, risk, and performance metrics.
  • Enable effective communications between internal and external stakeholders on water issues.


The tool has two parts: the input sheet and the online map. The input sheet contains the company's site location and water use information. After entering the company's water use figures, the sheet automatically provides outputs, including GRI water indicators and downloadable metrics charts that demonstrate the company's data combined with both the country and watershed figures.

The online mapping feature enables companies to plot their sites with external water datasets and download those locations in a map. These datasets provide several key metrics including renewable water resource per capita, mean annual relative water stress index and access to improved sanitation. The tool is connected with Google Earth, which provides spatial viewing of a company's site locations in relation to detailed geographic information, including surface water.

Landfill Penalized $8,625 for Air Quality Violation


The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has penalized Connecticut Valley Sanitary Waste Disposal, Inc. $8,625 for air quality violations at the Chicopee landfill.

The penalty is a result of the company's failure to maintain the operation of a flare designed to burn off gas being emitted from the landfill, which the company self-reported on Oct. 11, 2006. The company has agreed to pay the $8,625 penalty and will modify the flare system to prevent a recurrence of the problem.

"The flare system is in place to prevent the emission of excess landfill gas into the environment," said Michael Gorski, director of MassDEP's Western Regional Office in Springfield. "Landfill gases can contribute to air pollution, so it is very important for facilities to continually maintain and properly operate their equipment."

Connecticut Valley Sanitary Waste Disposal, Inc. operates the Chicopee Landfill and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Waste Management of Massachusetts, Inc. The company utilizes several horizontal and vertical collection pipes to capture landfill gas and route it to gas destruction devices, including several flares and a landfill gas-to-energy plant.

United Rentals Fined for Hazardous Waste Violations


The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has issued a $4,000 penalty to United Rentals for hazardous waste management violations at its facility on Winsor Street in Ludlow.

A MassDEP inspection of the facility on Dec. 19, 2006, revealed that the company violated hazardous waste management requirements by allowing transportation of its waste oil off-site by an unlicensed transporter. United Rentals also had not registered its generation of parts-cleaning solvent, and violated several hazardous waste recordkeeping and labeling requirements.

Based on an agreement with MassDEP, United Rentals will pay the $4,000 penalty and initiate corrective actions to address the noncompliance issues at its facility.

Minnesota Enforcement Actions Net More Than $480,000 in Second Quarter of 2007


The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) concluded 55 enforcement cases totaling $484,207 in penalties during the second quarter of 2007. The cases occurred at facilities in 30 counties throughout Minnesota. 

$2 Million Penalty for Aluminum NESHAP Violations


The Department of Justice reached a settlement with the state of Indiana, the city of Hammond, Ind., and Jupiter Aluminum Corporation, the operator of a secondary aluminum production facility in Hammond, which resolves Clean Air Act violations arising from the operations of the facility.

Under the consent decree filed Aug. 10, 2007, Jupiter has agreed to take steps to ensure future compliance with certain provisions of the federal Clean Air Act (CAA). Jupiter will also pay a civil penalty of $2 million which will be shared between the United States and the Hammond Department of Environmental Management (HDEM).

On Thursday, Aug. 9, 2007, the Justice Department filed a complaint alleging that Jupiter violated the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP), applicable to aluminum recyclers that recycle painted or coated aluminum scrap, which became effective in early 2003. Such “secondary aluminum production facilities” can emit hazardous air pollutants during their operations, including dioxin, furans, hydrochloric acid, and particulate matter containing hazardous metals. The complaint and settlement with Jupiter is the first to be brought in federal court to enforce the NESHAP regulations applicable to secondary aluminum production facilities.

The state of Indiana and the city of Hammond moved to intervene as co-plaintiffs on Aug. 10, 2007, and filed complaints in intervention on that date. The district court granted both motions to intervene on Aug. 10, 2007.

“Jupiter Aluminum has agreed to implement procedures which will reduce harmful emissions into the air. Today’s settlement is an example of the good that can come from the cooperation of federal, state, and local government.” said Ryan Nelson, deputy assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

In the complaints, the federal, state, and local governments have alleged that Jupiter extensively violated the CAA NESHAP standards applicable to secondary aluminum production facilities through its failure to establish proper pollution controls and to monitor “fugitive” emissions from its aluminum recycling facility. The settlement resolves all alleged violations and requires Jupiter to take the following steps:

  • Perform several tests to determine whether recent modifications that Jupiter made to its pollution control equipment on its two main melting furnaces adequately captures fugitive emissions from the furnaces, and whether the equipment adequately removes dioxin/furans, hydrochloric acid and particulate matter at the smoke stacks.
  • Should the tests demonstrate that Jupiter is not adequately capturing fugitive emissions or not adequately removing pollutants, then Jupiter will be required to make further modifications to its pollution control equipment or otherwise alter its operations to maintain compliance.
  • Properly weigh scrap aluminum prior to charging it into the furnaces and keep records of the type and amount of scrap charged to ensure that compliance with emission standards are maintained.
  • Fund an independent monitoring consultant to assist the regulatory agencies in monitoring Jupiter’s compliance with the consent decree.
  • Allow the Hammond Department of Environmental Management to install and operate a video monitoring system which will continuously record furnace operations.
  • Resubmit an operation, maintenance and monitoring plan, and improve its maintenance and recordkeeping practices to prevent future violations.


The agreement was lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

Sony to Take Back and Recycle Electronic Equipment


To encourage consumers to recycle and dispose of electronic devices in an environmentally sound manner, Sony has established a national recycling program for consumer electronics. The Sony Take Back Recycling Program allows consumers to recycle all Sony-branded products for no fee at 75 Waste Management (WM) Recycle America eCycling drop-off centers throughout the U.S.

The program, which begins on Sept. 15, was developed in collaboration with WM Recycle America, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Waste Management, Inc. The program also allows consumers to recycle other manufacturers’ consumer electronics products at market prices, and may include a recycling fee for some types of materials. According to Sony, this is the first national recycling initiative in the U.S. to involve both a major electronics manufacturer and a national waste management company.

As the Sony Take Back Recycling program expands, the number of eCycling drop-off centers will increase to at least 150 sites within a year, with at least one location in every state through a combination of WM Recycle America locales and WM external service partners. Sony and WM Recycle America are also working towards the goal of having enough drop-off locations in all 50 states so there is a recycling center within 20 miles of 95 percent of the U.S. population. Consumers will also have the option of shipping their used Sony electronics products to select WM Recycle America locations.

The Sony Take Back Recycling Program is part of Sony’s broader global commitment to environmental stewardship, which spans product design, recycling, facilities management, and energy conservation across all categories. "Providing the highest level of service and support doesn’t stop once a purchase is made. We believe it is Sony’s responsibility to provide customers with end-of-life solutions for all the products we manufacture,” said Stan Glasgow, president and chief operating officer of Sony Electronics. “Through the Take Back Recycling Program, our customers will know that their Sony products will be recycled in an environmentally responsible manner.”

As the technology industry sees continued growth, the amount of electronic waste is also increasing. A study by the EPA showed that in 2005 used or unwanted electronics amounted to about 1.9 to 2.2 million tons. Of that, some 1.5 to 1.9 million tons was primarily discarded in landfills, and only 345,000 to 379,000 tons were recycled.

By recycling old electronics products, useful materials – such as glass, plastic, and metals – can be collected and re-used in the manufacture of other products. Recycling not only minimizes the amount of waste disposed, it also minimizes the extraction of new raw materials from the earth and resources required for processing, saving energy and reducing greenhouse gases in the process.

The company also lowered the energy consumption of 90% of its products in fiscal 2006. A complete list of WM Recycle America eCycling Drop-Off centers can be found by calling 1-877- 439-2795. 

Trivia Question of the Week

As nanotechnology expands into greater use, the environmental and safety impacts of the tiny particles has come into question. Nano particles are as small as:

a. 2.5 thousandths of an inch
b. One 25 millionth of an inch
c. One 25 billionth of an inch
d. One 25 trillionth of an inch