Solvent-Contaminated Rags Get Flexible Disposal Options

May 22, 2006



 According to an article by Harry Sarvis in the Spring issue of Ohio’s Hazardous Waste Notifier, the state had formerly indicated that rags or wipers that are contaminated with a solvent constituent that is a listed hazardous waste solvent (F001 through F005) must be regulated as a listed hazardous waste when disposed of regardless of how the solvent got on the rag or wiper.


As part of the Agency’s periodic policy review as required by state law, OEPA recently reviewed this policy and concluded that rags and wipers contaminated with a listed solvent constituent do not fall within the listing description for spent solvents. As a result, the OEPA has rescinded the policy.


Solvent-contaminated rags and wipers which are contaminated with listed solvent constituents are not considered listed hazardous waste except in situations where the rag or wiper is used to clean up a spill of a used solvent that is a listed hazardous waste; those rags or wipers become a listed hazardous waste.


Even though the Division of Hazardous Waste Management no longer considers solvent-contaminated rags and wipers as being listed hazardous waste, if you generate solvent-contaminated rags or wipers, and do not have them laundered, you will still need to evaluate this waste stream to determine whether they would be a characteristic hazardous waste for purposes of storage, transportation, and disposal.


In Ohio, if you have the rags or wipers laundered, they would not be regulated. The rags or wipers cannot contain free liquids and they must be sent to a commercial laundry which is subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act or a dry cleaner for cleaning and reuse. If you are in another state, unless your state has a policy similar to Ohio’s, you should continue to manage shop towels contaminated with F-listed wastes as hazardous waste. 


Pennsylvania Moves Ahead with State-Specific Mercury Control Plan



Pennsylvania has received approval from the state Environmental Quality Board to move forward with a state-specific mercury-reduction proposal that protects the market for bituminous coal while ensuring vastly greater protections to improve the environment and keep residents healthy and safe. The state-specific plan would supersede a weaker plan proposed by the federal government.


According to PA Governor Rendell, “The federal rule is bad for the environment and bad for business. Unless we change course, Pennsylvanians face continued exposure to dangerous levels of mercury and our coal industry faces significant economic harm because of the unfair market barriers included in the federal mercury rule.”


Pennsylvania has filed several lawsuits challenging the EPA’s mercury rule for coal-fired power plants. The cases also challenge EPA’s subcategorization of coal types, which encourages fuel switching away from bituminous coal mined in eastern states, like Pennsylvania, in favor of coal mined in the western U.S.


Upon completion of the public comment phase for the state’s proposal, DEP will present a final plan for EQB consideration by October. Pennsylvania must submit to EPA by Nov. 17 a plan that describes how the state will implement and enforce the federal emissions guidelines or its own more protective standards.


The DEP also will prepare for the board and mercury stakeholders a document that addresses public comments and details the formation of the state-specific rule. EQB is a 20-member, independent panel that reviews all of DEP’s regulations.


Pennsylvania’s state-specific proposal was crafted after an enhanced stakeholder process that featured a diverse group of public and private individuals who met four times to examine technology, emission control levels, testing, monitoring, record keeping and reporting, compliance schedules, health effects, power generation capacity, infrastructure and economic competitiveness. Pennsylvania’s plan achieves the following:

Preserves market share for bituminous coal by presuming compliance with emission standards for electric generating units that burn 100 percent bituminous coal with advanced air pollution control technologies

Maximizes mercury reduction co-benefits that can be achieved under the federal Clean Air Interstate Rule. Mercury-specific controls are not mandated

Achieves at least 90 percent mercury reduction by 2015

Requires all facilities to meet an annual mercury emissions cap and prohibits mercury emissions trading that may create toxic “hot spots” of contamination



Congress to Review New Hazardous Waste Laws



The following bills are under consideration in the current Congressional session:



Delaware Seeks Comment on TDMLs



The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control is seeking public comment on draft regulations governing Total Maximum Daily Loads (TDMLs) for bacteria, nitrogen and phosphorus for several watersheds in Delaware.


A TDML sets a limit on the amount of a pollutant that can be discharged into a body of water and still meet water quality standards. A federal consent decree requires that TMDLs regulations for these watersheds be established by the end of 2006.







Inspector General Questions EPA’s Assertion that Mercury Rule Won’t Cause Hot Spots


This is the third time in just over a year that federal oversight officials have expressed concerns with the agency’s Clean Air Mercury Rule.


The IG cites significant data and science gaps in the method EPA used to justify the use of a “cap and trade” program to control mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. The inspector general’s report also notes recent studies that undermine EPA’s position by showing high levels of mercury deposition from local coal-burning facilities.


“The acting inspector general is telling EPA what it already should know: Mercury is highly toxic and should not be governed by a national trading program that puts residents, particularly women, children and unborn babies, in jeopardy of continued damaging exposure,” PA DEP Secretary Kathleen A. McGinty said.


The inspector general cites a June 2005 study by Atmospheric Environment showing the model EPA used to determine mercury transport and deposition from local sources is subject to uncertainties. The inspector general’s report urges EPA to develop a monitoring plan and refine the tools and models used to estimate mercury deposition.


Roderick’s report also references EPA-funded research that in February showed that nearly 70% of the mercury collected at an Ohio River Valley monitoring site originated from nearby coal-burning industrial plants. Conducted over two years in Steubenville, Ohio, the study is the first in which scientists used rain samples and meteorological data to track mercury from smokestacks to monitors.


McGinty noted other studies that have had similar findings. Last month, Massachusetts reported a 32 percent average decrease in the level of mercury found in yellow perch caught in nine lakes in the northeast corner of the state, where a cluster of incinerators is located. The reductions came seven years after the state enacted the nation’s toughest mercury emission laws for incinerators. Comparatively, yellow perch from lakes elsewhere in the state recorded a 15 percent drop on average.


A Florida Everglades study showed that mercury concentrations found in fish and wading birds there dropped by 60 to 70 percent due to local mercury emission reduction efforts. An earlier EPA Office of Water study found local sources within a state commonly contribute more than 50 percent to 80 percent of the mercury deposition. “These studies illustrate the point that local emission reduction efforts play a substantial role in improving air quality and the environment,” McGinty said.


This is the third time in a little more than a year that federal oversight officials have questioned EPA’s plan to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. In February 2005, then-EPA Inspector General Nikki L. Tinsley indicated that mercury emission limits in the federal rule were pre-selected by EPA management to conform to the Clean Air Interstate Rule and did not represent a valid analysis of all the possible mercury control options. The inspector general also stated that the development of a standard to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants was “compromised and, therefore, may not represent the lowest emissions level that could be achieved.”


The U.S. General Accounting Office in February 2005 reported flaws in EPA’s cost-benefit analysis of the federal mercury rule. GAO found that “EPA did not estimate the value of the health benefits directly related to decreased mercury emissions.”


An EPA advisory committee also has criticized the rule. In several letters issued after EPA’s proposal was published in January 2004, the Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee condemned the federal approach for failing to protect public health. CHPAC is a body of researchers, academicians, health care providers, environmentalists, children's advocates, professionals, government employees, and members of the public who advise EPA on regulations, research, and communication issues relevant to children.



EPA Offering AQUATOX Training Workshop in July



AQUATOX is a PC-based simulation model for aquatic ecosystems and covers eutrophication, chemical fate, bioaccumulation, and ecotoxicology. It predicts the fate of various pollutants, such as nutrients and organic chemicals, and their effects on the aquatic ecosystem. EPA is sponsoring an AQUATOX training workshop July 25-27, 2006 in Olympia, Washington. The course will provide a detailed overview of the model, and allow ample time to work with it in a lab setting. There is no charge for the workshop, but prior registration is required, and attendance is limited. 



Supreme Court Upholds States’ Rights in Clean Water Act Case



The U.S. Supreme Court today upheld state government’s authority to lessen the water quality impacts of hydroelectric dams and other federally licensed activities within their borders.


In January, the Pennsylvania DEP joined the friend of the court brief in the S.D. Warren v. Maine Board of Environmental Protection case to support Maine’s right to regulate dams on its rivers under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act.


Warren owns and operates five contiguous hydroelectric run-of-river dams that provide electricity to one of its paper mills. In renewing the hydroelectric licenses, the company applied for water quality certification under the federal Clean Water Act. In 2003, Maine’s board approved certification with conditions to mitigate the water quality impacts of the dams. Warren appealed the conditions, claiming the state overextended its authority.


States have used their authority under the Clean Water Act to protect water quality, safeguard river ecosystems and restore fisheries.


The Supreme Court’s decision upholds the authority of states to set conditions on the operations of hydroelectric dams that would affect river health and water quality, threaten fish and wildlife habitat, and diminish recreational and economic opportunities on rivers across the nation, including Pennsylvania.



California Adopts Emergency Regulations for Perchlorate-Containing Materials



The California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) announced the approval of emergency regulations for the management of perchlorate-containing materials. The best management practice (BMP) regulations were adopted as a result of Assembly Bill 826, the Perchlorate Contamination Prevention Act. The regulations were effective on January 1, 2006 and the BMP requirements will go into effect July 1, 2006. “These new regulations are a necessary safety measure to protect the environment from perchlorate contamination,” said DTSC Director Maureen Gorsen. “The fiscal impacts of the new procedures are minimal, yet the benefits over time will be substantial. AB 826 promotes practices that reduce industrial pollution, a key provision of Governor Schwarzenegger’s environmental action plan.”


Perchlorate is a strong oxidizer, highly reactive and flammable when it is in its pure form. It can be found in much lower concentrations in model rockets, flares and fireworks. It is already regulated as a hazardous substance in its pure form. Residuals from perchlorate material or wastewater coming in contact with perchlorate are currently unregulated but may still pose a health risk especially if it seeps into groundwater. The adopted regulations will fill this gap and minimize perchlorate contaminating the environment.


Key requirements of the new regulations are:

Businesses managing more than 500 pounds of solid perchlorate material or 55 gallons of liquid perchlorate material must notify DTSC of their perchlorate-related activities.

Businesses using fireworks in amounts greater than 4,000 pounds net explosive weight per year or rocket engines in amounts greater than 8,000 pounds per year must submit to DTSC the analytical results of environmental monitoring for perchlorate.

Landfills and publicly owned treatment works that accept non-hazardous perchlorate wastes must notify the appropriate California Regional Water Quality Control Board of any perchlorate discharge and comply with any modifications to existing environmental monitoring programs.

Those who manufacture, package and distribute perchlorate materials must ensure they are properly contained in water-resistant packaging and labeled.

Perchlorate not in a water-resistant packaging must be stored in weather-resistant structures on floors that do not contain drains.

Road safety flares and marine safety flares should be used in a way to minimize release of perchlorate into the environment. Unignited pyrotechnics shall be collected within 24-hours of a fireworks display and properly disposed.

Spills of non-hazardous perchlorate must be immediately contained and prevented from being released into storm drains.

Non-hazardous perchlorate waste must be disposed in a hazardous waste landfill or in a composite-lined portion of a non-hazardous waste landfill.

Discharges of non-hazardous perchlorate wastewater must be immediately reported to the overseeing agency and the appropriate California Regional Water Quality Control Board.

By January 1, 2008, and every five years thereafter, businesses that use high quantities of perchlorate-containing products such as fertilizers, flares, explosives, and blasting agents must review their use of these products and consider non-perchlorate-containing alternatives.





New Regulations to Substantially Strengthen Air Cargo Security



The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced new requirements designed to protect the more than 50,000 tons of cargo that is transported aboard passenger and all-cargo aircraft. The security requirements mark the first substantial changes to air cargo regulations since 1999, and represent a joint government-industry vision of an enhanced security baseline.


"Working with the industry we have set a solid foundation for a major segment of the transportation network," said TSA Assistant Secretary Kip Hawley. "In addition, TSA is working with our partners on a series of separate operational measures that raise security in air cargo."


The Air Cargo Final Rule makes permanent some practices already in place and adds others. Major new security measures include:


Consolidating approximately 4,000 private industry Known Shipper lists into one central database managed by TSA. This will allow TSA to have more visibility into the activities of companies shipping on passenger aircraft and permit more in-depth vetting of known shippers.

Requiring background checks of approximately 51,000 off-airport freight forwarder employees.

Extending secure areas of airports to include ramps and cargo facilities. This will require an additional 50,000 cargo aircraft operator employees to receive full criminal history background checks.

Requiring the employees of more than 4,000 freight forwarders to attend enhanced security training courses developed by TSA.


These new measures will be enforced by an expanded force of air cargo inspectors. In the coming weeks, TSA will complete the hiring of 300 air cargo inspectors. These inspectors are stationed at 102 airports where 95 percent of domestic air cargo originates.


The policy changes implemented by the final rule complement ongoing TSA operational and technological initiatives that aim to strengthen air cargo security through a risk-based approach that balances the twin goals of enhancing security without unduly disrupting the flow of commerce. Operational measures recently implemented include:


Surge initiatives that incorporate an element of unpredictability into the daily inspection activity of approximately 1,000 aviation security inspectors at airports across the country.

Using transportation security officers and TSA equipment to screen cargo that is delivered directly to airport ticket counters.

Expanded use of canine explosives detection teams in air cargo facilities.


The details of how to implement the new regulatory changes are spelled out in the security programs that air carriers and freight consolidators must maintain. Draft security programs will be provided to the carriers and consolidators for comment concurrent with release of the Final Rule. Enhancements are expected to be phased in during the next six months.


Assistant Secretary Hawley said, "In the time-sensitive and dynamic air cargo industry, a layered security approach is essential to thwarting would-be terrorists. Today's important policy enhancements, when combined with ongoing operational and technological initiatives, create a more vigorous, risk-based strategy for enhancing cargo security. We will continue to invest - along with our partners in industry - in policies, programs and ideas that raise the bar even higher."


The new cargo rule is another example of how TSA works with its industry partners to ensure the security of air cargo. When industry partners do not fulfill their security responsibility, the agency takes immediate and appropriate action. In recent weeks, TSA revoked the air carrier certification of J.H World Express, Inc., based in Los Angeles; Inter-Shipping Chartering Corporation, based in Miami; and denied the renewal of the cargo security program for Aramex International Courier, based in Washington, D.C. and New York. These enforcement actions prohibit the companies from tendering cargo for transport on passenger aircraft in the United States and reinforce the agency's commitment to ensure the air cargo industry meets its responsibilities.



Recent Enforcement Actions in NJ



The New Jersey DEP website details enforcement actions taken, violations observed, and penalties assessed for each of the environmental statutes enforced by the agency. 



Texas Issues Penalties Totaling $336,452



On May 17, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) approved penalties totaling $336,452 against 70 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations. Agreed orders were issued for the following enforcement categories: two agricultural, 14 air quality, four industrial waste discharge, three licensed irrigator, three multi-media, three municipal solid waste, seven municipal waste discharge, 13 petroleum storage tank, and 17 public water supply. In addition, there were default orders in these categories: one petroleum storage tank, one licensed irrigator and two public water supply.



New Restrictions on Pest Strips



As a result of EPA’s ongoing evaluation of pesticides, the manufacturer of insect pest strips containing the organophosphate pesticide DDVP (or dichlorvos) has asked EPA to remove certain uses and further restrict where the pest strips can be used in homes. As part of the regulatory process, EPA will publish the proposed changes and its revised risk assessment for public comment before issuing a final decision.


The request from the manufacturer would remove the largest pest strip use (100 grams) from the registration, and for the remaining sizes (both “large” and “small”), new restrictions would be added to product labels. Specifically, the larger strips cannot be used in homes except in garages, attics, crawl spaces, and sheds that are occupied for less than four hours per day. For the smaller pest strips, use in the home is limited to closets, wardrobes, and cupboards. During the transition to the more restrictive labeling, existing products can continue to be used until the phase-out is complete. EPA reminds consumers of the importance of reading and following all label directions to ensure pesticide products are used correctly.


Additionally, the manufacturer is voluntarily deleting other uses of DDVP including: mushroom house, greenhouse, and warehouse handheld fogger uses; total release fogger, as well as lawn, turf/ornamental and crack/crevice uses.