Ohio EPA has reached a settlement with Stericycle, Inc., for violating hazardous waste laws. The Trumbull County company has agreed to pay a $10,900 civil penalty. Stericycle operates an infectious waste incinerator and two autoclaves at its facility located at 1901 Pine Avenue SE, Warren, OH. The facility is a large generator of hazardous waste including wastewater treatment sludge and incinerator ash.
On June 14, 2004, Ohio EPA was notified by Stericycle that it had sent a roll-off box containing 12 cubic yards of hazardous waste treatment sludge to a solid waste landfill. The sludge was disposed of at a Mahoning County landfill not permitted to accept hazardous waste. Approximately 80 tons of material containing both the hazardous waste sludge and surrounding solid waste were later removed from the landfill and sent to a permitted hazardous waste facility.
On June 28, 2004, an Ohio EPA inspector noted additional violations at Stericycle. They included: failure to conduct and document weekly inspections of emergency equipment; failure to include and update emergency-related information in the hazardous waste contingency plan; and failure to maintain job titles and descriptions for employees who handle or manage hazardous waste.
Stericycle has corrected the violations. The $10,900 civil penalty will benefit Ohio's hazardous waste cleanup fund, which is administered by Ohio EPA. A copy of the settlement is available online at: http://www.epa.state.oh.us/dhwm/pdf/01-28-05Stericycle.pdf.
Mustang Ranch Charged with Improper Handling of Asbestos
The new owner of the Mustang Ranch building agreed to pay the EPA $23,000 for improperly removing asbestos from the building, in violation of the Clean Air Act. The owner of the building, Lance Gilman of Mustang, NV, and Ralph Lynn, the owner of Lynn House Moving of Yerington, NV, allegedly failed to properly remove asbestos from the building before demolishing the building.
The EPA and Nevada Division of Environmental Protection inspected the site after both agencies received citizen complaints in May 2004. The EPA filed the enforcement action because NDEP is not delegated to administer the asbestos program in Nevada.
"Asbestos, which is present in many buildings, is a serious health hazard if not handled properly," said Deborah Jordan, director of the EPA's air division for the Pacific Southwest region. "Anyone removing asbestos from buildings must minimize any risks to human health."
In 2003 Gilman bought the building from Bureau of Land Management. Before selling the buildings, the BLM determined that the building contained asbestos. Last year, Gilman demolished part of the building and transported several sections to another location. The EPA and NDEP tested the materials and discovered asbestos in some of the building materials, including ceiling tiles and linoleum flooring.
Asbestos, made up of microscopic bundles of fibers, is commonly used in thermal insulation, fireproofing and other building materials. Asbestos has been linked to significant health problems, including lung cancer. When asbestos-containing materials become damaged or disturbed, the fibers separate and may then become airborne and inhaled into the lungs.
The Clean Air Act specifies procedures that must be followed by anyone disturbing building materials that may contain asbestos. The EPA requires that the materials be kept wet in order to prevent any asbestos fibers from becoming airborne. In Washoe and Clark counties, the county governments are responsible for regulating air emissions of hazardous asbestos that can occur during renovation and demolition activities. In all other Nevada counties, the EPA administers the asbestos program.
Quarterly Air Monitoring Identifies Excess Emissions and $106,849 NJDEP Fine
Wheelabrator Falls Inc. will pay a $106,849 civil penalty for numerous air emission and monitoring violations at its municipal waste incinerator in Falls Township, PA.
Wheelabrator had violated at least one permit condition every quarter since April 1999, with some quarterly reports documenting as many as 15 separate violations. The DEP indicated that the agency will be working closely with this company in an effort to improve future operations at this incinerator.
Facilities such as large-scale incinerators are required to use continuous emission monitors to document if permit limits are being met, submitting this information to DEP on a quarterly basis. Wheelabrator has continuous emission monitors connected to the two municipal waste combustors operated at this location. Violations noted in monitoring reports from April 1999 through September 2003 included exceedances of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and hydrochloric acid emissions. The facility also exceeded combustion and exhaust gas temperature limits in addition to exceeding visible air contaminant or opacity limits.
Under terms of a Feb. 10 consent assessment document, the company has 15 days to pay this civil penalty to the CommonwealthÆs Clean Air Fund, a fund comprised of permit fees and air penalties used to finance air quality improvements within Pennsylvania.
Florida Graduates Environmental Law Environmental Enforcement Auxiliary
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) graduated seven members of the Florida National GuardÆs 44th Civil Support Team as its first Law Enforcement Auxiliary Class. The new auxiliary officers will work closely with the 39 DEP field agents that respond to environmental emergencies and investigate environmental crime throughout the state.
"This partnership with the 44th Civil Support Team provides law enforcement training to the Florida National Guard for the very first time," said Grea Bevis, Chief of DEPÆs Bureau of Environmental Investigations. "Sharing our experience and combining resources with the Civil Support Team strengthens the StateÆs ability to respond to environmental emergencies and hazardous incidents."
The 44th Civil Support Team is a full-time guard unit, established in August 2000 to respond to chemical, biological or radiological incidents within the state at the direction of the Governor. Members receive extensive training in chemical hazards and can assist in investigations involving hazardous or toxic chemicals.
The United States currently supports 55 Civil Support Team units within the National Guard. The 44th Civil Support Team is the first unit to graduate from the law enforcement certification training provided by DEPÆs Division of Law Enforcement.
Pilot Program for Disposal of Prescription Drugs
In an effort to encourage proper disposal of household prescription drugs, the Northeast Recycling Council, Inc. with funding from the EPA, and in collaboration with Maine DEP, CVS/pharmacy, and the South Portland Police Department, conducted a prescription drug take-back event at South Portland's Mill Creek CVS/pharmacy.
The pilot was a huge success allowing citizens the opportunity to bring in unwanted or outdated medications for proper disposal. The drugs collected through the program will be incinerated in order to prevent them from making their way into our waterways.
Increasingly, prescription and non-prescription medications, many of which are not effectively destroyed by sewage treatment plants, are finding their way into streams and drinking water supplies. A study conducted four years ago by the United States Geological Survey found that 80 percent of 139 streams sampled across 30 states detected very low concentrations of chemicals commonly found in prescription drugs.
By the end of SaturdayÆs event, 52 people from 17 Maine communities brought in 50 gallons of medications for proper disposal. This included almost 1,300 medications that were controlled substances, with an estimated street value of over $5,000. The public brought in more than 700 containers of medicine overall. Included in the list of substances collected were antibiotics, antidepressants, anti-cancer drugs, tranquillizers and estrogen.
"Maine is at the forefront of addressing this serious environmental issue as more and more studies confirm that expired and unused pharmaceuticals should be properly destroyed to prevent them from reaching our nationÆs waters," stated Robert W. Varney, EPAÆs regional administrator. "The importance of this complicated problem is just coming to light - this pilot demonstrates that successfully tackling this issue will require the collaboration and cooperation of many parties."
"This one-day event prevented more than 55,000 pills from making their way into our waters and helped educate consumers about the importance for proper disposal of medical waste," said Lynn Rubinstein, Executive Director of the Northeast Recycling Council. "We are hopeful that the success of this pilot will pave the way for similar projects in the future."
Response was enthusiastically positive, with many folks commenting that they just never knew what to do with all those old prescriptions. Maine legislation this session will address this increasingly serious environmental problem by considering turn-in, mail-back, and proper disposal mechanisms for unneeded pharmaceuticals.
"CVS was pleased to support the Northeast Recycling Council and the EPA by hosting the nationÆs first-ever drug take-back program in a retail pharmacy setting," said Eileen Howard Dunn, Vice President of Corporate Communication and Community Relations at CVS/pharmacy. "There is potential for this type of program to have a real impact in educating the public about environmentally-safe disposal of medication, and we look forward to exploring additional leadership opportunities on this issue."
EPA Toolkit on Use of SEPs to Promote Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
EPAÆs State and Local Capacity Building Branch recently announced the publication of a new toolkit to help state and local governments pursue energy efficiency or renewable energy projects through enforcement settlements. Under these settlements, violators may voluntarily agree to undertake Supplemental Environmental Projects (SEPs) as a way to offset a portion of their monetary penalty. The toolkit shows state and local agencies how to use SEPs as an opportunity to support new renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
The toolkit presents the case for pursuing energy efficiency and renewable energy within settlements, provides examples in which SEPs have been used to support such projects, offers additional ideas for projects, and includes a step-by-step regulatory "road map" for pursuing SEPs. The toolkit also provides 30 pages of useful SEP resources for state and local regulators, including EPA and state SEP policies and guidance, SEP libraries, a list of contacts, a peer exchange network, sample outreach documents, cases and settlements including energy efficiency or renewable energy SEPs, and other materials. The toolkit is available here.
Exceeding Air Permit Limits Results in $63,000 OEPA Penalty
Ohio EPA reached a settlement this month with Pechiney Plastic Packaging, Inc., for violating air pollution control regulations at its facility that manufactures flexible packaging for the food, health care and specialty markets. The company has agreed to a $63,000 civil penalty.
In January 2003, the Akron Regional Air Quality Management District (ARAQMD), Ohio EPA's contractual representative for Summit County, received Pechiney's stack test results and found the facility's emissions units operated in violation of state permits. Specifically, three incinerators serving these units failed to reach the required control efficiency for the destruction of volatile organic compound emissions. ARAQMD cited Pechiney for violating the control efficiency limitation and for failing to report emission limitation deviations in its quarterly report.
In June 2003, the facility installed a new incinerator to replace the three existing incinerators and later performed stack tests which indicated that the required control efficiency had been reached. As part of the settlement, the company needs to conduct and report the results of capture efficiency tests on one of the emissions units.