TCEQ Fines BASF Almost $2 Million for Air Violations

March 28, 2005

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) announced penalties totaling $2,129,684 against 46 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations.

Orders were issued for the following enforcement categories: one water quality; 15 air; one industrial hazardous waste; two industrial waste discharge; one multi-media; three municipal waste discharge; 14 petroleum storage tank; five public water system; and two water quality. The commissioners also approved two air default agreed orders.

A large portion of the total figure is a fine for BASF Fina Petrochemicals, LP assessed at $1,944,600 in Jefferson County for air violations. The order resulted from violations found during investigations from 2002 to 2004, and is related to ten enforcement actions. Violations included episodic releases of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide, and failure to follow proper reporting procedures. Half of the penalty amount will go to four environmental projects in Jefferson County.

The TCEQ's next agenda meeting is scheduled for April 13, with a work session scheduled for April 15. Agenda items from all commission meetings and work sessions agendas can be viewed at the TCEQ Web site.

EPA to Close RCRA Hotline

If you have any questions that youÆd like to ask EPA, nowÆs the time to give the agency a call. On April 1, 2005, the RCRA hotline will close. After that date, youÆll be referred to the AgencyÆs website to get your questions answered. Participants of Environmental Resource CenterÆs hazardous waste seminars have always been able to call us for answers to their most challenging questions. With the demise of the RCRA hotline, we are opening this up to others. For details on how you can take advantage of this service, see: RCRA Hotline.

4.5 Million Dollar Penalty for Facility Modifications Without a Permit

Tyler Pipe Company, a division of McWane Inc., has agreed to plead guilty to two felony counts, pay a criminal fine of $4.5 million, and undertake extensive upgrades at its iron foundry facility located near the City of Tyler in Smith County, Texas, arising from its illegal construction and operation of the facility's south plant cupola.

Tyler Pipe is one of the largest foundries in the U.S. It manufactures grey and ductile iron pipes and castings. Central to this process are Tyler Pipe's 60-foot north and south plant cupolas: large furnaces that melt scrap metal, such as shredded car bodies, to produce molten iron. The cupolas generate substantial air pollution, including significant emissions of particulate matter, carbon monoxide and lead.

From December 1998 through January 1999, Tyler Pipe razed its old south plant cupola and replaced it with a new cupola. Under the Clean Air ActÆs prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) provisions, Tyler Pipe was required to apply to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for permission to construct and operate the new cupola. The Act would have required that pollution from the new cupola be controlled using the best available control technology. Instead, Tyler Pipe concealed the construction of the new cupola from the TCEQ and connected its new cupola to the existing pollution control device, a water scrubber designed and built in the 1960's.

Additionally, as a major pollution emitting facility, Tyler Pipe was required to apply for a Clean Air Act Title V permit. In an effort to conceal its knowing violation of the PSD provisions, Tyler Pipe claimed in its Title V permit application that the south plant cupola had not been modified since 1971, and was therefore not subject to the Clean Air Act's PSD or Title V requirements.

Pursuant to a plea agreement filed with the court, Tyler Pipe will plead guilty to one count which charges that from July 1999 through August 2000, it engaged in a scheme to cover up material facts from the TCEQ in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1001(a)(1). Tyler Pipe will plead guilty to a second count which charges that from December 1998 through October 2003, it knowingly constructed and operated the south plant cupola without applying for a PSD permit from the TCEQ, in violation of the Clean Air Act, 42 U.S.C. Section 7413(c)(1). In addition to paying a criminal fine of $4.5 million, Tyler Pipe will be subject to probation for a period of five years, during which it will be required to upgrade a number of structures regulated under the Clean Air Act. The upgrades are estimated to cost approximately $12 million.

This investigation was conducted by the EPA Criminal Investigation Division's Dallas Area Office and the Special Investigation Section of the TCEQ, with assistance from EPA Region 6 and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Department of Justice Trial Attorney Daniel Dooher, Assistant U.S. Attorney Arnold A. Spencer, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Cheryl Seager are handling the case for the United States.

More information about the Clean Air Act and PSD provisions is available at:

National Clean Diesel Campaign

Reducing emissions from diesel engines is one of the most important air quality challenges facing the country. Even with more stringent heavy-duty highway engine standards set to take effect over the next decade, over the next twenty years millions of diesel engines already in use will continue to emit large amounts of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, both of which contribute to serious public health problems. These problems are manifested by thousands of instances of premature mortality, hundreds of thousands of asthma attacks, millions of lost work days, and numerous other health impacts.

Building on the successes of EPAÆs regulatory and voluntary efforts to reduce emissions from diesel engines, EPA has created the National Clean Diesel Campaign (NCDC). The Campaign will work aggressively to reduce the pollution emitted from diesel engines across the country through the implementation of varied control strategies and the aggressive involvement of national, state, and local partners.

NCDC participants are committed to reducing diesel emissions and finding innovative ways to protect human health and the environment. To fully address the challenges of reducing diesel emissions the NCDC is using a multi-pronged approach:

EPA Issues New Notification of Regulated Activity Form

The Notification of Regulated Waste Activity form [EPA Form 8700-12] is used to obtain an EPA Identification Number and for the submission of a subsequent notification to update the information on your initial notification. A section is included with definitions for RCRA terms. The form is also used to notify the agency of your used oil and universal waste activities. You can download the new form from EPAÆs web site.

EPA Reaches Agreement With Aluminum Recovery Technologies

In Chicago on March 22, 2005, EPA Region 5 reached an agreement with Aluminum Recovery Technologies Inc. on alleged clean-air violations at the company's aluminum recovery plant at 2170 Production Road, Kendallville, Ind. EPA assessed a $100,000 penalty.

The agreement resolves an EPA administrative complaint filed last September alleging that ART had released more dioxins and furans from its plant than is allowed by federal regulations.

ART made operational changes at the plant, and follow-up testing showed compliance with dioxin and furan regulations.

"We are pleased that ART moved quickly to bring its dioxin and furan emissions into compliance with federal regulations," said Acting Regional Administrator Bharat Mathur. There is evidence that dioxins may cause liver damage and cancer in humans.

EPA Training: Behavior of Light Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids (LNAPLs) in the Subsurface

The Remediation Technologies Development Forum (RTDF) Non-Aqueous Phase Liquid (NAPL) Cleanup Alliance has prepared a course on light non-aqueous phase liquids, or LNAPLs, and their impacts in the subsurface. This course provides a basic description of the behavior of LNAPLs (specifically, petroleum hydrocarbon liquids) in the subsurface. It helps explain what many have observed in the field for years: As LNAPLs are removed from the subsurface, LNAPLs remaining are increasingly difficult to recover.

The training presents the technical concepts involved in LNAPL behavior, discusses the application of these concepts to real world situations, and explores how heterogeneity and other factors affect LNAPL behavior and complicate recovery. This training will be particularly useful to: Regulators who evaluate work plans and recommend LNAPL remedial strategies; hydrogeologists who make quantitative predictions about LNAPL volume, migration, and recovery to support these recommendations; and anyone who needs basic information about the nature of petroleum hydrocarbons in the subsurface.