Texaco Refining and Marketing, Inc. (TRMI), a Texaco, Inc., subsidiary based in Los Angeles, pleaded guilty on March 12 to two felony violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA). A fine of $4 million was imposed, $3 million of which will be designated for environmental projects expected to include projects in the Channel Islands National Park, the Santa Monica National Recreational Area, San Luis Obispo and Ventura counties, the Wilmington district of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles sanitation districts.
TRMI admitted that its employees knowingly discharged wastewaters which contained oil and grease above permitted levels into the Dominquez Channel from a TRMI refinery in Los Angeles. TRMI also admitted that an employee working at a service station in San Luis Obispo, for which there was no discharge permit, directed contractors to discharge 2,000-8,000 gallons of wastewaters into a drain that emptied into Prefumo Creek and then into the Pacific Ocean. The discharge of oil into surface waters can, in sufficient quantities, create a fire hazard and can harm fish and other aquatic life.
The case was investigated by the Los Angeles Federal
Environmental Task Force and the Santa Barbara/San Luis Obispo
Regional Environmental Task Force. The case was prosecuted by the
U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles.
EPA PROPOSES WITHDRAWAL OF ARSENIC IN DRINKING WATER STANDARD; SEEKS INDEPENDENT REVIEWS
US EPA Administrator Christie Whitman announced that EPA proposes to withdraw the pending arsenic standard for drinking water that was issued on January 22. The rule would have reduced the acceptable level of arsenic in water from 50 parts per billion (ppb) to 10 ppb.
EPA will seek independent reviews of both the science behind the standard and of the estimates of the costs to communities of implementing the rule. A final decision on withdrawal is expected after the public has an opportunity to comment.
"I am committed to safe and affordable drinking water for all Americans. I want to be sure that the conclusions about arsenic in the rule are supported by the best available science. When the federal government imposes costs on communities-especially small communities-we should be sure the facts support imposing the federal standard," said Whitman. "I am moving quickly to review the arsenic standard so communities that need to reduce arsenic in drinking water can proceed with confidence once the permanent standard is confirmed."
While scientists agree that the previous standard of 50 parts per billion should be lowered, there is no consensus on a particular safe level. Independent review of the science behind the final standard will help clear up uncertainties that have been raised about the health benefits of reducing arsenic to 10 parts per billion in drinking water.
"It is clear that arsenic, while naturally occurring, is something that needs to be regulated. Certainly the standard should be less than 50 ppb, but the scientific indicators are unclear as to whether the standard needs to go as low as 10 ppb," said Whitman.
"This decision will not lessen any existing protections for drinking water. The standards would remain the same, whether the rule went through or not, until it was time to enforce it under the compliance schedule five to nine years from now," said Whitman. "But, in the interim, EPA will examine what may have been a rushed decision."
Some cities and states that will have to comply with the arsenic rule have raised serious questions about whether the costs of the rule were fully understood when the rule was signed in early January. EPA estimates the cost to be about $200 million per year. Many small communities will be affected by the drinking water standard for arsenic, making it especially important to ensure that the Safe Drinking Water Act provision allowing balancing of costs is based on accurate information.
Arsenic is an element that occurs naturally in several parts of the country. The highest concentrations of arsenic occur mostly in the Western states, particularly in the Southwest. At unsafe levels, arsenic causes cancer and other diseases.
EPA has asked for a 60-day extension of the effective date of the pending arsenic standard for drinking water, and expects to release a timetable for review within the next few weeks.
Whitman plans to attend the Western Governors Association meeting
in Denver, Colorado on March 22 and March 23, where she plans to
participate in round table discussions on arsenic with
MARYLAND COMPANY PRESIDENT PLEADS GUILTY TO OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE
Howard J. Goldstein of Owings Mills, Md., and Pompano Beach, Fla., pleaded guilty on March 7 to obstructing justice in relation to an investigation of an oil discharge into the Baltimore sewer system. Goldstein's company, A&A Waste Oil Company, was under investigation for a discharge of approximately 10,000 gallons of oil into the Baltimore sewers. Goldstein admitted that he caused destruction of documents which should have been given to the grand jury investigating the alleged release and deletion of computer system data.
Releasing oil into sewer systems can create a fire hazard and present a risk to treatment plant workers and plant equipment. When sentenced, Goldstein faces a maximum sentence of up to ten years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine.
The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation
Division, the FBI, the Environmental Crimes Unit of the Maryland
Attorney General's Office and the Baltimore City Department of
Public Works. The case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's
Office in Baltimore.
THREE OHIO CITIZENS SENTENCED FOR BRIBERY, TAX EVASION IN PERMIT SCHEME
A Steubenville, Ohio area man and his son, Patsy and Ronald DeLuca, were sentenced on March 7, and Vincent Zumpano on March 8, for bribery and tax evasion in a landfill permit scheme. Patsy DeLuca and Vincent Zumpano accepted unlawful gratuities to influence decisions of the North Ohio Valley Air Authority. In Oct. 1999, all three men pleaded guilty to violating the unlawful gratuity statute and conspiring to deceive the Internal Revenue Service on their tax returns.
The charges were the result of unlawful gratuities of $169,750 paid by Robert Vukelic to Patsy DeLuca, Vincent Zumano, and Richard Canestraro through Ronald Deluca. The gratuities were paid to influence the issuance of environmental permits for the Pine Hollow Landfill near Steubenville, owned by Vukelic. Zumpano was sentenced to fifteen months in prison and an $8,000 fine; Patsy DeLuca to four months in prison, four months home confinement and a $10,000 fine; and Ronald DeLuca to six months home confinement and a $10,000 fine.
The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation
Division, the FBI and the Internal Revenue Service and was
prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Columbus.
Be sure to check here first to find out what to add to your to do list for the next few weeks. (While helpful, please note that this list may not be inclusive of all deadlines affecting your facility and should not be relied upon as your only source of information.)
April 1, 2001: Consumer confidence report must be prepared by community drinking water systems that sell water to other community water systems. (40 CFR 141.152(d))
April 16, 2001: Deadline for compliance with NESHAP standards for existing sources in the pulp and paper industry. (40 CFR 63.440(d))
April 22, 2001: Existing sources subject to organic hazardous air pollutant emission controls under 40 CFR 63, subpart H, for equipment leaks from Groups II and IV chemical process units must submit semiannual report to EPA. (40 CFR 63.175(e)(7)(ii) and 63.175(e)(8))
April 30, 2001: Fossil-fuel fired steam generating units subject
to new source performance standards for electric utility steam
generating units must submit quarterly reports for sulfur
dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and opacity emissions. (40 CFR
60.49a(i)-(j) and 60.49b(v))
AMENDED PESTICIDE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT FILED
On Monday, March 19, EPA submitted an amended consent decree to the federal District Court in California to resolve lawsuits filed regarding scientific and regulatory decisions affecting certain pesticides. The revised agreement was reached between EPA and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) after lengthy negotiations among EPA, NRDC, and interveners in the case, who include representatives from the pesticide industry and the farming community. After EPA's counsel advised Administrator Christie Whitman that the Agency had limited flexibility to change or withdraw from the consent decree, Whitman outlined steps in a directive to the pesticide program to make its regulatory processes more participatory and transparent.
"The changes we negotiated in the settlement agreement will guarantee new opportunities for public participation and additional external review of critical pesticide decisions," said Whitman. "We have set specific milestones for the review of certain pesticides, and EPA will meet deadlines required by the Food Quality Protection Act (FQPA) to reassess existing pesticides using current health and safety standards." Whitman added, "We will do so using a rigorous scientific review process that will allow extensive opportunity for public involvement and comment, to ensure that all perspectives are heard."
Administrator Whitman directed the pesticide program to seek input from all interested parties, including the Committee to Advise on Reassessment and Transition (CARAT), on ways to optimize public involvement in FQPA implementation. Whitman announced that during this process the committee will be co-chaired by the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and by the Deputy Administrator of EPA. The directive also requires that EPA solicit advice from its Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) on a critical element of conducting cumulative risk assessments. Cumulative risk assessment is the evaluation of the risks of exposure to multiple pesticides which are chemically similar and share a common mechanism of toxicity.
Specifically, the revised agreement continues to include the following components:
- Establishes dates to conduct cumulative risk assessments for organophosphate pesticides,
- Establishes dates to issue Reregistration Eligibility Decisions (REDs) or revised risk assessment for 11 specific pesticides,
- Establishes dates for certain regulatory decisions (if necessary) for 3 pesticides,
- Establishes dates to determine if certain classes of pesticides share a common mechanism of toxicity,
- Continues efforts to establish a scientifically validated screening and testing program for potential endocrine disrupting chemicals.
Under the FQPA, EPA is required to reassess 66 percent of existing tolerances by August 3, 2002 to ensure they meet today's health and safety standards. The Agency is on schedule to meet this deadline.
For further information, copies of the revised agreement and
Administrator Whitman's directive to the pesticide program are
available at http://www.epa.gov/pesticides.
CLEAN AIR AGREEMENTS REACHED WITH PETROLEUM REFINERS
The Justice Department, the U.S. EPA, the states of Louisiana and Delaware, and the Northwest Air Pollution Authority announced agreements with three petroleum refiners that will reduce air emissions from nine refineries by over 60,000 tons per year. The agreements with Motiva Enterprises, Equilon Enterprises, and Deer Park Refining Limited Partnership will affect petroleum refineries located in Delaware, Louisiana, Texas, California, and Washington.
These settlements are part of an effort to reduce harmful air pollution released illegally from petroleum refineries. Consent decrees filed in federal court in Houston call for the companies to spend an estimated $400 million to install up-to-date pollution-control equipment and significantly reduce emissions from process units, wastewater vents, leaking valves, and flares throughout the refineries. The agreements also resolve alleged violations of federal and state hazardous waste and toxics laws at Motiva's Convent, La., and Port Arthur, Texas refineries and the Deer Park, Texas refinery.
The companies also will collectively pay a $9.5 million civil penalty under the Clean Air Act and spend about $5.5 million on environmental projects in communities affected by the refineries' pollution. The states of Delaware, Louisiana and the Northwest Air Pollution Authority, a regional air agency in Washington State, are joining the United States in these settlements and will share the penalties and environmental projects with the federal government.
Motiva Enterprises LLC, Equilon Enterprises LLC, and Deer Park Refining Limited Partnership have formed an alliance to operate nine refineries in the United States. This consortium is the second-largest domestic refiner, with a combined capacity of 1.4 million barrels a day. The settlements will not reduce the capacity of these refineries but will require that their production emit less pollutants.
The agreements will address air pollutants - nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and particulate emissions - that can cause serious respiratory problems and exacerbate cases of childhood asthma. Toxic air pollutants produced in the refining process can cause cancer.
Under the settlements, the refiners will cut nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions from the nine refineries by more than 60,000 tons a year by using innovative technologies. Improved leak detection and repair practices and other pollution-control upgrades will significantly reduce emissions of smog-causing volatile organic compounds and benzene, a known carcinogen. The agreements will also benefit workers and local communities by including improved safety measures to reduce the risk of accidental release of pollutants.
Investigations have shown that many petroleum refiners have made major modifications to their facilities, increasing capacity and air emissions, without installing the pollution control equipment required by the law. In addition, many refiners are illegally flaring acid gases and are failing to minimize fugitive emissions throughout their facilities. The combined state and federal government's settlements with petroleum refiners provide for a comprehensive, cooperative approach to addressing these environmental problems across the industry.
Refineries affected by the settlements are located in Delaware
City, De. (Motiva); Norco, La. (Motiva); Convent, La. (Motiva);
Port Arthur, Texas (Motiva); Bakersfield, Ca. (Equilon); Los
Angeles (Equilon); Martinez, Ca. (Equilon); Anacortes, Wash.
(Equilon); and Deer Park, Texas (owner: Deer Park Refining
Limited Partnership; operator: Shell Oil Company).
CITIZENS CAN VIEW REFINERY EMISSIONS DATA ONLINE
The public now has easy access to understandable emissions data from Koch Petroleum Group L.P.'s Pine Bend Refinery in Rosemount, Minn., thanks to a unique web site launched by Koch and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA).
By logging on to http://www.kochpinebend.com, the public will be able to view data about the refinery's emissions and their impact. Additionally, they'll find a feature called "point/counterpoint" where Koch and MCEA air their differing views about information presented on the Web site. This openness and collaboration on a comprehensive emissions reporting Web site may be the first of its kind between industry and an environmental group, and sets a new standard for refineries.
The web site is the result of an unlikely collaboration that began over two years ago. MCEA experienced difficulty accessing and reviewing information about a proposed air emission permit for the Pine Bend refinery. And, MCEA wanted to know whether Koch was really going to implement change at the refinery in the aftermath of environmental problems a few summers ago.
Meanwhile, Koch was interested in providing the public with a user-friendly Web site that would give visitors a complete picture of the refinery's environmental performance.
To ensure the accuracy of the information reported, Koch (in consultation with MCEA) contracted with the University of Minnesota to provide an independent calculation of emissions data using data and equations provided by Koch Petroleum Group, LP.
The web site presents data using charts and graphs that provide context with other information - for example, regulatory limits or comparing Koch to other facilities. Visitors can click to review emissions data on specific pollutants in three different reporting formats: historical data (5 or 10 years), comparison to other U.S. refineries, and comparison to other Minnesota industries.
MCEA is a nonprofit organization using law, science, and research to protect Minnesota's natural resources, wildlife, and the health of its people. Founded in 1974, MCEA's offices are in St. Paul where its 13-member staff work on the following program areas: forestry; water quality; pesticides; regulatory reinvention; land use and transportation; stormwater; flood reduction; agricultural drainage; and, legal and legislative advocacy.
Koch Petroleum Group is a major provider of transportation fuels used in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Its Pine Bend refinery employs more than 750 people. It is a subsidiary of Koch Industries, which is based in Wichita, Kansas. Koch Industries and its subsidiaries employ more than 11,000 people worldwide and are involved in virtually all phases of the oil and gas industry, as well as agriculture, chemicals, chemical technology products, energy services, asphalt products, metals and mineral services, real estate, and financial investments.