The Tennessee Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste Management Programs has published a PowerPoint presentation that identifies the top 10 violations and how to avoid them. It includes pictures of sites where many of the violations were found.
Other top 10 RCRA violation lists:
$100,000 Penalty for Failure to Obtain Air Permit
Ponderay Newsprint in Pend Oreille County, Washington, and the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) have reached a settlement over air-quality permit violations.
Under the terms of the settlement, Ponderay Newsprint will pay $100,000, the majority of which will go to a local project to reduce toxic air pollution. The money will be used to help low-income residents in Pend Oreille County to replace older, uncertified woodstoves with cleaner-burning appliances.
Ponderay Newsprint failed to submit an application for an "air operating permit," a requirement of major sources of air pollution. The company has agreed to submit that application.
Industries are required to have an air operating permit if they have the potential to emit more than 100 tons per year of any pollutant, more than 10 tons per year of a hazardous air pollutant, or more than 25 tons per year of a combination of hazardous air pollutants. These are considered "major sources" and their permits have more stringent EPA requirements.
"The discussions between Ponderay Newsprint and Ecology were cooperative and constructive," said Karen Wood, who manages Ecology's air quality program in Spokane.
Annual fees for air operating permit sources are significantly more expensive because of the additional inspections, oversight, and administrative work required by the EPA. Since the inception of the air operating permit program in 1994, Ponderay Newsprint has reported emissions below the amount that would require an air operating permit.
Stack testing conducted at Ponderay Newsprint since 2003, using newer scientific methods, has shown that the facility was emitting enough volatile organic compounds to classify as a "major" air pollution source.
"We are pleased to have reached a settlement that directly benefits the residents of Pend Oreille County," said Tom Garrett of Ponderay Newsprint. "We are eager to continue working with the Department of Ecology to obtain the additional permit needed to put this matter fully behind us."
$29,000 Penalty for Failure to Renew Permit
Under an agreement with Ohio EPA, Novelis Corporation will pay a $29,610 settlement for violating Ohio's air pollution permitting requirements at the 390 Griswold Street facility in Warren, Ohio.
Novelis Corporation produces aluminum products for the beverage industry. It operates a finish coating process that includes drying ovens that emit air contaminants, requiring air pollution permits. The company was cited for failing to submit a permit renewal application within six months of its expiration date. The company has been allowed to continue to operate under its expired permit until Ohio EPA acts on the renewal application.
Failure to Notify State of Change from Small to Large Quantity Generator Leads to $12,000 Fine
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has penalized Churchill Coatings Corporation $12,000 for violations of the hazardous waste management regulations at its facility located in Palmer, MA. In addition, the company is required to pay accumulated annual compliance fees totaling $7,905.
A MassDEP inspection on Feb. 23, 2006, revealed that the company violated hazardous waste management requirements by not notifying MassDEP of a change in its hazardous waste generator status. Churchill Coatings was registered as a small quantity generator of hazardous waste, but was, in fact, operating as a large quantity generator.
Other violations were related to recordkeeping and labeling provisions. Churchill Coatings, which cooperated with MassDEP during the investigation, initiated corrective actions to address the noncompliance issues at its facility immediately after the inspection.
As part of a consent order issued to the company, Churchill has agreed to pay a $6,000 penalty. The remaining $6,000 will be suspended pending the company's compliance with the order. In addition, Churchill will pay $7,905, which is the difference between the annual compliance fees for a large quantity generator and a small quantity generator over the three years that Churchill operated out of status.
"It is important for companies to make the appropriate notifications to MassDEP when their hazardous waste generator status changes," said Michael Gorski, director of MassDEP's Western Regional Office in Springfield. "The regulations are designed to assure there is appropriate oversight of generators of hazardous waste, based on the amount of waste they produce."
American-Based Ship Operator Sentenced for Environmental Crimes
American-based ship operator, Pacific-Gulf Marine, Inc. (PGM), was sentenced on July 24 for deliberate acts of pollution involving a fleet of four ships, in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships. U.S. District Judge William M. Nickerson sentenced PGM to pay a $1 million criminal fine, $500,000 for community service, and serve three years of probation under the terms of a rigorous environmental compliance program (ECP), which is subject to court approval.
According to documents filed in court, including a joint factual statement signed by the company’s chief executive officer, PGM admitted that the ships illegally discharged hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil-contaminated bilge waste without the use of an oily water separator, a required pollution prevention device. Instead, the ships used secret bypass pipes, sometimes referred to as a “magic pipe,” to circumvent the oily water separator.
After learning of the federal investigation, PGM voluntarily disclosed to investigators the results of an internal investigation comprised of approximately 50 reports of interviews with various current and former employees who had worked aboard the four giant “car carrier” vessels used to transport vehicles. Many of the interviews contained confessions, admissions, or otherwise revealed incriminating information and evidence of illegal conduct, according to documents filed in court.
Both the Department of Justice and the EPA have voluntary disclosure programs under which a company can seek non-prosecution if it discovers violations and reports them in a timely manner prior to a government investigation. Prosecutors advised the court today that while PGM’s cooperation occurred after the initiation of the criminal investigation, it was nevertheless substantial and warranted significant credit. At the sentencing hearing, Judge Nickerson recognized that PGM had provided significant cooperation in the government’s investigation.
“We will continue to prosecute companies who use our oceans as dumping grounds until those shipping companies clean up their acts,” said David M. Uhlmann, chief of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “But this case also demonstrates that companies like PGM can help right their wrongs by cooperating with criminal investigators, and we are hopeful that others will follow PGM's example by identifying misconduct within their organizations and voluntarily disclosing that information to law enforcement officials.”
“We will continue to work to protect the Chesapeake Bay and Maryland’s other waterways by prosecuting people and companies that pollute them in violation of federal law,” said Rod J. Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland. “We are fortunate that PGM responded in this case by accepting responsibility for its actions and assisting in our investigation.” Under the terms of the plea agreement, half of the $500,000 community service payment will fund environmental projects to improve, restore, or study water quality in the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, while the other half will fund environmental education for mariners at U.S. maritime schools.
PGM admitted that its shore-side management “failed to provide sufficient management resources and support to the ships and also failed to exercise sufficient supervision and management controls to prevent or detect criminal violations by its employees.” The motive for the criminal conduct was to save money, according to papers filed in court.
$2,500 Fine for Failure to Report Chemical Release
Paneltech International, LLC, a wood-based resins manufacturing company, will pay a $2,500 EPA fine for failure to report the release of approximately 3,350 pounds of phenol—an extremely hazardous substance—to the environment. According to EPA documents, Paneltech failed to report the release to the National Response Center (as required by federal law) until more than two hours after the incident occurred at their Hoquiam, Washington facility on Dec. 1, 2005.
Further EPA investigation revealed that Paneltech also failed to file a Tier I or Tier II Inventory of Hazardous Chemicals Report to the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), and the local fire department. The failure to file the Tier I and Tier II Inventory of Hazardous Chemicals Report with appropriate agencies is a violation of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). In addition to the penalty, Paneltech also has agreed to perform a supplemental environmental project (SEP), which will provide $7,500 worth of emergency response equipment for the Hoquiam Fire Department. The SEP will provide self-contained breathing apparatus for response to certain fire and hazardous materials incidents.
How to Track the New Jersey DEP Enforcement Activities
You can track the latest activity of state environmental investigators through a new information service now available on the Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) website, DEP Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson announced last week.
"We've made it even easier for the public to find out what we are doing in New Jersey's neighborhoods to make sure the laws and regulations that safeguard public health and our environment are obeyed," Commissioner Jackson said. "We believe that the more residents know, the better partners in environmental stewardship they can be."
The new field-activity blotter offers the public an at-a-glance listing of all site visits the DEP's Compliance & Enforcement investigators have conducted during the past 14 days to evaluate compliance with environmental laws and to respond to residents' concerns or complaints.
Information in the field-activity blotter is arranged by county, and municipalities are listed alphabetically. The report features the location for each site visit as well as the date and the program of interest, such as air, water quality, hazardous waste and land use, among others.
The site-visit report complements the DEP's Enforcement Blotter, which lists enforcement action taken within the past 14 days in response to environmental violations.
Ohio EPA Proposes Clean Air Mercury Rules
Ohio EPA held a public hearing Jan. 29, 2007, to gather public comments on proposed rules that are intended to reduce mercury emissions from coal-burning electric power plants by 86 percent.
The rules are Ohio's implementation of federal rules known as the Clean Air Mercury Rules (CAMR), published by U.S. EPA in May 2005. The rules establish a cap-and-trade program for emissions of mercury and set a total mercury emissions ceiling for Ohio. When fully implemented, these rules would reduce mercury emissions from Ohio-based utilities by 86 percent.
Scroll to Chapter 3745-108 of the rules. Copies of the draft rules are available at that location or by contacting Lee Burkleca at (614) 728-1344, or by e-mail, Comments also can be e-mailed to Lee Burkleca, at the same e-mail address, or sent to Mr. Burkleca's attention at Ohio EPA, Division of Air Pollution Control, Lazarus Government Center, P.O. Box 1049, Columbus, 43216-1049.
EPA Promotes Voluntary Partnership to Area Businesses to Reduce Air Pollution
The EPA Mid-Atlantic Region hosted a meeting on January 18 with Philadelphia-area business representatives from companies such as Merck, Glaxo Smith Kline, and Sunoco to discuss how they can become involved in the EPA Industry Partnerships Program, a voluntary program to help reduce air emissions in their neighborhoods. The overall goal is to encourage and assist small and large businesses to become better environmental performers and to go beyond compliance to reduce their emissions of toxic air pollutants, greenhouse gases, and to increase energy efficiency.
New Environmental Education Partnership Formed
The Mid-Atlantic Region has partnered with the USDA Forest Service, NASA, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Retired and Senior Volunteers of America (RSVP)—Delaware Valley Chapter, to host a science symposium on January 31 at St. Norbert Elementary School (Paoli, Pa., Chester County). The pilot program will assist educators and help Pennsylvania youth qualify to pass the academic standards set by Pennsylvania for the Science and Technology and Environment and Ecology courses given to students in grades 4, 7, 10, and 12. Environmental training on water, mold, and soil will be offered by the partners to the student body and teachers.
U.S. Auto Dealers Agree to Save Energy
In a first-of-its-kind partnership between automobile dealers and EPA, the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) announced at the kick-off of the Washington Auto Show that they are joining the Energy Star Challenge. NADA is challenging its 20,000 member dealerships to reduce energy use by 10 percent or more at more than 43,000 facilities nationwide.
"America's auto dealers are delivering more than great cars," said Bill Wehrum, acting assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. "They are driving energy savings up and costs down, while leading the way to a healthier environment and a stronger economy. NADA's response to the Energy Star Challenge is an example of exceptional leadership at work."
Automobile dealerships are energy-intensive operations that require high quality lighting, both indoors and outdoors, and first-rate climate control. EPA estimates that if auto dealers cut their energy use by 10 percent they would save nearly $193 million and prevent more than 1 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions.
This announcement by NADA and EPA expands on EPA's Energy Star program's ongoing work with motor vehicle manufacturers in the United States to include automobile dealers. NADA members will assess and track the energy performance of their facilities using EPA's rating tool, Portfolio Manager. Setting energy efficiency goals and tracking progress are important practices in implementing an effective energy management program. The energy information entered into Portfolio Manager by NADA members will allow not only individual dealerships but the industry as a whole to monitor the significant reductions that will result from operational improvements. Other resources available to NADA members include the publication "Putting Energy into Profits: An Auto Dealer Guide" as well as webcast training, expert support, and more.
Last year alone, Americans, with the help of Energy Star, saved $12 billion on their energy bills and reduced greenhouse gas emissions equal to that of 23 million vehicles. Launched in 2005, the Energy Star Challenge encourages businesses across America to reduce energy use by 10 percent or more.
EPA Orders Owners of Former Metal Plating Facility in Southern California to Cleanup Hazardous Waste
The EPA has ordered Ambitech, Inc., and James and America Janda to clean up hazardous substances at a former print and circuit board manufacturing and metal plating facility outside Los Angeles.
Ambitech, located at 8944 Fullbright Avenue in Chatsworth, Calif., used copper, lead, nickel, silver, hydrochloric acid, cyanide, sulfuric acid, and other hazardous substances in its plating operations. Ambitech used these chemicals to produce, among other things, mainframe computers, oil drilling instrumentation, and aerospace and defense equipment.
“Companies that use hazardous chemicals are required to properly store and dispose of those materials,” said Dan Meer, chief of the emergency response and preparedness branch for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest region. “If Ambitech cannot undertake a clean up at their facility, EPA is prepared to do it.”
Following enforcement action taken by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control, the EPA in coordination with state officials inspected the facility and found large quantities of hazardous substances left on-site when plating operations ceased in the fall of 2005. If unaddressed, the hazardous substances, some of which are stored in unmarked and leaking drums, would continue to pose a risk to the surrounding area, including residential neighborhoods that lie within half a mile of the facility.
Ambitech and the Jandas have until January 25 to agree to clean up the chemicals. If the deadline is not met, the EPA’s emergency removal group will conduct the cleanup using Superfund funds. The agency may spend up to $334,000 in cleanup costs, which will be charged back to the responsible parties.
Under the federal Superfund law, the parties that operated or owned the facility are liable for cleanup costs.
High-Efficiency Toilets to Get WaterSense Nod
"The WaterSense label will help consumers identify high-performing, water-efficient products," said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles. "By purchasing WaterSense-labeled plumbing fixtures, consumers can help protect the water supply and their wallets."
The new toilets are the product of extensive research in fluid dynamics conducted over the last six years. While the exterior differs little from traditional toilets, interior redesign and new mechanical approaches significantly improve flow and reduce water usage.
During the development of its WaterSense program, EPA analysis determined that toilets represented a significant target for its water-efficiency activities. Toilet usage accounts for nearly one-third of home water consumption.
It is estimated that high-efficiency toilets can reduce water bills by about 10 percent. Replacing older, inefficient toilets, which are responsible for much of the water wasted in American homes, could save more than 900 billion gallons of water a year—enough to supply almost 10 million households.
WaterSense-labeled toilets are certified by independent laboratory testing to meet rigorous criteria for both performance and efficiency. Only high-efficiency toilets that complete the third-party certification process can earn the WaterSense label.
WaterSense is a voluntary public-private partnership that recognizes high-performance products and processes. The WaterSense program also seeks to promote consumer use of water-efficient products, certification for water industry professionals, and innovation in water-efficient product manufacturing.
Companies that manufacture, sell, or distribute household plumbing fixtures are encouraged to join the WaterSense program, which is also open to water utilities, trade associations, state and local governments, and non-governmental organizations.
In the future, a broad spectrum of water-efficient products will carry the WaterSense label, from bathroom faucets to lawn irrigation products.
Maryland Healthy Air Act Regulations—Emergency Regulations Implemented
The MDE submitted revised emergency regulations to AELR on Dec. 26, 2006. Over the course of the past several months, MDE has hosted regulatory language discussions with both the affected emission sources and the environmental community. Consensus was reached on the regulatory language on Dec. 15, 2006, and Maryland’s Air Quality Control Advisory Committee (AQCAC) approved the emergency regulations on Dec. 22, 2006.
The Maryland Healthy Air Act is a groundbreaking four-pollutant law that is expected to significantly reduce both ozone and fine particle related emissions from Maryland’s seven largest coal-fired power plants owned by Allegheny Energy Group, Constellation Energy Group, and Mirant Corporation. The law and subsequent regulations are expected to reduce nitrogen oxides by 70 percent in 2009 and 75 percent in 2012, sulfur dioxides by 80 percent in 2010 and 85 percent in 2013, and mercury emissions by 80 percent in 2010 and 90 percent in 2013. The Healthy Air Act also requires Maryland to become a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which was established to reduce carbon monoxide emissions.
“This is by far the most important air quality regulation ever developed by MDE,” said George (Tad) Aburn, director of Air and Radiation Management Administration. “These regulations constitute the most sweeping air pollution emission reduction measure in Maryland history.”
The emergency regulations are intended to implement the requirements of the Healthy Air Act quickly, but they will have to be replaced by permanent regulations within six months. MDE has already begun the process of establishing the permanent regulations.
Michigan Signs Greenhouse Gas Registry Resolution
The state of Michigan has signed a resolution in support of a Voluntary Midwest Greenhouse Gas Registry, joining seven other Midwest states including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
The states have been working with the Lake Michigan Air Directors Consortium (LADCO) to develop a framework for a voluntary Midwest registry of greenhouse gas emissions. All of the funding for the development of the registry framework has come from private foundation monies, and efforts for the registry were initiated by LADCO after receiving a grant from the Joyce Foundation in August 2005, at the request of Michigan and Wisconsin. Subsequently, an additional grant from the Energy Foundation was awarded to LADCO for further development of the registry.
The voluntary registry will provide the mechanism for greenhouse gas-emitting companies to track their emissions and reductions and will provide a validated list of greenhouse gas-emission reduction credits available for possible trading. Additionally, this program will give participating companies the ability to register reductions now should the federal government require emission reductions in the future. The registry will work in conjunction with registries already in place from the Northeast to California to become a multi-state registry involving more than 30 states.
"This is an important first step for Michigan and the Great Lakes Region to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gases," said DEQ Director Steven E. Chester. "We look forward to continuing our partnership with companies around the state to improve the quality of our air and the environment."
California Rule Targets Global Warming Emissions
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has adopted rules that will ensure new long-term investments in electricity generation for California come from sources that emit low amounts of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping emissions. These rules implement the nation’s first electric generation performance standard for global warming pollution. CPUC President Michael Peevey and the other commissioners voted unanimously to approve strong rules, effective and enforceable immediately, for implementing the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Performance Standard Act (Senate Bill 1368, Perata), signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger this fall.
“The CPUC has established clear rules that will help give utilities business certainty on the investments needed to provide clean, reliable energy to California families and businesses,” said Audrey Chang, staff scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “We commend the CPUC, and President Peevey in particular, for their leadership in establishing this policy. By ensuring that utilities make long-term commitments to clean energy sources, the commission is shielding California families against hundreds of millions of dollars in extra costs associated with future regulation of global warming pollution.”
Further investment in highly polluting technologies would prevent California from meeting its global warming emissions reduction targets under the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32) and would expose utility customers to significant financial and reliability risks from future federal regulation.
California’s utilities are presently devising long-term plans to purchase new energy that involve billions of dollars in investments over the next decade, decisions that will last 40 years or longer. Dozens of new conventional coal-fired power plants are in the planning and development stage throughout the West, many aiming to sell their power to California. The new rules do not rule out electricity from coal, but rather send a clear signal to the industry that it needs to use much cleaner and more efficient technologies in order to receive California financing.
The new global warming emissions performance standard is applicable to any of the workhorse power plants—or “baseload” generation—that supply electricity around the clock, no matter if those plants are inside California’s borders or not. It prohibits additional long-term investment on behalf of California consumers in these facilities unless their emissions of global warming pollution are as low, or lower, than emissions from a clean and efficient natural gas power plant. This policy was first embraced by the CPUC in an October 2005 policy statement and later codified by SB 1368.
SB 1368 required the CPUC to begin enforcement of the global warming emissions performance standard for California’s investor-owned utilities by Feb. 1, 2007. The California Energy Commission is required to begin enforcement of the standard for the state’s municipal utilities by June 30, 2007, and is currently developing its rules to do so.
Veterans Administration to Develop Comprehensive Waste-Tracking System for Medical Centers in New England
In a settlement with EPA, the U.S. Veterans Administration Healthcare System has committed to implement a comprehensive hazardous waste and chemicals management inventory system at all Veterans Administration (VA) facilities in New England. The VA is developing the system to settle a 2005 EPA enforcement action for hazardous waste violations at the VA’s medical center in White River Junction, Vermont.
The system will incorporate hazardous waste pollution reduction measures into a comprehensive software system that tracks chemical purchase, use, storage, and disposal. The hazardous waste management tracking system will be piloted in all VA hospitals in New England. If successful, the waste management system could be usefully applied to other VA hospitals and health centers, as well as for other private and public hospitals across the country.
Establishing the comprehensive waste management system will cost at least $500,000. Under the settlement, the VA will also pay a cash penalty of $49,748.
“Developing a reliable system for hospitals to track hazardous wastes can have big impacts across the country by helping hospital directors reduce use of hazardous chemicals and reduce pollution,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England regional office. "By ensuring health care facilities better manage their hazardous chemicals and waste, EPA is advancing protection for patients, for the environment, and for the community."
Hospitals contribute to the presence of mercury, dioxin, and other persistent, bioaccumulative toxics (PBTs) in the environment. In 1998, hospitals were the fourth largest source of mercury discharged into the environment. Hospitals can generate a wide variety of hazardous waste, such as chemotherapy and antineoplastic chemicals, solvents, formaldehyde, photographic chemicals, radionuclides, and waste anesthetic gases. In addition, hospitals produce two million tons of solid waste, which is fully one percent of the total municipal solid waste in the United States.
Both nationwide and within New England, the VA has been the subject of repeated violations of environmental regulations. Relying on an outdated paper-based recordkeeping system is seen as a significant contributor to the VA’s difficulty complying with hazardous waste management requirements.
The 2005 EPA action involved the VA’s improper storage and handling of hazardous materials, including potentially explosive hazardous waste (ether and picric acid) that were stored in clinical laboratory and pathology areas, posing significant risks to patients and hospital staff. Following identification, the explosive material was safely removed from the medical center and detonated. The licensed disposal company estimated that the waste’s explosive power equaled several sticks of dynamite.
The comprehensive hazardous waste and chemicals management inventory system will include automatic chemical pre-purchase review; a chemical product storage inventory management system; implementation of source reduction and reuse strategies; and a hazardous waste inventory management and tracking system. Implementing the tracking software across VA’s New England facilities will then help to prevent pollution and potential exposure concerns for citizens across the region.
The new tracking methods are expected to help VA facilities substitute the use of potentially hazardous products with less hazardous replacements, maintain accurate inventories of hazardous products and their location, and facilitate access to an electronic library of material safety data sheets (MSDS).
Nationwide, the VA is the second largest federal agency with a budget of more than $60 billion, employing approximately 230,000 people at hundreds of medical centers, clinics, and benefits offices.
EPA New England has been working with the health care sector (including VA facilities) since late 1994. To date, EPA has joined with 164 New England health care facilities to reduce the generation of mercury and solid waste.
EPA Warns Against Burning or Cutting Grape Stakes
Wood grape stakes are treated with chromium, copper, and arsenic (CCA). Burning or cutting treated wood concentrates these hazardous chemicals in the smoke, ash, and dust.
Inhaling or ingesting smoke, ash, or dust from treated wood stakes can cause sudden and severe illness. Arsenic is also a known carcinogen. For immediate medical assistance call the California Poison Control System 1-800-222-1222.
Recent EPA Enforcement in New England Underscores Need for Careful Waste Handling
Five recent EPA enforcement actions against several New England companies illustrate the importance of understanding and following federal regulations regarding the handling and disposal of toxic substances.
Each case involves the mishandling of waste containing polychlorinated biphenyls (), a highly toxic compound. The companies did not test the waste they sent for disposal or recycling waste, and materials were later found to be contaminated with PCBs. Federal law requires special disposal methods for PCBs.
“If your company’s waste could potentially contain PCBs, or if you’re disposing of unknown materials, get it tested first—waste must be properly characterized and tested before sending it out for disposal,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England Office. “This problem has the potential to cause serious harm to people and the environment. The good news is that it's easy and inexpensive to test waste before shipping it for disposal or recycling.”
The following enforcement actions involved mishandling wastes that contained PCBs:
A Connecticut property owner and one of its tenants are being held responsible for PCB contamination at a leased property in Bridgeport, Conn. EPA issued an administrative complaint seeking $32,500 in penalties against 1225 Connecticut Avenue, LLC, the property owner, after discarded oil in a catch basin at the property was found to be contaminated with PCBs.
The oil was shipped from the site by Allied Elevator Service Company, Inc., which operates a business at the site, and who agreed to pay $1,615 in penalties for its role in sending PCB-containing oily waste for disposal without first properly testing and characterizing the waste.
Due to Allied Elevator Service Company’s failure to test the waste, the uncharacterized oily waste was mixed with other, non-PCB waste, creating an even larger volume of PCB-contaminated waste. A lesson from this case is that oil from unknown sources should always be tested for PCBs.
Two Massachusetts companies, Clean Harbors of Braintree, Inc., of Braintree, Mass., and Massachusetts Electric Company d/b/a/ National Grid USA, were held responsible for failing to adequately test and characterize PCB waste after an October 2005 oil spill in Malden, Mass.
The incident occurred after National Grid hired Clean Harbors to help respond to an oil release in a flooded underground transformer vault. Despite regulations in the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA), which assume that all pre-1979 transformers contain PCBs above threshold levels, an inaccurate on-site screening test was relied upon by the companies, resulting in mischaracterization of the waste on the waste manifest.
Confirmatory testing later showed that the waste contained PCBs that had already been shipped to a landfill as non-hazardous waste. After the violations were discovered, the companies immediately informed EPA of the errors.
National Grid settled the matter with EPA in late 2006, agreeing to pay a penalty of $2,925 and to train its employees to assume that oil from untested pre-1979 transformers contains PCBs. Under a separate settlement, Clean Harbors of Braintree will pay a penalty of $8,700, conduct training for staff, and perform an additional cleanup at its Braintree facility.
StoneHill Environmental Inc., of Portsmouth, New Hampshire will pay a $2,000 penalty under a settlement with EPA for having shipped 6.37 tons of PCB-contaminated sandblast grit to a Maine recycling facility. StoneHill failed to wait for test results that revealed that the sandblast grit contained PCBs. The sandblast grit in turn was used in paving materials at the Maine recycling facility’s parking lot, where they are believed to pose minimal risk to human health.
The lesson from this case is that old paint and coatings can sometimes contain PCBs. Sandblast grit should be tested before arranging for disposal.
Although federal regulations have prohibited the manufacture of PCBs and controlled the phase-out of their existing uses since 1977, the highly toxic substance can still be found in older paints, caulking, oil, and electrical equipment. Facilities disposing of waste materials that are in question should arrange for PCB analysis before shipping wastes for disposal or recycling.
California to Phase Out the Use of Perchloroethylene from Dry Cleaning Process
The California Air Resources Board (ARB) adopted regulatory amendments that protect air quality by gradually phasing out the use of a chemical common in dry cleaning. By 2023, dry cleaners will replace perchloroethylene, or perc, a solvent used in dry cleaning, with safer alternatives already available on the market.
"We have safer alternatives to the perc dry cleaning process," said ARB Chairman, Dr. Robert Sawyer, "So the board chose to close the door on this method of cleaning clothes. Today's action safeguards the health of all Californians—especially those near these establishments."
Through a phased implementation, these amendments will lead the industry to switch to safer technologies. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2008, no new perc-using machines will be installed in California. By July 1, 2010, existing perc machines in co-residential facilities (facilities that share a wall with, or are located in the same building, as a residence), will be removed from service. Perc machines that have been converted to use a primary emission control device or are 15 years or older also must be removed from service by July 1, 2010. The remaining perc machines must be removed from service once they become 15 years old. Fifteen years allows owners to recoup the cost of buying new machines. Finally, the use of perc for dry cleaning operations will be completely banned by Jan. 1, 2023. This phase-out program along with economic incentives will allow the industry to gradually convert to more environmentally sound processes.
The amendments also address manufacturers and distributors of perc. Manufacturers that sell perc for dry cleaning use in California must keep monthly sales records. In addition, they are required to report to ARB their distributors' contact information and any subsequent changes to that information. Perc is listed by the ARB as a toxic air contaminant (TAC), which is California's designation for chemicals that have no exposure level which can be considered safe.
Any solvent distributor that sells perc or recycled perc to California dry cleaning facilities or to another perc distributor is required to report annually to the ARB the amount of perc sold in California. And, if applicable, they must report the contact information of their distributors and subsequent changes to that information.
Duro Textiles Fined $480,000 for Clean Air and Clean Water Violations
Duro Textiles LLC, a Massachusetts textile company, has agreed to pay a $480,000 fine to settle a federal case for Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act violations at several manufacturing plants in Fall River, Mass.
The case, brought by the EPA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts, was settled by the filing of a complaint and lodging of a consent decree in the U.S. District Court in Boston. Duro also has made operating changes to come into compliance with federal law.
Duro Textiles produces finished specialty textiles such as camouflage and high-performance sports fabrics. Its employees conduct dying, coating, and finishing processes on raw bolts of fabric to produce textiles ready for construction of garments and other products. These processes generate large volumes of highly acidic and highly alkaline wastewater and significant quantities of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that promote the formation of ozone in the air.
“To ensure the best protection of our water and air, it is critical that companies like Duro comply with all environmental regulations,” said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA’s New England Office. “We are pleased to see that Duro has taken important steps to comply with the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act.”
The complaint alleges that three of Duro’s plants repeatedly, and over a long period of time, violated the legal limits on low and high pH wastewater discharged into the Fall River sewer system and treatment works. The resulting acidic and alkaline wastewater is corrosive and can damage sewer piping and water treatment plant equipment. In addition, Duro failed to routinely inspect potential sources of stormwater contamination (such as outdoor fuel tanks and chemical unloading areas), which left Duro unable to address any emerging water pollution problems.
The complaint alleges that Duro failed to maintain minimum operating temperatures at an incinerator used to control VOC emissions at one of its plants. Operating at below minimum temperatures can reduce an incinerator’s ability to destroy VOCs, which can lead to increased VOC emissions.
“While we are pleased that Duro has continued the tradition of Massachusetts textile operations when so many other companies have shut down or moved abroad, it is critically important that Duro comply with federal air and water pollution laws,” said Michael J. Sullivan, U.S. Attorney.
In addition to making operational changes at its plants to prevent pollution, Duro has agreed to stipulated penalties should any future pH violations of its wastewater effluents occur.
Four Feedlots in Western Iowa Ordered to Comply With Clean Water Act
EPA Region 7 has issued administrative compliance orders to four cattle feedlots in western Iowa for illegally discharging pollutants into Iowa creeks in violation of the Clean Water Act.
The orders require these cattle feedlots to comply with the Clean Water Act by eliminating discharges of manure that violate the law. The four feedlots are Pithan Feedlot in Anthon, Lowell Vos Feedlot in Kingsley, Marion J Rus Feedlot near Rock Valley, and A to Z Feeders in Atlantic. They discharge to Big Creek, Elliot Creek, Rock Creek, and Indian Creek, respectively.
“Many feedlots in this vital Midwestern industry continually strive to achieve compliance and protect the environment. The message from EPA has been clear and consistent: Producers need to move forward to comply with the Clean Water Act,” said John B. Askew, EPA regional administrator. “Together, we are working for a better future for agriculture, our environment, and the people of this region."
The orders resulted from violations found during EPA compliance inspections and one inspection by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) in 2006, which were part of a joint initiative by EPA and IDNR to determine compliance with the Clean Water Act. EPA and IDNR inspected a total of 50 feedlots. EPA works in close partnership with IDNR on these enforcement issues to protect Iowa water quality.
IDNR developed the Iowa Open Feedlot Plan (Iowa Plan) in 2001 with input from 11 organizations and agencies, including EPA and the Iowa Cattlemen's Association. It launched a five-year enforcement moratorium by IDNR and EPA for feedlots that registered in the Iowa Plan and met specific compliance milestones. In return, the livestock industry agreed to use the moratorium to achieve full compliance with the Clean Water Act. The enforcement moratorium ended April 1, 2006, and EPA and IDNR began inspecting feedlots in May 2006.
The compliance orders address only those activities that these feedlots must undertake to correct the violations and stop further environmental damage. EPA may require additional compliance activities, as well as penalties, for these and other Iowa feedlots.
Several hundred cattle feedlots in Iowa are regulated under the Clean Water Act, which requires large feedlots to prevent the discharge of all livestock runoff to protect water quality.
Developer Cited for Clean Water Act Violations in St. Charles County, Mo.
EPA Region 7 has reached a settlement with developer Johnson-Yust Investment Co., LLC, for numerous violations of federal stormwater regulations at its 90-acre mixed development in St. Charles County, Mo. The settlement requires Johnson-Yust to pay a $33,000 penalty.
EPA found that Johnson-Yust violated the Clean Water Act by failing to implement sediment control and stabilization measures at its Mason Glen construction site that are required by its stormwater permit.
These violations resulted in sediment runoff from the construction site into Peruque Creek and Dardenne Creek, tributaries to Lake St. Louis. These water bodies are listed as “impaired” by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for one or more stormwater-related pollutants.
Stabilization measures, such as silt fences, were not implemented on the cleared portion of the site where trees and other vegetation had been removed. As a result, sediment runoff accumulated to depths of more than a foot in some areas downstream of the construction site, and significant erosion and gullies developed.
EPA’s enforcement actions to bring this developer into compliance with the Clean Water Act are estimated to prevent hundreds of pounds of sediment from washing into neighboring streams, rivers, and lakes.
EPA issued a compliance order to Johnson-Yust in March 2006, requiring the developer to correct all violations found during EPA’s January 2006 inspection and come into compliance with its stormwater permit. Johnson-Yust complied with that order. This settlement represents the monetary penalty for these violations.
Johnson-Yust has built homes in St. Charles County for several decades. The developer has been cited by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources for stormwater violations at other construction sites.
Urban stormwater runoff from construction sites is a significant environmental concern, and siltation is one of the worst pollution problems in our nation’s water bodies. Construction activity greatly increases erosion and runoff, which can choke nearby streams and lakes with sediment.
Sediment-laden runoff destroys spawning beds, suffocates fish eggs and bottom-dwelling organisms, decreases oxygen levels in streams, and blocks sunlight that is essential for the growth of beneficial water grasses.
In addition to sediment, stormwater runoff can carry high levels of pollutants such as oil and grease, suspended solids, nutrients, and heavy metals. Polluted stormwater runoff is the second leading cause of impairment to the large number of surveyed rivers and streams in the nation that do not meet water quality standards.
Regulations that require construction sites to prevent water pollution have existed since 1991. While improvements have been seen in recent years, widespread non-compliance persists among the construction industry.
During the past year, EPA Region 7 has sent a team of inspectors to the largest, fastest-growing metropolitan areas in Region 7’s four-state area (Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska).
Enforcement actions such as this one are part of a national effort by EPA to reduce the damage to water bodies caused by erosion at construction sites. EPA takes these actions to achieve greater compliance with the Clean Water Act, improve water quality, and send a clear message to the construction industry about the importance of controlling stormwater runoff.
General Contractor Assessed $36,625 Penalty for Asbestos Violations
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has assessed a $36,625 penalty against Joseph T. Duggan of Shrewsbury for violations of asbestos regulations that occurred at a renovation project he conducted at 225-233 Shrewsbury Street in Worcester, Mass.
During a February 2006 inspection, MassDEP personnel observed approximately 12 unmarked household trash bags containing dry, friable asbestos insulation that had been generated by the renovation activities on the site. Additionally, MassDEP inspectors observed pieces of dry, friable asbestos insulation uncontained on the floor. The MassDEP investigation revealed that the improperly packaged asbestos waste had been stored at the site for approximately two weeks.
Mr. Duggan was cited for failing to notify MassDEP of the renovation operation involving asbestos materials, handling and storing asbestos-containing materials in a manner that caused or contributed to a condition of air pollution, and failing to ensure that asbestos-containing waste materials generated at the site were properly wetted, packaged, labeled, and disposed of as required by the regulations.
Upon discovery of the violations, MassDEP halted the renovation operation and required Mr. Duggan to hire a Massachusetts Department of Labor & Workforce Development, Division of Occupational Safety, licensed asbestos contractor to properly remove, package, and dispose of all the asbestos-containing waste at the site.
"General contractors must fulfill their responsibilities under the regulations to properly remove, handle, package, store, and ultimately dispose of any asbestos-containing materials that will be disturbed by their demolition or renovation activities. Failure to do so is an extremely serious, and ultimately costly decision that potentially exposes workers, tenants, and the general public to a known carcinogen," said Martin Suuberg, director of MassDEP's Central Regional Office in Worcester. "As this case demonstrates, noncompliance with the asbestos regulations inevitably results in a significant penalty, as well as escalated cleanup, decontamination, and disposal costs."
Property owners or contractors with questions about asbestos-containing materials; proper removal, handling, packaging, storage, and disposal procedures; or the asbestos regulations are encouraged to contact the appropriate MassDEP regional office for assistance.
MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills, and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.
Giant Cement Sued by United Steelworkers
The United Steelworkers (USW) has amended an environmental lawsuit against Giant Cement Holding, Inc. (GCHI) in Harleyville, S.C.
Judge Patrick Michael Duffy granted the USW’s motion to amend an outstanding complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina on January 22. The amended complaint includes allegations of reporting violations for 11 additional toxic chemicals at Giant’s hazardous waste-burning cement plant in Harleyville.
In May 2006, the USW initiated a citizen suit against GCHI for failing to report six chemicals as required by the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. With the addition of the new chemicals to the suit, Giant’s total potential civil liability for EPCRA violations at the Harleyville plant now exceeds $1.5 billion. The union is also considering filing citizen suits for extensive EPCRA violations at two GCHI facilities in other states.
GCHI applied on Dec. 22, 2006, for permit modifications that would allow the company to bring more types of regulated hazardous waste into Harleyville, in greater quantities. The company’s Harleyville facility is the 10th largest recipient of hazardous waste in the United States, burning more than 100,000 tons per year.
$1.2 Million Fine for Delay in Cleanup of Underground Storage Tank
Shell and Motiva have agreed to pay a $1.2 million fine for ignoring state orders to clean up pollution from leaking underground fuel tanks at a Ridgewood, N.J., service station, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson announced last week.
"Of the total penalty, $500,000 recoups the economic benefit that Shell/Motiva reaped by evading DEP cleanup orders. Even though the station eventually came into compliance, this settlement sends a clear message to other polluters—if you delay, you will still pay,'' Commissioner Jackson said.
The settlement stems from three distinct gasoline leaks from underground storage tanks at the Shell service station at Route 17 and Franklin Turnpike in the Village of Ridgewood, Bergen County. Shell Oil Co. owned the station from 1985 until 1998, when Houston-based Motiva Enterprises LLC, a joint venture of Shell and Saudi Refining Inc., assumed ownership.
Ridgewood first detected gasoline in its water in June 1987 and shut down two municipal wells adjacent to the Shell station. DEP traced the contamination to the station.
Shell installed pump-and-treat and vapor extraction systems to deal with on-site contamination. Ridgewood installed an off-site treatment system and placed the wells back into service. In February 1995, Shell notified DEP of another discharge of 1,700 gallons of gasoline. Shell upgraded its on-site treatment systems.
The following year, DEP issued a Spill Act directive, ordering the company to remove the discharge and provide enhanced treatment for the municipal water supply. The company failed to comply; DEP issued a notice of violation against Shell on May 30, 1997. In June 1998, Shell informed DEP of a third discharge of approximately 1,000 gallons. This time, the company shut down the pump-and-treat system arguing it was not designed to handle the contamination.
Between May 1997 and August 2000, DEP attempted to guide Shell and Motiva into compliance, but department directives were not followed. On Aug. 30, 2000, DEP issued fine notices totaling $1.6 million. After this, the company upgraded the on-site treatment systems to meet DEP requirements. It also delineated the vertical and horizontal extent of the contamination plume as the department required.
As an additional condition of the recent settlement, Shell and Motiva have agreed to complete the remediation.
Executive Order Calls on Federal Agencies to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions
The order requires federal agencies to procure goods and services using sustainable environmental practices, including the acquisition of biobased, environmentally preferable, energy-efficient, water-efficient, and recycled-content products, and use of paper of at least 30% post-consumer fiber content.
It also requires agencies to reduce the quantity of toxic and hazardous chemicals and materials acquired, used, or disposed of.
Free Trees for NY Students
Free tree seedlings for spring planting are available through the N.Y. Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) School Seedling Program to schools across the state. School orders must be received at the Saratoga Tree Nursery by March 31, 2007. In addition, DEC's annual sale of tree and shrub seedlings to the public is underway and will continue through May.
The program for schools provides 50 tree seedlings or a mixed packet of 20 wildlife shrubs to any public or private school that would like to participate. Trees provide beauty, erosion control, shade, wildlife habitat, and can act as a windbreak on school grounds.
To participate, schools should contact the nursery by calling 518-587-1120 or 518-581-1439 or their nearest DEC regional forestry office and request a School Seedling Program brochure containing all the information necessary to place an order.
If you are not a student, you can buy more than 48 species of trees and shrubs produced at the Saratoga Tree Nursery. DEC's annual sale of tree and shrub seedlings to the public began on Jan. 2, 2007, and will continue through May.
To order seedlings, call the nursery weekdays between 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM at 518-587-1120. Seedlings are shipped from mid-April through mid-May.