A bipartisan, bicameral group of Congressional leaders recently announced that an agreement on reforming the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 has been reached. The final legislation is titled the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act and merges policy priorities from S.697, which passed on December 17, 2015, in the Senate, and H.R. 2576, which passed on June 23, 2015, in the House.
The Senate Bill was cosponsored by 61 members of the U.S. Senate made up of 35 Republicans and 26 Democrats that represent a total of 38 states. Since its introduction, the legislation has garnered the strong support of a wide range of stakeholders from the business, environmental, labor, and public health communities. Senate support for TSCA reform culminated in the passage of legislation by voice vote on December 17, 2015.
The House introduced H.R. 2576, the TSCA Modernization Act on June 23, 2015. The Energy and Commerce Committee swiftly acted on the bill, and the legislation was passed by a near unanimous vote on June 23, 2015.
Together the two chambers came to the final, comprehensive solution to modernize TSCA that will achieve a more predictable and uniform federal regulatory program. Some of the key aspects of the bill:
Subjects all new and existing chemicals to an EPA review.
- All chemicals in commerce will be reviewed for safety through a risk-based process.
- EPA must conduct an extensive risk evaluation on any chemical deemed a “high-priority” using a health-based risk evaluation. Assessments are required to be based on sound and credible science through a transparent process and consider risk to potentially exposed or susceptive subpopulations identified by EPA. Should EPA find a chemical or particular use of a chemical poses significant risk, the agency must regulate it to protect against the risk to the general population and relevant subpopulations.
Requires EPA to focus on the highest priorities.
- EPA will establish a transparent, risk-based prioritization process to identify high and low priority chemicals for risk evaluations. It must increase the number of chemicals undergoing assessments over time.
- EPA must use specific criteria to prioritize substances.
- Manufacturers may request that EPA conduct a risk evaluation of a chemical subject to appropriate limitations if the manufacturer agrees to cover the costs (100% in most cases; 50% for certain chemicals).
Strengthens transparency and the quality of science used in EPA decisions.
- Throughout the safety review process, EPA must make its work available to the public and Congress. The agency must use the best-available science and based on the weight of the scientific evidence.
Expands EPA’s ability to require additional health and safety testing of chemicals, reduces unnecessary animal testing.
- Allows EPA to require testing without the current law “catch-22” that forced it to show a potential risk prior to initiating new testing.
- Authorizes, subject to appropriate limits, EPA to require testing via orders in situations where the information is needed for EPA to prioritize chemicals or conduct chemical reviews.
Provides EPA a full range of regulatory options to address the risks of substances that are found to present an unreasonable risk.
- EPA will be required to restrict the use of any chemical substance that the agency finds to present an unreasonable risk unless the chemical meets specified criteria for a critical use exemption, like those essential to national defense. Any regulatory proposal must consider and make public its costs and benefits before any final regulation can be put into place.
- For chemicals that present an unreasonable risk, EPA has multiple options, including imposing warning requirements, restrictions on specific uses, and chemical phase outs or bans.
- Compliance with all rules must be as soon as practicable but generally within five years of being made final.
Sets aggressive and attainable deadlines.
- EPA must meet strict deadlines for action to ensure that regulators, public health officials, industry, and the public get information and decisions in a timely fashion.
Creates a more uniform regulatory system to ensure interstate commerce is not unduly burdened, while retaining a significant role for states in ensuring chemical safety.
- EPA’s final decisions will preempt all existing and future state laws that restrict chemicals or are in conflict with EPA action in order to create uniform regulations for the regulated community across the country, as well as ensure adequate and equal protection for all American families. Preemption of state restrictions, while robust, will be appropriately limited to the scope of EPA risk evaluations.
- Any state prohibition or restriction of a chemical enacted before April 22, 2016, and any other state law enacted before August 31, 2003, will not be preempted.
- New state chemical restrictions will not be able to be enacted while EPA conducts risk evaluations of a high-priority chemical without the state obtaining a waiver from EPA. States will be free to continue to enforce existing state restrictions applicable to high-priority chemicals during EPA review.
- States will be able to apply for waivers from the “pause” to analyze new state restrictions during EPA risk evaluations and from preemption by EPA decisions.
- State reporting, monitoring, and other information requirements and requirements imposed under state laws are not preempted.
Protects substantiated Confidential Business Information (CBI) while increasing access to CBI by states and health professionals, subject to confidentiality agreements.
- The legislation promotes additional transparency by requiring up-front substantiation of claims to protect confidential commercial information while still ensuring protections for vital proprietary information.
- Provides for CBI claims to expire after 10 years unless resubstantiated.
- EPA will be required to enhance access to CBI for states, medical professionals, and first responders.
Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule
In the first major modification to the hazardous waste regulations in over 10 years, EPA plans to modify and reorganize the hazardous waste generator rule. When adopted, the rule will provide greater flexibility in how hazardous waste is managed and close important gaps in the regulations.
Attend Environmental Resource Center’s live, online session on April 18 to learn:
- New requirements for documenting hazardous waste determinations
- Revised requirements for when and how to submit the Notification of Generator Status form to EPA
- How to take advantage of the episodic generation exclusion to avoid reclassification to a larger generator status
- Definitions of important new terms – “Very Small Quantity Generator” and “Central Accumulation Area”
- How to mark containers, tanks, and containment buildings with new information required at central accumulation areas and satellites
- New conditions under which containers can be left open at satellite accumulation areas
- Updated time and volume limits for satellite accumulation areas
- New documentation requirements for contingency plans and biennial reports
- New requirements for shipping hazardous waste from a VSQG to another facility owned by the same organization
New Exclusions for Solvent Recycling and Hazardous Secondary Materials
EPA’s new final rule on the definition of solid waste creates new opportunities for waste recycling outside the scope of the full hazardous waste regulations. This rule, which went into effect on July 13, 2015, streamlines the regulatory burden for wastes that are legitimately recycled.
The first of the two exclusions is an exclusion from the definition of solid waste for high-value solvents transferred from one manufacturer to another for the purpose of extending the useful life of the original solvent by keeping the materials in commerce to reproduce a commercial grade of the original solvent product.
The second, and more wide-reaching of the two exclusions, is a revision of the existing hazardous secondary material recycling exclusion. This exclusion allows you to recycle, or send off-site for recycling, virtually any hazardous secondary material. Provided you meet the terms of the exclusion, the material will no longer be hazardous waste.
Learn how to take advantage of these exclusions at Environmental Resource Center’s live webcast on July 8 where you will learn:
- Which of your materials qualify under the new exclusions
- What qualifies as a hazardous secondary material
- Which solvents can be remanufactured, and which cannot
- What is a tolling agreement
- What is legitimate recycling
- Generator storage requirements
- What documentation you must maintain
- Requirements for off-site shipments
- Training and emergency planning requirements
- If it is acceptable for the recycler to be outside the US
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Cargo Tank Pressure Relief Devices Recalled
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is issuing this safety advisory concerning pressure relief devices (PRD) that were not manufactured or intended for use on cargo tank motor vehicles.
In 2013, Emerson Process Management Regulator Technologies, Inc., issued a voluntary recall on Fisher Control pressure relief devices models H732 and H832. In 2014, the recall was expanded to include models H282, H882, H5112, and H8112. After a recent crash involving a MC330 cargo tank motor vehicle, FMCSA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators discovered that one of the PRDs installed on the cargo tank motor vehicle was a Fisher Controls model H282.
All owners and operators of specification MC330 or MC331 cargo tank motor vehicles, and cargo tank motor vehicles operated pursuant to 49 CFR 173.315(k), should immediately inspect their PRDs for these Fisher Controls model numbers. Continued use of these PRDs is a violation of 49 CFR §180.405 and a safety concern.
Model numbers are located on the PRD as shown above.
For more information, or questions concerning this Safety Advisory, please contact Paul Bomgardner, Chief, Hazardous Materials Division, at 202-493-0027,
Facility Operators Advised to Minimize Releases During Hazardous Weather Events
This alert is designed to increase awareness among facility operators about their obligation to operate facilities safely and report chemical releases in a timely manner.
The alert specifies operational release minimization requirements and clarifies reporting requirements, including exemptions. Unlike some natural disasters, the onset of a hurricane is predictable and allows for early preparations to lessen its effect on a facility. Before hurricane force winds and associated storm surge flooding damage industrial processes, the alert recommends that operators take preventive action by safely shutting down processes, or otherwise operate safely under emergency procedures.
Printing Company Fined $318,000 for RCRA Violations
A Henrietta, NY based printing company plead guilty and was fined $318,000 Tuesday for illegally dumping industrial waste into its septic system, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced recently.
The fine stems from a 2012 investigation by DEC's Environmental Conservation Officers (ECOs) into illegal activities at Tucker Printers, Inc., in Monroe County.
"DEC's Environmental Conservation Officers are the state's first line of defense in protecting the environment and safeguarding natural resources, working tirelessly to uphold the state's environmental conservation laws and protect public health and safety," Acting DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. "I applaud the efforts of our ECOs to investigate this case and hold these polluters accountable. This case should serve as a strong warning to others that this blatant disregard for the environment and inappropriate disposal of industrial waste will not be tolerated."
ECO investigators from DEC's Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation (BECI) unit executed a search warrant at the facility and determined that industrial wastes from various processes within Tucker's facility were discharged into the septic system, a practice that had been going on for years.
Tucker Printers, Inc. plead guilty in the Town of Henrietta Court Tuesday night to multiple counts of unlawful disposal of industrial wastes and was fined $318,000. The company also agreed to pay restitution to DEC for the cost of sampling, $3,700, during the execution of the search warrant.
Additionally, Tucker conducted an extensive site investigation to determine if there was any environmental impact from the illegal discharge. Through multiple rounds of groundwater sampling, with DEC oversight, it was determined that no remedial actions by Tucker were required. The company has since changed its practices and now collects and disposes of all its industrial wastes in accordance to the law.
"This investigation is an excellent example of how the expertise of DEC's engineers, attorneys and program staff combined with diligence of our ECO investigators protect the public's health and water resources," Seggos said.
City of Fort Dodge, Iowa, Fined $20,000 for Water Plant Risk Management Program Violations
The City of Fort Dodge, Iowa, has agreed to an administrative settlement of alleged violations of federal Risk Management Program regulations at the John T. Pray Water Treatment Plant. Through the settlement, the city will pay a $20,000 penalty to the United States, and through a supplemental environmental project it will spend at least $200,000 to build a new road to provide emergency vehicles better access to the facility.
The settlement agreement, filed May 10 by EPA Region 7 in Lenexa, Kansas, follows a related compliance agreement between EPA and Fort Dodge filed in January 2015 that addressed the correction of Risk Management Program issues at the facility.
The 2015 compliance agreement requires the city to develop a Risk Management Program for the John T. Pray Water Treatment Plant, located at 600 Phinney Park Drive in Fort Dodge. Risk Management Programs and plans are required under the Clean Air Act for certain facilities that use any of dozens of specific regulated chemicals in a process.
Specifically, facilities that hold more than 2,500 lb of chlorine gas in a process are required to comply with the Risk Management Program regulations. The John T. Pray Water Treatment Plant routinely stores and uses three to four times that amount of chlorine gas for its use in water treatment. If released, chlorine gas can be severely corrosive to the eyes, skin, and lungs. Exposure to high concentrations of chlorine gas can be fatal.
In addition to preventing accidental releases of extremely hazardous substances, the water treatment plant’s Risk Management Plan is available to help local fire, police and emergency response personnel prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies at the facility. Making these plans available to the public also fosters communication and awareness to improve accident prevention and emergency response practices at the local level.
For a supplemental environmental project, Fort Dodge will construct a new road to allow improved access for emergency vehicles to reach the facility. The asphalt road will be built outside of the area’s 100-year flood plain and will cost at least $200,000.
Fleischmann’s Vinegar Company Inc. Fined for Vinegar Spill into White River
Fleischmann’s Vinegar Company, Inc., of Sumner, Washington, is receiving a $10,000 fine for allowing 10,000 gallons of concentrated vinegar to spill into the White River this past March.
The spill was a violation of their wastewater discharge permit.
“Fortunately, the flow in the river was high at the time of the spill which helped to minimize environmental effects. There were no reports of dead fish,” said Rich Doenges, a manager in the Water Quality Program for the Department of Ecology.
Vinegar is acidic and can significantly harm aquatic insects, fish, and amphibians. The White River is home to salmon, steelhead and bull trout and has had decades of investment and collaboration to restore its threatened Chinook salmon run.
The company has taken steps to prevent future spills. Since the spill, it removed the faulty valve and replaced the bypass line with two separate pipes, eliminating the possibility of an accidental release.
This is the second fine issued to the company for a vinegar spill to the river in recent years. The previous spill happened in 2014 and the company paid the $23,000 fine.
Fleischmann’s Vinegar may appeal the penalty within 30 days to the Pollution Control Hearings Board.
Nevada Nursery Fined for Pesticide Violations
The violations were discovered during inspections conducted in June 2015 by the Nevada Department of Agriculture and referred to the EPA for enforcement.
“Notifying workers about pesticide applications and medical information is essential to protecting their health, and the health of their families,” said Kathleen Johnson, EPA’s Enforcement Division Director for the Pacific Southwest. “We appreciate the opportunity to work with our state partners in this important public health action.”
Moana Nursery failed to provide appropriate pesticide safety training to its workers, failed to display required information notifying its workers of a recent pesticide application, and failed to display emergency medical information for its workers. Genoa Trees and Landscape Materials had similar violations, failing to provide safety training to its workers, and also failing to display required information notifying its workers of recent pesticide applications.
The standard contains requirements for pesticide safety training, decontamination supplies, emergency medical assistance, personal protective equipment, as well as restrictions on reentry into fields where pesticides have been recently applied. EPA recently strengthened these standards, with many of the new requirements going into effect in January 2017.
EPA and The Recycling Partnership Team Up to Capture the State of Recycling
The EPA and national nonprofit The Recycling Partnership are joining forces to focus on the state of curbside recycling in the U.S.
To accomplish this expansive task, The Partnership will take a hard look at 400 curbside programs, gathering and analyzing 17 distinct markers for each. Work has already begun, with early results expected in September 2016 and final analysis slated for October 2016.
“The breadth and depth of data this project will produce, coupled with the meaningful analysis of trends and potential areas of improvement, will allow the EPA to more effectively support communities through their transitions to sustainable materials management,” said Alan Farmer, EPA Region 4 Division Director. “The potential for positive impact cannot be overstated, and our collaboration with The Recycling Partnership is shaping up to be fruitful indeed.”
The research will capture the national picture, with a special focus given to communities within EPA regions 3, 4, and 5. Select communities will include the most populated cities in each state, along with a number of other smaller communities to round out the geographic distribution.
“The secondary material stream begins with local programs, and there is a great deal of untapped potential there,” said Cody Marshall, The Partnership’s Technical Assistance Lead. “Looking at snapshots of programs across the country will allow us to cross-reference best practices and pinpoint opportunities to increase recovery. Those insights will in turn allow national and federal organizations to create targeted action plans.”
The Partnership will catalog information on 39 categories of recyclable materials, along with collection frequencies, tonnages, funding mechanisms, service providers, and a host of other details. It will analyze this data for trends and gaps in curbside recycling infrastructure, and ultimately deliver a graphically rich summary report along with the full database.
To add context and local color to the report, it will include highlight stories from a number of the communities involved. These stories will share insights into the current status of local recycling and forecast the potential to increase tonnage.
“We like to say that recycling is a loosely connected, highly dependent industry, and it will take meaningful engagement of all players to make the most of the system,” advised Karen Bandhauer, The Partnership’s Project Director. “It takes strong partnerships to deliver the tons needed to make tomorrow’s new consumer goods, and this initial engagement with the EPA fits the bill.”
About The Recycling Partnership
Working with community and industry partners nationwide, our strength lies in our best-in-class operational and technical support, proven community outreach approaches, and highly-leveraged seed grants to communities.
Departments of Environment, Natural Resources and Maryland Petroleum Council Present 39th Annual Tawes Awards for a Clean Environment
The Maryland Departments of the Environment, Natural Resources and Maryland Petroleum Council recently presented the 39th annual Tawes Awards for a Clean Environment to Timothy Junkin of Easton and Clarksville Middle School student Bill Tong. Meredith Andrasik, an employee of Maryland Military Department’s Environmental Office, was honored with the 11th annual James B. Coulter Award.
The awards are co-sponsored by the Departments of Environment and Natural Resources and the Maryland Petroleum Council to recognize youth, adults, and private and public organizations involved in the restoration and protection of Maryland’s natural resources. The Tawes award, given to both adult and youth awardees, is named in honor of J. Millard Tawes, governor of Maryland from 1959 to 1967 and first secretary of Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources. The James B. Coulter Award, named after Maryland’s second Natural Resources Secretary, acknowledges environmental contributions by a government employee.
- Bill Tong, Clarksville Middle School, Howard County, Maryland: Tawes Youth Award Winner – Bill Tong developed a fishery science education program for Clarksville Middle School. By creating community partnerships and recruiting his fellow classmates to participate, the project has helped raise rainbow trout to stock the Patuxent River this spring. Bill plans to share his program with other middle schools in Howard County to educate students on ecology, waste reduction, environmental beautification and our local watersheds.
- Timothy Junkin, Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, Easton, Maryland: Tawes Adult Award Winner – In less than eight years, the Midshore Riverkeeper Conservancy, conceived by Timothy Junkin, has grown to a team of advocates working at every level to reduce pollution entering local waterways, and restore and protect the rivers of the Eastern Shore’s Midshore region. Under Tim’s leadership, Conservancy staff, numerous experts, community members, and volunteers are aggressively restoring and preserving rivers.
- Meredith Andrasik, Maryland Military Department, Environmental Office: Coulter Award Winner – In addition to her assigned duties, Meredith Andrasik takes on the work of deployed staff members. She also has implemented a closed loop used oil recycling program at Maryland National Guard facilities statewide.
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Trivia Question of the Week
If bees and other pollinators were to charge us for pollinating our crops, how much would the bill come to, per year?
a) $275 million
b) $14 billion
c) $190 billion
d) $300 billion