May 17, 2002


  • May 26, 2002 - Employers subject to process safety management standards must update and revalidate the hazard analysis of their process conducted pursuant to 29 CFR 1910.110(e)(1)


Franklin D. Sales of Williamsburg, Va., was sentenced to 18 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $280,000 in restitution to victims of his recycling fraud scheme on May 8. Sales previously pleaded guilty to mail fraud, wire fraud and making false statements to a federal agency in connection with a false recycling scheme.

The defendant owned and operated Consolidated Recycling Inc. (CRI), a New Hampshire firm that purported to be in the business of recycling fluorescent bulb and lighting ballast waste. Sales accepted light bulb and light ballast wastes that included mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from school districts and government agencies in Colorado, New York, North Carolina and Ohio. The defendant falsely claimed that CRI had the equipment to recycle the wastes, but instead collected, stored and abandoned wastes at locations in Hollis and Merrimack, N.H., and in Fitchburg, Methuen and Tyngsboro, Mass.

Mercury is a highly toxic substance that can cause severe neurological damage and PCBs have been identified as a cause of cancer.

EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the case with the assistance of EPA's Region I, EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office in Concord, N.H.


EPA recently released a study that demonstrates the benefits of watershed-wide conservation practices. The study, titled "A Landscape Assessment of the Catskill/Delaware Watersheds (1975-1998): New York City's Water Supply Watersheds," represents the conclusion of three years of research that used an innovative approach of combining elevation data and satellite images to assess the lands of the Catskill/Delaware watersheds.

Using these techniques allowed 23-years of changes in the relationships between landscape and water quality to be analyzed, enabling evaluation of the effectiveness of a land management approach to water quality protection. The study provides information that can aid regional and local land managers, policy makers and the general public in making informed decisions on environmental and water resource issues. The data analyses will also help guide future use of land cover and use practices to maintain water quality. EPA expects that this innovative use of historical data and satellite imagery will become a valuable tool to assess the condition of other watersheds.

For additional technical information or for a copy of the report, contact Megan Mehaffey at: mehaffey.megan@epa.gov.


EPA signed a settlement agreement resolving a challenge to EPA's approval of California's air permits programs under the Clean Air Act. California citizen and environmental groups sued EPA, raising significant legal issues that the settlement agreement addresses. California state law exempts agricultural operations from operating permit requirements, inconsistent with the Clean Air Act. EPA is working closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the farm community to explore constructive ways to address difficulties in applying traditional Clean Air Act approaches to agricultural sources. This agreement provides adequate time to allow this ongoing effort to identify workable solutions.

EPA Administrator Christie Whitman described the settlement as "the best approach for resolving the lawsuit. It preserves the California programs for non-agricultural facilities, ensures reasonable time to address remaining issues and allows EPA to focus its resources and attention on the technical and practical difficulties associated with applying Clean Air Act permit requirements to the agriculture sector." She emphasized that, "We will continue to work closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the farm community, the states, and the public to better understand and address the agricultural sector and air quality issues in a common-sense way."

The settlement agreement requires EPA to propose a rule giving the Agency responsibility for ensuring that major agricultural sources of air pollutants in California obtain operating permits, whenever required by the Clean Air Act. EPA would have this responsibility only until California modifies its state laws that exempt these large agricultural operations from the permitting process. Under the rule, California will continue to issue permits for other sources of air pollution. A facility is required to have a Clean Air Act operating permit if it emits a significant amount of air pollution. EPA believes that the majority of farms will not be subject to permitting requirements because they do not emit a significant amount of air pollution.

A permit would simply incorporate all existing Clean Air Act requirements into a single document. EPA's permits program facilitates compliance with existing emissions limitations. It would not impose new emissions limits on agricultural operations. Each year, the permit holder must certify that it is meeting these Clean Air Act requirements and periodically must provide data to support this certification.

In December 2001, EPA approved the California operating permit programs. The approval deferred permitting of agricultural sources, due to lack of data about their air emissions. During the deferral period, EPA planned to examine its air regulatory requirements to determine which, if any, should apply to agricultural facilities.

EPA and USDA already have jointly supported efforts to better understand and control air pollution from the agricultural sector. These include:

  • In September 2001, EPA and USDA jointly asked the National Academy of Science to evaluate current science about air pollution from concentrated animal feeding operations. The Academy will identify important air emissions from animal feeding operations and evaluate approaches for estimating those emissions, recommend technologies to control air pollution from animal feeding operations and identify any additional research needs. EPA expects a final report by the end of October 2002.
  • For the past several years, EPA and USDA have supported California's voluntary program in the San Joaquin Valley, and other areas, to reduce air emissions from stationary diesel powered agricultural irrigation pumps. The local air district provides funds to farmers to retrofit, rebuild or replace these existing engines with new, cleaner burning engines or an electric motor which will reduce emissions in the local area.

The settlement agreement is available at http://www.epa.gov/region09/air


Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christie Whitman has issued the Agency's Position Statement on Environmental Management Systems (EMS). The statement promotes broader use of the systems, which are effective management tools to help companies and other organizations fulfill their environmental responsibilities.

The use of EMS complements needed regulatory controls and enables a facility to comprehensively manage the environmental footprint of its entire operation. This includes unregulated aspects such as energy, water use, climate change, odor, noise, dust, and habitat preservation. It encourages pollution prevention through source reduction and fosters continuous improvement of the facility's environmental performance. An EMS is viewed as a valuable tool for accomplishing EPA's mission, because they apply a multi-media approach, help facilities assure compliance, and promote cost savings, operational efficiency and improved supplier performance.

The position statement signed by the Administrator commits EPA to leading by example. The agency will implement EMS in its own facilities and operations, while encouraging widespread use of EMS across other institutions and organizations. The Agency is also working with state and local governments to promote EMS. In addition, the agency will support training and research on the costs and benefits of the systems.

The position statement may be downloaded at http://www.epa.gov/oeca/oceft/neti/courses/mls201/MLS201_Doc_01.PDF


EPA Administrator Christie Whitman proposed a Water Quality Trading Policy to increase the pace and success of cleaning up impaired rivers, streams and lakes throughout the country. EPA officials believe this policy could save the public hundreds of millions of dollars by advancing more effective, efficient partnerships to clean up and protect watersheds. The policy encourages incentives to maintain high water quality where it exists as well as restoring impaired waters. In addition, the policy sets forth what EPA believes is necessary for state and tribal water quality trading programs to be successful and identifies provisions of acceptable trading programs that are consistent with the Clean Water Act and federal regulations.

Despite the accomplishments of the Clean Water Act, many of America's waterways are still polluted by urban storm water, sanitary sewer overflows, agricultural runoff and pollutants from the air that fall into our waters. What this policy seeks to encourage is more innovative approaches to meeting clean water standards and does not change any of the current regulations or standards that are in place.

The trading policy seeks to support and encourage states and tribes in developing and implementing water quality trading programs that implement the requirements of the Clean Water Act and federal regulations in more flexible ways and reduce the cost of improving and maintaining the quality of the nation's waters.

Under the proposed policy, industrial and municipal facilities would first meet technology control requirements and then could use pollution reduction credits to make further progress towards water quality goals. In order for a water quality trade to take place, a pollution reduction "credit" should first be created. EPA's water quality trading policy states that sources should reduce pollution loads beyond the level required by the most stringent technology requirements in order to create a pollution reduction "credit" that can be traded. For example, a landowner or a farmer could create credits by changing cropping practices and planting shrubs and trees next to a stream. A municipal wastewater treatment plant then could use these credits to meet water quality limits in its permit.

EPA officials believe that most trading will occur as states, tribes and sources implement programs to restore polluted waters. The policy supports trading among and between regulated and unregulated sources through watershed partnerships and programs developed by states and tribes.

EPA will publish a notice of availability in the Federal Register and post the proposed policy to protect and restore the nation's waters at http://www.epa.gov/owow/watershed/trading.htm The policy will be open to public comment for 45 days. The final policy will be released later this summer.