April 05, 2002

Clean Air Act

  • April 22, 2002 - 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.
  • April 30, 2002 - 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.


E-D Coat, an Oakland, Calif. metal plating company, its president, Jerry Rossi, and the supervisor of its wastewater treatment, Jack Marlow, pleaded guilty and were sentenced on March 19 to violating the Clean Water Act. The defendants will pay a $215,000 fine and serve three years probation. In addition, Rossi will spend six months in home detention. E-D Coat must also install modifications to its plumbing to prevent further illegal discharges.

E-D Coat electroplates a variety of metal products by dipping them into baths containing various chemicals including cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, acids, cyanide and zinc. The defendants admitted that on three occasions in 1999 and 2000, they used a bypass to discharge untreated wastewater containing a various contaminants from their metal processing tanks into the sewers operated by the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD).

The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and EBMUD, with assistance from EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office in San Francisco.


The Justice Department, EPA, and the state of Illinois have announced a settlement requiring the owner of a large petroleum refinery, Premcor Refining Group, Inc., to pay $6.25 million for violations of several environmental laws.

Premcor Refining Group, Inc., formerly known as Clark Refining and Marketing, Inc., will pay the penalty to resolve claims that its Blue Island Refinery in Blue Island, Ill. violated five federal statutes: the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act and the Emergency Planning, Community Right-To-Know Act and state of Illinois environmental laws and regulations. Premcor closed the refinery in January 2001.

The claims were originally made in a 1998 complaint that was part of the Justice Department's Mississippi River Initiative, a comprehensive federal effort to keep illegal pollution - ranging from raw sewage to industrial waste - out of the river and to restore the river and surrounding communities to their historic grandeur. The water-related violations alleged against Premcor's Blue Island Refinery include illegal discharges into the Cal-Sag Canal West of Chicago. The Canal's waters eventually flow into the Mississippi River. Other alleged violations of the Clean Water Act include discharges of illegal levels of pollutants to the local, publicly owned wastewater treatment plant. The United States also alleged that the refinery violated Clean Air Act emission limits for sulfur dioxide, a precursor of acid rain.

The Blue Island Refinery was in operation, under various owners, from the 1920s to January 2001. Prior to its closure, the refinery processed approximately 80,000 barrels of crude oil per day. Principal end products included gasoline, liquid petroleum gas, jet fuel, diesel fuel, heating fuel and asphalt.

A consent decree was filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and court approval.


As the July 1 deadline fast approaches, companies that use two diisocyanates can take advantage of a newly upgraded, fast and convenient tool to help them meet EPA reporting requirements.

The Alliance for the Polyurethanes Industry (API) has developed a guidance document and a software program to help users of MDI (4,4'-methylene diphenyl diisocyanate) and polymeric MDI (PMDI) determine their emissions. Both items are free of charge and downloadable from the API website at http://www.polyurethane.org, to help companies report emissions for the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI).

The guidance document, MDI/Polymeric MDI Emissions Reporting Guidelines for the Polyurethane Industry, outlines procedures for calculating the various types of emissions from a variety of manufacturing processes that use MDI or PMDI.

The Emissions Estimation Tool, a software package, augments the Guidelines document, providing quick and easy methods to estimate MDI emissions from typical process applications and activities.

State and local officials have praised these tools and have encouraged the polyurethanes industry to let more companies know of their existence. EPA also has endorsed the use of API's Emissions Estimation Tool to help companies estimate air emissions of MDI for TRI reporting and has referenced the software package on their Clearinghouse for Inventories and Emissions Factors (CHIEF) web site.

Companies that use MDI or PMDI have until July 1, 2002 to report to the EPA any 2001 releases at each manufacturing site that meets the reporting requirements of Section 313 of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). EPCRA requires reporting of emissions and other waste management activities for approximately 650 chemicals and chemical categories, including diisocyanates (category N-120).

Companies must report emissions from each facility classified under SIC codes 20 through 39 that has 10 or more full-time employees if the facility makes or processes more than 25,000 pounds of diisocyanates annually or otherwise uses more than 10,000 pounds in a calendar year.


EPA has released additional information on the $53 million in grants available to the nation's largest public drinking water systems for water security planning. A fact sheet and request for applications are available at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/security/index.html

On March 19, EPA Administrator Christie Whitman detailed a nearly $90 million national effort to make drinking water and wastewater utilities as safe as possible as quickly as possible. In response to the attacks of Sept. 11, Congress provided the funding to reduce the vulnerability of water utilities to terrorist attacks and to enhance their security and ability to respond to emergency situations. The grants are available to large drinking water systems, those that regularly serve 100,000 people or more, to support vulnerability assessments, remediation planning and/or emergency plan development. EPA is working closely with states, tribes and utility organizations to determine the best ways to meet small and medium drinking water and waste water system needs. Another portion of these funds will support state water security coordination and planning activities.


EPA and the Chicago Board of Trade announced the results of the tenth annual acid rain auction held last week. The auction, which gives private citizens, brokers and power plants the chance to buy and sell sulfur dioxide (SO2) allowances, is part of EPA's innovative program to reduce acid rain by cutting nationwide SO2 emissions from the electric power industry in half.

SO2 allowance trading, combined with a national emissions cap, has been effective both in terms of cost reduction and environmental impacts since it began in 1995. Current estimates indicate compliance costs 75 percent below those originally predicted by EPA. Emissions are already more than five million tons below 1990 levels, and acid deposition in the eastern United States has declined by as much as 30 percent, resulting in improvements in lakes and streams.

The Clean Air Act established an annual national cap on SO2 emissions. Each year, EPA issues allowances to existing sources to match that cap. However, the Clean Air Act mandates that a limited number of those allowances are withheld and auctioned. The auctions help ensure that new electric generating plants have a source of allowances beyond those allocated initially to existing units. Proceeds from the auctions are returned to sources in proportion to the allowances withheld. In addition to allowances offered by EPA, private parties may offer allowances for sale in the auction.

EPA emphasizes that no matter how many allowances a source purchases, it will not be allowed to emit levels of SO2 that would violate national or state ambient health-protection standards.

An allowance gives affected sources (mainly existing electric power plants) the right to emit one ton of SO2 per year. A plant's total annual emissions cannot exceed its allowances. Allowances are transferable, allowing market forces to determine their price. If a source reduces its SO2 emissions more than required, it will have leftover allowances it can sell to another utility or bank for future use. By providing for such transactions, total emission reductions will be achieved in the most cost-effective manner, and the industry will have the flexibility to choose among various options for reducing emissions.

The auction, conducted by the Chicago Board of Trade, includes two "vintages" of allowances. Vintage describes the earliest year an allowance may be applied against SO2 emissions. In addition to year 2002 allowances, the Clean Air Act mandated that EPA auction additional allowances seven years in advance to help provide stability in planning for capital investment. These advance allowances will be usable in 2009.

Detailed results of this year's acid rain auction and information about how the trading program works are available on EPA's web site: http://www.epa.gov/airmarkets/auctions/. For further technical information, call Melanie Dean of EPA's Clean Air Markets Division at 202-564-9189.


EPA is releasing the first environmental report card on the condition of the nation's coastal waters. The report, primarily evaluating estuaries, describes the condition of U.S. coastal waters as fair to poor. While the current condition is less than ideal, the findings provide EPA with baseline estimates of coastal conditions for select coastal regions.

The report was developed in collaboration with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Geological Survey, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This information will allow EPA to monitor the progress of ongoing coastal water quality protection programs, analyze trends, and identify data gaps. EPA plans to do future studies to determine water quality improvements in coastal areas.

Robert H. Wayland III, director of the EPA's Office of Wetlands Oceans & Watersheds, said, "It took decades for the coasts to get this way and though progress has been made, there is much work still to do. Virtually, the whole landscape of the United States drains into the coasts. This report emphasizes the ecological and economical importance of these areas. We need to encourage efforts to protect the coasts by emphasizing watershed protection, restoring habitats, and reducing non-point source and point source pollution."

The Bush Administration is taking several new steps to address coastal issues highlighted in the report. The President's budget proposes $21 million in new funding for watershed protection. By protecting watersheds, EPA helps improve water quality in all waters of the country, including coastal areas. EPA also has given grants to states to address bacterial contamination of bathing beaches. EPA is one of several agencies participating in a new Estuary Habitat Restoration Council, focusing on restoring estuaries - a valuable coastal resource. In addition, EPA is working with states, tribes, and other federal agencies on an action plan to address the "dead zone," a large oxygen-starved area in the Gulf of Mexico, which threatens one of the nation's most productive and valuable fishing grounds. To reduce bacterial contamination in coastal waters, EPA also is issuing technical guidance to improve design and operation of septic systems used in many coastal areas.

The report is available at: http://www.epa.gov/owow/oceans/nccr/.