May 31, 2002


  • June 15, 2002 - Under 40 CFR 61.70, reports on vinyl chloride emission source activities are due
  • June 23, 2002 - Existing facilities subject to the national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants from pesticide active ingredient production facilities must comply with Subpart MMM of 40 CFR 63


  • June 30, 2002 - HAZMAT registration due


EPA has proposed changing its existing waste regulations for computers, televisions and mercury-containing equipment to discourage the flow of these materials to municipal landfills and incinerators, and to promote safe reuse and recycling of these products.

Color computer monitors and televisions contain cathode ray tubes (CRTs), most of which contain lead to protect users from x-rays generated while the tube is in operation. A typical computer monitor may contain up to eight pounds of lead. EPA estimates that over 250 million computers in this country will be retired from use over the next five years. The EPA proposal would encourage more reuse and recycling of these computers.

For instance, if CRTs are being considered for possible reuse, the proposal clarifies that EPA considers them to be "products," rather than "waste." Therefore, they would not be regulated under the waste requirements of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). EPA is also proposing to lift the waste designation from glass removed from CRTs, as long as the glass is sent for recycling and managed in accordance with simplified storage, labeling and transportation requirements specified in the proposal. EPA believes that these proposed changes would encourage the recycling of these materials, while minimizing the possibility of releasing lead into the environment.

This proposal will also streamline regulations for mercury-containing equipment. Mercury is used in several types of instruments common to electric utilities, municipalities and households, such as switches, barometers, meters, temperature gauges, pressure gauges and sprinkler system contacts.

Under the proposal, mercury-containing equipment will be treated as a "universal waste," rather than being subject to the full hazardous waste regulations under RCRA. Universal wastes are usually items commonly thrown into the trash by households and small businesses, such as batteries, thermostats, lamps and pesticides. EPA issued the first universal waste rule in 1995 to streamline environmental regulations for wastes produced in relatively small quantities by large numbers of businesses. Handlers of universal wastes follow special standards designed to encourage centralized collection and recycling in order to keep these wastes out of landfills and incinerators.

The proposal will appear soon in the Federal Register. For further information call the RCRA Call Center at 1-800-424-9346 (from the Washington, D.C. area, call 703-412-9810), or go to: http://www.epa.gov/epaoswer/hazwaste/recycle/electron/crt.htm .


EPA Administrator Christie Whitman recently signed a proposed rule to control storm water runoff from construction sites.

EPA is seeking comment on three different approaches, plus variations, to reduce water pollution associated with construction. The proposal includes options that work in conjunction with existing federal and state storm water regulations to further promote better management of construction sites and support land management decisions by state and local governments. These options provide flexibility to builders and government agencies to ensure that unique site-specific concerns, such as soil type, local environmental needs and rainfall, are taken into consideration when determining how best to control construction site runoff. One proposal, which builds upon existing federal storm water regulations, establishes a national effluent guideline specifying the types of runoff controls needed and criteria for how best to design them. A second proposal relies on site inspections and certifications (regarding the proper installation of controls) to improve implementation of the existing regulations. The third proposal relies on effective implementation of the existing regulations.

Additional information can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/guide/construction . The agency will accept comment on the proposal for four months.


EPA Administrator Christie Whitman announced the formation of a new advisory panel to make recommendations on the role Superfund should play in addressing the nation's most polluted and costly hazardous waste sites.

The advisory panel is being formed as a Subcommittee to the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT). EPA formed NACEPT in 1988 to provide a forum for public discussion and independent advice to the Agency. Council members include: senior-level decision-makers and experts from academia, business and industry, community and environmental advocacy groups, federal, state, local, and tribal governments, regulators, and environmental justice, labor, non-governmental and professional organizations.

EPA will request the Subcommittee to consider the scope of the national Superfund program against a backdrop of other federal and state waste cleanup programs. This broader dialogue will consider how the nation's waste programs can work together in a more effective and unified way so that citizens can be assured that federal, state and local governments are working cooperatively to make sites safe for their intended uses. The Subcommittee is being asked to have a public dialogue and reach consensus-based recommendations on three major issues: the role of the National Priorities List in cleaning up the worst Superfund sites; the role of Superfund at so-called "mega sites"(sites where cleanup costs are expected to exceed $50 million) and measuring program performance.

Dr. Raymond Loehr, Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Texas in Austin, will chair the new Superfund Subcommittee. Loehr is a recognized expert on municipal, industrial and hazardous waste management and cleanup. He has published over 300 technical publications and reports and authored/edited 14 books. He has served on numerous boards and committees, including EPA's Science Advisory Board, National Research Council Committees, and the Department of Defense's Science Advisory Board, and as Vice President of the American Academy of Environmental Engineers.

The first public meeting of the Subcommittee is Tuesday, June 18, and Wednesday, June 19, in Alexandria, Va., at the Holiday Inn and Suites at 625 First St. A Federal Register notice will be published soon which provides more information on the meeting, including how the public can offer brief comments on the Superfund program. The subcommittee is expected to hold additional meetings on this issue that will also be open to the public. EPA will provide details of additional meetings as they are established. As with other NACEPT dialogues, a final report from the subcommittee is expected within 12 to 18 months. For further information, see: http://www.epa.gov/oswer/SFsub.htm


The Department of Justice and EPA announced that the United States has filed a civil suit against Shell Pipeline Company LP and Olympic Pipeline Company in connection with the June 1999 gasoline pipeline rupture near Bellingham, Wash. The complaint alleges that the rupture was caused by gross negligence in the operation and maintenance of the pipeline. The rupture resulted in the discharge of over 230,000 gallons of gasoline into Whatcom and Hanna Creeks and caused the deaths of three young people, as well as severe property and environmental damage.

The lawsuit alleges gross negligence on the part of Shell and Olympic and seeks civil fines of up to approximately $18.6 million against each company, based on the quantity of gasoline discharged. To determine the actual amount of the penalty, the court will weigh a variety of factors including the seriousness of the incident, the degree of each company's fault, other penalties paid for the same incident and each company's history of prior violations.

The lawsuit also seeks to impose pipeline management, maintenance and repair requirements on Olympic to prevent or minimize future oil spills.

The government alleges that the gross negligence of Shell and Olympic included inadequacies in the design, construction and operation of a pump station on the pipeline system. Further, the United States asserts that the companies failed to supervise construction activity near the pipeline that caused the damage contributing to the rupture and to detect and repair the damage before the rupture. The suit also alleges that there was an inadequate computer system used to monitor and control the pipeline, insufficient operator training and operator error.

The rupture resulted in release of enough gasoline to form a layer approximately three inches thick on the surface of Hanna and Whatcom Creeks over a distance of approximately 1.33 miles. Within 45 to 90 minutes of the rupture, the gasoline ignited, resulting in a fireball that traveled along Whatcom Creek for more than a mile, devastating everything in its path and generating a plume of smoke approximately six miles high.

As a result of the incident, three people were killed, including two ten-year-old boys, and at least nine others were injured. In addition, one home was completely destroyed. The gasoline spill and resulting fire killed more than 100,000 fish and other aquatic organisms in the impacted area. Other species of wildlife also were killed.

The habitats for these aquatic organisms and wildlife also were damaged or destroyed, necessitating extensive restoration work to rebuild an environment in which those organisms could live. The fire destroyed 2.5 miles of riparian vegetation along both banks of Whatcom Creek and also killed and injured mature growth trees within a burn zone encompassing 26 acres.

Olympic owns the pipeline. At the time of the rupture, Shell's corporate predecessor, Equilon Pipeline Company, along with ARCO and GATX, owned Olympic. Equilon managed the pipeline under an operating agreement with Olympic. In 2000, BP/Amoco Corporation acquired ARCO and GATX's shares of Olympic, became Olympic's controlling shareholder, and took over operations. Shell still owns over one-third of Olympic.

The civil lawsuit is authorized by the Clean Water Act as amended by the Oil Pollution Act of 1990. Congress enacted the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, to significantly increase the civil penalties for oil spills pursuant to the Clean Water Act. This action is separate from the criminal proceedings being pursued by EPA and the Department of Justice in connection with this incident. An indictment was issued against Shell, Olympic, and three of their employees on September 13, 2001. The criminal case still is pending.

The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington.


Ashland Inc., of Covington, Ky., pleaded guilty on May 13 to negligent endangerment under the Clean Air Act (CAA) and to submitting a false certification to environmental regulators. The company will pay out a total of $10.7 million in fines, payments to injured parties, and compensation to respondents to the resulting fire and for local pollution control improvements. The defendant also agreed to a deferred prosecution for a violation of the New Source Performance Standards provisions of the CAA.

The CAA violations led to an explosion and fire on May 16, 1997, at the refinery in St. Paul Park, Minn., which severely injured one man and hurt four other individuals. The injuries were the result of Ashland's failure to properly seal a manhole cover on a sewer used to transport flammable hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons leaked from the manhole cover, became airborne and reached an ignition source. The initial fire was extinguished, but a second leak of hydrocarbons from the manhole cover ignited and injured members of a cleanup crew.

The false certification violation occurred after the fire when Ashland told the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency in July 1997 that its sewer system was in compliance with the CAA, and Ashland failed to reveal that a manhole cover had been unsealed and that a fire had resulted.

Under the agreement, Ashland will pay $3.5 million to the severely injured man and pay medical coverage for him and his family. The four other injured workers will receive $10,000 each. In addition, Ashland will pay a $3.5 million criminal fine, sponsor a workshop at a national petroleum conference dealing with the Clean Air Act's New Source Performance Standards for petroleum wastewater systems, take out full-page notices in two major Twin Cities newspapers concerning this incident and its resolution, pay $50,000 to each fire department that responded to the incident and add $50,000 to Ashland's own Emergency Response Team Budget. Ashland will also perform $3.7 million in upgrades to the treatment system at the St. Paul Park Refinery to ensure that this type of situation does not reoccur.

EPA's Criminal Investigation Division and the FBI investigated the case with the assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office in Minneapolis and the U.S. Department of Justice Environmental Crimes Section.