- December 16: Public water systems that serve a population of 10,000 or more must comply with national primary drinking water standards for disinfectants and disinfection byproducts
- December 17: Public water systems that serve a population of 10,000 or more must comply with requirements for total trihalomethanes, haloacetic acids, bromate, chlorite, chlorine, chloramines, and chlorine dioxide
- December 17: Public water systems that serve at least 10,000 are subject to enhanced filtration and treatment requirements
EPA LAUNCHES NEW E-COMMERCE PORTAL FOR ENVIRONMENTAL REPORTING
EPA has established a single portal on the Web for all environmental data entering the agency.
The Central Data Exchange (CDX) offers companies, states and other entities that provide data to EPA a faster, easier and a more secure reporting option. The portal also includes built-in data quality checks, web forms, standard file formats and a common, user friendly approach to reporting data across vastly different environmental programs such as the Toxic Release Inventory, the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule and the Air Emissions Inventory. A cornerstone of EPA's e-government initiative, CDX aids the agency's overall systems modernization effort and saves money by reducing redundant infrastructure. CDX currently accepts data for certain air, water, waste and toxic programs and will gradually expand to support all agency environmental reporting by 2004.
Though the current focus is electronic, CDX will eventually
incorporate a facility for the agency's paper data collections as
well. More information is available at http://www.epa.gov/cdx.
CHEMICAL SECURITY PREPAREDNESS SEMINARS SCHEDULED
Free seminars are scheduled on chemical security preparedness, including security at sites and in distribution, directed especially at manufacturers, distributors, transporters and customers. The seminars will cover security plans and threats and challenges of terrorism and will be given by experts from EPA, other agencies and the chemical industry.
The seminars will be held at the Adams Mark Hotel in Kansas City, Mo., on Dec. 6, the Waterfront Marriott in Baltimore, Md., on Dec. 13 and at a location to be announced in Los Angeles on Jan. 23. Prior to the seminar in Baltimore, there will be an EPA conference on Dec. 9-13 at the same hotel dealing with chemical emergency preparedness and prevention. More than 1,600 participants are expected to attend. There will be approximately 100 workshops, computer training sessions and off-site tours. EPA Administrator Christie Whitman will address the conference on Dec. 10. Other speakers will include top officials of other federal agencies, members of Congress, corporate officials, officials of New York City and 2002 Olympics planners.
Further information is available at http://www.2001conference.org
SECOND ANNUAL PBT PROGRAM ACCOMPLISHMENTS REPORT RELEASED
The report for the year 2000, presents a highlighted perspective of EPA cross-office, multimedia program activity concerning the restrictive use, release, and manufacture of persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic (PBT) pollutants. PBTs such as mercury, dioxins/furans, and PCBs are the primary focus with added emphasis on how EPA and its partners are monitoring PBTs and preventing new PBTs from entering the marketplace. With a national and international focus, this second annual report reinforces EPA's priority goals that aim to prevent PBT contamination at the source; making sure the quality of our air, water, and land are preserved for future generations.
The report is available at EPA's PBT Chemical Program website at
WHITMAN ANNOUNCES REORGANIZATION OF EPA OMBUDSMAN OFFICE
EPA Administrator Christie Whitman announced she will reorganize the EPA's office of ombudsman to give it a truly independent and impartial investigatory function. The ombudsman will be relocated in January to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) at EPA, an independent organization within the Agency.
"After much deliberation, and serious consideration of recommendations from the General Accounting Office, Senator Mike Crapo and other members of Congress, I have decided to move this function from the Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response to the Office of the Inspector General. I believe this will give the ombudsman more independence and the impartiality necessary to conduct credible inquiries," said Whitman.
As part of this shift, the EPA Inspector General will conduct a systematic review of open inquiries for citizens who have sought Agency assistance. "It is our expectation that the National Solid and Hazardous Waste Ombudsman function will become a part of a more holistic effort within the OIG??addressing public concerns across the spectrum of EPA programs," said Whitman.
Originally conceived in the 1984 amendments to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the ombudsman was designated to receive individual complaints, grievances, and requests for information, and to make appropriate recommendations regarding RCRA. Because it was viewed as a valuable service, the ombudsman office was retained after its authorization expired in 1988. Over time the jurisdiction of the office has expanded to include Superfund and other hazardous waste programs. The ombudsman evaluates the merits of complaints, including those referred by Members of Congress on behalf of citizens.
As the number and significance of the ombudsman's inquiries have increased, issues have been raised as to whether or not there are institutional barriers to the performance of the ombudsman's responsibilities. A recent GAO report to Congress found the current location of the office an impediment to its independence. "I found the report compelling and consistent with concerns raised by other groups, including various associations of ombudsmen and the American Bar Association," said Whitman.
The OIG is by statute an independent organization within the
Agency with a good track record of objectivity in evaluating the
interests of all parties and ensuring that questions receive
answers. This reorganization will also facilitate Agency
implementation of GAO's secondary recommendations for increased
accountability and record-keeping. The Inspector General has
established rigorous procedures to ensure proper documentation
and reporting of all investigations and inquiries.
CRACKDOWN CONTINUES ON FALSE LAB REPORTS SCHEME
A guilty plea to lying to EPA investigators represents the latest in the federal prosecution of those involved in a long-running scheme to falsify laboratory reports to make it appear as if gasoline met EPA standards for cleaner burning fuel, when it did not. Richard M. Kaminski, former president of a national testing laboratory, pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice for conspiring to mislead EPA investigators about a scheme to falsify chemical analyses involving hundreds of millions of gallons of reformulated gasoline (RFG).
According to the plea, Kaminski, then president of Caleb Brett U.S.A. Inc., a subsidiary of London-based Intertek Testing Services Inc., encouraged employees between 1988 and 1997 at the company's facilities in Linden, N.J., and Puerto Rico to alter no.6 fuel oil results to benefit Caleb Brett's clients. Accordingly, results were reported that were different than those reflected by the analytical instruments used to test the fuel. On this guilty plea, Kaminski faces a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $250,000. In conjunction with the scheme, the company was sentenced on April 12 to pay a $1-million fine and serve three years probation. The company admitted involvement in a scheme to change data on tests on RFG samples from 1995 through 1997. Approximately 200-300 million gallons of the substandard gasoline were distributed in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Cleaner-burning RFG is required by EPA in some states to reduce air pollutants that can cause a variety of respiratory diseases. The requirement, under the Clean Air Act, calls for controlling the levels of sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere by limiting the amount of sulfur in fuel oils. A significant source of sulfur dioxide is power plants which burn residual oils, such as no.6 fuel oil. Independent testing laboratories, such as Caleb Brett, are employed by buyers and sellers of petroleum products to determine whether those products meet federal and state regulatory standards and commercial requirements.
The plea took place in federal court in Newark, N.J. The case was
investigated by EPA Criminal Investigation Division and the U.S.
Postal Service with the assistance of the New York State
Department of Environmental Conservation and EPA's National
Enforcement Investigations Center. The U.S. Department of Justice
prosecuted the case.
COLORADO COMPANY OWNER SENTENCED FOR WASTE VIOLATION
Bruce Spence, currently of Las Vegas, Nev., owner and operator of Cooling Systems International (CSI), a defunct radiator repair company located in Mesa County, Colo., was sentenced on Nov. 16 to spend 60 days in jail, pay a $100,000 fine and pay $125,000 in restitution for violating the Colorado Hazardous Waste Act. Spence was also placed on 10 years probation and barred from working in any business involving hazardous waste.
Spence was convicted of illegally disposing of toxic hot tank sludge and lead-containing toxins by spreading them on the grounds of the CSI site.
The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation
Division, the Colorado Attorney General's Office and the Grand
Junction Fire Department's Arson Investigators with the
assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center It
was prosecuted by the Colorado Attorney General's Office in
IOWA COMPANY, CEO PLEAD GUILTY TO VIOLATING CLEAN WATER ACT
Rockingham-Lunex Co., Pleasant Valley, Iowa, and its President/CEO, William T. Schmidt, pleaded guilty on Oct. 25 to violating the Clean Water Act (CWA). They were charged in relation to the discharge of Solvol 107, a rust inhibitor, into a storm drain that empties into marsh waters which flow to the Mississippi River.
The company operates a metal fabrication plant near the Mississippi River. Marshes and other wetlands are important biological resources, and the discharge of industrial chemicals into them can harm fish and wildlife.
A plea agreement calls for Schmidt to serve eight months home confinement and pay a $5,000 fine and for Rockingham-Lunex to pay a $10,000 fine. The company also will be on probation for three years, during which time it must develop and implement an environmental compliance plan.
The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Iowa Attorney General's Office, the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Scott County Sheriff's Department, and the Bettendorf Fire Department with the assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Des Moines.