March 15, 2002

The U.S. Justice Department and EPA announced a comprehensive Clean Air Act (CAA) agreement with wood products industry giant Boise Cascade Corporation that will require reductions of up to 95 percent of the harmful emissions from the company's eight plywood and particle board plants. The plants are located in Oregon, Washington, Louisiana and Idaho.

The United States claims that Boise Cascade has modified and expanded its panel board operations over the past two decades without installing the proper air pollution control equipment to reduce harmful emissions as required by the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) regulations under the new source review provisions of the federal CAA and state rules. PSD regulations apply in areas where air quality is good and are intended to keep the air in compliance with national air quality standards.

This is the fifth case against a major wood products producer to be settled as part of EPA's wood products initiative, which started in the late 1980s and was the first industry-wide effort to enforce new source review under the CAA. The success of this initiative demonstrates EPA's determination to achieve nationwide compliance across industry sectors. EPA will continue to investigate CAA compliance at smaller facilities and to work with the states to quickly resolve any uncovered violations.

The new source review program is designed to prevent deterioration of our nation's air quality, requiring newly constructed or modified sources of air pollution, such as electric utilities and wood products factories, to obtain permits and install air pollution control equipment to reduce their emissions prior to construction or modification.

A consent decree filed requires Boise Cascade to install state-of-the-art air pollution control equipment at an estimated cost of $15 million over the next three years at its Medford and Elgin, Ore., operations, and the Florien and Oakdale plants in Louisiana. In addition, the company must select one of three pollution control options to reduce volatile organic compound emissions (VOCs) from its particleboard facility in Island City, Ore. The company will also pay $4.35 million in civil penalties and has agreed to spend another $2.9 million in supplemental controls to reduce emissions at the Yakima and Kettle Falls, Wash., plants, and to control certain units at the Medford, Ore., plywood facility. The state of Louisiana joined in the settlement and will receive a $250,000 share in the penalties.

The settlement is expected to reduce emissions of VOCs and particulate matter by an estimated 2,166 tons per year. VOCs are linked with the formation of ground level ozone, or smog, and VOCs and particulate matter are known to contribute to respiratory illnesses, especially in children and the elderly.

The settlement with Boise Cascade comes two years after EPA issued its first notice of violation to the company in March 2000. This agreement is the fifth effort by EPA and the states to ensure the wood products industry complies with major CAA permitting requirements. The United States has previously reached settlements with Louisiana-Pacific (1993), Georgia Pacific (1996), Weyerhaeuser (1995) and Willamette Industries (2000).

The consent decree was filed in the U.S. District Court of Oregon in Portland and is subject to a 30-day public comment period.

The settlement involves the following facilities:

Emmett, Idaho (now closed)
Florien, La.
Oakdale, La.
Island City, Ore.
Elgin, Ore.
Medford, Ore.
White City, Ore. ("Rogue Valley" facility)
Kettle Falls, Wash.


In a state investigation assisted by EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, a jury sitting in the New Mexico District Court in Las Cruces, N.M., convicted Hector Villa III on Feb. 28 of eight felony counts involving the dumping of thousands of gallons of animal rendering waste in a Southern New Mexico landfill.

Villa is the former director of the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission office in El Paso. Richard Jerome, President of Valley By-Products of Vinton, Texas, and Henry Medina, owner of Southwest Septic Service in Las Cruces, N.M., previously pleaded guilty in this case. Villa was a consultant to the Valley By-Products plant that renders animal parts into useful products. Between 1997 and 1999 Jerome and Medina illegally disposed of thousands of gallons of rendering plant wastewater and animal wastes at a landfill operated by Medina West of Las Cruces, N.M. Villa knew that the landfill did not have a permit to accept the rendering wastes, but he allowed Valley By-Products to dump there without notifying the state. The improper disposal of rendering plant wastewater can contaminate groundwater supplies and create a public health risk.

The State of New Mexico, the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission and EPA's Criminal Investigation Division investigated the case. It is being prosecuted by the New Mexico States Attorney's Office in Las Cruces.


The National Toxicology Program (NTP) Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction (CERHR) has announced the availability of and requests for comments on two expert panel reports: (1) Expert Panel Report on the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicity of 1-Bromopropane and (2) Expert Panel Report on the Developmental and Reproductive Toxicity of 2-Bromopropane.

These reports include the summaries and conclusions of the expert panel's evaluation of the scientific data for potential reproductive and/or developmental hazards associated with exposure to 1-bromopropane and 2-bromopropane. The CERHR held this expert panel meeting in December 2001. CERHR is seeking public comment on these reports and additional information about recent, relevant toxicology studies or human exposure.

1-Bromopropane is used as a solvent for fats, waxes, or resins and as an intermediate in the synthesis of pharmaceuticals, insecticides, quaternary ammonium compounds, flavors, or fragrances. It is also used as a vehicle in spray adhesives and as a cold bath degreaser. 2-Bromopropane is used as an intermediate in the synthesis of pharmaceuticals, dyes, and other compounds; the extent of these uses and associated human exposures is unknown. 2-Bromopropane is also present as a contaminant in 1-bromopropane. Bromopropanes are being considered as replacement chemicals for ozone-depleting chemicals such as hydrochlorofluorocarbons and chlorinated solvents.

Copies of the two expert panel reports are available at http://cerhr.niehs.nih.gov. To receive a printed copy of either report, please contact the CERHR at P.O. Box 12233, MD EC-32, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709 (mail), (919) 541-3455 (phone), (919) 316-4511 (fax), or shelby@niehs.nih.gov.


EPA and the National Science Foundation are awarding nearly $2.22 million in grants to seven universities to study the affect by plants to soils contaminated by heavy metals or organic chemicals. This joint effort is designed to foster innovative scientific solutions to the worldwide problem of soils contaminated with heavy metals and organic chemicals, which can affect human health, ecosystem function and agriculture. The research will study "phytoremediation," or the use of plants to degrade, remove or stabilize toxic compounds from contaminated soil and water in ways that are less costly and less disruptive than traditional cleanup techniques.

Three grants were awarded through EPA's Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program, and are designed to clarify the mechanism of phytoremediation of organic contaminants. The National Science Foundation will sponsor three multidisciplinary research projects to investigate the genetic components of phytoremediation of heavy metals in soils. These grants were awarded through NSF's Integrative Plant Biology Program and the Environmental Engineering/Environmental Technology Program. Funding for this joint initiative was made available through the Joint Program on Phytoremediation, a federal research effort involving EPA, the National Science Foundation and the Departments of Defense and Energy.

The three EPA grants will go to the University of California, University of Connecticut and Washington State University. The University of California (at Riverside) will evaluate plant species that produce a specific group of chemicals for use in phytoremediation, and the ecology of chemical-degrading bacteria that live in the root systems of these plants. The University of Connecticut will investigate the role of plant roots in the phytoremediation of persistent organic pollutants in soil. This research will determine whether chemicals produced by roots have the potential to increase the bioavailability of certain contaminants for plant uptake and metabolism. Washington State University will study spartina cordgrasses for their potential use as a phytoremediation tool in marine and estuarine sediments. The research will determine whether the ability of these plants to transport oxygen from the atmosphere to their below-ground root systems has the potential to enhance microbial degradation of organic pollutants, which can be limited by oxygen availability in anoxic, waterlogged soils. More information on these grants is available at: http://es.epa.gov/ncer/grants/phyto01.html.

The three grants being funded by the National Science Foundation will go to Cornell University, Purdue University and a joint grant to Northwestern University and the University of Florida. Cornell University will study the molecular basis for heavy metal accumulation and tolerance in a 'hyperaccumulating" plant species. Purdue University will perform a study to attempt to identify genome-wide metal hyperaccumulation genes. The research will focus on species from the Brassicaceae family. Finally, Northwestern University and the University of Florida will perform research to clarify the mechanisms of arsenic uptake, translocation, distribution and detoxification by Brake ferns. More information on these grants is available from Andrea Dietrich at 703-292-7746, or at: http://www.nsf.gov/bio/ibn/ibndevelop.htm.


Gregory L. Swiney of Clendenin, W.Va., was arrested on Feb. 14 and was indicted on March 4 for illegally disposing of hazardous wastes in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and for the alleged illegal manufacture of methamphetamine.

The indictment charges that Swiney manufactured methamphetamines and/or illegally disposed of ignitable liquid hazardous wastes including toluene and acetone in or near Clendenin, Elkview and Sanderson, W.Va. Laboratory wastes from methamphetamine manufacture can present a significant fire and explosion hazard and can be highly toxic to individuals who come into contact with them.

EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Kanawha Sheriff's Department and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection investigated the case. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office in Charleston, W.Va.