What is your Ecological Footprint?

April 24, 2006


By taking the quiz, you can find out not only what your ecological footprint is, you can learn how to reduce it and compare it with others. The average American has an eco-footprint of 24 acres, but there are only about 4.5 biologically productive acres available per person. 

Superfund Program Pioneers Hazardous Waste Remediation


In 1980, 10 years after the first Earth Day, the U.S. Congress enacted the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), which authorized the Superfund and allowed the federal government to help overwhelmed cities and states clean up the nation's most dangerous toxic waste sites.

Superfund is the federal government's program to clean up the nation's uncontrolled hazardous waste sites - abandoned, accidentally spilled, or illegally dumped hazardous waste that poses a current or future threat to human health or the environment.

To do this, the EPA works with communities, potentially responsible parties (polluters), scientists, researchers, contractors, and state, local, tribal and other federal authorities. Working with these groups, EPA identifies hazardous waste sites, tests the conditions of the sites, formulates cleanup plans and begins cleaning up identified sites.

When the law first was enacted, it authorized Superfund for five years, with an annual budget of $320 million. At the time, nearly everyone involved - congressional committee members and EPA staff - thought of Superfund as an emergency program that would be completed in five years.

By 1983, some 406 of the nation's worst hazardous waste sites had been placed on the Superfund National Priorities List (NPL). Currently, the list includes 1,303 final and proposed sites. New sites are added each year; some sites deleted from the list have been put back on the list for further cleanup.

The Superfund program is not perfect - controversies exist about its funding mechanism, its definition of "clean up," and other issues.á Still, Superfund is the first program in the world to tackle a country's 150-year industrial legacy, and to make those responsible for the waste pay to clean it up.

CERCLA imposed taxes on the chemical and petroleum industries. That revenue went to a Superfund Trust Fund for cleaning up abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. Congress provided that the fund could be tapped when the original polluters of sites could not be identified, had gone into bankruptcy or refused to pay for cleanup. It allowed the federal government to respond to hazardous waste releases, which might harm people or the environment.

á In 1986, Congress passed the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act , which amended CERCLA to:

ááááááááá Stress the importance of permanent remedies and innovative treatment technologies in cleaning up hazardous waste sites

ááááááááá Provide new enforcement authorities and legal settlement tools

ááááááááá Expand state involvement

ááááááááá Focus more strongly on human health problems created by exposure to toxic waste

ááááááááá Encourage greater citizen participation

ááááááááá Increase the Superfund Trust Fund to $8.5 billion

SARA also required the EPA to revise a scoring system called the hazard ranking system to make sure the agency accurately assessed the relative degree of risk to human health and the environment posed by uncontrolled NPL hazardous waste sites.

Once someone reports a potentially hazardous waste site to EPA, inspectors from EPA, the state or a tribal government assess the site to determine whether it poses a risk to human health or the environment. Sometimes a site needs a more detailed review, and EPA gathers data to score the site according to the hazard ranking system, which determines whether the site should be added to the National Priorities List. Only sites on the NPL can be cleaned up using Superfund money.

If EPA thinks an NPL site is an immediate threat to human health, the agency acts immediately to eliminate the hazard. If the site is not an immediate threat, the agency explains which cleanup alternatives will be used, then prepares and implements plans and specifications for cleaning up the site.

Sites are removed from the NPL when they are determined no longer to pose a hazard to human health or the environment. But EPA does not measure Superfund success only by counting the number of deleted sites.

Superfund sites are called construction sites because most of the remedies used to clean them call for physical construction - erecting physical barriers to "cap" sites and keep contaminants from moving off the site, monitoring wells for contaminated groundwater, installing pumps to keep the groundwater on the site and clean it and other structures.

Until 1995, three separate taxes created revenue for the Superfund Trust Fund - corporate taxes on the chemical and feedstocks industries and oil companies. Congress failed to renew those taxes and in 2003, the Superfund Trust Fund ran out of money. Seventy per cent of cleanups are paid for directly by responsible parties.

EPA Reports on Clean Air Interstate Rule


. Issued on March 10, 2005, CAIR will achieve dramatic reductions in air pollution by requiring 28 states and the District of Columbia to reduce and cap emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) from power plants.

By 2020, nearly 80% of all coal-fired power plant capacity in the CAIR region will have advanced pollution controls installed and working to reduce emissions of NOx and SO2. Also in 2020, 99% of coal-fired power plant generation in the CAIR region will employ some form of NOx or SO2 control. Although 295 regulated coal units in the CAIR region are projected to be without advanced control technologies, those units represent only 20% of coal fired generation.

When fully implemented, CAIR will reduce SO2 emissions in the CAIR region over 70% and NOx emissions by over 60% from 2003 levels. These reductions are expected to result in more than $100 billion in health benefits per year by 2015 and help prevent an estimated 17,000 premature deaths annually.

Yale to Pay Fine for Hazardous Waste-Related Financial Violation


Under a settlement reached with EPA, the New Haven-based institution will pay a fine of $17,862. The EPA action is a result of Yale violating the financial assurance requirements of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) by failing to submit updated financial assurance information to the Conn. Dept. of Environmental Protection (CT DEP) for the years 2003 and 2004.

YaleUniversity operates a "greater-than-90-day" storage facility at its Wright Nuclear Structure Laboratory (WNSL), where it stores containers of hazardous waste mixed with radioactive waste. As a facility that stores hazardous waste for greater than 90 days, Yale was required to comply with the requirements applicable to treatment, storage and disposal facilities, including the requirement to maintain financial assurance for closure of the WNSL storage area.

EPA has began a nationwide effort to enforce financial requirements of RCRA after the agency's Inspector General issued a report indicating that many companies might not be in compliance with laws regarding financial assurance. Yale has now demonstrated that it is meeting its financial assurance obligations.

DOT Secretary Mineta Calls Highway Fatalities National Tragedy

U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta declared highway traffic deaths a "national tragedy" and called on all Americans to respond by wearing safety belts, using motorcycle helmets and driving sober.
Injuries dropped from 2.79 million in 2004 to 2.68 million in 2005, a decline of 4.1%. Fifty five per cent of passenger vehicle occupants who died in 2005 were unbelted.

"Every year this country experiences a national tragedy that is as preventable as it is devastating," said Secretary Mineta. "We have the tools to prevent this tragedy - every car has a safety belt, every motorcycle rider should have a helmet and everyone should have enough sense to never drive while impaired."á NHTSA's report projects a fatality rate of 1.46 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, up from the record low of 1.44 in 2004. NHTSA also found safety belt use is at 82% nationwide.

The report also projects the eighth straight increase in motorcycle fatalities. In 2005, 4,315 motorcyclists died, a 7.7% increase. In 2004, there were 4,008 motorcycle fatalities, the report said. Mineta added that the majority of passenger vehicle occupants who died in 2005 were unbelted, despite the fact that safety belt use is at an historic high of 82% nation wide.

Traffic crashes come at an enormous cost to society, Mineta noted. NHTSA estimates show that highway crashes cost society $230.6 billion a year, about $820 per person. "We could save thousands of lives every year if everyone buckled up," said Jacqueline Glassman, NHTSA acting administrator.

NHTSA also is projecting the following changes between 2004 and 2005:


ááááááááá Overall alcohol-related fatalities increased 1.7% from 16,694 to 16,972

ááááááááá Passenger car fatalities dropped 1.8% while light truck occupants killed increased by 4.3%

ááááááááá Pedestrian deaths increased slightly, from 4,641 to 4,674

ááááááááá Fatalities from large truck crashes increased slightly from 5,190 to 5,226

ááááááááá Vehicle miles traveled are projected to increase slightly to 2.964 trillion, up from 2.963 trillion in 2004, according to the DOT's Federal Highway Administration

The number of registered vehicles increased from 238 million in 2004 to 243 million in 2005. The final 2005 report will be available in late summer.

Oil Company Fined for UST Violations


EPA cited Century Oil Acquisition Corp. for failing to take required measures to detect and prevent fuel leaks from underground storage tanks at two company owned gas stations in east-central Pennsylvania.

In its complaint and compliance order, EPA cited the Spring Valley, N.Y.-based company for violations of underground storage tank regulations at two former Texaco gas stations. A March 30, 2004 inspection by EPA and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection revealed that the company did not provide required corrosion protection, and leak prevention and detection safeguards for the six underground tanks.

Violations were cited at the North Fifth Street Texaco, at 1410 N. 5th St., Stroudsburg, Pa., where two 10,000-gallon and one 2,000-gallon gasoline underground storage tanks were located. Also cited, the Scotrun Texaco, Route 611, Scotrun, Pa., where a 6,000 gallon, a 4,000 gallon and a 3,000 gallon gasoline underground storage tank were located.

EPA will propose a specific penalty after giving the company an opportunity to respond to the complaint, and present information on the alleged violations. EPA has ordered the company to correct the alleged violations, and to certify its compliance with applicable federal and state underground storage tank regulations.

With millions of gallons of gasoline, oil and other petroleum products stored in underground storage tanks throughout the U.S., leaking tanks are a major source of potential soil and groundwater contamination. T
hese regulations help to minimize environmental harm and reduce the cost of cleanups.

City Fined for Violations at Wastewater Treatment Plant >/H2>



The City of Keene, N.H. will pay a $58,000 fine as part of an EPA settlement for violations of the federal Clean Water Act at the City's municipal wastewater treatment plant and sewer collection system. The violations resulted in sewage overflowing from the system on dozens of occasions.

The settlement resolves EPA concerns regarding Keene's wastewater treatment plant and sewer collection system. Keene's violations led to more than 30 overflows of untreated sanitary sewage between 2000 and 2005, many of which reached local waterways. Most of the overflows were caused by blockages in the system, which can be prevented by routine cleaning and maintenance.

"By ensuring that sewer lines are properly cleaned and kept free of grease, roots and other blockages, we can prevent overflows and help keep our rivers and streams clean and healthy," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "EPA is committed to protecting people's health by enforcing environmental laws that protect our water, air and land."

Keene 's public sewer system includes a secondary wastewater treatment facility that discharges 3.5 million gallons per day of treated wastewater into the AshuelotRiver. The collection system is made up of about 86 miles of sewer, 2000 manholes, five city-owned pump stations and 10 privately-owned pump stations.

Other violations captured in the penalty issued by EPA are for exceeding effluent limits for zinc in the city's National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit, and the failure to develop appropriate local limits for industries that discharge wastewater to the system.

Keene has been complying with a separate order issued by EPA in September 2004, which should prevent sanitary sewer overflows in the future. Keene has been required to develop and implement a plan to remove structural deficiencies in their wastewater treatment infrastructure. This includes evaluating manholes and collection system accessibility, establishing a plan to restore the capacity of the sewer system (including a preventative maintenance program), an analysis of appropriate effluent limits for local industries, putting appropriate limits for local industries into the City's sewer use ordinance, and other requirements.

Landlord to Pay Penalty and Take Steps to Reduce Risk of Lead Poisoning


Providence , R.I. landlords Peter and Lillian Marinucci will pay a $6,207 fine and take actions costing $60,000 to reduce the risk of lead poisoning in apartment units in Providence. This settles EPA claims that the Marinuccis violated lead paint disclosure laws at rental properties they own and manage.

"Lead poisoning is a serious health threat for children in New England, because so much of our housing is older and may contain lead paint," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England office. "It is critically important that renters and buyers get the information they need to protect themselves and their children from potential exposure to lead paint. This is especially important for pregnant women and families with young children."

EPA claimed that the Marinuccis did not comply with federal laws that require property owners, managers and sellers to provide information about lead-based paint present in housing built before 1978. Once the Marinuccis learned of the lead disclosure laws during EPA's investigation, they took prompt action to comply with the lead disclosure law and worked cooperatively with EPA to reach a speedy settlement.

Federal law requires that landlords and sellers renting or selling housing built before 1978 must:

ááááááááá provide a lead hazard information pamphlet that can help renters and buyers protect themselves from lead poisoning

ááááááááá include lead notification language in sales and rental forms

ááááááááá disclose any known lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in the living unit and provide available reports to renters or buyers

ááááááááá allow a lead inspection or risk assessment by home buyers

ááááááááá maintain records certifying compliance with federal laws for a period of three years

 Pregnant women are also vulnerable because lead exposure before or during pregnancy can alter fetal development and cause miscarriages. Adults with high lead levels can suffer high blood pressure, nerve disorders, memory problems and muscle and joint pain. Childhood lead exposure is a particularly acute problem for urban children of low-income families who live in older housing.

Partnership Geared Toward New Technologies to Reduce Fuel Consumption


Cleaner engines mean cleaner air thanks to a partnership to develop advanced automotive components for cleaner, more fuel efficient engines and vehicles. The EPA and BorgWarner will examine the commercial viability of newly advanced turbochargers, air management, and electronic sensors for use with clean diesel and high efficiency gasoline engines. Commercialization of these technologies will result in lower emissions and reduced fuel consumption, which in turn saves Americans money at the pump, improves environmental protection and lessens dependence on foreign oil.

"By advancing the technologies that are good for the environment, good for our economy, and good for our energy security, together with BorgWarner, EPA is meeting the president's call to get our nation off the treadmill of foreign oil dependency," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "For the past century, diesel engines have been America's economic workhorse - reliable, fuel efficient, and long lasting. Through innovations in technology, this economic workhorse is expanding into an environmental workhorse."

Diesel powered passenger vehicles have significantly better fuel economy than their gasoline powered counterparts.
 The company also will develop air management and combustion sensor technologies. Partnering with BorgWarner allows this "made in the USA" technology to also support manufacturing jobs in the United States through their turbocharger manufacturing and engineering facilities in Asheville, N.C.

The EPA - BorgWarner partnership was established through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, which is a tool Congress established to facilitate technology transfer from National Laboratories to industry and the marketplace.

Pssst, Pass It On


Why trash your old computer when you can pass it on for reuse? That's the thinking behind EPA's "Pass It On Week."  EPA's Plug-In partners will host several regional collections during the week.

"Americans have the opportunity to pass on access to technology as well as a cleaner environment," said EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson. "Technology's advances leave behind computers and electronics in its wake. Although some people make upgrades every few years, computers are built to last much longer - so instead of throwing them out, pass them on."

As part of Pass It On Week, EPA is also promoting "100% Day." Created by the Computer Reuse Coalition, a group of nonprofit organizations, refurbishers, governments and manufacturers, this national effort aims to collect more than 100,000 computers throughout the United States on or near Earth Day. Businesses are asked to donate computers on April 21 and individuals are asked to donate on April 22. Three Plug-In partners are hosting or sponsoring collection events.

Formed in 2002, Plug-In To eCycling aims to increase the safe recycling of used electronic products by encouraging private and public sector partners to advertise, promote, or provide actual opportunities to recycle old consumer electronics.

Three Companies Agree to Pay $64,000 for Violating Federal Pesticide Rules


EPA settled claims for nearly $64,000 with three companies charged with importing and selling improperly labeled pesticides. The Agency settled claims with Arch Chemicals, Inc., Janssen Pharmaceutical, Inc. and JR Simplot for violations of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

"For the safety of our citizens, all imported pesticides intended for use in the United States must be registered as required by Section 3 of FIFRA before being permitted entry into the U.S," said Chad Schulze, EPA's Region 10 FIFRA Enforcement Officer in Seattle. "Imported pesticides must be properly labeled to ensure that when used as directed, the product does not pose an unreasonable risk to human health and the environment."

Arch Chemical, Inc., of Smyrna, Georgia, imported improperly labeled pesticides into the U.S. through Seattle, Washington and Los Angeles, California, on 13 separate occasions between June 2005 and January 2006. EPA issued a Stop Sale, Use, or Removal Order for these illegal shipments in July of 2005. Arch has agreed to pay a $52,000 penalty to settle EPA's claims.

In October 2005 EPA found that Janssen Pharmaceutical, Inc., of Titusville, New Jersey, also imported an improperly labeled pesticide into the U.S. through Seattle, Washington, in violation of FIFRA. At that time, EPA issued a Stop Sale, Use, or Removal Order for the illegally imported pesticide. Janssen has agreed to pay a $4,680 penalty to settle EPA's claims.

JR Simplot of Boise, Idaho, has agreed to pay a $7,280 penalty to settle EPA's claims that they violated the federal pesticide law by including substantially smaller percentages of active ingredients in two lawn products than what was stated on their labels. EPA's allegations are based on a March 20, 2003 inspection of a Simplot facility in St. Louis, Missouri and subsequent analysis of collected samples.

Improper Storage of Hazardous Waste Leads to $43,600 Penalty


Burke Parsons Bowlby Corporation (BPB) has settled alleged violations of federal and state hazardous waste regulations at the company's wood treatment facility at 9223 Maury River Rd., Goshen, Va.á Under the terms of a consent agreement BPB will pay to EPA a $43,600 penalty for alleged hazardous waste violations, the principal federal law on the handling, storage and disposal of hazardous waste.

April 2004 and March 2005 inspections by EPA and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality revealed several RCRA violations involving the storage and disposal of regulated hazardous wastes, primarily waste wood preservative. The alleged violations included failure to label, date or close containers of hazardous waste; failure to clean, maintain, and enclose a "drip pad" used to facilitate inspections and minimize hazardous waste releases.

As part of the settlement, the company neither admitted nor denied liability for the violations cited by EPA. 

New Document Aimed at Improving Wetlands Monitoring Programs


A new document, released by the EPA, will help states and tribes develop consistent programs to improve wetland monitoring. The document outlines critical elements that programs should include.

 The new document describes the 10 recommended elements of a wetland monitoring and assessment program including a program strategy, monitoring objectives and design, and data management. It further describes wetland-specific assessment approaches available to states and tribes.

The purpose of the document is to increase the understanding of wetland quality by advancing the practice of wetlands monitoring and assessment. It provides information and illustrations of assessment approaches unique to wetlands while reiterating the basic structure of a monitoring program that includes wetlands.

EPA Smoothes Transition to Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel Fuel

This minor change is necessary until more sensitive, more precise tests are in use throughout the fuel distribution system to reliably measure sulfur at very low levels. The tolerance will rise from 2 parts per million (ppm) to 3ppm through Oct. 14, 2008. This technical change will help ensure that fuel actually meeting the 15ppm sulfur cap is not falsely rejected and will not impact the sulfur cap taking effect June 1, 2006.

The adjustment provides labs with more time to improve their measurement techniques, while strengthening the reproducibility of fuel sulfur tests based on current testing variability for some test methods. The final rule also amends the designate-and-track provisions to account for non-petroleum diesel fuels, such as biodiesel, and makes other minor clarifications. According to EPA, this action has no adverse environmental impacts.

Oregon DEQ Asks for Comments on Hazardous Waste Rule



The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is updating its state environmental rules to reflect recent streamlining changes to Oregon's Toxics Use Reduction and Hazardous Waste Reduction law. The changes, which occurred in 2005 through the Oregon Legislature's passage of Senate Bill 43, made the existing companion rule language obsolete. DEQ is accepting public comments on this rule housekeeping proposal through Tuesday, May 23.

The Toxics Use Reduction and Hazardous Waste Reduction law outlines the way that about 600 businesses do pollution prevention planning and reporting in Oregon. Under the state law, businesses that generate sufficient quantities of chemicals and hazardous wastes must report to DEQ. Companies in the program submit their reduction successes, challenges and future opportunities on the Internet. In the coming months, the public will be able to see what businesses are doing to reduce toxic chemcial use and hazardous waste generation. 

DEQ will conduct a public hearing on the proposal from 2 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, May 16 in Portland at DEQ Headquarters, 811 SW Sixth Ave., Room 3A (third floor). The hearing will begin with a brief overview of the proposed rule changes, followed by an opportunity for the public to present oral and written comments.

The public may also submit written comments to DEQ by mail, e-mail or fax by 5 p.m. Tuesday, May 23. Comments may be mailed to: David Livengood, Oregon DEQ, Land Quality Division, 811 SW Sixth Ave., Portland, OR97204. 

$10,000 Penalty for Failure to Conduct Visual Emissions Monitoring


Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary John Hughes issued a Notice of Administrative Penalty Assessment and Secretary's Order to Hanover Foods Corporation for violations of Delaware's regulations governing the control of air pollution. The Order includes a cash penalty of $10,000 and an additional $1,383.21 as cost recovery reimbursement to the Department for expenses associated with its investigation.

Hanover Foods Corporation owns and operates a frozen food processing facility located at Route 6 and Duck Creek Road in Clayton, DE. The Company processes various types of vegetables for sale and distribution. Due to the facility's potential to emit nitrogen oxides and sulfur oxides in excess of 25 tons and 100 tons per year, respectively, the Company is required to comply with their Regulation No. 30 Operating Permit and conduct annual visible emissions tests for its boilers, Units 001 and 002.

During the Department's fiscal year 2004 inspection on January 23, 2004, Hanover Foods was unable to produce records demonstrating it had conducted the annual visible emissions test for year 2003 on either of its boilers. The Department issued a letter, February 26, 2004, setting forth the violations discovered during the inspection and what actions were necessary to bring the facility back into compliance. In addition, the Department issued a Notice of Violation dated February 27, 2004.

During the Department's fiscal year 2005 inspection on March 18, 2005, the Department discovered the Company failed to conduct, for an adequate length of time, the annual visible emissions test for year 2004 on both of its boilers, Units 001 and 002. The Department cited the duration of the visible emissions observation for each boiler was 30 minutes instead of the minimum of one hour as required by regulation. The violation was set forth in an inspection findings letter dated April 15, 2005.

Both violations resulted in the Company being out of compliance with the terms and conditions of the operating permit, as well as the State of Delaware's statutes and regulations governing the control of air pollution.

Illinois EPA Refers Oil Spills to Illinois Attorney General for Immediate Action


Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) Director Doug Scott has submitted a referral for Ruesch Oil to the Illinois Attorney General for two separate oil releases in ShelbyCounty. An immediate injunction was requested because the Agency believed the spills presented a substantial danger to the environment or to the public health.

The release of more than 80 barrels of crude oil and brine occurred between Friday, March 31, 2006 and April 2, 2006 within 400 yards of two of Reusch's oil production storage tank batteries, approximately seven miles south of Shelbyville. The spills have been exacerbated by recent heavy rains.á

The releases threaten JordanCreek and the Kaskaskia River, as well as surface drainage ways, soils, sediments, and potentially private water wells.á A drinking water supply line may have also been affected by the release of crude oil on and around it.

"We hope that cooperative enforcement efforts between the IEPA and the Attorney General will demonstrate the importance for companies to implement environmentally responsible practices," said IEPA Director Doug Scott.

The IEPA is requesting that the Attorney General require Ruesch to continue to recover remaining free oil and brine; monitor conditions in the affected areas and prevent further migration of the oil; conduct surveys of private water wells and contact private well owners within 2500 feet of either drainage way or tank battery; excavate and dispose of the contaminated areas of soil and sediment; and propose a sampling and remediation plan of the affected areas.

ADEM Recommends E-cycling for Earth Day and Beyond


Used electronics are one of the fastest growing portions of Alabama's household waste. To reduce this trend, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management is recommending that Alabamians take up electronic recycling or "e-cycling" beginning on Earth Day, April 22.

The benefits of e-cycling include reducing the amount of material going into landfills, decreasing chemicals entering streams and rivers, and helping to conserve natural resources.

"Recycling old electronics is not only smart, but good for the environment," said ADEM Director Trey Glenn. "There are a number of small things people can do that can make a big difference."á á