Small Change in DOT Hazmat Regulations Has Big Impact


The DOT recently changed the exceptions for small quantities of hazardous materials shipped by air. The new provision (49 CFR 173.4 (a)(11)(i)), which became effective on October 1, 2006, specifies that for transportation by aircraft, the hazardous material must be authorized to be carried aboard passenger-carrying aircraft.

Prior to this change, up to 30 mL of most hazardous materials or up to 1 mL of Division 6.1 PG I materials could be shipped under the small quantity exclusion. However, the change adds another condition. If the material is forbidden on passenger aircraft, the small quantity exclusion does not apply. For example, laboratories took advantage of the small quantity provision to ship small quantities of nitric acid by air to be used as a preservative. According to the hazardous materials table at 49 CFR 172.101, nitric acid is forbidden on passenger aircraft. Therefore, it no longer qualifies for the exclusion.

The small quantity exclusion does not exempt a material from all of the Hazardous Material Regulations. Moreover, preserved samples, if they are no longer corrosive, would not be subject to the Hazardous Materials Regulations. Learn more about how to properly ship all quantities of hazardous materials by attending Environmental Resource Center’s hazardous material training.

California to Adopt European RoHS Requirements

Beginning in 2007, a California law will ban the sale of some electronic devices that contain certain hazardous substances. The Electronic Waste Recycling Act (EWRA), which was signed into law in September 2003, requires the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to adopt regulations to prohibit covered electronic devices "from being sold or offered for sale" in California if they are prohibited from sale in the European Union (EU) under Directive 2002/95/EC because they contain certain heavy metals.

RoHS is an acronym for "Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances." California's RoHS law, which is found in section 25214.10 of the Health and Safety Code, applies only to a "covered electronic device," which Public Resources Code section 42463 defined as "a video display device containing a screen greater than four inches, measured diagonally, identified in the regulations adopted by [DTSC] pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 25214.10.1 of the Health and Safety Code." As of December 2005, DTSC had identified eight categories of covered electronic devices in its regulations. The list of covered devices, which is found in subdivision (c) of Appendix X of chapter 11 of the California Code of Regulations, title 22, is as follows:

  • Cathode ray tube containing devices (CRT devices)
  • Cathode ray tubes (CRTs)
  • Computer monitors containing cathode ray tubes
  • Laptop computers with liquid crystal display (LCD)
  • LCD containing desktop
  • Televisions containing cathode ray tubes
  • Televisions containing liquid crystal display (LCD) screens
  • Plasma televisions

The EWRA will restrict the use of lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium in electronic devices sold in California.

Directive 2002/95/EC was amended on August 18, 2005 to add maximum concentration values (MCVs) for the six restricted substances. DTSC will incorporate the EU's MCVs for lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium in its regulations implementing the EWRA.

The EU included a number of exemptions from the MCVs in the annex to the original January 27, 2003, directive (2002/95/EC). DTSC's RoHS regulations will recognize any exemptions adopted by the EU for the use of lead, mercury, cadmium, or hexavalent chromium that apply to covered electronic devices.

The DTSC will hold a workshop to solicit input and update stakeholders on the development of regulations prohibiting the sale of non-RoHS compliant electronic devices in California.

The workshop will be held at the following time and place:

Date: November 9, 2006
Time: 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Location: CalEPA Building
Byron Sher Auditorium
1001 "I" Street, 2nd Floor
Sacramento, California 95814

Remote DTSC Regional Office, Glendale

Videoconference Auditorium
Location: 1011 North Grandview Avenue
Glendale, CA 91201

DTSC will present the proposed RoHS regulations and solicit comments and suggestions from attendees To attend, send an e-mail indicating which workshop location you will be attending to Linda Sargent at or Cindy Chain-Britton at, or by calling 916-323-9219 or 916-445-4413.

You can monitor the workshop live through an audio webcast. The webcast link will be available on the Cal/EPA website at Questions and comments may be submitted in real time by sending an e-mail during the workshop. DTSC staff will monitor e-mail received during the workshop and, as time allows, read and respond to them aloud. All questions and comments submitted via e-mail will be considered when DTSC finalizes the regulation proposal.

To request special accommodations for persons with disabilities, contact Linda Sargent at 916-323-9219 or; or Cindy Chain-Britton at 916-445-4413 or Notice to Hearing Impaired: To obtain additional information, use the California State Relay Service at 1-888-887-5378 (TDD). Ask them to contact Charles Corcoran at 916-327-4499.

Beat the Price Increase

In order to continue to provide you with the most effective, enjoyable, comprehensive, and up-to-date training, the registration fee for many of Environmental Resource Center’s seminars will increase in 2007. However, you can register now for any 2007 class at the 2006 price. But hurry - this offer will end soon.

In 2007 we’ll continue to provide you with value you won’t find elsewhere, such as handbook updates for a full year, our expert Answerline, lunch each day of training, an extra copy of your course handbook on CD, and much more, all at no additional cost.

You can also take advantage of this offer for customized on-site training. Your favorite instructor will train any number of personnel at your facility on exactly what they need to learn to comply with the latest EPA, DOT, and OSHA requirements.

EPA to Stop the Sale of Illegal Imported Pesticide Products

On October 5, 2006, the U.S. EPA issued orders requiring Lucky An Dong, Inc. and Viet Wah Supermarket, two stores in the Little Saigon Neighborhood of Seattle, Washington, to stop selling two illegal, unregistered pesticide products.

The two pesticide products named in the stop sale orders are “Miraculous Insecticide Chalk” and “Talent naphthalene BALL” (moth balls) which are imported from China and Taiwan. EPA inspected the two stores on August 29. At this time, the stores removed the illegal pesticide products from their store shelves upon EPA request.

EPA is especially concerned about children’s potential exposure to “Miraculous Insecticide Chalk.” Children can easily mistake this product for common blackboard chalk. The active ingredient in “Miraculous Insecticide Chalk” is a chemical called deltamethrin, which is in the pyrethroid group of insecticides. The packaging contains no list of ingredients or consumer warnings. In fact, the package claims the product is "harmless to human beings and animals" and "safe to use." Inadvertent overexposure (such as a child ingesting or inhaling a large amount of deltamethrin) can produce serious health effects, including vomiting, stomach pains, convulsions, tremors, coma, and death due to respiratory failure. Serious allergic reactions are also possible.

“EPA registers pesticide products to make sure they are safe through testing and good label information,” said Scott Downey, EPA’s Pesticide and Toxics Manager in Seattle.” “It is easy to imagine children, and even adults, not understanding the danger of ‘Miraculous Insecticide Chalk’ and becoming exposed.”

Under FIFRA, EPA reviews and registers all pesticide products sold and distributed in the U.S. to ensure that, when used according to approved label instructions, they do not pose an unreasonable risk to people’s health or the environment.

EPA’s Region 10 Pesticides & Toxics Unit in Seattle is working closely with their regional counterparts and U.S. Customs to keep these dangerous, illegal products from store shelves across the country.

EPA believes that the best long-term solution to these types of incidents is to provide culturally and language-appropriate education. EPA has asked the International District Housing Alliance (IDHA), which provides community services to the International District, to assist business owners to understand what is legal and safe on their shelves. "We see this as an opportunity to partner with International District businesses to give them access to the information that they need," says Joyce Pisananont, WILD Program Director for IDHA. IDHA has been working with youth, elders, businesses and others under a grant from EPA to educate the community about reducing exposures from toxic chemicals in the International District.

If you have these or other unregistered pesticide products, please contact EPA’s Pesticide and Toxics Unit at 206-553-0505. For disposal options, contact Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) at 360-902-2048.

EPA Stops Sale of Counterfeit Pet Flea and Tick Products

Care-A-Lot, Inc., owner of a pet supply warehouse in Virginia Beach, Va., has agreed to pay a $30,000 penalty to settle alleged violations of a federal pesticide law, the EPA announced.

EPA cited the company for violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) which requires EPA regulation of pesticide products and prohibits the distribution or sale of misbranded/improperly labeled pesticides.

The alleged FIFRA violations involved unregistered and misbranded pesticide products for dogs and cats. According to EPA, the company offered for sale or distribution various tick and flea control products under “Advantage” and “Frontline” labels that were not registered with EPA as required by FIFRA, and were misbranded with labels of EPA-registered pesticide products. The products were offered for sale in the company’s store, catalogue, and website.

The settlement penalty reflects the company’s compliance efforts, cooperation with EPA’s investigation, and agreement to settle this matter prior to the issuance of a formal complaint.

A variety of distributors and retailers may be selling counterfeit pet care products in the U.S. sometimes without realizing these products are, in fact, counterfeit imitations of legitimate pet care products. EPA has investigated several such potential violations. Once EPA learns of a suspected violation, it works in cooperation with its state partners, in issuing orders to stop the sale of counterfeit Frontline Top Spot, Frontline Plus, and Advantage flea and tick control products for dogs and cats. See EPA’s fact sheet on Advantage and Frontline/Frontline Plus products.

One of the many problems that face distributors and consumers is that in some cases, to determine a legitimate product from a counterfeit product, it is necessary to examine the product containers that are inside the retail carton.

As part of the settlement, the company neither admitted nor denied liability for the alleged violations, but has certified that it is now in compliance with FIFRA requirements.

Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel is Now Available

Starting October 16, operators of more than eight million diesel-powered trucks and buses plying America's streets and highways will be able to fill up with a new, ultra-low sulfur fuel. Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD), the single, most far-reaching environmental and public health achievement since lead was removed from gasoline, is now available for consumers at the pump. This clean-burning fuel has 97% less sulfur and will deliver billions of dollars in environmental and public health benefits. Under the administration's clean diesel rules, ULSD combined with new engine technology will not only enhance environmental protection, but will also prevent nearly 20,000 premature deaths and tens of thousands of cases of respiratory ailments such as bronchitis and asthma.

Improvements in both the fuel and the engines are required under new federal rules adopted by the Clinton administration and subsequently endorsed and implemented by the Bush administration. The policy was almost a decade in the making, and involved close collaboration between regulators, oil refiners, engine manufacturers and public health advocates to achieve a cost-effective solution.

The availability of cleaner-burning diesel at the pump will allow for the use of new pollution control technology in cars, trucks, and buses. The clean diesel rules are addressing diesel fuels and engines as a single system that will reduce air pollution from diesel engines by more than 90% - or about 13 million – of today's trucks and buses. Once fully implemented, ULSD will result in the annual reduction of 2.6 million tons of nitrogen oxides and 110,000 tons of particulate matter. Cleaner diesel fuel will immediately cut soot emissions from any diesel vehicle by 10 percent. But when combined with a new generation of engines hitting the road in January, it will enable emission reductions of up to 95 percent, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Diesel Technology Forum (DTF).

A new 2007 diesel truck will emit just one-sixtieth the soot exhaust of one produced in 1988. And thanks to the new fuel, owners of existing diesel vehicles will have the option to install new emission controls that can reduce soot emissions by more than 90 percent. Together, the new diesel technologies -- cleaner fuel, advanced engines, and new emission controls -- will play a leading role in helping cities and states meet new federal air quality standards over the coming decade.

This new fuel will help to open up markets to clean diesel passenger cars, pickup trucks, and delivery vehicles that are 30% more efficient than current fleets with similar reductions in carbon dioxide emissions. In addition to the fuel economy and carbon emission benefits, a new fleet of clean diesel vehicles will have lower maintenance costs, longer engine life, and typically lower fuel costs.

On June 1, refiners and fuel importers were required to start producing ULSD, which contains 15 ppm sulfur, down from 500 ppm. When fully applied, clean diesel fuels and engines will result in more than $70 billion annually in environmental and public health benefits at a fraction of the cost ($4 billion per year). Expanded use of ULSD also will enhance energy security since diesels tend to be more fuel efficient than gasoline engines.

n keeping with its efforts to ensure smooth implementation, EPA is a member of the Clean Diesel Fuel Alliance, a stakeholder group dedicated to providing the public ULSD-related information.

E-Life Takes Message to TV, Web

Environmental awareness has gone multimedia. e-Life, a new environmental education program that combines a website and television news spots, premiered as the latest tool to help North Texans learn more about their environmental quality of life.

“Whether by mouse or remote control, North Texans can click their way to a whole new world of environmental information,” EPA Regional Administrator Richard E. Greene said.

E-Life’s website focuses on living in the Upper Trinity River Watershed, with its network of lakes, creeks and rivers that supplies North Texas with fresh water. The website provides environmental news and pollution prevention tips that can help visitors learn how to take an active role in protecting their environment. CBS 11 adds its team of meteorologists and reporters to the e-Life mix to provide on-air news stories and related features.

E-life will help shape the future of a growing region by providing citizens with the environmental information and tools that can help protect watershed resources.

“Through sponsorship of e-Life, the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board hopes to bridge the rural-urban interface to educate and involve the public in improving and maintaining the quality of water resources for current and future generations of Texans,” said Aubrey Russell, Chairman of the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board (TSSWCB).

The program is co-sponsored by the EPA, TSSWCB, North Central Texas Council of Governments and KTVT-TV CBS 11.

EPA “WaterSense” Program to Spark Consumer Demand for Water-Efficient Products and Promote Water Conservation

“Every drop counts.” That’s the motto for a new partnership program called WaterSense that the EPA recently launched to stimulate more efficient use of water in homes and businesses.

Growing demands for water and the need to protect water sources have prompted water and wastewater utilities, along with agriculture and industry to rely on water efficiency as a low-cost approach to meet customer and business needs.

A recent U.S. Government Accountability Office survey underscored the need to develop a national ethic of water efficiency. The survey reported that 36 states anticipate local, regional or statewide water shortages by 2013, even without drought conditions. Managing the nation’s water supply is a rising concern for communities across the country.

In response, EPA announced the WaterSense program last summer. This voluntary partnership promotes water efficiency and primes market demand for water-efficient products and services. WaterSense takes its cue from the successful Energy Star program which promotes energy-efficient products.

The WaterSense program’s goals are to raise awareness of the importance of efficient water use and to ensure that consumers can easily identify high performance products that will meet EPA standards. WaterSense-labeled products will be at least 20% more efficient than their counterparts.

Beginning in 2007, products and services bearing the WaterSense label will be available for purchase. Toilets, faucets, and irrigation controllers are some of the first products to be marketed. The projected potential savings for these product areas is estimated to be 128 billion gallons per year, enough to supply water to 3.5 million people for a year.

Efficient water use doesn’t mean asking consumers to make sacrifices, just to be smarter about how they use water. For example, water leaks cost consumers and additional eight percent on their water bill annually. By sealing leaks and adopting water efficient products and practices the average family can save money and 30,000 gallons of water a year.

By saving water, you save money and help ensure there is enough water to meet the needs of future generations.

E.C. Phillips and Sons, Inc. to Pay $25,000 for NPDES Permit Violations

E.C. Phillips and Son, Inc., (E.C. Phillips) a seafood processing facility located at 1775 Tongass Avenue, Ketchikan, Ala., has agreed to pay a $25,000 penalty to settle water discharge permit violations with the EPA.

EPA initiated its enforcement action following the discovery that the company had violated its National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit at its Ketchikan facility. E.C. Phillips and EPA signed a consent agreement and final order which settles all the violations and sets the monetary penalty.

“Protecting Alaska’s waters is a top priority for us,” said Kim Ogle, EPA’s NPDES Compliance Unit Manager in Seattle. “We are pleased that we were able to reach a settlement with E.C. Phillips and Sons, Inc. and expect better permit compliance in the future.”

According to EPA, E.C Phillips failed to:

  • Treat seafood processing waste and instead discharged the untreated waste directly into Tongass Narrows and onto the adjacent shoreline
  • Ensure that its effluent was one-half inch or less prior to discharge
  • Develop and implement an adequate Best Management Practices Plan

New Tool Will Help Colleges Improve Environmental Compliance and Results

Colleges and universities nationwide are getting a new learning tool in the form of a compliance assistance center that will help them understand and comply with environmental laws.

The center, which will also benefit grade schools, will be the 15th in a network of EPA-supported centers for various economic sectors, including hospitals and health care centers, auto service and repair facilities and printers. For the past decade, EPA has supported compliance assistance centers to help environmental managers in key sectors improve and manage compliance more efficiently.

The center is part of an agreement between EPA and the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) announced by EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson during a visit to Washington University in St. Louis. Under the agreement, EPA will provide $65,000 under phase one of the project, and up to $350,000 over the next five years. While not the grant recipient, Washington University will be one of many universities to benefit from the center's new services.

"Just as colleges and universities arm students with the tools to succeed, EPA is arming campuses with the tools to create a cleaner, healthier learning environment," said Johnson.

Nationwide, more than 4,100 colleges and universities with total revenues of $270 billion employ 3.2 million workers. These facilities maintain many types of operations, such as laboratories, art studios, utility generation and transmission plants, dormitories, and water distribution systems. As a result, these institutions also face a range of environmental management challenges.

Harnessing the power of the Internet, this latest compliance assistance center will provide tools and information for improving environmental management on campuses. It will also offer a virtual campus tour online that will enable users to quickly and easily target priority issues.

Prior to the announcement, Johnson toured the university to observe research initiatives aimed at improving energy efficiency and advancing renewable energy sources. An environmental leader with many environmental initiatives underway, Washington University is a NACUBO member and was instrumental in shaping this agreement. Other national education associations involved in the development of this new resource include the Campus Consortium for Environmental Excellence; the Campus Safety, Health and Environmental Management Association; and the Association of Higher Education Facilities Officers.

The environmental performance of colleges and universities is profiled in EPA's 2006 Sector Strategies Performance Report (pages 23-28). The report highlights proactive programs at a number of schools to reduce air emissions, minimize waste, conserve water, and practice green construction.

Del's Metal Fined over $100,000 for Failure to Test for Dioxins

EPA Region 5 has filed an administrative complaint against Del's Metal Co. for alleged Clean Air Act violations at the company's secondary aluminum production operation at 1605 1st St., Rock Island, Ill. EPA proposed a $100,548 penalty.

EPA alleges that Del's Metal failed to test its sweat furnace emissions for dioxins and furans or to install an afterburner to destroy the dioxins and furans. EPA alleges that the company did not comply with planning, notification and recordkeeping requirements.

New Rule Boosts Protection of Underground Drinking Water

More than 100 million Americans will enjoy greater protection of their drinking water under a new rule issued by the EPA. The rule targets utilities that provide water from underground sources and requires greater vigilance for potential contamination by disease-causing microorganisms.

The Ground Water Rule “boosts drinking water purity and public health security," said Benjamin H. Grumbles, assistant administrator for Water. "These first-ever standards will help communities prevent, detect and correct tainted ground water problems so citizens continue to have clean and affordable drinking water."

The risk-targeting strategy incorporated in the rule provides for:

  • Regular sanitary surveys of public water systems to look for significant deficiencies in key operational areas
  • Triggered source-water monitoring when a system that does not sufficiently disinfect drinking water identifies a positive sample during its regular monitoring to comply with existing rules
  • Implementation of corrective actions by ground water systems with a significant deficiency or evidence of source water fecal contamination
  • Compliance monitoring for systems that are sufficiently treating drinking water to ensure effective removal of pathogens

A ground water system is subject to triggered source-water monitoring if its treatment methods don't already remove 99.99% of viruses. Systems must begin to comply with the new requirements by Dec. 1, 2009.

Contaminants in question are pathogenic viruses — such as rotavirus, echoviruses, noroviruses — and pathogenic bacteria, including E. coli, salmonella, and shigella. Utilities will be required to look for and correct deficiencies in their operations to prevent contamination from these pathogens.

Microbial contaminants can cause gastroenteritis or, in rare cases, serious illnesses such as meningitis, hepatitis, or myocarditis. The symptoms can range from mild to moderate cases lasting only a few days to more severe infections that can last several weeks and may result in death for those with weakened immune systems. The new ground water rule will reduce the risk of these illnesses.

Fecal contamination can reach ground water sources, including drinking water wells, from failed septic systems, leaking sewer lines, and by passing through the soil and large cracks in the ground. Fecal contamination from the surface may also get into a drinking-water well along its casing or through cracks if the well is not properly constructed, protected, or maintained.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, between 1991 and 2000, ground water systems were associated with 68 outbreaks that caused 10,926 illnesses. Contaminated source water was the cause of 79% of the outbreaks in ground water systems.

MassDEP Assesses $29,000 Fine against Greenfield Bed & Breakfast for Wetlands Violations

Timothy and Sandi Richardson, owners of the West Winds Inn Bed and Breakfast at Smead Hill Road in Greenfield, have entered into a consent order with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to address the un-permitted clearing of forest, and subsequent grading within the protected riverfront area of Punch Brook.

The Greenfield Conservation Commission inspected the site and issued an enforcement order on April 25 for unauthorized alteration of two acres of riverfront area at the site. The Richardsons had altered the protected riverfront area without a prior filing of a notice of intent with the conservation commission and MassDEP and issuance of a final order of conditions.

The consent agreement requires the Richardsons to retain an environmental consultant and develop a Riverfront Area Restoration Plan and implement the plan by October 27. The agreement also assesses a penalty of $29,000, of which $24,000 is suspended contingent upon full compliance with the agreement.

"It is imperative that property owners consult with and obtain the necessary permits from the municipal conservation commission prior to undertaking any work in a riverfront area or other wetland resource area," said Michael Gorski, director of MassDEP's Western Regional Office in Springfield. "Failure to do so will result in significant monetary penalties and require restoration of the altered property."

New Jersey DEP Upgrades Standards to Protect Surface Water

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Comissioner Lisa P. Jackson announced the final adoption of regulations that will upgrade the state’s surface water quality standards to achieve cleaner water statewide.

“With these upgraded standards, we can safeguard our public drinking water supplies and protect critical habitats for threatened and endangered species,” said Commissioner Jackson.

The newly adopted rules establish more stringent standards for more than 100 toxic pollutants to protect human health and a broad range of aquatic species. Discharge permits will be revised to ensure compliance with these tougher standards, which are based on updated scientific information.

With this adoption, five streams will receive a Category 1 (C1) designation, which prevents any measurable deterioration in existing water quality, limiting development impacts and discharges to streams. The five streams, totaling 12 miles, received the upgraded classification based on their trout production status. The designations were based on stream sampling data collected by DEP’s Division of Fish and Wildlife.

DEP’s Surface Water Quality Standards establish the water quality criteria necessary to protect the state’s waters. Each water body is assigned specific designated uses, a stream classification and anti-degradation designation. The standards are used to develop effluent limitations for wastewater discharges, to identify protected areas under DEP’s stormwater management rules and to determine the buffer to apply to wetland areas.

Under the new rules, DEP will apply new temperature criteria to protect trout production streams. The adopted rules also establish more stringent criteria for dissolved oxygen, ammonia, and total suspended solids for all streams that receive upgraded protection based on their ability to support trout populations. These more stringent criteria apply to all dischargers who require a DEP surface water discharge permit and are located on an upgraded water body.

The new rules also establish upgraded criteria for mercury and PCBs, as well as a new monitoring requirement. Dischargers will now be required to use more sensitive analytical methods for monitoring mercury and PCBs, enabling DEP to better identify and track reductions in PCB and mercury levels.

The following is a list of the streams that will receive a C1 designation on October 16.

  • Beech Brook in West Milford
  • A section of the Saddle River in Upper Saddle River
  • Stone House Brook in Butler
  • A section of the Wanaque River in Pompton Lakes
  • Wanaque River Tributary in Hewitt

Oregon DEQ Announces Penalties Totaling $114,126 in September

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced 17 penalties totaling $114,126 in September. To date, DEQ has issued 129 penalties totaling $1,154,888. By the same time last year, DEQ had issued 119 penalties totaling $1,282,296.

September’s largest penalty, accounting for nearly half of the month’s total penalty amount, went to Clackamas-based Surgichrome Inc., which operates a hard chrome plating facility for the production of large pieces of equipment used in the paper and wood products industry, at 16569 SE 115th Ave. DEQ fined the company a total of $55,626 in penalties for hazardous waste violations after inspecting the facility in September 2005. DEQ had earlier inspected the facility in October 2001 and had warned company officials about improper environmental practices.

During its 2001 inspection, DEQ hazardous waste specialists told Surgichrome officials that about 1,000 gallons of used chrome plating solution stored in a holding tank at the facility would have to be reused within one year or would be subject to hazardous waste regulations. At its September 2005 inspection, however, DEQ officials noted a container that contained the same used chrome plating solution that they had observed four years earlier. The more than 1,000 gallons of used solution had not been reused, as DEQ had advised.

DEQ officials also noted during the 2005 inspection that high levels of the toxic chemical chromium had accumulated in a portion of an air pollution control unit at the facility.

DEQ fined Surgichrome, which is classified as a small-quantity generator of hazardous waste, for the following violations:

  • Storing hazardous waste (used chrome plating solution) in excess of 180 days, in violation of regulations for small-quantity generators of hazardous waste ($19,226 penalty)
  • Failing to determine if its used chrome plating waste solution and liquid wastes in its air pollution control units were hazardous ($8,400 penalty)
  • Failing to date containers of its hazardous waste, providing information on when the wastes had begun to be accumulated ($16,800 penalty)
  • Failing to properly label its containers of hazardous waste ($11,200 penalty)

Improper management of hazardous wastes threatens public health and the environment. Both small- and large-quantity generators of hazardous waste are required to date their wastes and properly dispose of them within several months. By not dating and labeling containers of waste, the waste can remain indefinitely at a site, increasing the potential to be mismanaged later and contaminate the environment. For these reasons there are strict state regulations in place to govern the accumulation, storage, handling, treatment and disposal of hazardous wastes.

The hazardous waste violations at the Surgichrome facility were not the first environmental violations at the facility. In 1995, the company and its principal were convicted of felony criminal charges for illegally disposing of chrome plating wastes at the same facility. That illegal disposal contaminated nearby soil and groundwater, requiring a cleanup that is continuing. In addition, previous DEQ inspections of the facility in 1998 and 2000 also revealed serious violations of hazardous waste management laws and resulted in previous penalties totaling more than $17,000.

Neville Chemical to Pay $160,000 for Violating Above Ground Tank Consent Order

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has fined Neville Chemical Co. $160,000 for failure to inspect and properly maintain 11 above-ground storage tanks as specified in a July 2000 consent order and agreement.

“Neville Chemical missed its deadline for required work, failing to meet its obligation to properly maintain the storage tanks,” DEP Southwest Regional Director Kenneth Bowman said. “That failure potentially put Pennsylvania waterways at risk of pollution, and it put emphasis on Neville’s record of poor performance, for which the company must again pay a price.”

Neville Chemical signed a consent order and agreement with the department on July 24, 2000, setting a compliance schedule for out-of-service tank inspections and agreeing to take corrective action and perform maintenance on others.

The tanks store petroleum and coal tar products as well as the hydrocarbon resins that the company produces. Capacity ranges from 100,000 gallons to more than 2 million gallons.

The tank inspections were to be finished by October 2002, and any deficiencies that were found during those inspections were to be corrected within specified periods, which Neville failed to accomplish on time. Repairs and maintenance include fixing and painting the large above-ground storage tanks to prevent corrosion and deterioration.

The $160,000 penalty is in addition to a $50,000 fine that Neville paid as part of the July 2000 consent order and agreement. That fine covered violations of the state’s Storage Tank Act, including improper maintenance and incomplete and missing tank inspection reports.

Neville Chemical has been the subject of a repeated series of DEP enforcement actions, penalties and orders, as well as court decrees, for more than 20 years.

In August, DEP fined the company $9,000 for violating discharge requirements at its facility in Neville Township, Allegheny County. From October 2005 through January 2006, Neville discharged wastewater containing volatile organic chemicals into the Ohio River above its permitted amount.

In April 2005, Neville Chemical agreed to spend $2 million to remove all process wastewater from its antiquated underground sewer system and construct an above ground conveyance system and to pay a stipulated civil penalty for any appearance of the sheen, originating from its facility, on the river through 2008.

Court Orders Disputed Storm Water Permit to be Set Aside

The California Court of Appeal has ordered a controversial storm water permit be set aside on the grounds that the Los Angeles Water Quality Control Board failed to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act when it issued the permit to 87 cities and Los Angeles County in December 2001. Cities are required to pass the storm water permit requirements to homeowners and businesses.

Thirty-two cities, Los Angeles County and two building trade associations sued the Regional Water Board in 2001 when it imposed new urban runoff controls on construction and redevelopment projects. The cities claimed that the Regional Water Board had failed to consider the impacts of new regulations on homeowners and businesses. A trial court ruled in favor of the Regional Board in 2005.

The Appeals Court, although supporting the trial court on other issues, agreed with the cities that the Regional Board did not comply with California’s strict environmental laws and directed the trial court to set aside the storm water permit. The court specifically found that the permit imposed “considerable requirements on development in residential and business settings,” and that the act “required that the regional board engage in specified environmental assessments.”

“The Appellate Court expressly found no merit to the regional board’s argument that the permit is not subject to environmental review,” commented Larry Forester, Mayor of the City of Signal Hill. Forester and many local elected officials have expressed concern that the Regional Board has not fully disclosed the impacts of new storm water requirements on the region’s homeowners and businesses. The board has begun the process of considering a new permit to be issued in 2007. The cities expect that the Regional Board will add more requirements and expenses onto homeowners and businesses.

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Trivia Question of the Week

The concentration of the greenhouse gas Carbon Dioxide has increased 1.8 ppm per year, over the past two decades. According to Victor Miguel Ponce of San Diego State University, 75% of the increase is due to:

a. Burning of fossil fuels
b. Releases of CFC and HCFC refrigerants
c. Natural causes
d. Deforestation