EPA Finds that Greenhouse Gases Endanger Public Health and Welfare


After a thorough scientific review ordered in 2007 by the U.S. Supreme Court, the EPA issued a proposed finding on Friday, April 17, that greenhouse gases contribute to air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare. The proposed finding, which now moves to a public comment period, identified six greenhouse gases that pose a potential threat.

“This finding confirms that greenhouse gas pollution is a serious problem now and for future generations. Fortunately, it follows President Obama’s call for a low carbon economy and strong leadership in Congress on clean energy and climate legislation,” said Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “This pollution problem has a solution—one that will create millions of green jobs and end our country’s dependence on foreign oil.”

As the proposed endangerment finding states, “In both magnitude and probability, climate change is an enormous problem. The greenhouse gases that are responsible for it endanger public health and welfare within the meaning of the Clean Air Act.”

EPA’s proposed endangerment finding is based on rigorous, peer-reviewed scientific analysis of six gases—carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride—that have been the subject of intensive analysis by scientists around the world. The science clearly shows that concentrations of these gases are at unprecedented levels as a result of human emissions, and these high levels are very likely the cause of the increase in average temperatures and other changes in our climate.

The scientific analysis also confirms that climate change impacts human health in several ways. Findings from a recent EPA study titled “Assessment of the Impacts of Global Change on Regional U.S. Air Quality: A Synthesis of Climate Change Impacts on Ground-Level Ozone,” for example, suggest that climate change may lead to higher concentrations of ground-level ozone, a harmful pollutant. Additional impacts of climate change include, but are not limited to:

  • Increased drought;
  • More heavy downpours and flooding;
  • More frequent and intense heat waves and wildfires;
  • Greater sea level rise;
  • More intense storms; and
  • Harm to water resources, agriculture, wildlife and ecosystems.

In proposing the finding, Administrator Jackson also took into account the disproportionate impact climate change has on the health of certain segments of the population, such as the poor, the very young, the elderly, those already in poor health, the disabled, those living alone, and/or indigenous populations dependent on one or a few resources.

In addition to threatening human health, the analysis finds that climate change also has serious national security implications. Consistent with this proposed finding, in 2007, 11 retired U.S. generals and admirals signed a report from the Center for a New American Security stating that climate change “presents significant national security challenges for the United States.” Escalating violence in destabilized regions can be incited and fomented by an increasing scarcity of resources—including water. This lack of resources, driven by climate change patterns, then drives massive migration to more stabilized regions of the world.

The proposed endangerment finding now enters the public comment period, which is the next step in the deliberative process EPA must undertake before issuing final findings. The proposed finding does not include any proposed regulations. Before taking any steps to reduce greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, EPA would conduct an appropriate process and consider stakeholder input. Notwithstanding this required regulatory process, both President Obama and Administrator Jackson have repeatedly indicated their preference for comprehensive legislation to address this issue and create the framework for a clean energy economy. California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. commended the EPA for taking the federal government's "first concrete step toward curbing global warming" by issuing a proposed determination that greenhouse gases endanger public health or welfare.

EPA Wants “Do-Over” on Drycleaning Rule

President Obama’s EPA has decided to reconsider the July 2006 amendments to the dry cleaning NESHAP rather than try to defend them in court. The amendments prohibit new perchloroethylene drycleaning equipment at facilities co-located with residences and phase out existing perchloroethylene machines in co-residential plants by 2020. The Halogenated Solvents Industry Alliance (HSIA) and its industry partners challenged the decision, arguing that EPA does not have the supporting data or the statutory authority to mandate a phase-out.

Oral argument was scheduled for mid-May in the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, but will now be postponed pending the outcome of EPA’s reconsideration. The Amendments also require enhanced leak detection and repair and primary and secondary controls (i.e., fourth generation or higher) on all new equipment, but it is EPA’s consideration of co-residential cleaners that is before the Court. Both industry and Sierra Club, which also sued, have argued that EPA’s inclusion of risk considerations in establishing technology standards violates the Agency’s Clean Air Act authority. Sierra Club asserts in its court filings that the Agency’s decision to phase out perchloroethylene should not be limited to co-residential cleaners, regardless of EPA’s conclusion that the risks are sufficiently low for the rest of the industry. Industry, on the other hand, argues that EPA’s inflated estimates for the risks presented by co-residential cleaners cannot be used as a basis for a phase-out, particularly when improved control technology is available.

In early April, EPA filed a motion with the Court for voluntary remand of the dry cleaning rule to permit reconsideration of the rule. “We’re encouraged that EPA has finally recognized that its treatment of co-residential cleaners is indefensible,” HSIA’s Steve Risotto explained, “and look forward to EPA’s revision of the rule to take into account ‘developments in practices, processes, and control technologies’ as the law requires. On the current record, there was no basis for EPA to distinguish between the technology available to co-residential cleaners and that available to others. With the support of the drycleaners and allied trades, we are confident that the evidence submitted during the reopened rulemaking will demonstrate even more forcefully that a perc phase-out cannot be supported.”

Risotto indicated that his confidence is also based on the requirement that EPA convene a small business panel to review any proposed regulation, which the Agency bypassed for the 2006 regulation. By EPA’s own admission, over 99% of drycleaners are small businesses. Also favorable is legislative history indicating that the “residual risk” section of the Clean Air Act, which EPA could consider using to argue for more stringent regulation, does not apply to drycleaners.

EPA Publishes Greenhouse Gas Inventory

EPA has released the national greenhouse gas inventory, which finds that overall emissions during 2007 increased by 1.4% from the previous year. The report, “Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2007,” is the latest annual report the United States has submitted to the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which sets an overall framework for intergovernmental efforts to tackle the challenge posed by climate change.

Total emissions of the six main greenhouse gases in 2007 were equivalent to 7,150 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. These gases include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. The report indicates that overall emissions have grown by 17.2% from 1990 to 2007.

The increase in emissions in 2007 was due primarily to an increase in carbon dioxide emissions associated with fuel and electricity consumption. The following factors were primary contributors to this increase: 1) increased demand for heating fuels and electricity due to cooler winter and warmer summer conditions in 2007 than in 2006; 2) increased consumption of fossil fuels to generate electricity; and 3) a significant decrease (14.2%) in hydropower generation used to meet this demand.

EPA prepares the annual report in collaboration with experts from multiple federal agencies and after gathering comments from a broad range of stakeholders across the country. The inventory tracks annual greenhouse gas emissions at the national level and presents historical emissions from 1990 to 2007. The inventory also calculates carbon dioxide emissions that are removed from the atmosphere by “sinks,” e.g., through the uptake of carbon by forests, vegetation, and soils.

Climate Change Impacts on Regional Air Quality Report Released by EPA

EPA has released a report on the potential impacts of climate change on regional U.S. air quality. According to the Agency, the information contained in the report will enhance our ability as a nation to protect air quality and human health.

The report, “Assessment of the Impacts of Global Change on Regional U.S. Air Quality: A Synthesis of Climate Change Impacts on Ground-Level Ozone,” concludes that there is a potential for climate change to make ozone pollution worse in some regions and that future ozone management decisions may need to account for the possible impacts of climate change.

Climate change has the potential to produce increases in ground-level ozone in many regions. Ground-level ozone is formed in the presence of sunlight by a chemical reaction between oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are emitted from sources like motor vehicles and industrial facilities. Climate change also could increase the number of days with weather conditions conducive to forming ozone, potentially causing air quality alerts earlier in the spring and later in the fall.

The Global Change Research Program in EPA’s Office of Research and Development led the development of the peer-reviewed report, which was done in partnership with EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. The report combines the results of new EPA-funded and existing scientific research and acknowledges that uncertainty remains over the specific regional patterns of climate change induced ground-level ozone changes.

EPA Seeks Comments on E15 Gasoline

EPA is seeking public comments on a waiver application to increase the amount of ethanol that can be blended into a gallon of gasoline to up to 15 volume percent (E15). Since 1978, the limit has been at ten volume percent ethanol (E10) for conventional (non flex-fuel) vehicles. The comment period will be open for 30 days after the notice is published in the Federal Register.

Growth Energy and 54 ethanol manufacturers submitted the E15 application to EPA on March 6, 2009. Current statute calls for EPA to make a decision within 270 days of receipt, which is December 1, 2009.

EPA to Use Stimulus Money to Clean 50 Polluted Sites

EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson has announced $600 million in new funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 for the cleanup of hazardous waste sites (Superfund) across the nation. In most cases, this recovery act funding will accelerate the hazardous waste cleanup already underway at the sites and fund new clean-up projects. It will also jumpstart the local economy by creating jobs in the site areas.

“EPA has an answer to these challenging economic times,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Under the Recovery Act, we’re getting harmful pollutants and dangerous chemicals out of these communities and putting jobs and investment back in.”

The federal Superfund program was created in 1980 to clean up uncontrolled hazardous waste sites that pose unacceptable risks to human health and the environment. Superfund sites are often found in industrial areas hardest hit by the recession. Superfund cleanups are major construction projects that employ thousands of workers nationwide. Since it began, the program has completed construction of remedies at more than 1,060 of the 1,596 sites on its National Priorities List. The Superfund program is implementing new or expanded cleanup actions at 50 sites around the country with recovery act funds.

By starting or accelerating cleanup at Superfund sites, recovery act funding is also increasing the speed with which these sites are returned to productive use. When a Superfund site is redeveloped, it can offer significant economic benefits to local communities including future job creation.

President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on February 17, 2009 and has directed the recovery act be implemented with unprecedented transparency and accountability. To that end, the American people can see how funds are being invested through a dedicated website for this purpose.

Utah Natural Gas Producers Agree to Air Emission Reductions and Conservation Practices

Six energy companies, in three settlements, have agreed to install pollution control equipment at a cost of over $6 million to comply with the Clean Air Act at their natural gas producing facilities in the Uinta Basin, near Vernal, Utah, the Justice Department and U.S. EPA have announced. The facilities are located on the Uintah & Ouray Indian Reservation. The series of three settlements with Bill Barrett Corp, Wind River Corp, XTO Energy Inc., Dominion Exploration and Production Inc., Whiting Oil and Gas Corporation, and Miller Dyer and Company have been filed in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, Utah. The agreements mandate air pollution reductions and conservation practices at the companies’ natural gas compressor stations, well heads, and pipelines across the Uinta Basin.

In addition to $6,462,000 in retrofits and upgrades to implement pollution control equipment, the agreements require the companies to pay $632,000 in civil penalties and to spend $200,000 on supplemental environmental projects. As part of the settlements, the companies have agreed to perform the following:

  • Retrofit pneumatic controls with lower emitted components
  • Conduct a process optimization review to increase natural gas recovery and reduce air emissions at compressor stations and well sites
  • Control emission sources, such as large engines, gas dehydrators, condensate tanks at all new facilities constructed in the next five years and install low/no-bleed pneumatics
  • Shale-plate all future well access roads
  • Fund the operation & maintenance of two ambient air monitoring stations for one year at a cost of approximately $100,000
  • Pilot new technologies that are less polluting and more energy efficient

According to complaints filed simultaneously with the settlements, the companies allegedly violated several provisions of the Clean Air Act, including emission standards for hazardous air pollutants, federal permitting, emissions monitoring and reporting requirements. Dominion Exploration and Production and Miller Dyer came forward and disclosed their violations under EPA’s self-audit policy. All the companies have worked cooperatively with EPA to appropriately resolve violations.

"These settlements deliver clear results for the people of Utah and the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation," said EPA Acting Regional Administrator, Carol Rushin. "The mandated pollution controls will reduce emissions of air toxics and greenhouse gases, while conservation measures will help return valuable natural gas to the marketplace."

EPA estimates that the investment in technology will reduce air pollution by more than 1,300 tons per year. The reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, including methane, is equivalent to the annual carbon sequestration of 9,400 acres of pine or fir forest or comparable to taking more than 7,600 cars off the road each year. The natural gas conserved is enough to heat approximately 1,080 homes annually.

"These settlements not only obtain compliance with the law and control emission sources, but will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and bring more natural gas to the marketplace," said John C. Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

The consent decrees were lodged in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah and are subject to a 30-day comment period and final approval by the court.

Nissan Motor Co. Fined $4.4 Million for Failing to Monitor Car Emissions

The California Air Resources Board (ARB) has fined Nissan Motor Company $4.4 million for failing to meet requirements concerning the diagnostic equipment that monitors tailpipe emissions on most of its 2005-2007 models—more than 450,000 vehicles. On-board diagnostic systems are incorporated into vehicle computers to ensure tailpipe emissions stay at permissible levels. If a problem is detected, the system turns on a “check engine” light to alert the driver.

The ARB discovered Nissan’s problems in 2007 during a routine compliance review. The problems concerned inadequate monitoring of engine sensors that govern proper fuel system operation and whether monitoring takes place as frequently as required.

“California advanced the goal of clean air by pioneering the development and use of the on-board diagnostic system to make sure drivers know when their emissions equipment malfunctions,” said ARB Chairman Mary D. Nichols. “We consider it to be a vital tool not only for consumers, but for all of us who want to breathe clean air.”

“Nissan has been cooperative during this investigation, and we are confident that the design process changes they implemented will prevent future problems,” Nichols added.

Nissan’s settlement with the ARB requires it to pay $3 million to the California Air Pollution Control Fund, which provides funding for projects and research to improve California’s air quality. It must also pay $1.2 million to the Environmental Education Initiative and $200,000 to the National OBD Clearinghouse.

California has the nation’s poorest air quality. Excess vehicle emissions can cause or exacerbate a host of respiratory and cardiac conditions and pose a danger to public health.

Largest Settlement Under EPA’s Audit Policy

Invista will pay a $1.7 million civil penalty and spend up to an estimated $500 million to correct self-reported environmental violations discovered at facilities in seven states, the Justice Department and EPA have announced. The company disclosed more than 680 violations of water, air, hazardous waste, emergency planning and preparedness, and pesticide regulations to EPA after auditing 12 facilities it acquired from DuPont in 2004. Invista is a multi-national manufacturer of a wide range of polymer-based fibers, including Lycra, Stainmaster, and Coolmax.

“This settlement is a significant achievement, as it will reduce air pollution in numerous communities, and demonstrates the United States’ commitment to ensuring that all facility owners come into compliance with environmental requirements,” said John C. Cruden, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This settlement reflects an effective use of EPA’s audit policy and the value of companies performing audits and working with the United States to correct violations found at their facilities.”

“By correcting these violations, Invista will reduce harmful air pollution by nearly 10,000 tons per year,” said Catherine R. McCabe, acting assistant administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Invista is making a clean start in a settlement that achieves significant environmental benefits, and we encourage other new owners to do the same.”

The settlement resolves violations disclosed under Invista’s corporate audit agreement with EPA. Invista conducted 45 separate audits of environmental practices and compliance at facilities located in Seaford, Delaware; Athens, Calhoun, and Dalton, Georgia; Kinston, North Carolina; Camden, South Carolina; Chattanooga, Tennessee; LaPorte, Orange, and Victoria, Texas; and Martinsville and Waynesboro, Virginia.

As part of its corrective action requirements agreed to in the settlement, Invista will install pollution control equipment to treat air pollutants at specified facilities. The company has also applied for applicable air and water permits, has installed adequate secondary containment for oil storage areas, and has notified state and local emergency planning and response organizations of the presence of hazardous substances.

To ensure continued compliance and minimization of the benzene wastes generated at the Victoria and Orange, Texas facilities, Invista is required under the settlement to either upgrade control equipment or make major changes to its processes used to handle these wastes. EPA estimates that these actions will reduce air emissions of benzene by more than nine tons annually and will eliminate 25 to 750 tons per year of benzene from wastewater.

This is the largest settlement under EPA’s audit policy, which was launched in 1995. The policy provides incentives to companies that voluntarily discover, promptly disclose, and expeditiously correct environmental violations. The companies must also take steps to prevent future violations. EPA may reduce or waive penalties for certain violations if the facility meets the conditions of the policy. Consistent with the audit policy, EPA waived a large portion of the penalty in this case.

EPA’s experience with Invista guided the development of a national interim audit policy for new owners—announced in August 2008—designed to encourage other new owners to make a “clean start” at their recently acquired facilities.

The states of Delaware, South Carolina and the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Board in Tennessee have also joined in today’s consent decree and will share portions of the civil penalty with EPA. The consent decree, lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, is subject to a 30-day public comment period and approval by the federal court. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Justice Department website.

Texas Oil and Gathering Inc. and Two Executives Plead Guilty to Environmental Crimes

Texas Oil and Gathering Inc., its owner, John Kessel, and its operations manager, Edgar Pettijohn, have pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Houston to criminal violations related to the disposal of refinery wastes at an underground injection well in violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The two corporate officers pleaded guilty to conspiracy and violating the Safe Drinking Water Act for disposing of oil-contaminated waste water from its refinery process at an underground injection well permitted to accept wastes only from oil and gas production wastes. The company pleaded guilty to conspiracy and violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) for disposing of hazardous waste at an unpermitted facility. The crimes took place from January 2000 through January 2003.

Texas Oil and Gathering Inc. faces a maximum fine of $500,000 or twice monetary gain or loss for the conspiracy count and $50,000 per day, twice the gain or loss, or $500,000, whichever is higher, for the RCRA count. Kessel and Pettijohn face up to eight years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.

The charges against the Alvin, Texas-based company and its two officers involved the fraudulent representation to a Rosharon, Texas, injection well that the wastewater the company was disposing at the well came from an oil well Kessel had leased and was developing. In reality, the wastewater came from the company’s reclamation process involving the distillation of various liquids from refineries and chemical plants.

Between January 2000 and January 2003, Kessel and Pettijohn directed subordinates to truck its oil and water waste from distillation to the class II injection well and fill out disposal forms indicating it came from an oil well leased by Kessel. A class II injection well is permitted to accept only oil and gas production wastes generated from the exploration of oil and gas. Usually the wastes consist primarily of brine mixed with some crude oil or gas distillate. In this case the waste water was mixed with refined products and chemicals not usually found in oil and gas production wastes such as higher concentrations of toluene and xylene.

The government’s investigation began in January 2003, when the injection well exploded and killed three workers. Although the explosion was not caused by the defendants, a closer review of the waste that went to the injection well led to their prosecution.

PAPCO Pleads Guilty to Felony Charges for Unpermitted Wastewater Discharges

California Shellfish Company Inc., doing business as Point Adams Packing Co. (PAPCO), has been sentenced in Portland, Oregon, to pay $75,000 for a felony violation of the Clean Water Act for unpermitted discharges of wastewater into the Columbia River.

PAPCO pleaded guilty on March 27, 2008 and admitted to violating the Clean Water Act, which makes it a crime to knowingly discharge pollutants in violation of a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit by discharging unpermitted chicken processing wastewater from its Hammond, Oregon, facility. The former manager of the facility, Thomas Libby, was previously sentenced for a misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act. Modesto Tallow Co., doing business as California Spray Dry (CSD), which operated PAPCO’s plant, has also pleaded guilty and been sentenced for a felony Clean Water Act violation.

According to documents filed with the court, PAPCO had obtained a NPDES permit to discharge fish processing wastewater from its facility and in June 2003 leased a portion of its facility to CSD. CSD intended to process chicken carcasses at the PAPCO facility for the production of various by-products including flavoring for pet foods. Neither CSD nor PAPCO obtained a modification to the NPDES permit to allow the discharge of chicken processing wastewater into the Columbia River. As a result, there were unpermitted discharges beginning in December 2003 and lasting until approximately June 2004. EPA was prompted to investigate the matter as a result of complaints from several neighbors about odors from the discharges.

Morgan Olson Fined for Air Permit Violations

EPA Region 5 has reached an agreement with Morgan Olson Corp. on alleged Clean Air Act violations at the company’s truck body assembly and painting facility in Sturgis, Michigan. The agreement, which includes a $64,512 penalty, resolves EPA allegations that Morgan Olson violated its state operating permit. Specifically, the company failed to comply with testing, recordkeeping and certification requirements related to control of volatile organic compound emissions from the plant.

Wisconsin Veneer and Plywood Fined for Air Permit Violations

EPA Region 5 has reached an agreement with Wisconsin Veneer and Plywood on clean-air violations at the company’s wood veneer, plywood and lumber manufacturing plant in Mattoon, Wisconsin. The agreement, which includes a $5,000 penalty and a $49,736 environmental project, resolves EPA allegations that Wisconsin Veneer and Plywood failed to comply with conditions of its state operating permit.

For its environmental project, the company has installed a closed loop dust handling system to help eliminate potential fugitive dust from fine sawdust at its Newberry, Michigan, lumber plant.

MassDEP Penalizes Lawrence Property Owner $30,000 for Failure to Complete Cleanup of Contamination

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has penalized Santina Guiffrida $30,000 for failing to complete the cleanup of petroleum contamination at 61 South Union Street in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Guiffrida owns the property where petroleum products in the soil and groundwater were first detected and reported to MassDEP in January of 1989. At that time, a gasoline station operated on the property, which has since changed use and currently serves as a retail location.

Under a consent order with MassDEP, Guiffrida has now agreed to perform response actions that will include determining the source and extent of contamination on the property. The order also states that Guiffrida must complete the required cleanup actions by no later August 15, 2011.

“The owner initiated some cleanup actions that were never completed. Now that delay has brought today’s enforcement action to bear,” said Richard Chalpin, director of MassDEP’s Northeast Regional Office in Wilmington. “Responsible parties are given time to perform cleanups. However, if that time is squandered, there is a greater potential harm to the environment, and that is why Massachusetts regulations penalize inaction by those who neglect their responsibility.”

MassDEP has agreed to suspend $20,000 of the assessed penalty pending full compliance with all the cleanup deadlines established in the consent order.

$19,975 Penalty for Failing to Report Fuel Oil Spill

MassDEP has assessed a $19,975 penalty to Grubb & Ellis Management Services Inc. for failing to notify MassDEP of a sudden release of 2,000 gallons of fuel oil.

On September 15, 2007, a release of fuel oil occurred at an Acton, Massachusetts site when a generator day-tank’s switch failed, causing a spill onto the generator room floor, and out the front door onto pavement and soil. A representative on behalf of Grub & Ellis notified MassDEP of the release on September 17, 2007, well beyond the two-hour period required under Massachusetts’ environmental regulations.

“Notification to MassDEP of sudden releases of oil and hazardous material is critical to ensure that prompt action is taken and impacts to the environment are minimized,” said Mary Gardner, deputy director of DEP’s Central Regional Office in Worcester.

Grubb & Ellis, a California-based property management corporation, has agreed to pay $16,600 of the assessed penalty to the Commonwealth, with the remaining $3,975 suspended provided that there are no further violations at the site. Grubb & Ellis must also review its current spill management plan and revise the plan in order to avoid, in the future, any other instances when a spill is not reported to MassDEP within the required timeframe.

IPG Photonics Corp. Assessed $12,870 Penalty for Violating Environmental Regulations

MassDEP has assessed a $12,870 penalty against IPG Photonics Corporation in Oxford, Massachusetts for violating state air pollution control, hazardous waste, industrial wastewater, and groundwater regulations.

During a routine inspection conducted in May 2008, MassDEP found IPG Photonics was discharging industrial wastewaters to the ground and to its on-site sanitary septic system without the required permits. The company also failed to file certification statements to MassDEP concerning its use of emergency generators and industrial wastewater holding tanks. In addition, the company failed to keep adequate records with respect to its Air Quality Plan Approval, and up-to-date hazardous waste emergency information.

In a recently finalized consent order, the company agreed to maintain compliance with applicable regulations and pay the penalty.

Pennsylvania DEP Fines Rea & Derick Inc. for Failing to Notify of Heating Oil Spill

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has fined Rea & Derick Inc. of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, $2,500 for failing to notify the agency properly of a heating oil spill at its Milton, Pennsylvania, CVS store in November, 2008.

“This spill was significant enough to cause strong fuel oil odors that required CVS to evacuate and close the store, yet Rea & Derick did not notify DEP until a week later,” said DEP Northcentral Regional Director Robert Yowell. “That is unacceptable and a violation of the Pennsylvania Clean Streams Law.”

State regulations require that DEP be notified immediately when spills or releases to the environment are discovered by the property owner or operator of the facility because they have the potential to cause groundwater contamination and impact private or public water supplies and indoor air.

The day after the store was closed, CVS hired a contractor to begin excavating a 1,000-gallon underground heating oil storage tank on the property. The tank had leaked an undetermined amount of oil, which contributed to the strong odors inside the store. The tank was subsequently replaced, the contaminated soil was removed, and the environmental impacts were abated.

Penalty Assessed for Misclassifying Generator Status

MassDEP has assessed a $1,625 penalty to Swan Dyeing & Printing Corporation for violating state hazardous waste regulations at its Fall River, Massachusetts, facility. On June 22, 2008, MassDEP staff conducted an inspection of the company, which provides dyeing and printing for woven and knitted fabrics.

Swan Dyeing is registered with MassDEP as a Very Small Quantity Generator (VSQG) of hazardous waste. A review of the company’s manifests revealed that Swan Dyeing & Printing had exceeded its VSQG status and was shipping larger-than-allowed amounts of hazardous waste—specifically mineral spirits—off-site. By shipping out larger quantities of hazardous waste, the company avoided paying the $525 per year fee, realizing an economic benefit of $1,050 over two years.

“The appropriate registration serves to classify generators throughout the state and maintain the level of training for company personnel handling the waste,” said David Johnston, acting director of MassDEP’s Southeast Regional Office in Lakeville. “By making certain that all status identities are appropriate and accurate, the generators are on the same level playing field when it comes down to cost of fees.”

Records also indicated that the company was incorrectly registered as a Large Quantity Generator of waste oil.

EPA Orders Petco Petroleum Corporation to Cease Discharge of Pollutants

EPA has issued a cease and desist administrative order to Petco Petroleum Corporation of Hinsdale, Illinois, for violations of the federal Clean Water Act. On March 26, 2009, an EPA inspection of the company’s oil field production facility in Creek County, Oklahoma, found an unauthorized discharge of oil field brine from the facility to a tributary of the Cimarron River. The inspection also revealed that water located at the discharge point of entry into the tributary was contaminated from brine discharges and salts.

Based on these findings, Petco Petroleum Corporation has been ordered to cease all discharges of pollutants from the facility, remove all brine and contaminated soils from the flow path between the facility and the tributary, and within 30 days provide written certification to EPA that these activities have been completed.

EPA Orders Skull Creek Oil and Gas Company to Stop Discharging

EPA has issued a cease and desist administrative order to Skull Creek Oil and Gas Company of Bartlesville, Oklahoma, for violations of the federal Clean Water Act. On March 24, 2009, an EPA inspection of the company’s oil field production facility in Osage County, Oklahoma, found an unauthorized discharge of oil field brine from the facility to Hulah Lake. The inspection also revealed that water located at the discharge point of entry into Hulah Lake was contaminated from brine discharges and salts.

Based on these findings, Skull Creek Oil and Gas Company has been ordered to cease all discharges of pollutants from the facility, remove all brine and contaminated soils from the flow path located between the facility and Hulah Lake, and within 30 days provide written certification to EPA that these activities have been completed.

What You Can Do to Help Reduce Air Pollution?

Every time we drive to school, use our heater or air conditioner, clean our windows, or even style our hair, we make choices that affect air pollution. The following steps, as well as many others, are things we can all do to help reduce air pollution:

  • Conserve energy—remember to turn off lights, computers, and electric appliances when not in use.
  • Use energy efficient light bulbs and appliances.
  • Participate in local utility’s energy conservation programs.
  • Limit driving by carpooling, using public transportation, biking, and walking.
  • Combine errands for fewer trips.
  • Keep automobiles well tuned and maintained. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on routine maintenance, such as changing the oil and filters, and checking tire pressure and wheel alignment.
  • Avoid excessive idling of automobiles.
  • Use gasoline stations that have special vapor recovery nozzles.
  • Use electric or hand-powered lawn care equipment.
  • Be careful not to spill gasoline when filling automobiles or gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment.
  • Run dishwashers and clothes washers only when full.
  • Choose environmentally friendly cleaners.
  • Use water-based or solvent-free paints whenever possible and buy products that say “low VOC.”
  • Seal containers of household cleaners, workshop chemicals and solvents, and garden chemicals to prevent volatile organic compounds from evaporating into the air.
  • Purchase and use low-polluting outboard marine engines and personal watercraft (4-stroke and direct fuel injection 2-stroke outboard marine engines).

Environmental News Links

EPA Agrees to More Complete Accounting of Toxic Emissions

EPA May Regulate Ocean Acidification from CO2

Making Your Business Greener Workbook

The Environmental Cost of Spam

Earth Day 2009: EPA’s Webpage

Proposed Additions to the NPL

Final Rule Identifying New Sites Added to the NPL

President Calls for U.S. High-Speed Passenger Trains

EPA Administrator Jackson Seeks Clarity in Rules and May Move Toward Stronger Regulation of Animal Waste

EPA to Begin Testing Pesticides for Endocrine Disruption

EPA Announced Kickoff of a New National Energy Star Campaign on April 18

EPA & Industry Partners Offer Preview of Green Technology for Moving Shipyard Cargo Containers

A Sweet Side to Coming Energy Legislation

Pennsylvania DEP Announces New Industrial Wastewater Discharge Standards for Total Dissolved Solids, or TDS

American Institute of Architects Announce Top Ten Green Building Projects for 2009

California Seeking Applications for Green Business Awards for Waste Reduction

New Hampshire DES and Project Laundry List Enter Partnership with Goal to Increase Energy Efficiency

U.S. and Canada to Increase Scrutiny of Flea and Tick Pet Products

Michigan Plans for Air Quality Awareness Week April 27–May 1

Trivia Question of the Week

Approximately how many people are expected to participate in Earth Day events this year?
a. 1 million
b. 10 million
c. 100 million
d. 1 billion