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11/8/2010

EPA to Finalize Ozone NAAQS by December 31, 2010

Environmental


The National Association of Clean Air Agencies reported that EPA filed a court motion on November 1 indicating that the agency will require an additional two months—until December 31, 2010—to finalize its reconsideration of the 2008 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). The motion was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and it requested that the court continue to hold in abeyance the cases challenging the 2008 ozone NAAQS.

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Trainer that Falsified Certificates and Fled Sentencing Hearing Caught

Nineteen months after she fled her federal sentencing hearing, Albania Deleon has been captured in the Dominican Republic. Dominican law enforcement authorities with the assistance of the United States Marshals Service, arrested Deleon, who had disguised her appearance and assumed a false identity, following a vehicle stop. Deleon was wanted by EPA for certifying individuals as having asbestos removal training when they never took the required course.

“Albania Deleon put communities at risk by issuing fraudulent asbestos-removal training certificates to hundreds of untrained workers,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This is yet another example of great teamwork and dedication of the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, U.S. Marshals Service and our own special agents who protect the American people from environmental crimes.”

“We are pleased that Albania Deleon will at last face punishment for the crimes for which she was convicted,” said U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz. “I wish to commend and thank the Dominican law enforcement authorities and U.S. Marshals Service for their hard work in pursuing her.”

On November 20, 2008, Deleon, 40, was convicted in federal court after nearly a three week trial on one count of conspiracy to make false statements, to encourage illegal aliens to reside in the United States and to hire illegal aliens; five counts of making false statements within the jurisdiction of the U.S. EPA; 16 counts of procuring false payroll tax returns; and five counts of mail fraud.

From approximately 2001 to 2006, Deleon owned and operated Environmental Compliance Training (ECT), a certified asbestos training school located in Methuen, Massachusetts. ECT normally offered training courses on a weekly basis at its offices, however, many of the recipients of the certificates never took the required course. Instead, with Deleon’s knowledge and approval, ECT’s employees issued certificates of course completion to hundreds of individuals who did not take the course. These individuals filed the certificates with the Massachusetts Division of Occupational Safety to be authorized to work in the asbestos removal industry. Many of the recipients were illegal aliens who wished to skip the four-day course so that they would not forego pay.

ECT’s training course records were subject to inspection and Deleon sought to cover up ECT’s practice of issuing certificates to untrained applicants by having the applicants sign final examination answer sheets that already had been completed and graded, which she maintained in ECT’s files. Evidence at trial proved that of the all the ECT training certificates issued, approximately 6580% of the individuals had not taken the necessary training.

Most of these individuals who were not certified were employed by Methuen Staffing, Deleon’s temporary employment agency that specialized in asbestos demolition. She sent the employees to job sites throughout Massachusetts, including the Boston, Worcester, and New Bedford-Fall River areas, as well as to New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut, and beyond. Deleon paid most of the employees “under-the-table,” and did not withhold taxes. She reported to the Internal Revenue Service and her workers compensation insurance carriers only those employees that actually had taxes withheld, which enabled her to save more than $1 million in tax and insurance payments.

Deleon fled Massachusetts two days before she was scheduled to be sentenced on March 23, 2010. When she failed to appear at the sentencing hearing, United States District Judge Nathaniel Gorton issued a warrant for her arrest. Deleon became the first woman named to EPA’s fugitive list. The U.S. Marshals Service undertook a nationwide search for her, and once it determined that she had fled the country, the U.S. State Department submitted, on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, a request to the Dominican government to arrest and extradite Deleon.

Agents with the Direccion Nacional de Control de Drogas (DNCD) observed Deleon at a residence in Santa Domingo. Agents pulled over her vehicle after she left the residence. Upon her arrest, Deleon claimed she was Elba Henriquez Pe?a and was carrying a false identity card with her picture and her name. Upon further questioning, she admitted that she was Albania Deleon and was wanted in the United States. Deleon was transported to DNCD headquarters for booking and processing and will be held pending an extradition hearing.

Deleon faces an extradition hearing in the Dominican Republic. Upon her return to the United States, she will face up to five years imprisonment on each count, except for the mail fraud counts, which carry 20-year maximum sentences.

You can find other fugitives from EPA justice at this link.

Six New England Companies Face Fines for Chemical Reporting Violations

Six companies in New England that store, manufacture, or use chemicals in their operations were charged recently by EPA with violating the federal right-to-know law meant to protect the health and safety of nearby citizens and the environment.

All six companies—four in Connecticut, one in Massachusetts, and one in New Hampshire—were charged with failing to file reports that are required by federal laws that ensure residents, as well as emergency responders, have the necessary information to protect the community and the environment.

The companies face fines ranging from just over $8,000 to nearly $139,000 for violating the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA). The violations involved a number of different chemicals, including sulfuric acid, nitric acid, anhydrous ammonia, styrene, methyl methacrylate, propylene, diesel fuel, lead, quench oil, and zinc compounds.

The companies charged by EPA with violating EPCRA include:

  • Cascades Boxboard Group in Versailles, Connecticut—EPA has proposed that Cascades Boxboard, which is owned by Cascades Canada, pay a $138,866 penalty for six violations of EPCRA. According to the complaint, Cascades Boxboard failed to file a chemical inventory form for 2007 for sulfuric acid stored at the facility. According to EPA, Cascades Boxboard stored 57 times the minimum threshold level of 500 lb required for reporting. The company also failed to file the required Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) forms for chlorine dioxide in 2007, vinyl acetate in 2008, and nitrate compounds for 2006, 2007, and 2008.
  • BJ’s Wholesale Club in Uxbridge, Massachusetts—BJ’s has agreed to pay $27,000 to settle claims by EPA it failed to submit the proper forms to state and local emergency officials for 2006, 2007, and 2008. According to EPA, BJ’s did not file its chemical inventory form for sulfuric acid, lead and diesel fuel, all of which were present at the facility at levels above that required for reporting. The complaint grew out of a March 2009 EPA inspection.
  • Scott Metal Finishing in Bristol, Connecticut—Scott Metal Finishing has agreed to pay a penalty of $11,115 to settle claims by EPA it violated chemical reporting laws. According to EPA, this commercial metal finishing facility failed to file an emergency and hazardous chemical inventory form for 2006 with local and state responders. Scott failed to file the form for nitric acid, which was present above the minimum threshold level. The case grew out of a routine inspection in July 2007.
  • Kalwall Corporation, Flat Sheet Division in Bow, New Hampshire—Kalwall, which makes fiberglass flat sheets, has agreed to pay a penalty of $25,100 to settle claims by EPA that the company failed to file TRI forms for styrene, methyl methacrylate, and propylene in 2008.
  • The Sousa Corporation in West Hartford, Connecticut—Sousa agreed in March 2010 to pay $8,014 to settle claims by EPA that it failed to file a required chemical inventory report in 2007 with local and state and emergency officials. According to EPA, Sousa failed to report on anhydrous ammonia and quench oil, which were present above the threshold for reporting.
  • Highway Safety Corporation in Glastonbury, Connecticut—Highway Safety, doing business as Connecticut Galvanizing, has agreed to pay a penalty of $42,700 to settle claims by EPA that it failed to file TRI forms for zinc compounds that it manufactured in 2006, 2007, and 2008. The zinc compounds are manufactured during the galvanizing process and must be reported even though they are recycled.

Sulfuric acid, a hazardous chemical, is extremely corrosive and presents significant risks from contact, including lung damage from inhalation of vapors.

Nitric acid is an extremely hazardous chemical as a result of its health risks and reactivity. It is corrosive to the skin, eyes, mucous membranes, and respiratory tract. Additionally, nitric acid can cause combustible material to ignite upon contact, which may produce toxic gases.

Anhydrous ammonia is an extremely hazardous chemical and quench oil is also a hazardous chemical.

Lead presents a reactivity risk and a threat to response personal from contact, including skin and lung contact.

Diesel fuel is a flammable liquid and vapor and poses health risks from contact, including skin irritation and lung damage.

“When companies that store chemicals fail to file these required forms, the community’s first responders do not have adequate information about chemicals present on a site that could be released into the neighborhood in the event of an accident,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Without this information, the local and state responders cannot properly plan for an emergency, and the community is deprived of information relevant to the health and safety of its residents.”

New Mexico to Implement First-in-the-Nation Rules to Reduce Global Warming Pollutants from Multiple Sectors

The New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) adopted by a vote of four to three the most comprehensive greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution reduction regulations in the nation. The rules, proposed by the New Mexico Environment Department, will reduce global warming pollutants through a regional cap on GHG emissions.

“Addressing climate change immediately is the right thing to do—I am pleased that the EIB adopted the program I have worked so hard to develop,” Governor Bill Richardson said. “I call on the federal government to build on New Mexico’s program and the WCI to implement a national cap-and-trade system.”

“I applaud the board’s leadership and its willingness to take a stand for New Mexico’s future,” said New Mexico Environment Department Secretary Ron Curry. “This is a great opportunity to promote the state’s clean energy economy by reducing dangerous greenhouse gas emissions.”

The program, which is scheduled to start in 2012, will affect about 63 large industrial sources in New Mexico. Those sources include electric generators and the largest emission sources in the oil and gas sector. Each source would have to reduce its emissions by 2% per year until 2020 or acquire emissions credits from other participants. The program will not be triggered unless at least 100 million on tons of emissions are included regionally, which ensures that New Mexico will not implement a trading program alone. The program would have to be more than four times larger than New Mexico’s annual emissions of approximately 24 million tons.

The program is designed to contain costs to industry and consumers through several mechanisms, including the free allocation of pollution allowances to regulated sources; trading of allowances to allow the market to find the lowest-cost emission reductions; a generous offset program which allows sectors that are not under the cap to implement low-cost reduction measures; and a delay in turning in allowances until 2015. Economic analyses show a modest net benefit to the New Mexico economy as a result of reducing GHG emissions and promoting clean energy jobs.

“We have worked very hard to propose a rule that both contains costs for industry and consumers while simultaneously maintaining the environmental integrity of the program,” said New Mexico Environment Department Deputy Secretary Sarah Cottrell.

Kansas Top Environmental Official Out

The governor of Kansas apparently fired his secretary of Health and Environment on November 2, for refusing to fast-track a permit to build a new coal fired power plant. Health and Environment Secretary Rod Bremby first refused to permit the plant back in 2007 because of the harm the plant’s millions of tons of global warming pollution would cause. This made him the first state regulator to reject an air quality permit for a coal plant because of the health and environmental risks posed by carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide is the predominant GHG that contributes to global warming. The plant would also release significant quantities of other harmful air pollutants including mercury and fine particulates.

Secretary Bremby was backed up by then governor Kathleen Sebelius, but when Governor Sebelius accepted a role in the Obama administration, her successor, Mark Parkinson, according to Earthjustice, struck a deal with the coal company to get the plant built. On January 2, a new federal rule regulating global warming pollution from large stationary sources, including coal plants, goes into effect, and backers of the coal plant are demanding shortcuts in the permitting process so they obtain permits before the federal rules apply to them.

Secretary Bremby had overseen the permitting process, which is still in progress, and had made it clear that he intended to follow the law and thoroughly review the coal plant’s application before making a final decision on the new coal plant. According to Earthjustice, the permitting process has been subjected to repeated attempts by political interests to undermine it and limit public participation. Secretary Bremby’s dismissal in the middle of this highly controversial process appears to be calculated to remove him from the permitting process because of his commitment to follow the law and his refusal to illegally fast-track the permit.

Stephanie Cole of the Sierra Club said, “The timing of Secretary Bremby’s departure is highly suspicious with recent reports indicating Secretary Bremby was under pressure to accelerate the permitting of the Sunflower coal plant.”

“The decision is clearly an effort to remove Bremby in an attempt to unethically and illegally expedite the permitting process for the coal-fired power plant,” said Earthjustice attorney Amanda Goodin.

“The time is long overdue for EPA to take over the permitting process for the Sunflower coal plant to restore transparency and fairness,” said Cole of the Sierra Club. “Debate around the Sunflower coal plant has caused many hardships for Kansas, and continued political maneuvering to force permitting of this unneeded coal plant can no longer be justified.”

Earthjustice’s Goodin added, “The proposed plant is among the worst of the proposed dirty coal plants. In light of what we now know about the causes of global warming, the state owes its citizens, as well as all Americans, a denial of the permit needed to build the plant.”

DEQ Workshop on Industrial Water Permitting for Refineries

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality’s Enviroschool will present a free workshop on Industrial Water Permitting Process for Refineries in St Bernard parish. The workshop is scheduled for Thursday, November 18, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at the St. Bernard Parish Council, 8201 West Judge Perez Drive in Chalmette.

The Enviroschool for communities training program is designed to educate communities and to encourage meaningful participation in the regulatory process. This session will introduce the participants to the applicable regulatory requirements and will describe the process used to develop permits for refineries in Louisiana.

To register for this workshop, go to www.deq.louisiana.gov/enviroschool or for more information call Tomeka Prioleau at 225-219-0877.

Missouri Metal Salvage Facility Referred to Attorney General for Clean Water Violations

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has referred the case against an Adair County metal salvage facility to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office for violations of Missouri’s Clean Water Law. The case that was referred was against William A. Ramsay, Jr. and Bryon Lough to the attorney general alleging numerous Clean Water Law violations that occurred at Kirksville Recycling, formerly known as Recycle-It, located on Potter Trail in Kirksville, Missouri.

Since August 4, 2008, DNR has conducted one environmental assistance visit (EAV) and three inspections of Kirksville Recycling. During the EAV and inspections, DNR staff observed exposed oil-laden parts, oil-stained ground, unmarked and unsealed 55 gallon drums, buckets filled with waste vehicle fluids, parts co-mingled with soil, compromised battery casings leaking on the ground, and a lagoon that has not been completed. In addition, DNR has not received a copy of the facility’s stormwater pollution prevention plan.

Due to the chronic and serious nature of these violations, DNR has referred this matter directly to the Missouri State Attorney General’s Office.

Missouri’s Clean Water Law exists to protect human health and the environment, and DNR is responsible for enforcing the law and regulations. DNR’s enforcement actions help protect public health and the environment by requiring facilities to maintain compliance with the standards set out in the law.

DNR’s main goal in any enforcement action is to work with a facility to successfully achieve compliance with the standards and then ensure it has the tools to remain in compliance. As part of that process, penalties may be used to ensure future compliance by removing the economic benefit of continued noncompliance.

DNR strives to work with owners and operators to fix problems before an issue is referred. In situations where the responsible party is unwilling or unable to cooperate to bring the facility into compliance and be protective of public health and the environment, DNR will refer the case.

EPA Denies Petition that Sought a Ban on Lead in Fishing Gear

EPA denied a petition calling for a ban on the manufacture, use, and processing of lead in fishing gear. In a letter to the petitioners, EPA indicated that the petitioners have not demonstrated that the requested rule is necessary to protect against an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment, as required by the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The letter further indicates that the increasing number of limitations on the use of lead fishing gear on some federal and state lands, as well as various education and outreach activities, call into question whether a national ban on lead in fishing gear would be the least burdensome, adequately protective approach to address the concern, as called for under TSCA. EPA’s letter also notes that the prevalence of non-lead alternatives in the marketplace continues to increase.

On August 3, 2010, the American Bird Conservancy and a number of other groups petitioned EPA under Section 21 of TSCA to “prohibit the manufacture, processing, and distribution in commerce of lead for shot, bullets, and fishing sinkers.” On August 27, 2010, EPA denied the portion of the petition relating to lead in ammunition because the agency does not have the legal authority to regulate this type of product under TSCA.

Missouri Air Conservation Commission Takes Action against Company that Refuses to Cooperate

The Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Missouri Air Conservation Commission referred the case against a Sparta business to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office to pursue legal action for a violation of Missouri’s Air Conservation Law.

The commission, at its October 28 meeting in Springfield, Missouri, voted to refer the case against DCBG Enterprises to the Attorney General’s office to compel compliance and to seek an appropriate civil penalty for the violation.

The company violated Missouri’s open burning restrictions by burning furniture, construction waste, tile, treated wood, appliances, paint cans, and plastics. A notice of violation was issued February 26. DNR contacted the company multiple times, but has not received an adequate response. The company refused to take appropriate responsibility for its violation and would not negotiate reasonable settlements with DNR. DNR had no recourse but to ask the Attorney General to take legal action against the violator.

Missouri’s Air Conservation Law exists to protect public and environmental health and the department is responsible for enforcing the law and regulations. DNR’s enforcement actions help protect public health and the environment by requiring facilities to achieve and maintain compliance. The main goal in any enforcement action is to work with a facility to successfully achieve compliance with regulatory standards and then ensure it has the tools to remain in compliance. As part of that process, penalties may be assessed to ensure future compliance by removing the economic benefit of continued noncompliance.

DNR strives to work with owners and operators to fix problems before an issue is referred. In situations where the responsible party is unwilling or unable to cooperate to bring the facility into compliance and be protective of human health and the environment, DNR will refer the case.

Louisiana Vessel Company to Pay $2.1 Million in Penalties

The Justice Department has announced a Louisiana ship-operating company has been sentenced in U.S. District Court in New Orleans on charges related to the illegal discharge of oil into the oceans.

Offshore Vessels LLC (OSV) was sentenced to pay a criminal fine of $1,750,000 and remit a payment of $350,000 as community service to the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. The community service funds are to be used to study polar water pollution and protection of vulnerable marine ecosystems in the Antarctic region. OSV also will serve a period of probation for three years, during which it will be required to operate under an Environmental Compliance Plan. OSV pleaded guilty on July 22, 2010, to knowingly discharging waste oil from one of its vessels, in violation of the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS).

“The criminal fine in this case will serve as a strong deterrent to all vessel companies, American and foreign, against deliberately violating the laws enacted to protect oceans,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General of the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “The required payment will provide a means of studying polar water oil pollution and its impact on Antarctica’s fragile marine ecosystem.”

OSV owned and operated the R/V Laurence M. Gould (R/V Gould). The R/V Gould was a 2,966 gross ton American-flagged vessel that served as an ice-breaking research vessel for the National Science Foundation on research voyages to and from Antarctica. In its guilty plea earlier this year, OSV admitted that crew members knowingly discharged oily wastewater from the bilge tank of the R/V Gould overboard to the high seas, in violation of APPS. In doing so, they bypassed the ship’s oily-water separator, a pollution-control device. Regulations promulgated under APPS require that oily wastewater be discharged only after it has been sent through an oily water separator.

Safety-Kleen to Pay over $200,000 for PCB Violations

On November 4, EPA announced two separate settlements with Safety-Kleen. The action will resolve violations of federal toxic substance regulations at the company’s facilities in New York and several New England states. Under the settlements, Safety-Kleen Systems, Inc., agreed to pay a total of $210,000 in penalties and improve its procedures for sampling and handling polychlorinated biphenyls. PCBs are potentially cancer-causing chemicals and can affect the immune, reproductive, nervous, and endocrine systems.

Federal regulations prohibit the shipping of materials that contain PCBs above 50 parts per million (ppm) without proper documentation and require waste oil containing PCBs to be handled as hazardous waste. Inspections conducted by EPA at seven Safety-Kleen facilities in New York, Maine, Vermont, and Connecticut revealed that the company had received used oil containing PCBs above 50 ppm. The company then shipped the oil without preparing the documents required for the transport of hazardous substances.

“PCBs can cause very serious health problems, and Safety-Kleen did not fulfill its obligation to handle this dangerous chemical properly,” said Judith Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “The changes that the company has agreed to make will improve its own practices, and has the potential to be a model for the oil recycling industry.”

One of the two settlements covers violations at New York State facilities in Buffalo, Lackawanna, Syracuse, and West Nyack. It includes a penalty of $130,000 and operational improvements at Safety-Kleen facilities in New York and New Jersey. The company will pay an additional $80,000 to settle toxic substance violations at facilities in several New England states.

The company will either test the used oil before it is transferred from trucks into the company’s holding tanks for storage or processing, or test the oil it collects prior to shipping it. These operational improvements and testing at its facilities will exceed the requirements of federal regulations.

PCBs were domestically manufactured and widely used from 1929 until their manufacture was banned in 1979, when Congress strictly limited the manufacture and use of this toxic substance. Despite this ban, PCBs remain legally in use under certain conditions, and are a common contaminant in used oil.

USDA to Help Farmers Develop SPCC Plans

The Department of Agriculture announced a pilot initiative in eight states to help agricultural producers comply with revised regulations by the EPA intended to prevent and mitigate fuel and oil spills on their operations. States participating in the pilot are: Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and the Caribbean area. Dave White, Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), made the announcement on behalf of the Department at a farm outside of Pembina, North Dakota.

“An important part of our mission at USDA is helping farmers and ranchers develop plans to protect human health and the environment, including assistance complying new regulations,” said Dave White, NRCS Chief. “This new pilot program will help agricultural producers meet a new regulatory requirement designed to reduce the dangers of on-farm oil spills.”

The pilot program will be administered by NRCS, which will provide up to $3 million to help farmers and ranchers comply with EPA’s Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure Program (SPCC). The agency will help develop or update existing spill prevention plans that avoid and mitigate on-farm oil spillage. SPCC plans must be in place no later than November 10, 2011.

Due to the small amount of stored fuel and oil on most operations up to 84% of farmers and ranchers are able to “self certify” by completing an online template. Operators with above ground storage capacity of 10,000 gallons or more are required to have a plan prepared by a registered Professional Engineer.

NRCS developed an interim conservation practice standard for secondary oil and fuel containment. Technical Service Providers can use this interim practice to help them design oil/fuel containment facilities conforming to EPA regulation. Funding from NRCS is available to assist in developing SPCC plans and implementing the secondary oil and fuel containment conservation practices.

Earlier this year NRCS partnered with the National Milk Producers Federation to develop a template for dairy producers to help them determine if they needed an SPCC plan and whether or not they could self certify their plans. The SPCC template can be utilized by the 84% of farms meeting the self-certification criteria, meeting the EPA revised rules. This template is available at: http://nmpf.org/files/file/SPCC-Plan-Template-Final-Sept-20-2010-FORM.pdf.

Farmers and ranchers in the participating states who need assistance should contact NRCS at their nearest USDA Service Center.

$30,000 Penalty for Selling Ozone-Depleting Refrigerants to Non-Certified Technicians

Based on the findings of an undercover inspector, EPA has proposed a penalty of $30,000 against a Fall River, Massachusetts, plumbing and supply company charged with selling ozone-depleting refrigerants in violation of federal regulations.

According to EPA’s New England office, Robinson Plumbing and Heating Supply, Co., sold ozone-depleting refrigerants to non-certified technicians at two separate sales outlets in Massachusetts, in violation of the Clean Air Act.

“Vendors of refrigeration supplies have a responsibility to make sure the buyers are certified to purchase these refrigerants,” said Curt Spalding, administrator of EPA’s New England office. “Release of these refrigerants to the atmosphere depletes the stratospheric ozone layer, which protects us from the sun’s harmful rays.”

EPA regulations restrict the sale of ozone-depleting refrigerant to persons who are trained and certified, or otherwise properly regulated, in order to limit illegal releases that would further damage the stratospheric ozone layer.

On July 13, an undercover EPA inspector attempted to buy refrigerant at three Robinson Supply sales outlets. Although the inspector was not a certified technician, he was able to purchase refrigerant at two of the Robinson Supply outlets, in Avon and Woburn. No sale was made at Plainville.

Three Companies Fined for Illegal Pesticide Imports

Three pesticide distributors working in Washington State are being fined over $35,000 for mislabeling products and importing illegal pesticides, according to EPA orders.

  • Skyline Chemical, LLC—The company sold and distributed unregistered and misbranded pesticides, produced pesticides in an unregistered facility, and failed to report the amounts of pesticides produced each year. These violations greatly increase the risk posed to distributers and users because the pesticides were not traceable to their source. EPA identified the violations based on an inspection conducted by the Washington State Department of Agriculture in 2008 at the Skyline Chemical facility in Farmington, Washington. EPA is fining the company $24,960.
  • Axss USA—On June 3, 2010 and June 25, 2010, EPA inspected a shipment of the company’s Axss USA 2,4-D Acid Technical, a commonly used broadleaf herbicide. The shipment was targeted because of prior import compliance violations. The inspectors found that the product was missing all the required pesticide labeling. EPA is fining the company $5,760. Axss USA is based in Greeley, Colorado and was importing pesticides through the Port of Seattle.
  • Pace International—On July 13, 2010, EPA inspected a shipment of Pace International’s Chlorpropham 98% Technical, a product used to control the sprouting of potatoes in storage. EPA found that the product was also missing the entire pesticide label and is fining the company $4,800. Pace International is based in Seattle.

“EPA continually monitors pesticide imports for correct labeling because unlabeled products can be dangerous and really harm people,” said Scott Downey, Pesticide Manager in EPA’s Seattle office. “Companies that sell and distribute mislabeled pesticides risk steep fines.”

Mining and Ready-Mix Concrete Company Faces Penalties for Clean Water Act Violations

The United States Attorney’s Office has filed a complaint on behalf of the EPA in federal district court in New Hampshire against Torromeo Industries, Inc., for Clean Water Act (CWA) violations at its sand, gravel, and stone mining operation and ready-mix concrete plant in Kingston, New Hampshire.

According to EPA’s New England office, Torromeo Industries, Inc., whose headquarters is in Methuen, Massachusetts, violated the CWA by discharging stormwater and process water into wetlands and waterways, including the Little River, without the required authorization under a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. The complaint proposes that Torromeo pay a penalty of up to $37,500 per day, per violation.

The complaint grew out of a joint inspection with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services on April 9, 2009. Federal and State inspectors found that the company discharged process waste waters, and stormwater without proper permits. The inspectors observed that the company failed to implement best management practices to minimize the impacts of stormwater that ran off the site during rain events. The violations at the facility have been ongoing for decades and include:

  • Discharging process water, without authorization, from the mid 1970s through present; and
  • Discharging stormwater associated with industrial activity, without authorization, from the mid 1990’s through December 19, 2009

“Stormwater runoff and process water discharges from the sand and gravel and ready-mix concrete industry are a significant source of water pollution,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “This industry plays a very important role in protecting water quality by taking the appropriate steps to prevent pollution, and we will continue our work to ensure compliance with these practices.”

Without onsite controls, runoff from ready-mix concrete and sand and gravel facilities can flow directly to the nearest waterway and can cause water quality impairments such as siltation of rivers, beach closings, fishing restrictions, and habitat degradation. As stormwater flows over these sites, it can pick up pollutants, including sediment, used oil, pesticides, solvents, and other debris. Polluted runoff can harm or kill fish and wildlife and can affect drinking water quality.

In August 2009, EPA’s New England Office and the Department of Justice entered into a $2.75 million settlement with Aggregate-Industries Northeast Region, Inc., to resolve similar violations of the CWA at many of that company’s concrete manufacturing facilities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. That penalty was the largest ever assessed to a nationwide ready-mix concrete company for stormwater violations under the CWA, and is part of the Region’s increased enforcement efforts in this industrial sector.

EPA Recognizes Facilities for Energy Savings

EPA is recognizing top facilities with the Energy Star Combined Heat and Power (CHP) award for using innovative techniques to generate power and thermal energy. These techniques have led to energy savings, reductions in GHG emissions, and decreased air pollution, which can reduce the impacts on the public’s health.

This year’s award winners reduced the amount of carbon emissions equivalent to the emissions from more than 32,000 passenger vehicles. The Gainesville Regional Utilities and Eastern Maine Medical Center CHP systems achieve operating efficiencies ranging from 6070% compared to the efficiency of separate production of electricity and thermal energy, which is typically less than 50%. The Port Arthur Steam Energy and Landis Sewerage Authority CHP systems use otherwise wasted energy to generate electricity and produce thermal energy for use in industrial processes.

CHP is the simultaneous production of electricity and heat from a single energy source, such as natural gas, biomass, coal, or waste heat. CHP is not a single technology, but an integrated energy system that can be modified to suit the specific needs of the energy user.

The CHP Partnership, established in 2001, is a voluntary program that encourages the use of CHP to reduce the environmental impact of power generation. The partnership works closely with energy users, the CHP industry, state and local governments, and other energy stakeholders to facilitate the development of new projects and to promote energy, environmental, and economic benefits.

Laboratory Energy Efficiency Profiler Tool

Laboratories have many unique efficiency opportunities, but certain constraints preclude the use of typical commercial building profiling and audit tools. The new Laboratory Energy Efficiency Profiler (LEEP) Tool, developed by Labs21 Partner Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), will enable users to identify energy efficiency opportunities in their laboratories while requiring as little user data input as possible. The tool’s analyses are based on characteristics of ventilation, heating and cooling, lighting, and plug and process loads, and it works in conjunction with the Labs21 Benchmarking Tool, also developed by LBNL.

For more information, go to http://www.labs21century.gov/toolkit/leep.htm.

Massachusetts Power Station Faces Fines for Clean Water Violations

A power station located in Holyoke, Massachusetts, faces up to $177,500 in CWA fines for allegedly discharging muddy stormwater and other pollutants into the Connecticut River.

According to EPA, the Mt. Tom Generating Company, LLC, violated it’s federally issued permit by exceeding permit discharge limits over a five month period of time. The company was performing construction work at the coal-fired power plant facility during this period of time.

“It is imperative that companies who discharge their wastewaters to our waterways fully comply with applicable permit requirements,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England Office. “EPA will continue enforcing and monitoring permit requirements that are necessary to improve water quality in our rivers, lakes and estuaries.”

Rainwater running off construction sites can carry sediments, oil, and other pollutants which contaminate nearby streams, ponds, and rivers. Sediments and chemicals can also contribute to fish die-offs, toxic algae blooms, contaminated shellfish beds, and closed swimming beaches.

$25,000 Penalty for RMP Violations

In an agreement with Ohio EPA, Eaton Aeroquip Inc., will pay a $25,900 civil penalty for violating risk management plan (RMP) requirements at its Van Wert, Ohio, facility. State regulations require facilities that have more than a threshold quantity of a regulated substance to create RMPs. The RMPs detail how they will reduce the risk of accidents and promptly respond if an accident occurs.

Eaton Aeroquip produces industrial equipment and parts for trucking companies and agricultural industries. As part of its process, the company stored more 34,000 lb of anhydrous ammonia, a chemical regulated by state and federal RMP rules, in two above-ground storage tanks. The RMP threshold amount for ammonia is 10,000 lb.

The company submitted RMPs as required in 1999, 2004, and 2009. An Ohio EPA inspection in 2004 found nine rule violations. The company corrected the violations. A second five-year inspection in 2009 found seven violations, including four that had been cited in the 2004 inspection. One of the violations included failing to report a December 7, 2007, accident within six months of its occurrence.

The company resolved most of the violations by November 2009 and notified Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA that anhydrous ammonia would be permanently removed from the site. The facility is no longer required to have a RMP. The settlement requires the company to comply with risk management regulations before storing anhydrous ammonia or other regulated chemicals on site.

Eaton Aeroquip will pay $20,720 to Ohio EPA’s risk management plan fund. The remaining $5,180 will be paid to Ohio EPA’s Clean Diesel School Bus Program Fund.

Missouri Hazardous Waste Reports due Soon

Large quantity generators’ hazardous waste third quarter facility and generator Hazardous Waste Summary Reports are due to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on November 14, 2010. The reports can be submitted online.

To fill out the Summary Report forms electronically you will need a personal identification number (PIN) assigned to your business. MDNR has created a PIN request form which is available at http://www.dnr.mo.gov/forms/780-2063-f.pdf. The form must be completed on which you want to report electronically. A new PIN number is required if a different person will be signing the report electronically. For questions regarding electronic reporting, contact David Green at 800-361-4827 or 573-751-3176.

You can to sign up for the DNR’s electronic reporting reminders and updates at http://www.dnr.mo.gov/env/hwp/hwgr-reporting.htm. These updates and reminders will assist you in remembering important hazardous waste reporting deadlines.

If you are a small or large quantity generator in Missouri, you are required to pay hazardous waste fees before January 1, 2011. If you do not receive an invoice in November and you generated regulated quantities of hazardous waste, you might not have filed your hazardous waste summary reports or the department has not received your annual or quarterly hazardous waste summary reports. Contact the Hazardous Waste Program’s Fees & Taxes Unit at 573-751-3176 for more information.

TCEQ Fines Texas Companies Almost $1 Million

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) announced agreed orders for the following enforcement categories: 14 air quality, one industrial hazardous waste, seven industrial waste discharge, two licensed irrigator, five multi-media, two municipal solid waste, ten municipal waste discharge, 24 petroleum storage tank, eight public water system, and three water quality.

In addition, default orders were issued for these categories: one licensed irrigator, two multi-media, one municipal solid waste, three petroleum storage tank, and two public water system. There were three field citations. Following hearings at the State Office of Administrative Hearings, penalties were assessed in a water quality case and in a petroleum storage tank case.

Included in the total are penalties of $237,247 against XTO Energy, Inc., in Yoakum County for two air violations stemming from a routine investigation conducted on December 9, 2009. Of the total fines, $118,623 will be used to fund replacement of old school buses in the Amarillo-Lubbock area with buses using alternative fuel or clean diesel or retrofitting of school buses to reduce emissions.

Also included in the total are penalties of $106,000 against ExxonMobil Oil Corp., in Jefferson County for six air violations stemming from two routine investigations conducted in November of last year and January of this year. Of the total fines, $53,000 will be used by Lamar University to conduct an advanced air modeling study in the Beaumont region.

New Educational Videos Teach Recycling, Waste Lessons

In celebration of America Recycles Day, November 15, the Waste Commission of Scott County Iowa is debuting a series of educational videos that focus on recycling and proper waste disposal. There are five videos in the series, each four to seven minutes, which cover the topics of: recycling, electronic waste, hazardous waste, garbage, and landfills.

Most of the videos are geared toward elementary aged students. However, some of the videos cover topics appropriate for middle, high school, and college students. The videos can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/iliveheretv.

All of the videos are hosted by Scott Green—The Recycle Guy, who is played by a local actor, and were filmed at Waste Commission of Scott County’s four facilities: Scott Area Landfill, Scott Area Recycling Center, Household Hazardous Material Facility, and the Electronic Demanufacturing Facility. Liz Lareau PR, Inc., of Moline wrote the scripts and dphilms of Rock Island produced and edited the videos.

The Recycling video teaches what happens to recyclables that are collected at the curb and why recycling is important. The Electronic Waste video covers what’s inside old computers and televisions and how they’re recycled. The Household Hazardous Materials video explains what to do with old paint and pesticides and the dangers of keeping those items in your home. The Garbage video teaches what happens to garbage after it leaves the curb and viewers learn if garbage ever goes away. Finally, the Landfill video explains how landfills are constructed and how the Scott Area Landfill protects the local community’s air, land, and water.

RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative Management Plan

EPA has developed a two-year draft management plan to advance the development of renewable energy on potentially contaminated land and mining sites. The draft plan describes activities EPA can take to build upon the progress that the initiative has achieved since its launch in September of 2008. EPA started the initiative to determine the feasibility of developing renewable energy production on Superfund, brownfields, and former landfill or mining sites. The initiative aims to decrease the amount of green space used for development, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide health and economic benefits to local communities, including job creation. View and submit comments through November 30, 2010 at http://www.epa.gov/renewableenergyland/.

Environmental News Links

Obama Drops Plan to Limit Global Warming Gases

New Dioxin Rules Could Force More Clean-ups

Volvo Developing Hybrid Hydrogen-Electric Vehicle

Arsenic in Drinking Water Tied to Stroke Risk

Citgo Can’t Shift Blame for Toxic Waste Release

Company President Fined for Chemical Spill

Handle CFLs Safely

Hungary Threatened by New Chemical Disaster

Trivia Question of the Week

What car has the lowest EPA fuel mileage for 2011?
a. Bugatti Veyron
b. Ford E350 Wagon
c. Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe
d. Toyota Prius
Answer