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12/27/2010

EPA Issues Six Greenhouse Gas Rules

Environmental


On December 23, 2010, the EPA issued a series of rules that put the necessary regulatory framework in place to ensure that industrial facilities can get Clean Air Act (CAA) permits covering their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions when needed and ensure that facilities emitting GHGs at levels below those established in the Tailoring Rule do not need to obtain CAA permits.

The agency says these actions will ensure that the largest industrial facilities can get CAA permits that cover GHG emissions beginning in January 2011. These actions are part of EPA’s common sense approach to GHG permitting outlined in the spring 2010 Tailoring Rule.

The first set of actions will give EPA authority to permit GHGs in seven states (Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Oregon, and Wyoming) until the state or local agencies can revise their permitting regulations to cover these emissions. EPA is taking additional steps to disapprove part of Texas’ CAA permitting program and the agency will also issue GHG permits to facilities in the state. These actions will ensure that large industrial facilities will be able to receive permits for GHG emissions regardless of where they are located.

In the second set of actions, EPA has issued final rules that will ensure that there are no federal laws in place that require any state to issue a permit for GHG emissions below levels outlined in the tailoring rule.

EPA has worked closely with the states to ensure that the transition to permitting for GHGs is smooth. States are best suited to issue permits to sources of GHG emissions and have experience working with industrial facilities. EPA will continue to work with states to help develop, submit, and obtain approval of the necessary revisions to enable the affected states to issue air permits to GHG-emitting sources.

Beginning in January 2011, industries that are large emitters of GHGs, and that are planning to build new facilities or make major modifications to existing ones, must obtain air permits and implement energy efficiency measures or, where available, cost-effective technology to reduce their GHGs emissions. This includes the nation’s largest GHG emitters, such as power plants, refineries, and cement production facilities. Emissions from small sources, such as farms and restaurants, are not covered by these GHG permitting requirements.

Click here for a fact sheet summarizing all six rules.

IATA Update – What’s New for 2011?

Each year, the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) updates and revises the regulations for the transportation of dangerous goods (hazardous materials) by air. If you offer dangerous goods for transportation by air, you must follow the new regulations by January 1. A large number of significant changes are being implemented in the 2011 IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations (DGR).

Environmental Resource Center is offering a 1-hour webcast designed for personnel that have up-to-date IATA training (within the past two years) but need to learn about the recent changes that will impact shipments in 2011. If you need initial or recurrent IATA certification, attend one of our in-depth seminars or webcasts.

At this live webcast, you will learn:

  • Changes in the regulations for consumer commodities– new marking and shipping paper entries
  • New test authorized to determine classification and packing group of corrosives
  • Changes in the classification criteria for magnetized materials
  • Revisions to the classification of environmentally hazardous substances, marine pollutants, and aquatic pollutants
  • Phase in of new packing instructions for Class 3 flammable liquids, Class 4 flammable solids, Class 5 oxidizers/organic peroxides, Class 8 corrosives, Class 9 miscellaneous, and Division 6
  • New entries on the IATA List of Dangerous Goods and new special provisions
  • New marking requirements for net quantities, limited quantities, environmentally hazardous substances, and orientation arrows

Click this link to register or for more information.

Cleveland RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course (RCRA) and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course, in Cleveland, Ohio, from January 4–6 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 1-800-537-2372.

Advertising Opportunities Available

Environmental Resource Center is making a limited number of advertising positions available in the Environmental Tip of the Week™, the Safety Tip of the Week™, and the Reg of the Day™. If you have a product or service that would be of interest to over 25,000 weekly readers, contact Malia Campbell at mcampbell@ercweb.com or 919-469-1585 for details.

EPA Proposes Updates to GHG Reporting Program

EPA is proposing actions under the GHG reporting program to address issues about the public availability of certain data that some businesses may consider to be confidential. The total emissions for each facility are still required to be reported to EPA and released to the public.

In July 2010, EPA proposed to determine that information included in emissions equations are emissions data and cannot be protected as confidential business information under the CAA. Under the proposed determination, EPA would have to make these data available to the public once they are submitted to the agency.

EPA is soliciting comments from stakeholders seeking more specific information about claims of business sensitivity regarding inputs to emissions equations and proposing to defer the deadline for reporting that data until March 2014. The new information and reporting deferral would allow EPA to assess the issue and make final decisions on how to treat the data elements in question. The proposals will not change the requirement that facilities retain these data so that EPA may directly follow up with facilities through on-site audits.

EPA is taking comment on the proposal to delay reporting of sensitive data for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, or 45 days if a hearing is requested, and is accepting comments in response to EPA’s request for information for 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.

EPA’s GHG reporting program, launched in October 2009, requires the reporting of GHG emissions data from large emission sources and fuel suppliers across a range of industry sectors. The data will help guide the development of programs to reduce these emissions.

EPA to Set Modest Pace for GHG Standards

EPA issued its plan for establishing GHG pollution standards under the CAA in 2011. The agency looked at a number of sectors and is moving forward on GHG standards for fossil fuel power plants and petroleum refineries—two of the largest industrial sources, representing nearly 40% of the GHG pollution in the United States. The schedule provides a clear path forward for these sectors and is part of EPA’s common-sense approach to addressing GHGs from the largest industrial pollution sources.

“We are following through on our commitment to proceed in a measured and careful way to reduce GHG pollution that threatens the health and welfare of Americans, and contributes to climate change,” Administrator Lisa Jackson said. “These standards will help American companies attract private investment to the clean energy upgrades that make our companies more competitive and create good jobs here at home.”

Several states, local governments, and environmental organizations sued EPA over the agency’s failure to update the pollution standards for fossil fuel power plants and petroleum refineries, two of the largest source categories of GHG pollution in the United States. Under the agreement, EPA will propose standards for power plants in July 2011 and for refineries in December 2011, and will issue final standards in May 2012 and November 2012, respectively.

This schedule will allow the agency to host listening sessions with the business community, states, and other stakeholders in early 2011, well before the rulemaking process begins, as well as to solicit additional feedback during the routine notice and comment period. Together this feedback will lead to smart, cost-effective, and protective standards that reflect the latest and best information.

The CAA requires EPA to set industry-specific standards for new sources that emit significant quantities of harmful pollutants. These standards, called New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), set the level of pollution new facilities may emit and address air pollution from existing facilities. The Act allows flexible and innovative approaches that take into account cost, health and environmental impacts, and energy requirements. EPA must also periodically update these standards to reflect improvements in control technologies.

Earlier this year, EPA issued what it described as a common-sense approach to GHG permitting for the largest industrial sources. This approach, the GHG permitting guidelines issued in November, and these standards will give power plants and refineries a clear and sensible path for addressing GHG pollution.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issued a statement applauding the EPA announcement, “In New York, we have taken action to combat the unacceptable threat posed by climate change, with the knowledge that well-designed climate policies provide diverse societal benefits ranging from economic development and job creation to energy security and better air quality.” Acting Commissioner Peter Iwanowicz said. “EPA and the states can leverage these successful efforts to build a federal-state partnership that achieves maximum emission reductions in a cost-effective, efficient and non-duplicative manner.”

Earthjustice represented the Environmental Defense Fund and Sierra Club in a 2006 lawsuit challenging EPA’s most recent power plant standards and represents Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Environmental Integrity Project in a 2008 lawsuit that led to the agreement on the timetable for refinery standards. Earthjustice attorney Tim Ballo said, “The EPA has a legal duty to respond to the very real dangers of global warming pollution by setting strong limits on carbon pollution from power plants and refineries. These are the nation’s biggest industrial sources of global warming pollution and deserve top priority.”

California Attorney General Jerry Brown said, “While California has been aggressive in regulating such emissions, until recently, the federal government has not. This is a tremendous achievement that will help the state reach its GHG emission goals under the state’s climate law, AB 32.”

EPA will accept public comment on these two agreements for 30 days following publication of notice in the Federal Register.

FMCSA Issues Proposed Rule on Hours-of-Service Requirements for Commercial Truck Drivers

On December 23, the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a regulatory proposal that would revise hours-of-service (HOS) requirements for commercial truck drivers.

“A fatigued driver has no place behind the wheel of a large commercial truck,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We are committed to an hours-of-service rule that will help create an environment where commercial truck drivers are rested, alert and focused on safety while on the job.”

The publication of this proposed rule coincides with the timeframe established in a court settlement agreement that requires FMCSA to publish a final HOS rule by July 26, 2011.

This new HOS proposal would retain the “34-hour restart” provision allowing drivers to restart the clock on their weekly 60 or 70 hours by taking at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty. However, the restart period would have to include two consecutive off-duty periods from midnight to 6:00 a.m. Drivers would be allowed to use this restart only once during a seven-day period.

Additionally the proposal would require commercial truck drivers to complete all driving within a 14-hour workday, and to complete all on-duty work-related activities within 13 hours to allow for at least a one hour break. It also leaves open for comment whether drivers should be limited to 10 or 11 hours of daily driving time, although FMCSA currently favors a 10-hour limit.

“In January, we began this rulemaking process by hosting five public listening sessions with stakeholders across the country,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “This proposed rule provides another opportunity for the public to weigh in on a safety issue that impacts everyone on our roadways.”

Driving hours are regulated by federal HOS rules, which are designed to prevent commercial vehicle-related crashes and fatalities by prescribing on-duty and rest periods for drivers.

Commercial truck drivers who violate this proposed rule would face civil penalties of up to $2,750 for each offense. Trucking companies that allow their drivers to violate the proposal’s driving limits would face penalties of up to $11,000 for each offense.

Other key provisions include the option of extending a driver’s daily shift to 16 hours twice a week to accommodate for issues such as loading and unloading at terminals or ports, and allowing drivers to count some time spent parked in their trucks toward off-duty hours.

A copy of the rulemaking proposal and information about how to submit comments and evidentiary material are available on FMCSA’s website at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/HOS. The rulemaking will be published in the Federal Register on December 29 and the public will then have 60 days to comment.

New York Tightens Rules for Outdoor Wood Boilers

New York DEC has announced that the state’s Environmental Board approved a new regulation that sets stringent performance standards for new outdoor wood boilers (OWBs) sold in the state. The regulation will go into effect 30 days after it is filed with the Secretary of State. The stricter guidelines will ensure that new OWBs burn at least 90% cleaner than older models.

“This is about ensuring that new outdoor wood boilers burn cleaner—not only for people who buy OWBs and their families, but also for their neighbors. It’s not unlike the switch to cleaner cars,” said Acting DEC Commissioner Peter Iwanowicz. “It’s also to ensure that OWB stacks are high enough to disperse emissions rather than having them blow directly into houses and other dwellings. That’s important for public health. Also, we have listened to the agricultural community and made appropriate exceptions for farming operations.”

The regulation includes stack height requirements for new OWBs that will reduce the impact of emission plumes on neighboring property owners. In addition, new OWBs will be required to be set back a minimum of 100 feet from neighboring properties—except for OWBs used in agricultural operations, which must be at least 100 feet from neighboring homes. Both new and existing OWBs will be subject to fuel restrictions that ensure that only appropriate fuels are used.

“The new guidelines the state has set on outdoor wood boilers is a necessary step in improving the process of burning wood as a renewable energy resource and is not to stop people from burning clean wood,” said Village of Tupper Lake Mayor Mickey Demarais. “Trying to make our air cleaner and protect our residents is our responsibility and the Village supports establishing guidelines and standards on OWBs to make this happen.”

“The new regulation on OWBs is a responsible move in the right direction without being overly intrusive on the public,” said Elizabethtown Town Supervisor Noel Merrihew. “It’s a good move to put together regulations for the manufacture of the OWBs. Outside the Hamlet areas the smoke can be a problem and this assures long term environmental benefits for our state.”

“In the past, the Cattaraugus County Health Department has been asked by residents plagued by thick smoke emissions to intervene in neighbor feuds involving improperly sited or operated outdoor wood boilers,” said Eric W. Wohlers, Environmental Health Director for Cattaraugus County. “In absence of an enforceable air quality standard, a uniform, statewide regulation to improve combustion efficiency and prevent improper siting of units, coupled with prudent enforcement requiring the exclusive use of proper wood fuel, should dramatically reduce the chance of neighborhood conflicts. There is a place for OWBs in rural New York, if they are responsibly operated and maintained. The new regulation will eventually eliminate those units that were grossly inefficient and were operated irresponsibly as backyard trash incinerators, and ultimately will be more protective of public health.”

Provisions in the regulatory proposal to phase out the use of older OWBs and place restrictions on their use in the interim have been removed and will be addressed through a new public stakeholder process to develop a revised regulatory framework to address concerns of residents impacted by the operation of such units.

The text of the final rule before the Environmental Board is available on the DEC website. The complete rule package will be available on the DEC website after the Environmental Board meets.

Louisiana DEQ Reaches Agreement with Calumet Specialty Products as Part of Refinery Initiative

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) reached an agreement with Calumet Specialty Products and its subsidiaries that calls for the company to reduce emissions from its Louisiana refineries and make a $1 million payment to the state.

Calumet will invest approximately $11 to $15 million to perform beneficial environmental projects and implement emissions reduction projects. These projects will reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides by approximately 100 tons per year, reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide through a reduction in flaring events, and minimize emissions of volatile organic compounds from its refineries in Shreveport, Cotton Valley, and Princeton, Louisiana.

“The citizens of Louisiana will benefit greatly from this agreement because of the reductions in emissions and in flaring events,” said DEQ Secretary Peggy Hatch. “DEQ and Calumet employees worked together to find a solution that would benefit the environment and the citizens. An example would be the reduction in emissions and flaring at the Shreveport facility. Residents who live near the facility should see a noticeable difference in the amount of flaring.”

The agreement is part of the state’s Small Refinery Initiative and consolidates previous environmental violations associated with Calumet Specialty Products and its subsidiaries.

American Crystal Sugar Agrees to $50,000 Civil Penalty and Corrective Actions to Settle Alleged Violations

American Crystal Sugar Company has agreed to a $50,000 civil penalty and complete actions requested by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to settle alleged violations of state environmental protection and reporting regulations at its facility in East Grand Forks, Minnesota.

Some of the alleged violations were associated with an event in May 2009 when runoff from company land application sites entered Grand Marais creek, resulting in complaints about odors and discoloration. This occurred after the company applied industrial by-products to farm fields at excessive levels and too close to waterways during the 2008 cropping season. In addition, the company, once notified of the complaint, failed to take necessary actions to minimize pollution to Grand Marais Creek. The creek is currently on the Minnesota’s list of impaired waters for high sediment and pH levels, and low levels of dissolved oxygen.

The MPCA also alleges that the company used testing results from a non-certified laboratory, failed to report all monitoring results, and failed to maintain quality assurance procedures adequate to ensure compliance with testing requirements. The company also failed to adequately control vegetation in a wastewater treatment pond.

In addition to agreeing to the $50,000 civil penalty, American Crystal agreed to submit plans and update procedures to ensure future compliance. The company has already completed many of the required actions and paid the penalty.

When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it is a first time or repeat violation, and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. It also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.

Proper Use of Wood Stoves and Fire Places Urged

With colder weather taking hold and the official start of winter, New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is urging the state’s residents to be thoughtful of their neighbors when burning wood for heat.

“There’s nothing quite like cozying up in front of a fireplace or wood stove when the weather is really cold, but wood smoke contains pollutants—and some of your neighbors may not be able to tolerate it,” said DEP Assistant Commissioner Nancy Wittenberg. “If you are going to use a fireplace, wood stove or even a wood boiler, there are some steps you can take to minimize your impact on the environment, your neighbors, and your own health.”

Wood smoke contains fine particles that can cause health problems, especially for sensitive populations. Pollutants from the burning of wood can be trapped near the ground during the winter by dense, cold air.

A properly installed wood-burning appliance should be smoke-free, according to federal EPA. If you see or smell smoke, you may have a problem. When burning wood in a stove or fireplace, follow these guidelines for a safe and cleaner fire:

  • Allow wood to season for at least six months before burning it. Seasoned wood is darker, has cracks in the end grain and sounds hollow when smacked against another piece of wood.
  • Wood burns most efficiently when its moisture content is below 20%; wood moisture meters can be purchased to test the moisture content.
  • Store wood outdoors, stacked neatly off the ground with the top covered.
  • Start fires with newspaper and dry kindling and keep them burning hot.
  • Regularly remove ashes to ensure proper airflow.
  • Never burn garbage, cardboard, plastics, wrapping materials, painted materials or other materials in your stove or fireplace.
  • Keep anything flammable—including drapes, furniture, newspapers, and books—far away from any wood-burning appliance. Keep a fire-extinguisher close by.
  • In New Jersey, check your local air quality at http://www.njaqinow.net/ prior to burning wood. If the air quality in your area is poor, consider other heating alternatives.

State regulations and local ordinances in some municipalities prohibit the emission of visible smoke from outdoor wood boilers. These boilers heat a fluid that is circulated in homes and buildings for heating purposes. Under state regulations, these boilers may only emit visible smoke for three minutes every half-hour to allow for fire-starting.

In deciding how to heat your home this winter and reduce your exposure to fine particles from wood smoke, consider upgrading to an EPA-certified wood stove or fireplace insert. The newer equipment will reduce air pollution and is much more energy efficient.

In New Jersey, a 30% federal tax credit is available for the purchase of qualified wood- or pellet-burning stoves is available through December 31.

lEPA Charges AMD Industries with Improper Handling of Asbestos

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) Director Doug Scott has asked the Illinois Attorney General’s office to proceed with enforcement action against AMD Industries, Inc., for the improper removal, handling, and disposal of asbestos-containing material at its Cicero headquarters and at a disposal site in Chicago. AMD headquarters are at 4620 West 19th Street, Cicero; and the scrapyard is on South Paulina, Chicago.

The asbestos was initially discovered during a joint IEPA and Chicago Department of Environment inspection at the Paulina Street location. Officials at the scrapyard had reported to the Department of Environment that they had received some pipes from AMD that were apparently contaminated with asbestos. After discovering the asbestos, officials at the scrapyard had immediately arranged for removal of the asbestos by a licensed abatement company. After visiting the scrapyard, the IEPA inspector then went to AMD’s headquarters where he determined that asbestos-containing pipe insulation had been improperly removed by employees. Once informed of the results, AMD secured the impacted area and restricted employee access.

The IEPA alleges that AMD has caused, threatened, or allowed the discharge or emission of asbestos fibers into the environment. IEPA has requested that a licensed project designer submit a program to determine the scope of asbestos contamination and the methods and procedures to be utilized to remediate asbestos contamination resulting from improper removal and disposal activities. Once the Illinois EPA has accepted a program, a licensed asbestos abatement contractor will be hired to implement the program.

Ohio University Fined for Hazardous Waste Violations

Ohio University (OU) has worked with Ohio EPA to properly close areas where paint wastes and fluorescent lamps had been stored without proper permits or oversight. The university is now in compliance.

OU generates hazardous waste, including paint-related waste and mercury-containing fluorescent lamps. OU does not hold a hazardous waste installation and operation permit. In August 2008, Ohio EPA inspected OU’s Athens campus and found OU had stored paint waste and fluorescent lamps at a group of buildings known as The Ridges without the required hazardous waste installation and operation permit. Ohio EPA also determined OU did not adequately train employees involved in hazardous waste management; equip its hazardous waste storage areas with emergency equipment; nor properly characterize, manage, label, and inspect wastes, among other violations.

Rather than applying for a hazardous waste permit, OU agreed to properly close the two unpermitted areas within The Ridges.

EPA Announces $3.3 Million Settlement with DuPont for Failure to Report Toxic Chemical Studies

EPA announced that DuPont has agreed to pay a penalty of $3.3 million to resolve 57 Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) violations. DuPont failed to immediately notify EPA of research indicating substantial risk found during testing chemicals for possible use as surface protection, masonry protection, water repellants, sealants, and paints. TSCA requires companies to inform EPA when they have research demonstrating that a chemical could pose a substantial risk to human health and the environment.

“DuPont failed to comply with the law and notify EPA that it had information on chemicals that could pose a risk to human health and the environment,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “EPA is serious about making companies follow our nation’s laws and protecting public health.

On May 5, 2006, DuPont notified EPA that it had failed to submit chemical toxicity studies on rats as required by TSCA Section 8(e). On July 12, 2006, DuPont submitted studies that contained information on chemical toxicity when certain chemicals are inhaled. EPA determined that 57 of the studies contained information on chemicals that could present a substantial risk of injury to health or the environment and therefore subject to the TSCA Section 8(e). Full compliance with TSCA reporting requirements allows EPA to understand and limit, when necessary, potential hazards associated with manufacturing, use, and disposal of chemical substances.

DuPont is a chemical manufacturer that provides products and services for markets including agriculture, nutrition, electronics, communications, safety and protection, home and construction, transportation, and apparel. DuPont is based in Wilmington, Delaware, and operates in approximately 90 countries.

EPA Provides Easier Access to Chemical Information

EPA has introduced a new web-based tool that will enable you to search for and have easy access to health and safety studies on industrial chemicals. As part of Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s continued efforts to enhance EPA’s chemical management program and increase transparency, the chemical data access tool allows users to conduct a chemical-specific search for health and safety studies that have been submitted to the agency under TSCA. The tool will also be added to www.Data.Gov, a website developed by the Obama Administration to provide public access to important government information.

“The new Chemical Data Access Tool will for the first time give the public the ability to electronically search EPA’s database of more than 10,000 health and safety documents on a wide range of chemicals that they may come into contact with every day,” said Steve Owens, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “This is just the latest in a series of significant steps the agency is taking to empower the public with greater access to critical information on the chemicals manufactured and used in this country.”

Under TSCA, companies are required to submit health and safety studies to the agency when they show there may be a substantial risk, when chemical testing is required, or to facilitate EPA’s review of new chemicals. The public now will be able to have easy access to these studies simply by searching for the name of a chemical or for a particular word or phrase, such as a health or safety concern addressed in a study.

In addition to making the health and safety studies more accessible, EPA is taking aggressive action to reduce companies’ efforts to keep the identity of the chemicals confidential when health and safety studies are submitted to the agency.

Chromium-6 is Widespread in U.S. Tap Water

Laboratory tests commissioned by Environmental Working Group (EWG) have detected hexavalent chromium, the carcinogenic “Erin Brockovich chemical,” in tap water from 31 of 35 American cities. The highest levels were in Norman, Oklahoma; Honolulu, Hawaii; and Riverside, California. In all, water samples from 25 cities contained the toxic metal at concentrations above the safe maximum recently proposed by California regulators (see full report).

The National Toxicology Program (NTP) has concluded that hexavalent chromium (also called chromium-6) in drinking water shows “clear evidence of carcinogenic activity” in laboratory animals, increasing the risk of gastrointestinal tumors. In September 2010, a draft toxicological review by the EPA similarly found that hexavalent chromium in tap water is “likely to be carcinogenic to humans.”

In 2009, California officials proposed setting a public health goal for hexavalent chromium in drinking water of 0.06 parts per billion (ppb) to reduce cancer risk. This was the first step toward establishing a statewide enforceable limit. Despite mounting evidence of its toxic effects, the EPA has not set a legal limit for hexavalent chromium in tap water nationally and does not require water utilities to test for it. In 25 cities where EWG’s testing detected chromium-6—in the first publicly available national survey for the contaminant—it was found in concentrations exceeding California’s proposed maximum, in one case at a level more than 200 times higher.

At least 74 million Americans in 42 states drink chromium-polluted tap water, much of it likely in the cancer-causing hexavalent form. Given the scope of exposure and the magnitude of the potential risk, EWG recommended that the EPA should move expeditiously to establish a legal limit for chromium-6 and require public water suppliers to test for it.

Just two days after the release of EWG’s analysis, the EPA has issued a comprehensive plan to help local water utilities address the problem. On December 21, EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson met with Senators Richard Durbin (IL), Mark Kirk (IL), Debbie Stabenow (MI), Bob Casey (PA), Ben Nelson (NE), Bill Nelson (FL), Daniel Akaka (HI), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Jeff Bingaman (NM), and Jeff Merkley (OR) to brief them on the issue of chromium-6 in drinking water as it relates to the EWG report. The following is a statement from Administrator Lisa P. Jackson regarding that meeting:

“Yesterday, I briefed members of the Senate on chromium-6 in drinking water supplies as it relates to the recent Environmental Working Group report. EPA has already been working to review and incorporate the ground-breaking science referenced in this report. However, as a mother and the head of EPA, I am still concerned about the prevalence of chromium-6 in our drinking water.

Today, I am announcing a series of actions that the EPA will take over the coming days to address chromium-6 in our drinking water. It is clear that the first step is to understand the prevalence of this problem. While the EWG study was informative, it only provided a snapshot in time. EPA will work with local and state officials to get a better picture of exactly how widespread this problem is. In the meantime, EPA will issue guidance to all water systems in the country to help them develop monitoring and sampling programs specifically for chromium-6. We will also offer significant technical assistance to the communities cited in the EWG report with the highest levels of chromium-6 to help ensure they quickly develop an effective chromium-6 specific monitoring program.

The science behind chromium-6 is evolving. EPA is already on a path toward identifying and addressing any potential health threats from excessive, long-term exposure with its new draft assessment released this past fall. This assessment still needs to be reviewed by independent scientists as an essential step toward tightening drinking water standards for chromium-6. Strong science and the law will continue to be the backbone of our decision-making at EPA. EPA takes this matter seriously and we will continue to do all that we can, using good science and the law, to protect people’s health and our environment.”

PSNH Fined for Air Pollution Violations

Commissioner Thomas S. Burack of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) announced the execution of an Administrative Fine by Consent agreement with Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) for Schiller Station, an electricity generating power station in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The fines resolve alleged violations of the State’s Air Pollution Control Act that occurred at the facility.

The PSNH generating station has three units. In 2005, an existing 50-megawatt coal-fired boiler was replaced with a 50-megawatt wood-fired fluidized bed boiler with coal firing capability, also known as the Northern Wood Power Project. The federal Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) Permit for that unit (Unit #5) contains emission limits for various air pollutants, including particulate matter and nitrogen oxides. PSNH operates a baghouse with fabric filters for control of particulate matter, a limestone injection system for control of sulfur dioxide and acid gases, and a selective non-catalytic reduction unit for control of nitrogen oxide emissions. Among other things, the PSD permit requires PSNH to conduct annual stack emissions testing to ensure that Unit #5 meets the limits in the PSD permit.

Under the terms of the agreement, PSNH has paid administrative fines totaling $53,000 to the State for alleged violations of its air permit. The fines resolve allegations by DES that violations occurred when stack test results demonstrated that Unit #5 exceeded the particulate matter emission limit. After determining the cause of the problem and performing maintenance, PSNH conducted another stack test, which demonstrated that emissions were subsequently in compliance with the particulate matter emission limit. Both stack tests were observed by DES staff. In settling this case, DES took into account PSNH’s positive environmental compliance history, its cooperation in this matter, and the efforts it took to identify and correct the root cause of the problem in a timely manner.

For information on this settlement, contact Pam Monroe, DES Compliance Bureau Administrator, at 603-271-0882.

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Trivia Question of the Week

How many miles of ribbon used to wrap gifts gets trashed each year?
a. 380 miles
b. 3,800 miles
c. 38,000 miles
d. 380,000 miles
Answer