EPA Issues Guidance for Using Diesel Fuel in Oil and Gas Hydraulic Fracturing
The EPA recently released draft underground injection control (UIC) program permitting guidance for class II wells that use diesel fuels during hydraulic fracturing activities. EPA developed the draft guidance to clarify how companies can comply with a law passed by Congress in 2005, which exempted hydraulic fracturing operations from the requirement to obtain a UIC permit, except in cases where diesel fuel is used as a fracturing fluid.
The draft guidance outlines for EPA permit writers, where EPA is the permitting authority, requirements for diesel fuels used for hydraulic fracturing wells, technical recommendations for permitting those wells, and a description of diesel fuels for EPA underground injection control permitting. The draft guidance describes diesel fuels for these purposes by reference to six chemical abstract services (CAS) registry numbers. The agency is requesting input on this description.
While this guidance undergoes public notice and comment, decisions about permitting hydraulic fracturing operations that use diesel fuels will be made on a case-by-case basis, considering the facts and circumstances of the specific injection activity and applicable statutes, regulations and case law, and will not cite this draft guidance as a basis for decision.
EPA continues to work with states, industry, and other stakeholders to help ensure that natural gas is developed safely and responsibly.
EPA will take public comment on the draft guidance for 60 days upon publication in the Federal Register to allow for stakeholder input before it is finalized.
40-Hour and 24-Hour HAZWOPER Training
Environmental Resource Center will offer 40-Hour Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) training May 14–18, and 24-Hour HAZWOPER training May 14–16, in Cary, North Carolina. To register for either HAZWOPER course, click here or call 1-800-537-2372.
Hilton Head RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course (RCRA) and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course, in Hilton Head, South Carolina, from May 23–25 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 1-800-537-2372.
Orlando RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course (RCRA) and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course, in Orlando, Florida, from May 30–June 1 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 1-800-537-2372.
Baltimore RCRA, DOT, and IATA/IMO Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course (RCRA) and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course, in Baltimore, Maryland, from June 5–7 and save $100. Transportation of Dangerous Goods: Compliance with IATA and IMO Regulations will be offered in Baltimore on June 8. To take advantage of the discount offer for the Baltimore RCRA and DOT combination, or to register for any of the Baltimore training courses, click here or call 1-800-537-2372.
How to Prepare for OSHA’s Globally Harmonized Hazard Communication Standard (GHS)
OSHA has issued a final rule revising its Hazard Communication Standard, aligning it with the United Nations’ globally harmonized system (GHS) for the classification and labeling of hazardous chemicals. This means that virtually every product label, material safety data sheet (now called “safety data sheet” or SDS), and written hazard communication plan must be revised to meet the new standard. Worker training must be updated so that workers can recognize and understand the symbols and pictograms on the new labels as well as the new hazard statements and precautions on SDSs.
Environmental Resource Center is offering webcast training for you to learn how the new rule differs from current requirements, how to implement the changes, and when the changes must be implemented. Register for an upcoming webcast on How to Prepare for OSHA’s Globally Harmonized Hazard Communication Standard (GHS) offered on the following dates:
- May 18
- June 26
- July 18
- August 15
- October 2
Environmental Advocates Challenge EPA Effort to Extend Controversial Air Pollution Rules
Earthjustice filed a lawsuit asking the Washington D.C. Circuit of the US Court of Appeals to vacate guidance issued by the EPA that extends weak regulations governing how states must meet national air pollution standards for fine particulate matter. EPA quietly issued the guidance on March 2, 2012, without any official announcement in violation of procedural requirements outlined in the Clean Air Act (CAA) and Administrative Procedure Act. Earthjustice acted on behalf of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).
Under the CAA, states with polluted areas that do not meet national air quality standards must put together a plan describing how the area will reduce pollution levels to meet the national standards. In 2007, the Bush administration adopted regulations specifying how states should prepare plans to meet the 1997 national particulate matter standards. Environmental advocates are currently challenging those regulations for failing to comply with the requirements of the CAA. On March 2, without providing any opportunity for the public to review or comment on the decision, the Obama EPA issued an internal “guidance” memorandum extending the prior regulations to cover state planning requirements for the newer, more protective fine particulate matter standard adopted in 2006.
“The EPA has tried to slip this extension through without any public input, ignoring a clear legal obligation to give citizens a say in the proceedings,” commented Paul Cort, an attorney with the public interest law firm Earthjustice. “The court has yet to decide the legality of the original planning regulations, so we want EPA to withdraw this new guidance until we have regulations that comply with the CAA.”
John Walke, Director of NRDC’s Clean Air Program agreed, “Soot and smoke in the air we breathe are a serious threat to people and the environment, and it has taken years of hard work to strengthen the air quality standards that all areas of the country must meet. We can’t allow EPA to undermine those standards by adopting implementation regulations that do not comply with the law, and we certainly should not expect EPA to make such important decisions behind closed doors.”
Airborne particulate matter is comprised of tiny particles of smoke, soot, metals, and other chemical compounds emitted from sources like power plants, factories, and diesel trucks. These microscopic particles can penetrate deep into lungs, making them one of the most toxic forms of air pollution. Scientific studies show that particulate matter can aggravate respiratory illnesses and cause tens of thousands of premature deaths nationwide every year. Particulate matter is also responsible for much of the haze that clouds many of our cities and parklands.
Ohio Companies and Government Agencies to Pay $5.5 Million Settlement for Damages from Hazardous Releases
The Department of Justice and Ohio Attorney General have reached a proposed settlement of claims for injuries to natural resources caused by past releases and discharges of hazardous substances into the lower Ashtabula River and Harbor in northeast Ohio. The consent decree, valued at approximately $5.5 million, was filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio on behalf of the designated natural resource trustees, including the Department of the Interior, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and Ohio EPA.
“This agreement will compensate the public for precious natural resources that were damaged by hazardous pollutants released into the Ashtabula watershed over more than half a century,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “The settlement also fosters the restoration of wildlife habitat and recreational resources along the Ashtabula that the people of Ohio will be able to enjoy for many years to come.”
“Completion of these negotiations marks a major milestone in our collective efforts to restore the Ashtabula River,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “Careful stewardship of our waterways and natural resources will ensure that they can be enjoyed by our kids and grandkids. The federal and state trustees are to be commended for their diligent efforts.”
“This settlement is the result of close coordination among the natural resource trustees, local community stakeholders, and the responsible parties,” said US Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Regional Director Tom Melius. “This successful collaboration has resulted in a win-win proposition for the Ashtabula River basin community, enabling community enjoyment of the outdoors and wildlife while promoting a healthy community economy.”
The agreement provides for the acquisition of several ecologically-valuable properties along the Ashtabula River, implementation of habitat restoration projects and land use restrictions to protect restoration properties, and reimbursement of natural resource damage assessment costs incurred by the natural resource trustees.
“It is important to maintain recreational and economic vitality along the Ashtabula River,” said Ohio EPA Director Scott Nally. “Our Agency will continue to work to restore and protect this great resource that is an essential part of these Northeast Ohio communities.”
Complaints filed by the US and state of Ohio allege that at various times since the 1940s, numerous industrial facilities in Ashtabula released hazardous pollutants to the river including polychlorinated biphenyls, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, chlorinated solvents, and low-level radioactive materials. The released hazardous substances injured natural resources in the Ashtabula River and Harbor, resulting in fish consumption advisories and impaired navigational use of the river. To compensate the public for the value of impaired or lost natural resources, the complainants sought damages from parties that allegedly owned or operated (either directly or through predecessors) facilities where hazardous substances were released and from parties that allegedly arranged for disposal of hazardous substances at one or more of the facilities. Eighteen companies are participating in the settlement. Several federal agencies are also responsible for making payments totaling approximately $768,800.
Dredging projects carried out under the Great Lakes Legacy Act and the Water Resources Development Act removed almost 600,000 cubic yards of contaminated sediments from the lower Ashtabula River between 2006 and 2008. The responsible parties previously contributed approximately $23 million toward the cost of the sediment cleanup, and many of the parties also participated in a cleanup of the Fields Brook Superfund site, an alleged source of contamination in the lower Ashtabula River.
With contamination already dredged from the river, the proposed settlement targets habitat enhancement and protection. Under the consent decree, restoration projects approved by the natural resource trustees will be implemented by two groups of responsible parties—a group of four railroad companies and a separate group of 14 companies known as the Ashtabula River Cooperating Group II (ARCG II).
The railroads will implement a restoration project on a 6.4 acre riparian parcel known as the 5½ Slip Peninsula, which abuts a fish habitat enhancement project previously constructed as part of the Great Lakes Legacy Act sediment cleanup project. The restoration project will include replacing invasive plant species with a diverse array of native plants, excavating a channel across the peninsula to establish a hydrologic connection between the 5½ Slip and main channel of the Ashtabula River, and establishing an area of emergent wetland habitat along the newly constructed channel. Land use restrictions will be established on the 5 ½ Slip peninsula to protect the character of the restored property.
ARCG II has agreed to develop and implement various restoration projects identified in the consent decree. One of the restoration properties, known as the former CDM property, is a 28-acre riverfront parcel along the northern boundary of Indian Trails Park. The restoration project will include enhancing a six-acre wetland area through invasive species control; planting a diverse array of native vegetation; and installing other improvements, including a canoe launch, boardwalk, and small parking area to facilitate public use of the property.
Five other ARCG II restoration properties identified in the decree contain high natural resource value, including rare fen habitat, old growth forest, and areas that provide ideal habitat and foraging for various threatened or endangered species. These properties occupy more than 200 acres and include 3.4 miles of river frontage. Some adjoin or are close to park areas held by the Ashtabula Township Park Commission. Collectively, these properties will preserve a natural corridor along an urbanized stretch of river.
In addition to restoration properties already acquired by ARCG II, the proposed settlement allows trustees to identify additional properties for possible acquisition and restoration. ARCG II agreed to spend up to $1.45 million to acquire and restore additional properties.
The trustees will approve all restoration work. The restoration properties will ultimately be transferred to park districts, non-profit organizations, or other institutions acceptable to the trustees. The properties also will be subject to environmental covenants that establish land use restrictions designed to preserve the natural resource value of the properties.
The proposed settlement is subject to approval by the district court following a 30 day public comment period. A copy of the consent decree will be available at www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.
Waste Tire Transporter Arrested for Felony Waste Tire Fund Violations
Investigators within the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) arrested a waste tire transporter on numerous felony counts related to the Louisiana Waste Tire Management Fund.
Majella Green, a waste tire transporter employed by Reds Transport, is being charged with 58 counts of forgery, 58 counts of filing a false public record, one count of theft of approximately $7,715, and one count of Waste Tire Fund fraud greater than $500. Green allegedly inflated the number of eligible tires and/or forged the names of legitimate tire generators on manifests so that he could be reimbursed by Colt Tire, a waste tire processor.
A fee on the sale of a tire is collected by the retail tire dealership and remitted to DEQ to be deposited into the Louisiana Waste Tire Management Fund. The Generator’s Waste Tire Manifest was developed to ensure the proper transportation and processing of all waste tires generated within the state. The Waste Tire Management Fund is established by law and is used to compensate processors and transporters for the efficient reuse of these products from registered sites, transported by registered drivers. Upon waste tire pick up, waste tire transporters are required to prepare a manifest indicating where the tires originated, the number of eligible tires collected, and the number of ineligible tires collected. The manifest is then signed by the generator and transporter.
If convicted of the crime of forgery, Green faces possible imprisonment for not more than ten years with or without hard labor, or a fine of not more than $5,000, or both. If convicted of the crime of filing false public records, Green faces possible imprisonment for not more than five years with or without hard labor, or a fine of not more than $5,000, or both. If convicted of the crime of theft, Green faces possible imprisonment for not more than ten years with or without hard labor, or a fine of not more than $3,000, or both. If convicted of the crime of Waste Tire Fund Fraud and the fraudulent taking amounts to a value of $500 or more, Green faces imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not more than ten years, or may be fined not more than $3,000, or both.
Green was arrested by DEQ CID investigators in February 2011 for nearly identical charges. On March 8, 2012, Green pled guilty to one count of forgery; whereupon he received a suspended sentenced of five years hard labor, plus five years of supervised probation.
RW Products Fined More than $21,000 for Illegally Dumping Drilling Mud
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has fined RW Products LLC, of Wheeling, West Virginia, $21,029 for the illegal disposal of a reported 800 gallons of waste drilling mud on State Game Lands 219, in December 2011.
“A driver for RW Products admitted that he intentionally dumped a load of oil-based waste drilling mud onto the ground,” North-central Waste Management Program Manager Patrick Brennan said. “This violated the Pennsylvania Solid Waste Management Act and the department’s penalty reflects this blatant disregard for the environment.”
The drilling mud was transported about 2.3 miles from Talisman Energy USA’s Strope gas well pad to Reagan Hill Road, where it was illegally dumped. Talisman conducted the cleanup of the mud and contaminated soil, which was properly disposed at the Hyland Landfill in Angelica, New York.
The fine has been paid to the state’s Solid Waste Abatement Fund.
The driver was arrested by the Pennsylvania State Police shortly after the dumping and has pleaded guilty to a second-degree misdemeanor charge of criminal mischief. He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 17.
Portland Chemical Manufacturer Failed to Publicly Disclose Data on Chemical Use
Kanto Corporation, a Portland, Oregon chemical manufacturer, failed to report the use of toxic chemicals at its facility in violation of community right-to-know laws, according to a settlement with the EPA. The company has agreed to correct violations of the federal Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) Program and pay a fine.
Kanto Corporation is a chemical manufacturing company whose products are primarily used in the manufacture of semiconductors.
EPA found that the company used over 25,000 lb each of ammonia, hydrogen fluoride, and nitric acid in 2009 and failed to report information on its use of those chemicals. These toxic chemicals can affect the eyes, skin, and respiratory system.
Under the terms of the settlement, the company has resolved the violations and will pay a penalty of $58,200.
Under the federal TRI Program, companies that use certain toxic chemicals are required to report annually about releases, transfers, and waste management activities involving toxic chemicals at their facilities. The TRI Program falls under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA), which aims to inform communities and citizens of chemical hazards in their neighborhoods.
In Fracking Secrecy Court Case, Newspapers Get Support from Doctors, Scientists, Advocates
In a court case over gas industry secrecy, doctors, scientists, researchers, and advocates are lending support to newspapers fighting for access to information that could shed light on the health impacts of gas development, including the controversial process known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Observer-Reporter are seeking to overturn a court order sealing the record in a case in which a Pennsylvania family sued several gas companies over health impacts related to air and water pollution from nearby natural gas development operations. The companies are fighting to keep the records out of the public eye.
Represented by the nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice, the group—Philadelphia Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy, Dr. Bernard D. Goldstein, Dr. Walter Tsou, Dr. Jerome A. Paulson, Dr. William Rom, Dr. Mehernosh P. Khan, Dr. Sandra Steingraber, Dr. Simona Perry, Dr. Robert Oswald, Dr. Michelle Bamberger, Kathryn Vennie, and Earthworks—filed an amicus brief supporting the newspapers. The newspapers also filed briefs in the case.
“Understanding and preventing any health risks from gas development depends on public access to information on the industry,” said Earthjustice attorney Matthew Gerhart, who filed the brief on behalf of the group. “The gas industry should spend less time trying to conceal information and more time disclosing information necessary to understand the true risks of fracking and gas development.”
The initial case against the gas industry was brought by Stephanie and Chris Hallowich, who after moving their family to a farm in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania, found themselves surrounded by the expanding natural gas industry as companies built wells on their property and gas processing facilities nearby. The health of the parents and children quickly deteriorated and they began suffering unexplained headaches, nosebleeds, burning eyes, and sore throats.
“In order to treat patients exposed to toxins from gas development, doctors need access to a wide range of information,” said Dr. Jerome Paulson, Children’s National Medical Center. “The gas industry has information that could prove vital to our patient’s health and we are asking the court to make it available.”
After unsuccessfully trying to get state regulators and nearby companies to address the problem, the family sued, eventually settling with the companies and abandoning their home. As a condition of the settlement, the companies insisted that the Hallowiches sign a non-disclosure agreement. These types of non-disclosure agreements have proven to be the norm in such lawsuits against the gas industry, as demonstrated in related cases in Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Texas, and West Virginia.
Prior to the agreement, the Hallowiches had been outspoken critics of gas industry abuses. But like so many others bound by industry-mandated non-disclosure agreements, the family has not been able to speak out about the case since the court settlement.
“People living in communities where the gas industry operates have important firsthand knowledge of the impacts of gas development. But time and again, these people are silenced by industry-mandated non-disclosure agreements in lawsuits as well as leases,” said Dr. Simona Perry, Research Scientist, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. “As their neighbors struggle to contend with these impacts, they are unable to share their knowledge. Whole communities are impacted as a result.”
These nondisclosure agreements are just one example of a wide-ranging pattern of industry secrecy. Industry has lobbied for, and won, exemptions from portions of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA), and other federal laws with important right-to-know requirements. In Wyoming, the gas industry has fought against a state law requiring that it disclose the identities of chemicals used in fracking, submitting claims to keep secret more than a hundred chemicals. In Pennsylvania, industry lobbied for Act 13 which, among other things, seeks to limit information doctors can share about health problems linked to gas development activities.
“From Wyoming to Pennsylvania and Colorado to Louisiana, the gas industry is fighting to keep the toxic secrets of drilling out of the public eye and to retain special exemptions to the laws that protect public health and the environment,” said Bruce Baizel, Staff Attorney, Earthworks. “They claim that what they do is safe, but if it is, why do they have so much to hide? We intend to find out.”
The case comes as the nation undergoes a fracking-enabled gas drilling boom. Along with this boom have come troubling reports of poisoned drinking water, polluted air, mysterious animal deaths, and sick families. But industry loopholes in right-to-know laws have made it difficult for researchers to study health and environmental impacts.
“Scientists studying the health and environmental impacts of fracking and gas development need data in order to do their job,” said Stan Scobie, PhD, Senior Fellow, Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy. “The gas industry may prefer that we not have the information we need, but the public good clearly outweighs industry’s preference for secrecy.”
In instances where individuals prefer to keep the details of their court settlement sealed, they will typically intervene in any legal challenges to unseal the records. In this case, the Hallowiches have not intervened in the appeal.
EPA Fines Three Companies over $141,000 for Failing to Close Cesspools
The EPA has resolved federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) cases against the Jazmin Family Trust, GLACS LLC, and Hula Daddy Kona Coffee with fines totaling $141,200 for failing to close their large capacity cesspools in Hawaii.
“EPA remains steadfast in protecting Hawaii’s vital water resources,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Over 2,800 large cesspools have been closed, but an alarming 1,200 are still in use. We are working to shut these illegal cesspools down.”
The Jazmin Family Trust owns and operates the Kailua Vista Apartments in Kailua-Kona and received a penalty of $60,000 for continued operation of two large capacity cesspools at the apartment complex. The two cesspools will be closed when the apartment building is connected to a proposed extension of the Hawaii County sewer system, expected by October 2013.
EPA penalized GLACS LLC, $68,000 for operation of ten large capacity cesspools, eight at the Pottery Terrace Commercial Properties and two at the Lenders Document Commercial Building in Kailua-Kona. GLACS LLC, closed all of the cesspools in June 2011. The company connected the Pottery Terrace properties to the local municipal sewer and installed a state-approved individual wastewater system at the Lenders Document building.
Hula Daddy Kona Coffee operates a visitor center and tasting room for a coffee plantation in Holualoa and received a penalty of $13,200 for installing a new cesspool after the April 5, 2000, ban on the construction of large capacity cesspools. The company built the facility and began operating the new cesspool in August 2008. In September 2010, an EPA inspection and investigation prompted the owners to install a state-approved septic system, closing the cesspool in December 2010.
A large capacity cesspool discharges untreated sewage from multiple dwellings, or a non-residential location that serves 20 or more people per day. EPA’s Large Capacity Cesspools Ban prohibited new large capacity cesspool construction after April 2000 and required closure of existing large cesspools as of April 2005. The regulations do not apply to single-family homes connected to their own individual cesspools.
Cesspools, which are used more widely in Hawaii than any other state, discharge raw sewage into the ground, where disease-causing pathogens and other contaminants can pollute groundwater, streams, and the ocean. Large capacity cesspools are used by restaurants, hotels, office complexes, and multiple dwellings, such as duplexes, apartments, and condominiums to dispose their sanitary waste.
Companies Fined for Failing to Notify Tenants about Lead Paint at Two Navy Bases
Two companies have agreed to pay a penalty of $89,300 to settle EPA claims that they violated federal lead paint disclosure laws at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, and the Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Connecticut.
In a recent EPA enforcement complaint, EPA alleged that Northeast Housing, LLC, and Balfour Beatty Military Housing Management, LLC, failed on multiple occasions to notify prospective tenants, including families with young children, about potential lead paint hazards in housing managed by the companies on the two Navy bases in New England. Specifically, the companies failed to comply with the Lead Based Paint Disclosure Rule when they entered into contracts to lease housing with military personnel during the years 2007–2010 by failing to provide available records and reports regarding lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards to 13 lessees (ten lessees at Portsmouth and three lessees at the Connecticut base). Nine of the lessees were families with children, including seven families with children under the age of six.
Notifying prospective tenants of housing units helps parents protect young children from exposure to lead-based paint hazards. Infants and young children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure, which can cause intelligence quotient deficiencies, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity, and behavior problems. Adults with high lead levels can suffer difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, nerve disorders, memory problems, and muscle and joint pain.
Many homes built before 1978 have lead-based paint. The federal government banned lead-based paint from housing in 1978. The purpose of the Lead Disclosure Rule is to provide residential renters and purchasers of pre-1978 housing with enough information about lead-based paint in general and known lead-based paint hazards in specific housing, so that they can make informed decisions about whether to lease or purchase the housing.
The housing at both bases is owned by Northeast, a joint venture limited liability company between the Department of the Navy and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Balfour Beatty Communities, LLC, of which the BBC affiliate is the managing member. There are approximately 25 pre-1978 housing units located at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, where housing was built in the 1800s and early 1900s. There are approximately 735 pre-1978 housing units at the Naval Submarine Base in Groton which were built in the early 1960s.
Northeast Housing and Balfour Beatty Military Housing Management cooperated with EPA in promptly correcting the violations and in reaching a quick settlement.
Sentara Norfolk General Hospital Settles Hazardous Waste Violations
Sentara Norfolk General Hospital has agreed to pay a $19,920 penalty to settle alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations at its medical facility, located in Norfolk, Virginia. EPA cited Sentara for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the federal law governing the proper treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste.
Following an inspection by EPA and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ), EPA alleges Sentara failed to properly label and date containers of chemical waste. These RCRA requirements are preventative and ensure that public health and the environment are protected from potential cleanup situations if an incident occurs.
The $19,920 settlement penalty reflects the company’s compliance efforts, and its cooperation with EPA in the investigation and resolution of this matter. As part of the settlement, Sentara has neither admitted nor denied liability for the alleged violations, but has certified its compliance with applicable RCRA requirements.
MPCA Cites Keewatin Mining Facility for Air Quality Violations
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has come to an agreement with Magnetation, LLC, following an investigation into state air quality violations adjacent to its Keewatin, Minnesota mining facility. The company has agreed to create a plan to eliminate future excess dust emissions, conduct air quality monitoring, and determine whether the facility should obtain an air quality permit.
Magnetation will also pay a $40,000 penalty. The penalty is based on several factors, including how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it was a first time or repeat violation and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. The MPCA also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by failure to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.
The agency determined that the Magnetation facility began to periodically violate Minnesota’s fugitive, or airborne, dust rule within three months of starting operations in February 2009. The rule requires that facilities take steps to control avoidable amounts of particulate matter (dust emissions) from sources such as mining, roads, ore handling and stockpiles, and prevent them from becoming airborne.
The MPCA issued the company a violation notice in July 2010 and required specific corrective actions to resolve excessive dust emissions originating at the Magnetation facility. The company complied within the required timeframe; however, the actions proved insufficient because tailings dust exceedances occurred again between October and December 2011. Dust emissions were documented by Keewatin residents’ complaints and photos, reports from the Keewatin police, and MPCA site inspections in the fall of 2011. Dust samples collected in Keewatin by the inspector were analyzed and found to be from the same source as those he collected on the Magnetation property.
The company re-processes mine tailings from past mining operations on site and sells the resulting concentrated iron-bearing material for processing into iron and steel. In recent months, Magnetation staff have substantially increased their dust control activities to minimize future emissions and impacts.
Manson Construction Fined $10,000 for Fuel Spill into Waterway
Seattle, Washington-based Manson Construction Co., has been fined $10,000 by the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology) for spilling some 177 gallons of diesel fuel from a 195-foot barge into the Port of Tacoma’s Blair Waterway.
The penalty was levied because it is illegal to spill oil or fuel into the waters of the state and because Ecology determined the spill was a negligent oil spill. The Blair Waterway is a heavily industrialized waterway, parts of which are included in the Commencement Bay EPA Superfund site.
Ecology also is billing the company $2,800 to recover the state’s costs for conducting the spill cleanup. State law requires entities that spill fuel to reimburse the state for spill response.
The spill occurred on the morning of October 29, 2010, when the company was transferring fuel from the tug Nancy M to the fuel tank of the barge Andrew. The company failed to monitor the transfer and the tank level of the Andrew, and consequently diesel fuel overflowed from the Andrew’s fuel tank vent.
The vessels were moored just offshore of the Washington United Terminal at the time of the spill. The barge was being used for a clamshell dredging operation. Dredging resumed during the fuel transfer, leading to a lack of oversight for the fuel transfer.
Manson Construction Company, Ecology, and the US Coast Guard responded to the incident.
Sachet said, “Quick action by the barge and tug crew resulted in 168 gallons recovered from the water out of 177 spilled to water. However, anytime that any amount of fuel is spilled into a waterway it causes damage.”
Landowner Investigated for Burning Asbestos-Containing Materials
A landowner has been investigated by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for the burning of a house and other structures that contained materials such as painted wood, painted metal, vinyl siding, and appliances in October 2011.
The MPCA conducted a follow-up inspection a month after the initial incident, after receiving a report that the landowner, Reed Burgstahler, had burned additional buildings at the site. Agency staff found three additional burn areas that included ash, wood, shingles, painted wood, paint cans, asphalt roofing, and garbage. Some of the materials later tested positive for asbestos.
Asbestos refers to a group of minerals with long, thin fibers that do not burn and were once used in building materials. The fibers are too small to by seen by human eyes. If people inhale asbestos, the fibers can become lodged in their lungs, affecting breathing and leading to diseases such as cancer.
The burning of buildings violated state laws that require permits for waste disposal, prohibit open burning unless meeting certain conditions, require removal of asbestos-containing materials before demolition, and require submission of a notice to perform a demolition to the MPCA. These laws are designed to prevent contamination of land and water resources as well as protect air quality.
Burgstahler has agreed to pay a $14,500 penalty for the incidents, which occurred in an abandoned farm grove.
In addition to the financial penalty, Burgstahler must clean up the site and dispose of the waste at a facility with the appropriate permits. He is also being required to submit a letter to the editor of The Land, a statewide farm publication, informing readers that it is illegal to burn old farm buildings and improperly dispose of the debris.
The settlement, known as a stipulation agreement, is one of the tools used to achieve compliance with environmental laws. Under a stipulation agreement, the regulated party agrees to perform certain actions to correct the problem and prevent it from occurring again. Monetary penalties are also sometimes assessed. When calculating penalties, the MPCA takes into account how seriously the violation affected the environment, whether it was a first-time or repeat violation, and how promptly the violation was reported to appropriate authorities. The agency also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit gained by the regulated party by failing to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.
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Trivia Question of the Week
Low Mercury Fluorescent Lamps are frequently identified with a green end cap and are commonly called green tipped bulbs. These low mercury lamps contain 3.5 to 4 milligrams of mercury. How much mercury is in a standard fluorescent bulb?a. 4 to 8 milligrams
b. 8 to 14 milligrams
c. 14 to 18 milligrams
d. 18 to 24 grams