New Rule on Solvent-Contaminated Wipes and Towels Expected Soon
In 2003, EPA proposed to modify the hazardous waste regulations for management of solvent-contaminated industrial wipes to conditionally exclude wipes that are disposed of from the definition of hazardous waste and to conditionally exclude laundered wipes from the definition of solid waste.
Based on comments received on the proposal, EPA revised its risk analysis used to evaluate the risks to human health and the environment if solvent-contaminated wipes or laundry sludge are disposed of in a municipal solid waste landfill.
EPA’s revised rule was sent to the Office of Management and Budget on April 23. According to EPA’s Regulatory Agenda, the rule is expected to be published as a final regulation sometime in June of this year. When finalized, this regulation will impact the management of both wipes disposed of in land disposal units or by combustion after use, and wipes that are laundered after use to remove the solvent and then are used again.
Nanotube Sponge has Potential in Oil Spill Cleanup
A carbon nanotube sponge that can soak up oil in water with unparalleled efficiency has been developed with help from computational simulations performed at the DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).
Carbon nanotubes, which consist of atom-thick sheets of carbon rolled into cylinders, have captured scientific attention in recent decades because of their high strength, potential high conductivity and lightweight. But producing nanotubes in bulk for specialized applications was often limited by difficulties in controlling the growth process as well as dispersing and sorting the produced nanotubes.
ORNL’s Bobby Sumpter was part of a multi-institutional research team that set out to grow large clumps of nanotubes by selectively substituting boron atoms into the otherwise pure carbon lattice. Sumpter and Vincent Meunier, now of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, conducted simulations on supercomputers, including Jaguar at ORNL’s Leadership Computing Facility, to understand how the addition of boron would affect the carbon nanotube structure.
“Any time you put a different atom inside the hexagonal carbon lattice, which is a chicken wire-like network, you disrupt that network because those atoms don’t necessarily want to be part of the chicken wire structure,” Sumpter said. “Boron has a different number of valence electrons, which results in curvature changes that trigger a different type of growth.”
Simulations and lab experiments showed that the addition of boron atoms encouraged the formation of so-called elbow junctions that help the nanotubes grow into a 3-D network. The team’s results are published in Nature Scientific Reports.
“Instead of a forest of straight tubes, you create an interconnected, woven sponge-like material,” Sumpter said. “Because it is interconnected, it becomes three-dimensionally strong, instead of only one-dimensionally strong along the tube axis.”
Further experiments showed the team’s material, which is visible to the human eye, is extremely efficient at absorbing oil in contaminated seawater because it attracts oil and repels water.
“It loves carbon because it is primarily carbon,” Sumpter said. “Depending on the density of oil to water content and the density of the sponge network, it will absorb up to 100 times its weight in oil.”
The material’s mechanical flexibility, magnetic properties, and strength lend it additional appeal as a potential technology to aid in oil spill cleanup, Sumpter says.
“You can reuse the material over and over again because it’s so robust,” he said. “Burning it does not substantially decrease its ability to absorb oil, and squeezing it like a sponge doesn’t damage it either.”
The material’s magnetic properties, caused by the team’s use of an iron catalyst during the nanotube growth process, means it can be easily controlled or removed with a magnet in an oil cleanup scenario. This ability is an improvement over existing substances used in oil removal, which are often left behind after cleanup and can degrade the environment.
The experimental team has submitted a patent application on the technology through Rice University. The research is published as Covalently Bonded Three-Dimensional Carbon Nanotube Solids via Boron Induced Nanojunctions.
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
Job Opening: Alcon – Health, Safety and Environment Manager (Fort Worth, Texas)
As a member of Alcon’s Divisional HSE Team, this individual will manage Alcon’s Global HSE Management programs and initiatives to support worldwide compliance. This opportunity is at Alcon’s Division Headquarters based in Fort Worth, Texas.
For more information contact David Smat at email@example.com. Information about Alcon (a Novartis Company), can be found at www.alcon.com. Responsibilities will include:
- Support HSE programs at Alcon’s worldwide sites to assure compliance in all areas of responsibility;
- Review and report to site management new or existing regulatory requirements and associated impacts;
- Monitor compliance with country, federal or state HSE regulations and internal Alcon standards;
- Ensure documentation systems are in place and maintained to properly document Alcon’s HSE obligations;
- Act as liaison with regulatory agencies, industry and professional organizations and peer pharmaceutical companies to bolster posture of Alcon’s HSE programs;
- Develop HSE global standards and guidelines to comply with regulatory requirements and internal (Novartis Corporate) HSE Guidelines and Guidance Notes;
- Conduct HSE audits of Alcon Manufacturing, R&D and Distribution facilities and programs to assure compliance with country, state, federal, local, or internal requirements;
- Participate in Alcon’s global ISO 14001 program (Lead Auditor experience a plus); and
- Develop HSE leading and lagging indicators along with associated auditing protocols.
Minimum Education Requirements: BS in Engineering or related science, and related principles and regulations. MS preferred.
Minimum Experience Requirements: 9 years related experience, preferably in a pharmaceutical manufacturing environment, with hands-on HSE management exposure. CSP or Professional Engineering (P.E.) registration is a plus.
Owners of Environmental Consulting Firm Charged with Fraud
The California State Attorney General’s Office has charged Kurt and Julie Hayden, owners of Hayden Environmental Inc., (HEI), a Santa Barbara, California-based environmental consulting firm, with fraudulently obtaining money from the State Water Resources Control Board’s (Water Board) Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund (Cleanup Fund).
The arrest and criminal charges of the Haydens came after agents searched the couple’s multi-million dollar residence in Santa Barbara and their vacation home at June Lake, California. Agents seized numerous boxes, which contained records implicating the Haydens in the fraud. If convicted, Kurt and Julie Hayden could each face up to five years in state prison.
The criminal complaints allege that the Haydens and their company, HEI, conspired to commit grand theft, committed grand theft, and presented fraudulent claims for reimbursement of work that was not performed, all of which are felonies under California law.
The Haydens are alleged to have received money from the Cleanup Fund for performing work in Santa Barbara during a time when the couple was known to be in Costa Rica. In addition, the complaints allege that the couple inflated invoices for other work, resulting in the Cleanup Fund overpaying as much as 200% on some charges, through overbilling for equipment and payroll.
The Cleanup Fund, which is financed by a two-cent per gallon gasoline tax, is used to reimburse up to $1.5 million per site for cleanup of petroleum releases at underground storage tank facilities around the state. As of Fiscal Year 2011-2012, there are approximately 3,700 active claims to the Cleanup Fund for reimbursement. The Cleanup Fund has reimbursed $2.9 billion for eligible costs since 1992; including approximately $255 million in FY 2010-2011. Approximately 6,500 Cleanup Fund sites have been cleaned up and closed since the program’s inception in 1989.
“These arrests and criminal filings should serve as a warning to other consultants and claimants that the State Water Board is committed to rooting out fraud against the Cleanup Fund, and will aggressively investigate and prosecute those who commit fraud to the maximum extent of the law,” said Cris Carrigan, Director of the State Water Board’s Office of Enforcement.
Carrigan said the Water Board’s Office of Enforcement also plans to file civil charges against the Haydens and HEI seeking restitution, fines, and penalties with the objective of reimbursing the Cleanup Fund.
Contractor Pleads Guilty to Falsifying Lead Inspection Reports
David B. Fein, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Michael E. Hubbard, Special Agent in Charge of the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, announced that John C. Scheerer, of Thomaston, Connecticut, waived his right to indictment and pleaded guilty before US District Judge Janet Bond Arterton in New Haven to one count of making a false statement in connection with home improvement projects funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
According to court documents and statements made in court, Scheerer had been hired to perform home improvement and lead abatement work on several residential properties throughout Connecticut. His work was funded in part by the HUD as part of a revitalization program that provides federal funds to various cities and towns in the state of Connecticut to be used to assist homeowners in repairing and updating residential homes. Upon completing his work at each property, Scheerer was required to hire an independent lead inspector to test for lead hazards and to obtain and submit a final lead clearance report stating that the testing was in compliance with HUD standards.
From March 2006 to March 2010, Scheerer falsified and fraudulently submitted approximately 30 lead abatement clearance reports for properties where he performed work funded by HUD. Instead of hiring an independent lead inspector to perform final lead clearance testing upon completion of his work, Scheerer fraudulently prepared and submitted false reports of compliance using the letterhead of a third-party lead inspection company. The reports falsely stated that the lead inspection company had conducted a post lead abatement visual assessment and lead dust wipe sampling at each property, that the visual assessment and dust wipe samples were conducted in accordance with HUD regulations, that the visual assessment confirmed that no residual dust and/or paint chips were present at the completion of the work, and that the dust wipe analysis met HUD clearance standards. Scheerer fraudulently added a signature purporting to be that of the president of the lead inspection company at the end of each report.
As a result of Scheerer fraud, the affected cities and towns had to expend additional funds to test the homes to ensure they were clear of lead hazards. The testing revealed that no significant lead hazards remained.
Judge Arterton has scheduled sentencing for August 2, 2012, at which time Scheerer faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years. This case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division. The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Neeraj Patel and EPA Regional Criminal Enforcement Counsel Peter Kenyon.
EPA Removes Requirement for Vapor Recovery at Gas Stations
The EPA has determined that the systems used at gas station pumps to capture harmful gasoline vapors while refueling cars can be phased out. Modern vehicles are equipped to capture those emissions. This Final Rule is part of the Obama Administration’s initiative to ensure that regulations protect public health and the environment without being unnecessarily burdensome to American businesses.
Beginning later this year, states may begin the process of phasing out vapor recovery systems at the pump since approximately 70% of all vehicles are equipped with on-board systems that capture these vapors. This final rule will ensure that air quality and public health are protected while potentially saving the approximately 31,000 affected gas stations located in mostly urban areas more than $3,000 each year when fully implemented.
Since 1994, gas stations in areas that do not meet certain air quality standards have been required to use gasoline vapor recovery systems. The systems capture fumes that escape from gasoline tanks during refueling. However, as required by the Clean Air Act (CAA), automobile manufacturers began installing onboard refueling vapor recovery (ORVR) technologies in 1998, making gas stations’ systems increasingly redundant. Since 2006, all new automobiles and light trucks (e.g., pickups, vans, and SUVs) are equipped with ORVR systems.
Gasoline vapors from refueling, if allowed to escape, can contribute significantly to ground-level ozone, sometimes called smog, as well as to other types of harmful air pollution. Breathing air containing high levels of smog can reduce lung function and increase respiratory symptoms, aggravating asthma, or other respiratory conditions and other health conditions. Gasoline vapors also contain toxic air pollutants associated with a variety of health threats.
This final rule responds to public comments on EPA’s July 2011 proposal, and will take effect upon publication in the Federal Register.
Frozen Food Company Fined $84,000 for Failure to Report Ammonia Storage on Tier II
Rhodes International, Inc., will pay over $84,000 to settle hazardous chemical reporting violations at its facility in Caldwell, Idaho, according to a consent agreement with the EPA.
The Rhodes facility produces frozen cinnamon rolls and other frozen bread products. According to EPA, the facility stored large amounts of anhydrous ammonia without properly reporting it to the Caldwell Fire Department, Canyon County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC), and the State Emergency Response Commission (SERC), as required by the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act.
“Local emergency planners and responders rely on this information to do their jobs. It’s critical information for them to protect the community and themselves when a dangerous chemical release occurs,” said Wally Moon, Preparedness and Prevention Unit Manager from the EPA Emergency Management Program in Seattle.
Anhydrous ammonia is a pungent, toxic gas that attacks skin, eyes, throat, and lungs and can cause serious injury or death.
According to documents, the company failed to file inventory forms with state and local emergency response entities from 2006 through 2009, as required by law.
NRDC Says Disposal Methods for Fracking Wastewater Fail to Protect Public Health and Environment
All currently available options for dealing with contaminated wastewater from fracking are inadequate to protect human health and the environment, but stronger federal and state protections can better safeguard against the threats posed by this byproduct, according to a new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The report reveals how gas companies in Pennsylvania disposed of more than 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater last year and details the dangers presented by the disposal methods used.
“Contaminated wastewater has long been one of our biggest concerns about fracking, and this report confirms that current practices put both the environment and public health at risk,” said NRDC attorney Rebecca Hammer. “Americans shouldn’t have to trade their safe drinking water for fuel. We need strong safeguards on the books to ensure oil and gas companies aren’t polluting our rivers, contaminating our drinking water, or even risking man-made earthquakes when they come to frack in our communities.”
The report, In Fracking’s Wake: New Rules are Needed to Protect Our Health and Environment from Contaminated Wastewater, represents one of the most comprehensive reviews to date of the available options for disposing high-volume wastewater from fracking. It analyzes wastewater disposal practices in Pennsylvania last year, and provides recommendations for better protecting public health and the environment nationwide. It was co-authored by NRDC and an independent scientist.
Wastewater Disposal Methods
The five most common disposal options for fracking wastewater currently in use are: recycling for additional fracking, treatment and discharge to surface waters, underground injection, storage in open air pits, and spreading on roads for ice or dust control. All of these options present significant risks of harm to public health or the environment, and there are not sufficient rules in place to ensure any of them will not harm people or ecosystems.
Some of these methods present such great threats that they should be banned immediately. These methods include treatment at municipal sewage treatment plants and subsequent discharge into surface waters, storage in open air pits, and road spreading. Meanwhile recycling for reuse in fracking operations and underground injection into properly designed and sited disposal wells (that better protect against groundwater contamination and seismic activity) hold the most potential for improvement if strong safety standards are instituted for these methods.
Treatment at industrial facilities faces significant hurdles that may also be addressed with improved safeguards; however, it would still remain a less preferable disposal method for a number of reasons, perhaps the most significant of which is the risks it would still pose to people’s health in the event of a misstep, as the treated wastewater is dumped into waterways that provide drinking water.
Pennsylvania Wastewater Disposal in 2011
In Pennsylvania, a large amount of the state’s wastewater last year was released into bodies of water—including drinking water supplies—as a result of poor treatment practices. More than half of all fracking wastewater was sent to treatment plants—either industrial facilities or municipal sewage plants—with about 10% of this amount—or about 84 million gallons—being sent to facilities that that the state has exempted from its most current water pollution limits, meaning it could be discharged with higher levels of contaminants than waste processed at updated plants.
When this wastewater is sent to municipal sewage facilities, harmful chemicals, and other pollutants are merely diluted, rather than removed, and then released into surface waters, posing serious threats to the state’s rivers, lakes, and streams, as well as drinking water supplies. Industrial facilities, too, are often not designed to treat the contents of the wastewater, and can also release it into waterways or send it for reuse, after it is processed. Complete information about where industrial facilities sent processed wastewater in Pennsylvania last year was not made available by the state.
Additionally, about one-third of Pennsylvania’s fracking wastewater in 2011 was recycled for reuse in fracking, and about 10% was disposed of by underground injection (the majority of which took place in Ohio). The remaining less than 1% was reported to be in storage pending treatment or disposal, though information was not available on whether it was in open-air pits or enclosed tanks. An unknown amount was applied (typically after only partial treatment) to roadways for ice or dust control, where it is often carried into nearby waterways when it rains or snow melts.
The problem of what to do with this byproduct is growing as the volume of wastewater continues to increase rapidly with the expansion of fracking in the Marcellus Shale formation and nationwide. In Pennsylvania alone, total reported wastewater volumes more than doubled from the first half of 2011 to the second half.
The wastewater disposal methods most commonly used in Pennsylvania differ largely from other parts of the country. On average nationally, 90% of wastewater is disposed of in injection wells. The Marcellus Shale region, however, poses particular problems because the geology cannot accommodate large volumes of injected wastewater. Therefore, gas companies there have to ship large quantities of it elsewhere.
“Pennsylvania and the entire Marcellus Shale region have geological limitations that make wastewater disposal a particularly vexing problem for the area,” said Kate Sinding, senior attorney at NRDC. “But the lessons learned there are applicable nationwide. It is critical states in this region that are already fracking clean up their act fast. And states like New York, where gas companies are still knocking on the door, must not let them in until they get this right.”
Stronger Safeguards Needed
The threats posed by these disposal methods underscore the need for stronger state and federal safeguards against pollution from contaminated fracking wastewater. These improvements include:
- Closing the loophole in federal law that exempts hazardous oil and gas waste from treatment, storage, and disposal requirements applicable to other hazardous waste, and
- Improving standards for wastewater treatment facilities and the level of treatment required before the processed water is discharged into bodies of water.
In states like New York where fracking is not yet active, this means the activity should not move forward there until these issues, and other environmental and public health concerns, are properly addressed. Where fracking is already taking place, it underscores the need for new environmental and public health standards, as well as enforcement, to overhaul the way industry is disposing of this waste and otherwise operating in our backyards.
Wastewater contains a variety of potentially harmful pollutants that can be toxic to humans and aquatic life, radioactive, or corrosive if they are released into the environment or if people are exposed to them. They can damage ecosystem health by depleting oxygen or causing algae blooms, or interact with disinfectants at drinking water plants to form cancer-causing chemicals. These pollutants include salts, oil, grease, metals, naturally occurring radioactive material, and a cocktail of chemicals used in fracking.
Fracking involves using blasting high volumes of water and sand, mixed with undisclosed chemicals, into the ground to break apart rock and release previously inaccessible pockets of natural gas. Wastewater is created when that water mixture returns to the surface immediately after fracking, and continues to emerge from the well after production begins along with polluted water contained naturally within the underground rock formation.
Alaskan City Agrees to Extensive Sewer System Upgrade in Federal Settlement
The city of Unalaska, Alaska, commonly known as Dutch Harbor, will undertake a major upgrade of its municipal sewage treatment plant under a settlement of a Clean Water Act (CWA) enforcement action filed against the city and the state of Alaska by the DOJ on behalf of the EPA.
Under the proposed settlement, Unalaska will spend at least $18 million to upgrade its treatment plant over the next three years to meet the requirements of its current National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, which was issued by EPA under the CWA. The city has also committed to adhere to fecal coliform limits that are 50 times more stringent than the current permit’s limits.
The CWA lawsuit, filed in June 2011, alleged that the city continually violated its NPDES permit by discharging pollutants into South Unalaska Bay in excess of discharge permit limits. According to monitoring reports that the city is required to file with EPA, Unalaska’s treatment plant had more than 5,500 violations of permit limits between October 2004 and September 2011, including discharges of harmful fecal coliform bacteria that were often more than double the permit limit.
The treatment plant upgrade will significantly reduce the level of pollution, including fecal coliform bacteria, being discharged into Unalaska Bay, which is part of the Bering Sea. The city will also pay a $340,000 penalty for past NPDES permit violations.
Edward Kowalski, director of EPA’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement in Seattle, noted that the agreement paves the way for a long-overdue enhancement of the city’s primary wastewater treatment process.
“Today’s settlement represents an investment in Unalaska’s future,” said EPA’s Kowalski. “By agreeing to modernize its wastewater treatment plant, the city of Unalaska will help protect the waters of Unalaska Bay and meet current discharge permit limits.”
With a year-round population of approximately 4,400, Unalaska is Alaska’s 11th largest city. Lying roughly 800 miles southwest of Anchorage in the Aleutian Island chain, Dutch Harbor serves as homeport to one of the nation’s most productive commercial fishing fleets, supporting both industrial-scale fishing and fish processing. During the height of the fishing season, Unalaska’s population more than doubles, reaching as high as 10,000.
Unalaska Bay is protected for a number of uses, including boating, recreational, and commercial fishing, and shellfish harvest. It also provides habitat for several endangered or threatened species, including northern sea otters and Steller’s eiders, a species of sea duck. However, the bay is currently listed as an impaired water-body, which means it fails to meet state water quality standards.
As required by the CWA, the state of Alaska must be a party to this action. The DOJ will be taking public comment on the settlement for a period of 30-days from publication of a notice of the settlement, which should appear shortly in the Federal Register. After resolution of all comments is received, the settlement will be entered in federal court. It will take effect on the day it is entered by the court.
Double H Farms LP Fined $90,000 for Improper Waste Burial
Double H Farms LP, has agreed to pay $90,000 to the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) to settle all penalties and legal disputes related to alleged violations of Ecology’s dangerous waste regulations on the farm near Grandview, Washington.
This summer, with Ecology oversight, the farm will investigate four other Double H owned properties where waste material may have been buried and will clean up the sites if dangerous waste is found.
In March 2009, used oil and pesticide containers were found buried in shallow pits at the farm. Double H excavated and disposed of the containers along with other waste items including car batteries found at the site. Contaminated soil from the original site has been removed. Work was completed in January 2011.
Monitoring wells are in place to determine if contamination is leaving the cleanup site. All monitoring results have been clean.
Ecology agrees to forego any penalties associated with any contamination found at the new sites and sets aside the original penalty of $165,000, assessed on September 28, 2010. Based on the settlement agreement, an appeal of the penalty by Double H is expected to be dismissed by the state Pollution Control Hearings Board.
Louisiana Man Arrested, Fined in Illegal Dumping and Burning of Tires
A man, arrested in May 2011 for illegal dumping and illegal burning of tires in the town of Angie, Louisiana, plead guilty to the charges on May 3.
Melvin Ray White, Jr., was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended, five years active probation, and was fined $1,000.
During the course of the investigation, investigators from the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality conducted surveillance and caught White in the act of burning tires on his property. He was placed under arrest for dumping and the illegal burning of tires.
Former Explosives Manufacturing Site Under Investigation
Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine announced that a consent decree has been agreed to by his office, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA), Otterbein University, and the DOD that will outline responsibilities in investigating contamination on the former Kilgore Manufacturing property in Westerville, Ohio. The property is now owned by Otterbein.
In addition to requiring cost sharing between Otterbein and the DOD, the consent decree requires both parties to pay costs to Ohio EPA for its oversight of the investigation and to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office for its enforcement efforts. The agreement also provides that the parties will work toward a final consent decree regarding property cleanup after the investigation work is completed in the coming years.
Attorney General DeWine filed a complaint against Otterbein and the DOD on behalf of the State last June. The complaint sought cost recovery for the State’s response costs and injunctive relief for the site remediation.
“This agreement resolves important questions about the environmental investigation work at the former explosives manufacturing site and brings us one step closer to deciding how best to protect public health and safety by addressing any remaining contamination,” said Ohio EPA Director Scott J. Nally. After the comprehensive investigation is completed, Ohio EPA will prepare a preferred plan for the site and hold a public hearing. Public comments will be taken into consideration prior to Ohio EPA issuing a final decision document. A remedial design and remedial action consent decree is required before implementing the final site remedy. The process is expected to take several years.
Starting in the early 1940s, Kilgore produced ordnance (incendiary items and detonation devices) under contract with the present day DOD. After World War II, Kilgore made toy cap guns and pyrotechnics for public use and illuminating flares for civilian and military use until 1961 when the facility closed. In 1962, the property was donated to Otterbein. As a result of manufacturing, waste was disposed of on site. Eight specific areas of concern have been identified as the focus of future site investigations and potential clean-up activities.
Otterbein and other parties have investigated the site on numerous occasions and conducted multiple rounds of surface clean-up activities. Several years ago, Otterbein asked the State to file a complaint and seek a consent decree that would require the University to conduct a remedial investigation and feasibility study of the property and require the DOD to contribute its share of the investigation costs incurred by the University. The Attorney General then filed a complaint that was consolidated with a case initiated by Otterbein against the DOD. Before the Attorney General filed its complaint, the DOD had agreed to negotiate the consent decree that would settle claims in both cases.
Flame Metals Processing Corporation Penalized for Improper Disposal of Waste and Wastewater
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has penalized Flame Metals Processing Corporation for improper disposal of waste and wastewater at its processing plant in Rogers, Minnesota.
An extensive investigation by Hennepin County’s Department of Environmental Services led the MPCA to conclude that the company sent toxic wastewater treatment sludge and filters with a potential to release toxic fumes in common waste situations to a regular solid waste landfill instead of a hazardous waste facility equipped to properly handle the waste. The company also discharged wastewater that did not meet limit requirements for discharge to the publicly owned wastewater treatment facility.
The MPCA has assessed Flame Metals with a $10,000 penalty for the violations. In addition, the company will be required to implement a supplemental environmental project with a minimum investment of $90,000. The company chose to purchase new wastewater treatment equipment at a cost of $235,700. This new equipment is designed to effectively treat cyanide and help ensure wastewater discharged from the facility exceeds the requirements for discharging to the public facility. The public wastewater plant treats water and reduces pollutants to levels that meet water quality standards.
Exceeding wastewater discharge limits has the potential to shut down the wastewater treatment facility and can affect all operators who discharge to the facility.
$4.25 Million Natural Resource Damages Settlement at Industri-Plex Superfund Site
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced Pharmacia Corporation and Bayer CropScience Inc., have agreed to pay $4.25 million to federal and state natural resource trustees to resolve claims for natural resource damages connected with the Industri-plex Superfund site located in Woburn, Massachusetts.
Operations at the Industri-plex Superfund site from the 1850s to the 1960s contaminated the Aberjona River, as well as associated wetlands and the Mystic Lakes, with arsenic, chromium, and other hazardous substances. Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), parties that have disposed of hazardous substances at a site are liable for damages for injury to, destruction of, or loss of natural resources, including the reasonable costs of assessing such injury, destruction, or loss. In this case, the federal natural resource trustees, which include the Department of the Interior, through the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as the state natural resource trustee, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, determined that the hazardous substances disposed of by the settling defendants or their predecessors had degraded wetland, river, and lake habitat used by a variety of wildlife, including fish, turtles, amphibians, and migratory birds, such as great blue herons, black ducks, and kingfishers.
In settlement of the trustees’ natural resource damages claims, the defendants have agreed to pay $4.25 million. Of this amount, $3,812,127 will be used by the trustees to implement natural resource restoration projects to compensate for injury caused by the hazardous substances disposed of at the site. The trustees have not determined which particular projects will be implemented, but examples of potential projects include the creation of new wetlands and the restoration, enhancement, or protection of existing wetlands. The remaining amount of the settlement figure—$437,873—will reimburse federal and state trustees for damages assessment costs.
“This is good news for the environment and the resources that depend on wetlands for habitat,” said Acting Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Rachel Jacobson. “After many years and much hard work, this agreement will enable the Department of the Interior to work closely with other co-trustees to restore habitat that was contaminated by industrial activities for decades.”
“This settlement will ensure that those responsible for damaging the environment will pay to replace the injured natural resources,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley. “Massachusetts rivers and wetlands deserve our rigorous protection and our environmental laws provide a remedy for harm to natural resources no matter how long ago the violations occurred.”
“The FWS is proud to be one step closer to restoring the Aberjona River area to a cleaner, healthier environment for wildlife and people,” said Wendi Weber, FWS Northeast Regional Director. “We look forward to working with local communities to select and implement restoration projects that will be funded by the responsible parties without cost to the taxpayer.”
“We’re proud to join with our federal and municipal partners to hold industry accountable for environmental harm. Protecting our precious environmental resources is important work for our communities, our wildlife and for the benefit of future generations,” said Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rick Sullivan.
“We will ensure that stakeholders active in the Mystic River watershed will be active participants in the process to use these NRD funds to restore the injured natural resources,” said Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.
During the period from the late 1850s to the 1960s, predecessors of Pharmacia Corporation and Bayer CropScience manufactured various products at the site, including sulfuric acid, arsenic insecticides, organic chemicals, munitions, and glue. Those predecessors include the Merrimac Chemical Company and the Stauffer Chemical Company, among others.
The settling defendants have entered into prior consent decrees in 1989 and 2008, under which they have agreed to implement remedies selected for the site by the EPA. These prior settlements did not address the trustees’ natural resource damages claims.
The DOJ will be taking public comments on the settlement for a period of 30 days from publication of a notice of the settlement, which should appear shortly in the Federal Register. The settlement also has a state comment period ending 120 days after lodging of the consent decree in court.
Environmental News Links
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US Temperatures for April Third Warmest on Record
States Scramble to Regulate Fracking
Senators Call for EPA Inquiry into Lead Factory Sites
Air Rule Heads to Scrapheap as Obama Touts Effort to Eliminate Unnecessary Burdens
Chemical Industry Lobbyists Keep Stronger Oversight Plan at Bay
Green Group Files FOIA Lawsuit Seeking Details about White House EPA Meetings
Old Mining States Get Creative as Cleaning Funds Grow Scarce
Canton Warehouse Fire Reveals Gaps in Information on Chemicals, Other Hazards
Paper Mill Leaves a Toxic Mess Behind
Bill to Ban Sustainability and Climate Change Action Fails
EPA to Clean Up Former Rivet Maker Site Classified as ‘Imminent Threat’
Trial Continues on ALCOA’s Toxic Waste Dumping at Squaw Creek Coal Mine
Bath Iron Works Fined for Waste Infractions
Trivia Question of the Week
Currently, there are 86 facilities in the US that combust municipal solid waste (MSW) for energy recovery. After MSW is combusted in a Waste-To-Energy (WTE) facility, what percent of the original volume of trash remains as ash?