EPA Extends Chemical Data Reporting Deadline to August 13
EPA has amended the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) regulations by extending the submission deadline for 2012 reports from June 30, 2012, to August 13, 2012. This is a one-time extension for the 2012 submission period only. The CDR regulations require manufacturers and importers of certain chemical substances included on the TSCA Chemical Substance Inventory (TSCA
Inventory) to report current data on the manufacturing, processing, and use of the chemical substances.
EPA Revises Definition of VOCs
EPA has revised the definition of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) under the Clean Air Act (CAA). This revision adds trans-1,3,3,3-tetrafluoropropene (also known as HFO-1234ze) to the list of compounds excluded from the definition of VOC on the basis that this compound makes a negligible contribution to tropospheric ozone formation. As a result, if you are subject to certain federal regulations limiting emissions of VOCs, your emissions of HFO-1234ze may not be regulated for some purposes. This action may also affect whether HFO-1234ze is considered a VOC for state regulatory purposes, depending on whether the state relies on the EPA’s definition of VOC. The revised definition will become effective on July 23, 2012.
New Emission Standards for Aircraft and Aircraft Engines
EPA is adopting several new aircraft engine emission standards for oxides of nitrogen (NOX), compliance flexibilities, and other regulatory requirements for aircraft turbofan or turbojet engines with rated thrusts greater than 26.7 kilonewtons (kN). EPA has also adopting certain other requirements for gas turbine engines that are subject to exhaust emission standards, as follows. First, EPA has clarified when the emission characteristics of a new turbofan or turbojet engine model have become different enough from its existing parent engine design that it must conform to the most current emission standards. Second, the Agency has adopted a new reporting requirement for manufacturers of gas turbine engines that are subject to any exhaust emission standard to provide us with timely and consistent emission- related information. Third, EPA has established amendments to aircraft engine test and emissions measurement procedures. EPA actively participated in the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) proceedings in which most of these requirements were first developed. These regulatory requirements have largely been adopted or are actively under consideration by its member states. By adopting such similar standards, therefore, the US maintains consistency with these international efforts. These final rules are effective on July 18, 2012.
Dayton RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course (RCRA) and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course, in Dayton, Ohio, from July 10–12 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 1-800-537-2372.
Raleigh RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course (RCRA) and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course, in Raleigh, North Carolina, from July 16–18 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 1-800-537-2372.
Macon RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course (RCRA) and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course, in Macon, Georgia, from July 24–26 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, 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:
- June 26
- July 18
- August 15
- October 2
Homebuilder Toll Brothers Inc. to Pay $741,000 CWA Penalty and Implement Stormwater Controls
The EPA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have announced that Toll Brothers Inc., one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, will pay a civil penalty of $741,000 to resolve alleged Clean Water Act (CWA) violations at its construction sites, including sites located in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Toll Brothers will also invest in a company-wide stormwater compliance program to improve employee training and increase management oversight at all current and future residential construction sites across the nation. The company is required to inspect its current and future construction sites routinely to minimize stormwater runoff from sites. Polluted stormwater runoff and sediment from construction sites can flow directly into the nearest waterway, affecting drinking water quality and damaging valuable aquatic habitats.
EPA estimates the settlement will prevent millions of pounds of sediment from entering US waterways every year, including sediment that would otherwise enter the Chesapeake Bay, North America’s largest and most biologically diverse estuary. The bay and its tidal tributaries are threatened by pollution from a variety of sources and are overburdened with nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment that can be carried by stormwater.
The complaint, filed simultaneously with the settlement agreement, alleges over 600 stormwater violations that were discovered through site inspections and by reviewing documentation submitted by Toll Brothers. The majority of the alleged violations involve Toll Brothers’ repeated failures to comply with permit requirements at its construction sites, including requirements to install and maintain adequate stormwater pollution controls.
The CWA requires permits for the discharge of stormwater runoff. In general, Toll Brothers’ permits require that construction sites have controls in place to prevent pollution from being discharged with stormwater into nearby waterways. These controls include common-sense safeguards such as silt fences, phased site grading, and sediment basins to prevent construction contaminants from entering the nation’s waterways.
The settlement requires Toll Brothers to obtain all required permits, develop site-specific pollution prevention plans for each construction site, conduct additional site inspections beyond those required by stormwater regulations, and document and promptly correct any problems. The company must properly train construction managers and contractors on stormwater requirements and designate trained staff for each site. Toll Brothers must also submit national compliance summary reports to EPA based on management oversight inspections and reviews.
This settlement is the latest in a series of enforcement actions to address stormwater violations from residential construction sites around the country. Construction projects have a high potential for environmental harm because they disturb large areas of land and significantly increase the potential for erosion, and stormwater runoff from sites can pick up other pollutants, including concrete washout, paint, used oil, solvents, and trash.
The state of Maryland and the commonwealth of Virginia have joined the settlement and will receive a portion of the $741,000 penalty. The settlement includes Toll Brothers sites in
Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Hydraulic Fracturing Poses Low Risk for Causing Earthquakes, But Risks Higher for Wastewater Injection Wells
Hydraulic fracturing has a low risk for inducing earthquakes that can be felt by people, but underground injection of wastewater produced by hydraulic fracturing and other energy technologies has a higher risk of causing such earthquakes, says a new report from the National Research Council. In addition, carbon capture and storage may have the potential for inducing seismic events, because significant volumes of fluids are injected underground over long periods of time. However, insufficient information exists to understand the potential of carbon capture and storage to cause earthquakes, because no large-scale projects are as yet in operation. The committee that wrote the report said continued research will be needed to examine the potential for induced seismicity in large-scale carbon capture and storage projects.
The report examines the potential for energy technologies—including shale gas recovery, carbon capture and storage, geothermal energy production, and conventional oil and gas development—to cause earthquakes. Hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as fracking, extracts natural gas by injecting a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals in short bursts at high pressure into deep underground wells. The process cracks the shale rock formation and allows natural gas to escape and flow up the well, along with some wastewater. The wastewater can be discarded in several ways, including injection underground at a separate site. Carbon capture and storage, also known as carbon capture and sequestration, involves collecting carbon dioxide from power plants, liquefying it, and pumping it at high rates into deep underground geologic formations for permanent disposal. Geothermal energy harnesses natural heat from within the Earth by capturing steam or hot water from underground.
Although induced seismic events associated with these energy technologies have not resulted in loss of life or significant damage in the US, some effects have been felt by local residents and have raised concern about additional seismic activity and its consequences in areas where energy development is ongoing or planned. While scientists understand the general mechanisms that induce seismic events, they are unable to accurately predict the magnitude or occurrence of these earthquakes due to insufficient information about the natural rock systems and a lack of validated predictive models at specific energy development sites.
The factor most directly correlated with induced earthquakes is the total balance of fluid introduced or removed underground, the committee said. Because oil and gas development, carbon capture and storage, and geothermal energy production each involve net fluid injection or withdrawal, all have at least the potential to induce earthquakes that could be felt by people. However, technologies designed to maintain a balance between the amounts of fluid being injected and withdrawn, such as most geothermal and conventional oil and gas development, appear to produce fewer induced seismic events than technologies that do not maintain fluid balance.
A number of federal and state agencies have regulatory oversight related to different aspects of underground injection activities associated with energy technologies. Responses from these agencies to energy development-related seismic events have been successful, the report says, but interagency cooperation is warranted as the number of earthquakes could increase due to expanding energy development.
To Ensure Safety of Offshore Drilling and Production, Government Should Modify Oversight Practices, Focus on Culture of Safety
To ensure the effectiveness of recently mandated Safety and Environmental Management System (SEMS) programs for offshore drilling and production operations, the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) should take a holistic approach that modifies some of its existing practices, says a new report from the National Research Council. These should include inspections, operator audits, bureau audits, key performance indicators, and a whistleblower program. The report emphasizes using cooperation and consultation to further develop a culture of safety.
These recommendations are consistent with the bureau’s proposed changes to SEMS with the exception of one change to require that audits be performed by third parties. The Research Council report stresses that a truly independent internal audit team is preferred to an external third-party team to avoid the development of a compliance mentality. Audits should be carried out by the operator’s internal qualified, independent team whenever possible. BSEE, however, should approve all audit plans and receive a copy of each audit and follow-up report
“BSEE should seize this opportunity to make a step change in safety culture,” said Kenneth Arnold, senior technical adviser at WorleyParsons, Houston, and chair of the committee that wrote the report. “The bureau can tailor its approach to evaluating the effectiveness of SEMS in order to move both the industry and the government from a culture of relying on punishment only—obtaining prescriptive adherence to pass/failure requirements—to a culture of continuous improvement. The idea is to meet the goals of SEMS through a mixture of cooperation and consultation as well as punishment.”
Since the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout and explosion, the federal government as well as the offshore oil and gas industry have been undergoing major changes, including the issuance of regulations requiring operators of offshore facilities to adopt and implement comprehensive SEMS programs by November 15, 2011. These systems are intended to shift from an entirely prescriptive approach to a proactive risk-based, goal-oriented regulatory approach to improve safety and reduce the likelihood of similar events recurring. The committee for this study was charged with recommending a method of assessing the effectiveness of operators’ SEMS programs on any offshore drilling or production facility.
In addition to compliance inspections and an internal, independent auditing system, the report recommends that the bureau establish a key performance indicator program to identify metrics to evaluate the SEMS audit approach and to find opportunities for improvement. This information should be used to determine trends and should be disseminated to the industry in a timely manner.
The report also recommends that BSEE establish a whistleblower program to help monitor the culture of safety at each installation and correct any improprieties in its own operations. Workers must have a way to anonymously report dangerous deviations in norms and motivations that may not be obvious to bureau inspectors or even to internal auditors, as well as unprofessional conduct by BSEE’s own staff, says the report.
BSEE should continue to perform complete or partial audits when justified by reports, incidents, or events, and is responsible for verifying that quality audits are carried out and acted on appropriately. To fill this role, the bureau needs a cadre of trained auditors who will be able to spend sufficient time on location to conduct the appropriate audits. Hiring and training additional personnel will likely be necessary, the report says. BSEE inspectors should be trained to focus on promoting safety rather than issuing citations for incidents of noncompliance that may or may not be important in meeting the intent of SEMS.
Toward Super-Size Wind Turbines: Bigger Wind Turbines Do Make Greener Electricity
In a study that could solidify the trend toward construction of gigantic windmills, scientists have concluded that the larger the wind turbine, the greener the electricity it produces. Their report, Wind Power Electricity: The Bigger the Turbine, the Greener the Electricity?, appears in American Chemical Society’s (ACS) journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Marloes Caduff and colleagues point out that wind power is an increasingly popular source of electricity. It provides almost 2% of global electricity worldwide, a figure expected to approach 10% by 2020. The size of the turbines also is increasing. One study shows that the average size of commercial turbines has grown 10-fold in the last 30 years, from diameters of 50 feet in 1980 to nearly 500 feet today. On the horizon: super-giant turbines approaching 1,000 feet in diameter. The authors wanted to determine whether building larger turbines makes wind energy more or less environmentally friendly.
Their study showed that bigger turbines do produce greener electricity—for two main reasons. First, manufacturers now have the knowledge, experience, and technology to build big wind turbines with great efficiency. Second, advanced materials and designs permit the efficient construction of large turbine blades that harness more wind without proportional increases in their mass or the masses of the tower and the nacelle that houses the generator. That means more clean power without large increases in the amount of material needed for construction or fuel needed for transportation.
Russell Stover Candies, Inc. to Pay $585,000 Penalty to Settle CWA Violations
Russell Stover Candies, Inc., has agreed to pay a $585,000 civil penalty to settle alleged violations of the federal CWA at its facility in Iola, Kansas, the DOJ and the EPA announced.
In June 2008, EPA performed an audit of the City of Iola’s pretreatment implementation activities. During the audit, EPA identified numerous program deficiencies, including Russell Stover’s discharges of acidic wastewater to a publicly owned treatment works. In July 2009, EPA issued an administrative compliance order to Russell Stover to cease discharges of its acidic wastewater and provide monitoring and additional information to EPA.
The violations were documented by sampling conducted by Russell Stover but did not stop until EPA issued the compliance order in 2009. After the 2009 order was issued, the company implemented pretreatment measures and enhanced its discharge monitoring.
The consent decree requires Russell Stover to perform compliance monitoring for a period of two years and submit a Phase II pretreatment plan if the monitoring shows noncompliance.
The consent decree is subject to a public comment period and court approval before it becomes final.
70 Companies Reach Agreement with EPA to Remove Highly Contaminated Mud from Passaic River; Cleanup Estimated to Cost $20 Million
The EPA has announced that it has reached agreement with 70 companies considered potentially responsible for contamination of the lower Passaic River to remove approximately 16,000 cubic yards of highly contaminated sediment from a half-mile long area of the Passaic River in Lyndhurst, New Jersey, at their expense. High levels of contaminants, including PCBs, mercury, and dioxin, are present in the sediment and can cause health effects. The work is scheduled to begin in spring 2013.
The agreement calls for the parties to remove contaminated sediment from a mud flat area near the north section of Riverside County Park, install a protective cap over the approximately five-acre excavated area, and conduct lab tests of sediment treatment technologies. Based on the results, testing of treatment technologies at a larger scale may also be performed. The cap will monitored and maintained to ensure that it remains protective until a final cleanup plan for the lower 17 miles of the Passaic River is selected by the EPA. The excavated material will be disposed of in a licensed, permitted EPA-approved disposal facility if the sediment treatment technologies do not prove effective during testing.
Dioxin can cause cancer and other serious health effects. PCBs are likely cancer-causing substances and mercury can cause serious damage to the nervous system. The highly contaminated sediment was discovered in Lyndhurst during sampling performed by the EPA and the parties in late 2011.
Superfund is the federal cleanup program established in 1980 to investigate and clean up the country’s most hazardous waste sites. The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for the cleanups, rather than passing the costs to taxpayers. When sites are placed on the Superfund list, the EPA looks for parties responsible for the pollution and requires them to pay for the cleanups.
Under the agreement, the companies will conduct and pay for the cleanup work and EPA’s costs in overseeing it. The cost of the work to be performed is estimated at $20 million, in addition to the costs of EPA oversight.
The EPA will work closely with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), local officials, river and park users, the Passaic River Community Advisory Group, community organizations, and Lyndhurst residents throughout the planning and cleanup process. The agency will provide information on the plans, coordinate the cleanup, and minimize possible disruptions to river and park use to the extent possible.
The agreement includes a statement of work that identifies planning and reporting requirements associated with the cleanup.
Vermont to Require Recycling and Composting of Food and Organic Residuals, Ban from Landfills
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed into law House Bill 485 that calls for all residents to recycle or compost food waste by 2020 and prohibits the disposal of recyclable and compostable materials in landfills. The USCC worked closely with the Chittenden Solid Waste District and other compost enthusiasts in the development of this legislation.
The law takes effect July 1, and the phasing-in begins with large food waste generators in 2014. It will also ban plastic, glass, cardboard and paper from landfills.
During the phase-in period the law will require waste haulers to collect yard waste as well as food waste. It calls for the number of recycling containers to equal the number of waste bins in public facilities. The goal is for Vermont to move toward sending a minimal amount of waste to landfills while maximizing recycling and composting. The governor said in a statement, "Moving towards universal recycling will advance Vermont into the next generation of solid waste management and keep more waste out of our landfills."
The state currently recycles 36% of its waste, but the rest can be recycled, the governor states.
McCain Foods to Pay $40,000 for Air Quality Violations
McCain Foods in Othello, Washington, reached a settlement agreement this week with the Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) over violations of the plant’s air quality permit, vowing to avoid any similar violations in the future. The settlement includes a $40,000 fine.
The violations concern the operation and testing of air pollution control equipment, namely the use of an electrostatic precipitator (ESP) that controls emissions from the potato fryers. The company is required to install and use an ESP to control emissions from two potato fryers at the plant.
ESPs use electricity to remove fine particulate matter such as dust and smoke from the potato fryers.
McCain failed to conduct required testing to determine the amount of emissions from the potato fryers in 2004 and 2009. This test was required every five years to make sure the ESP equipment is operating properly and that particle emissions are not exceeding the amount allowed by the company’s air quality permit.
When the testing was conducted in November 2010 and April 2011, the amount of particulate matter coming from the ESP stack was more than the state’s permit allowed. The company found operating problems with the ESP and the exhaust stack, and took corrective actions.
Additional testing after repairs in October 2011 showed that McCain was in compliance with permit emission limits after being out of compliance for many months. Maintenance procedures were updated to ensure there is no recurrence of these problems.
Washington’s air quality laws are designed to protect the public from vehicle exhaust, illegal burn barrels, other kinds of outdoor burning, and industrial emissions. Particle pollution—especially fine particles—contains microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small they can get deep into the lungs and cause serious health problems.
Lunda Construction Penalized for Stormwater Violations
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has penalized Lunda Construction Company for stormwater violations resulting from two bridge replacement projects near Princeton, Minnesota. The bridges both cross a stretch of the Rum River that is protected by more stringent construction stormwater requirements.
According to MPCA staff inspection reports, the construction sites lacked sufficient erosion controls, sediment control berms, silt fencing, infiltration basins, and filtering buffer strips, which are especially important along the banks of a river. Because these practices were not properly in place, erosion occurred, and sediment-laden stormwater was allowed to enter the Rum River during construction.
The violations were discovered during inspections between July and November, 2010. In addition to paying a $17,500 penalty, the company also completed a series of corrective actions to bring the sites back into compliance with stormwater rules and regulations.
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. The agency also attempts to recover the calculated economic benefit the violator gained by failing to comply with environmental laws in a timely manner.
Parker-Hannifin Corp. Fined to Resolve Hazardous Waste Violations
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has assessed a $1,450 penalty to the Parker-Hannifin Corporation of Devens, Massachusetts, for violating Massachusetts’ Hazardous Waste Management regulations.
During an inspection conducted last November at the company’s 14 Robbins Pond Road facility, MassDEP personnel determined that the company was generating waste oil in excess of amounts allowed by its registered hazardous waste generation status. In a consent order, the company agreed to maintain compliance with applicable environmental requirements and pay the penalty. Parker-Hannifin manufactures lubrication pumps and motors.
MassDEP Assesses $1,400 Penalty to USPack, Inc. for Hazardous Waste Violations
MassDEP has assessed a $1,400 penalty to USPack, Inc., of Leominster, Massachusetts, for violations of state Hazardous Waste Management regulations.
During an inspection of the company’s facility conducted last November, MassDEP personnel determined that the company accumulated hazardous waste in excess of its registered hazardous waste generator status, had inaccurate container labeling, and failed to properly fill out a hazardous waste manifest.
In a consent order, the company agreed to maintain compliance with all applicable regulations, and pay a $1,400 penalty. As part of the process of negotiating the order, the company has been able to make significant improvements to environmental systems. The company manufactures automotive chemicals and additives.
Environmental News Links
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Connecticut Business Owner Arrested on Waste Charges; Cleanup Cost $600,000
Climate Change Lawsuits Get Chilly Reception
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Study: Alternative Fuels Won’t Solve Military Energy Problems
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Bid to Kill EPA Coal Plant Rules Thwarted in Senate
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Black Carbon 101 for Air Quality Managers
EPA Training on Greenhouse Gas Reporting
Rhode Island to Study Effects of Pharmaceuticals in Drinking Water
Trivia Question of the Week
After it ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska, the Exxon Valdez was repaired and renamed. Its current name is:
a. HMS Ice Free
b. Oriental Nicety
c. Sea Sunder
d. Aleatory NV