Cross State Air Pollution Rule Vacated by US Court of Appeals
In a 2-1 decision, the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a decision vacating the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR). The court ruled that EPA exceeded its statutory authority in promulgating the rule. The court said the Clean Air Act (CAA) gives EPA the authority to require upwind states to reduce “only their own significant contributions to a downwind State’s nonattainment. Yet under CSAPR, upwind States would have been required to reduce emissions by more than their own significant contributions to a downwind State’s nonattainment.” Furthermore, the Act gives states the initial opportunity to implement the required reductions, but under CSAPR, EPA issued Federal Implementation Plans (FIPs) without first providing states with the opportunity to put together SIPs. The court thus vacated CSAPR, the CSAPR FIPs, and remanded the case to EPA for action consistent with the decision. The court directed EPA to continue administering the Clean Air Interstate Rule pending the promulgation of a valid replacement.
House Committee on Energy and Commerce Drafts Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifest Establishment Act
The House Committee on Energy and Commerce has drafted S. 710, which would direct the EPA to establish an electronic manifest system to track the handling of hazardous waste. This legislation would authorize the appropriation of $6 million over the 2013–2015 period for EPA to establish the system. In addition, subject to provisions in future appropriations acts, this legislation would authorize EPA to collect user fees to offset the cost of developing, operating, and maintaining the system.
Under current law, sites that generate hazardous waste must prepare a paper manifest that documents how hazardous waste is managed of from the time it is shipped off-sit through transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal. Under S. 710 generators and transporters of hazardous waste and the owners and operators of facilities that treat, store, or dispose of hazardous waste could elect to use the proposed electronic manifest system or the existing paper system.
Subject to appropriation of the necessary amounts, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that over the 2013–2017 period, EPA would spend about $15 million to create the electronic manifest system. We also estimate that EPA would collect user fees totaling $12 million over that same period. Thus, CBO estimates that implementing this legislation would have a net cost of $3 million over the 2013–2017 period. Pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply to S. 710 because the legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues.
S. 710 would impose intergovernmental and private-sector mandates, as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA), on facilities that handle hazardous waste. CBO estimates that the cost of the mandates would fall below the annual thresholds established in UMRA ($73 million for intergovernmental mandates and $146 million for private-sector mandates in 2012, adjusted annually for inflation).
Charlotte RCRA and DOT Training
Environmental Resource Center will offer DOT and RCRA Annual Update and Refresher training on September 12 and Storm Water Management: How to Comply with State and Federal Regulations training on September 13, in Charlotte, North Carolina. To register for any of these courses, click here or call 1-800-537-2372.
Houston, TX RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management in Texas and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course, in Houston, Texas, from September 18–20 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 1-800-537-2372.
Columbus, OH RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course (RCRA) and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course, in Columbus, Ohio, from September 25–27 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 the upcoming webcast on How to Prepare for OSHA’s Globally Harmonized Hazard Communication Standard (GHS) offered on October 2.
Environmental Resource Center has positions open for environmental and safety consultants at our office in Cary, North Carolina. You must have excellent writing and speaking skills. We currently have an opening for a top-notch consultant/trainer with expertise in:
RCRA hazardous waste regulations
DOT/IATA/IMO hazardous material transportation regulations
SARA Title III
OSHA general industry standards
Online computer-based training instructional design and implementation
You must have at least 2 years of experience in government or industry environmental and/or compliance and be able to immediately train the subject matter to both novices and experts. Strong consideration will be given to applicants who have experience presenting training on more than three of the topics listed above.
In addition to instructing seminars and on-site training programs, the position also includes maintenance of training materials (books, PowerPoints, computer based training), working on consulting projects, business development, development of future classes, and keeping our customers satisfied.
If you meet our qualifications, are enthusiastic about regulations, have the ability to entertain attendees, and would love working for an energetic, ESH consulting firm in Cary, North Carolina, please submit your resume, salary requirements, and references to email@example.com. Applications not including these three items will not be considered.
Environmental Resource Center offers a competitive salary based on experience, a 401(k) retirement plan, medical and dental coverage, and other great benefits.
Energy Department Partnership to Certify Zero Net-Energy Ready Homes
The Energy Department has announced a new partnership between the Department’s Challenge Home program and Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) on a voluntary certification process for homes that are so energy-efficient, they can offset most or all of their utility bills with a small renewable energy system. These homes are referred to as zero net-energy ready homes. Home builders participating in these programs gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace by providing their customers with homes featuring unparalleled energy savings, quality, comfort, health, and durability.
This partnership will provide a seamless path for builders to achieve maximum energy efficiency by providing Challenge Home certification as a first step to the Passive House program.
The Energy Department’s Challenge Home program certifies homes that are 40 to 50% more energy efficient than typical homes, while also helping to minimize the risk of indoor air quality problems and ensuring compatibility with renewable energy systems. Through the Challenge Home program and its original Builders Challenge specifications, the Department has certified more than 13,500 homes which are saving consumers more than $10 million each year. Among these certified homes, more than 1,350 are considered zero-net energy ready homes based on Home Energy Rating System (HERS) scores of 55 or lower.
PHIUS certifies building designs that are 65 to75% more energy efficient than a typical new home, even before installing renewable energy systems. They have also trained nearly 400 construction professionals to build these homes.
Highlights of the partnership include:
DOE Challenge Home certification will be a prerequisite for projects achieving PHIUS+ Certification.
DOE and PHIUS will jointly promote each other’s programs.
DOE and PHIUS will share program participation results and guidance.
The Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen US energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality.
Researchers Probe Invisible Vacancies in Fuel Cell Materials
Knowing the position of missing oxygen atoms could be the key to cheaper solid oxide fuel cells with longer lifetimes. New microscopy research from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is enabling scientists to map these vacancies at an atomic scale.
Although fuel cells hold promise as an efficient energy conversion technology, they have yet to reach mainstream markets because of their high price tag and limited lifespans. Overcoming these barriers requires a fundamental understanding of fuel cells, which produce electricity through a chemical reaction between oxygen and a fuel. As conducting oxygen ions move through the fuel cell, they travel through vacancies where oxygen atoms used to be. The distribution, arrangement, and geometry of such oxygen vacancies in fuel cell materials are thought to affect the efficiency of the overall device.
“A big part of making a better fuel cell is to understand what the oxygen vacancies do inside the material: how fast they move, how they order, how they interact with interfaces and defects,” said ORNL’s Albina Borisevich. “The question is how to study them. It’s one thing to see an atom of one type on the background of atoms of a different type. But in this case, you want to see if there are a few atoms missing. Seeing a void is much more difficult.”
In research published in Nature Materials, ORNL scientists used scanning transmission electron microscopy to determine the distribution of oxygen vacancies in a fuel cell cathode material below the level of a single unit cell. The team verified its findings with theoretical calculations and neutron experiments at the lab’s Spallation Neutron Source.
“Even though the vacancy doesn’t generate any signal in the electron micrograph, it’s still a big disturbance in the structure,” Borisevich said. “You can see that the lattice expands where vacancies are present. So we tracked the lattice expansion around vacancies and compared it with theoretical models, and we were able to develop a calibration for this type of material.”
By providing a means to study vacancies at an atomic scale, the ORNL technique will help inform the development of improved fuel cell technologies in a systematic and deliberate fashion, in contrast to trial and error approaches. Beyond its relevance to applications in fuel cells and information storage and logic devices, ORNL coauthor Sergei Kalinin explains that the team’s research is also building a bridge between two scientific communities that traditionally have had little in common.
“From my perspective, it is physics marrying electrochemistry,” Kalinin said. “The idea is that vacancies are important for energy, and vacancies are important for physics. The materials that physicists like to study are exactly the same as the materials used for fuel cells, and unless we understand how vacancies behave at interfaces, ferroic domain walls, and in thin films, we will not be able to fully appreciate the physics of these systems.”
Technology Moves Scientists Closer to Extracting Uranium From Seawater
Fueling nuclear reactors with uranium harvested from the ocean could become more feasible because of a material developed by a team led by the Department of Energy’s ORNL.
The combination of ORNL’s high-capacity reusable adsorbents and a Florida company’s high-surface-area polyethylene fibers creates a material that can rapidly, selectively, and economically extract valuable and precious dissolved metals from water. The material, HiCap, vastly outperforms today’s best adsorbents, which perform surface retention of solid or gas molecules, atoms, or ions. HiCap also effectively removes toxic metals from water, according to results verified by researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.
“We have shown that our adsorbents can extract five to seven times more uranium at uptake rates seven times faster than the world’s best adsorbents,” said Chris Janke, one of the inventors and a member of ORNL’s Materials Science and Technology Division.
Results were presented at the fall meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia.
HiCap effectively narrows the fiscal gap between what exists today and what is needed to economically extract some of the ocean’s estimated 4.5 billion tons of uranium. Although dissolved uranium exists in concentrations of just 3.2 parts per billion, the sheer volume means there would be enough to fuel the world’s nuclear reactors for centuries.
The goal of extracting uranium from the oceans began with research and development projects in the 1960s, with Japan conducting the majority of the work. Other countries pursuing this dream include Russia, China, Germany, Great Britain, India, South Korea, Turkey, and the US. Many adsorbent materials have been developed and evaluated, but none has emerged as being economically viable.
What sets the ORNL material apart is that the adsorbents are made from small diameter, round, or non-round fibers with high surface areas and excellent mechanical properties. By tailoring the diameter and shape of the fibers, researchers can significantly increase surface area and adsorption capacity. This and ORNL’s patent pending technology to manufacture the adsorbent fibers results in a material able to selectively recover metals more quickly and with increased adsorption capacity, thereby dramatically increasing efficiency.
“Our HiCap adsorbents are made by subjecting high-surface area polyethylene fibers to ionizing radiation, then reacting these pre-irradiated fibers with chemical compounds that have a high affinity for selected metals,” Janke said.
After the processing, scientists can place HiCap adsorbents in water containing the targeted material, which is quickly and preferentially trapped. Scientists then remove the adsorbents from the water and the metals are readily extracted using a simple acid elution method. The adsorbent can then be regenerated and reused after being conditioned with potassium hydroxide.
In a direct comparison to the current state-of-the-art adsorbent, HiCap provides significantly higher uranium adsorption capacity, faster uptake, and higher selectivity, according to test results. Specifically, HiCap’s adsorption capacity is seven times higher (146 vs. 22 grams of uranium per kilogram of adsorbent) in spiked solutions containing 6 parts per million of uranium at 20 degrees Celsius. In seawater, HiCap’s adsorption capacity of 3.94 grams of uranium per kilogram of adsorbent was more than five times higher than the world’s best at 0.74 grams of uranium per kilogram of adsorbent. The numbers for selectivity showed HiCap to be seven times higher.
“These results clearly demonstrate that higher surface area fibers translate to higher capacity,” Janke said.
Sinclair Oil to Pay $3.8 Million Penalty and Install Pollution Controls at Refineries
The EPA and Department of Justice (DOJ) have announced a settlement with two subsidiaries of Sinclair Oil Corporation to resolve alleged violations of air pollution limits established in a 2008 consent decree at refineries in Casper and Sinclair, Wyoming. Sinclair Casper Refining Co., and Sinclair Wyoming Refining Co., will pay stipulated penalties totaling $3,844,000 and spend approximately $10.5 million on additional pollution control equipment and other projects to resolve the allegations. The settlement will require the Sinclair companies to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) by approximately 24 tons per year, sulfur dioxide (SO2) by approximately 385 tons per year, and particulate matter by approximately 59 tons per year.
The alleged violations stem from Sinclair’s failure to meet the terms of the 2008 consent decree, including exceeding NOx emissions limits at the Casper and Sinclair, Wyoming refineries and failing to comply with requirements to operate and maintain a flare gas recovery system at the Sinclair Refinery, resulting in excess emissions of SO2. The problems will be addressed by installing and operating a selective catalytic reduction system to control NOx emissions and by upgrading the flare gas recovery system to meet SO2 emissions limits. Sinclair will also complete a project to provide road paving at its Sinclair refinery that will reduce particulate matter emissions by an additional 59 tons per year and reduce fuel oil burning at the Casper refinery from the existing 188 tons per year limit to no more than 95 tons per year.
CWA Settlement Ensures Racetrack Addresses Wastewater and Stormwater Discharges
The EPA and the DOJ announced that Sterling Suffolk Racecourse LLC, will pay a civil penalty of $1.25 million to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) at its Suffolk Downs racetrack facility in Revere and East Boston, Massachusetts. The company is also spending more than $3 million to prevent polluted water from entering nearby waterways and will perform three environmental projects worth approximately $742,000 that will provide water quality monitoring and protection efforts for more than 123 square miles of watershed. The terms of the settlement are contained in a consent decree lodged in federal court.
The federal complaint alleges that Suffolk allowed polluted wastewater, including horse manure, urine, and bedding material, to discharge into Sales Creek, a tributary of Belle Isle Inlet and Boston Harbor. In addition, the federal complaint alleges that Suffolk operated its concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO), which stables race horses from March through November, without a permit under the CWA.
In response to EPA’s enforcement at this facility, Suffolk is completing construction of a wastewater collection system, is making improvements to its stormwater collection system and has applied for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit. Suffolk will minimize the volume of and properly manage the wastewater it produces, which will now be collected in a detention pond and discharged during non-peak hours to the sanitary sewer system. Suffolk will also implement green infrastructure and low impact development (GI/LID) techniques to address stormwater discharges from the racetrack and maintenance areas of the facility. These techniques involve the use of natural or engineered systems to direct stormwater to areas where it can be stored, infiltrated, evapotranspirated, or reused.
EPA inspections revealed that Suffolk Down’s process wastewater discharged from the facility to Sales Creek during dry and wet weather. EPA inspectors observed stormwater contaminated with manure and turbid, brown runoff being discharged from the facility to Sales Creek. Sampling conducted at various outfalls discharging from the Suffolk Downs facility indicated elevated levels of pollutants, including ammonia, suspended solids, and bacteria. Animal wastes contain excessive levels of nutrients and pathogens, which produce adverse environmental impacts including reduction of oxygen in the water, which affects aquatic life.
Suffolk will undertake three supplemental environmental projects under this settlement, including two water quality monitoring projects and one habitat protection project. Suffolk will work with the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) to conduct monthly baseline and targeted water quality sampling throughout the Mystic River watershed and will work with the Saugus River Watershed Council (SRWC) to conduct a Saugus River watershed sampling program. Both the Mystic River watershed and Saugus River watershed data will be available to the public for free on the MyRWA and SRWC websites. Suffolk will also construct a habitat protection boardwalk in the Belle Isle Marsh, which is immediately downstream of the Suffolk Downs facility and represents one of the largest remaining areas of salt marsh in Boston Harbor. The Belle Isle Marsh encompasses 275 acres of salt marsh, salt meadow, and tidal flats, and is part of the Rumney Marsh Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC).
Preventing animal waste from contaminating surface and ground waters of the US is one of EPA’s National Enforcement Initiatives for 2011–2013.The initiative focuses on large and medium sized CAFOs that are discharging pollution without or in violation of a permit.
Poultry Processing Plant Convicted for Knowing Violations of CWA
A federal jury has found House of Raeford Farms Inc., the owner and operator of a poultry slaughtering and processing facility located in Raeford, North Carolina, guilty of 10 counts of knowing violations of the CWA.
House of Raeford allowed plant employees to bypass the facility’s pretreatment system and send its untreated wastewater directly to the city of Raeford’s wastewater treatment plant, without notifying city officials. In addition, House of Raeford failed to prevent employees from sending thousands of gallons of wastewater into a pretreatment system that did not have the capacity to adequately treat the wastewater before it was discharged to the city plant. The untreated wastewater that was discharged directly to the city plant was contaminated with waste from processing operations, including blood, grease, and body parts from slaughtered turkeys. A House of Raeford former employee admitted that the facility would continue to kill turkeys despite being warned that the unauthorized bypasses had an adverse impact on the city’s wastewater treatment plant. The city plant was responsible for treating industrial, commercial, and residential wastewater before it was discharged to Rockfish Creek in Hoke County.
The bypasses and failure to report them violated House of Raeford’s pretreatment permit as well as the city’s sewer use ordinance. Many of the bypasses took place while House of Raeford was subject to a consent order with the city that required it to construct a new pretreatment system and comply with all requirements of its pretreatment permit. A number of the bypasses were recorded in log books kept by House of Raeford Inc., wastewater operators, and were never revealed to the city.
House of Raeford Inc., faces a maximum fine of $500,000 or twice the gain or loss resulting from the offenses, whichever is greater, per count. Sentencing has been scheduled for November 28, 2012.
Settlement Requires Boston Water and Sewer Commission to Remedy Sewer and Stormwater Discharges
Under the terms of a consent decree, the Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) will implement extensive remedial measures to minimize the discharge of sewage and other pollutants into the water bodies in and around Boston, the DOJ and the EPA have announced. The BWSC will also pay a civil penalty of $235,000 for violations of the CWA and will perform a supplemental environmental project worth at least $160,000.
The work required under this consent decree will significantly reduce remaining pollution sources discharging into and degrading water quality in Boston Harbor. The consent decree is the result of a federal enforcement action brought by the DOJ on behalf of the EPA, and by the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), which filed the original complaint in the case and was an active plaintiff in the case.
Water sampling conducted by EPA indicated untreated sanitary sewage discharging from numerous BWSC stormwater outfalls. In response, the consent decree establishes an aggressive schedule for BWSC to investigate the sources of sewage being discharged from BWSC’s storm drains. The BWSC will first complete its investigations of drainage areas discharging to Constitution, Tenean, and Malibu beaches. BWSC will prioritize the rest of the investigations according to the sensitivity of receiving waters and evidence of sewage. The agreement also requires BWSC to remove all identified sources of sewage as expeditiously as possible. In addition, the settlement requires BWSC to conduct frequent and enhanced monitoring (in both dry and wet weather) of its stormwater outfalls.
The consent decree also requires BWSC to control pollutants other than sewage, such as phosphorus and metals, being discharged from its storm drain system. To accomplish this goal, BWSC will conduct stormwater modeling and implement appropriate Best Management Practices (BMPs) to control stormwater discharges. In evaluating BMPs, the consent decree requires BWSC to implement GI/LID techniques wherever possible. These types of techniques involve the use of natural or engineered systems to direct stormwater to areas where it can be stored, infiltrated, evapotranspirated, or reused.
While some of the studies and planning required by the settlement will take several years to complete, the agreement also requires BWSC to initiate GI/LID demonstration projects in East Boston’s Central Square, Audubon Circle in the Kenmore/Fenway area of the city, and at City Hall Plaza on an expedited schedule.
Finally, the settlement requires the establishment of construction and industrial inspection programs necessary to meet the requirements of BWSC’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit.
To settle the case, BWSC has also committed to implement a supplemental environmental project to address leakage from private sewer laterals. BWSC has determined that a number of sewer lines connecting buildings to the BWSC sewage system (laterals) are leaking sewage from cracks in the laterals into the BWSC’s storm drains. BWSC will line a minimum of 25 private sewer laterals that have been identified as sources of sewage to its storm drains.
The complaints filed by CLF and the US alleged violations of the CWA involving the discharge of raw sewage and other pollutants to surface waters near heavily used recreation areas, such as Constitution Beach and Tenean Beach in Boston Harbor, as well as to the Charles, Mystic, and Neponset Rivers. According to the allegations, these discharges have occurred through both illegal sewer connections to the BWSC storm drain system and sanitary sewer overflows that discharge to the BWSC storm drain system or directly to local surface waters.
The complaints also alleged that BWSC violated conditions of its MS4 permit regarding the implementation of its Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination Program, discharged pollutants in stormwater that violated water quality standards, and failed to develop and implement a number of programs required by the permit, including a program to inspect stormwater controls at construction sites throughout the city of Boston.
EPA Stops the Importation of Short-Chain Chlorinated Paraffins as Part of Settlement with INEOS
The EPA announced a settlement with INEOS Chlor Americas, Inc., based in Wilmington, Delaware, to resolve violations of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). INEOS allegedly imported various chain-length chlorinated paraffins into the US without providing the required notice to EPA. Under this settlement INEOS has ended the importation of short-chained chlorinated paraffins (SCCPs) into the US.
SCCPs, used as lubricants and coolants for metal working and as plasticizers and flame retardants in plastics, are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic to aquatic life. Even relatively small releases of these chemicals from individual manufacturing, processing, or waste management facilities have the potential to accumulate over time to higher levels and have been detected in wildlife and humans.
INEOS has also agreed to provide the notices required by TSCA Section 5 to the EPA for any medium or long-chain chlorinated paraffin it wishes to import after the date of lodging of the decree. Submission of these notices by INEOS will enable EPA to identify and evaluate the health and environmental effects, exposures, releases, and risks posed by these chemical substances. If appropriate, EPA will initiate an action under TSCA Section 5 to address any unreasonable risks posed by the chlorinated paraffins.
INEOS will pay a $175,000 civil penalty.
California State Water Board Seeks $150,000 in Penalties From Firm for Continued UST Fraud Violations Involving Gas Stations
The California State Attorney General’s Office, on behalf of the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board), has filed a motion to enforce a 2010 judgment against E2C Remediation, Inc., (E2C) to obtain $150,000 in penalties after the firm failed to follow terms of a $1.2 million 2010 enforcement action.
E2C is an environmental engineering and consulting firm headquartered in Bakersfield, California. E2C provides environmental cleanup and consulting services to gas stations throughout central California.
Under the terms of the 2010 judgment, E2C must pay $150,000 in stayed penalties if it submits any further fraudulent invoices to the State Water Board’s Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund (Cleanup Fund).
The Attorney General’s motion alleges that after the 2010 judgment was entered, E2C continued to submit invoices to the Cleanup Fund containing false or misleading information and that the $150,000 stayed penalty is due. The motion alleges that E2C attempted to receive double payment of funds for a $1,167 utility invoice from Southern California Edison for a Valero gas station in Tulare and $6,168 for well installation at a Shell gas station in Chico. The motion also alleges that E2C billed the Cleanup Fund at least $7,620 for costs incurred at a Chevron gas station in Reedley where E2C operated a treatment system for fifty-six days without approval.
On February 26, 2010 a civil judgment of $1.2 million was entered against E2C to settle allegations of submitting fraudulent reimbursement requests between 2005 and 2008 to the Cleanup Fund. The civil case against E2C came on the heels of a criminal case against E2C President, Philip Goalwin, brought by the Attorney General’s Office in 2007. In the 2007 case, Mr. Goalwin plead no contest to one misdemeanor count of submitting fraudulent claims to the state and paid $9,586 in restitution. Mr. Goalwin also received three years of probation and was ordered to serve 354 hours of community service.
Concrete and Asphalt Manufacturer Fails to Disclose Use of Chemicals
CPM Development Corporation, a concrete and asphalt manufacturing facility, failed to report toxic chemical use at its Spokane, Washington, facility under federal community right-to-know laws, according to a settlement with the EPA. The company has submitted the missing reports outlining chemical use and disposal at its facility, and will pay a fine.
EPA found that the company failed to report on time for its processing of lead compounds and nitrate compounds in 2010. During that year, the company processed more than 100 lb of lead compounds and more than 25,000 lb of nitrate compounds, the threshold amounts that trigger reporting requirements under the federal Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) program.
Lead is a persistent, toxic chemical that can accumulate in our bodies and is especially harmful to young children. Nitrates can cause dangerous blood conditions, low blood pressure, and are particularly harmful to pregnant women and children.
Under the federal TRI Program, companies that use certain toxic chemicals are required to report annually about releases, transfers, and waste management of those chemicals at their facilities. The TRI program is under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), which aims to inform communities and citizens of chemical hazards in their neighborhoods.
The company has agreed to pay a $25,400 penalty.
Settlement Ensures Improvements to Treatment Plant and Addresses Sewer Overflows
Under the terms of a modified consent decree, the City of Gloucester, Massachusetts, will upgrade its sewage treatment plant and work to stem overflows from its sewer system. The modified Consent Decree stems from a federal enforcement action brought by the DOJ, on behalf of the EPA, and the Office of the Attorney General of Massachusetts, on behalf of the Department of Environmental Protection.
Gloucester’s existing primary Treatment Plant is nearly 30 years old, and while the City has recently completed important upgrades, the system is in need of additional repair and rehabilitation to meet the terms and conditions of the current discharge permit. Maintenance has been inadequate and parts have not been replaced in a timely manner. These problems have resulted in discharges of poorly treated sewage in violation of the City’s permit. Under the Consent Decree, the City will address these problems.
Gloucester’s combined sewer system is designed to collect stormwater runoff, domestic sewage and industrial waste water in the same pipes and convey these wastewaters to the Treatment Plant. The City’s system also includes several combined sewer overflow (CSO) outfalls, which discharge untreated wastewater when flows exceed the system’s capacity, typically during significant wet weather events. The City’s CSO discharges violate the provisions of the CWA, and the Massachusetts Water Quality Standards. The City initially developed a long-term CSO control plan in 2005. The Modified Consent Decree replaces the 2005 CSO control plan, with a new, more cost-effective approach to mitigate and in some cases eliminate CSO discharges. Implementation of this work will serve to improve water quality at Pavilion Beach and in Gloucester Harbor.
The City’s NPDES permit, however, does not allow overflows during dry weather. Dry weather discharges occurred in Gloucester when there was still capacity in the system because the City did not pay close enough attention to operating the system. The City has addressed the dry weather overflows and will work to minimize wet-weather other overflows under the Consent Decree. Because of the City’s financial condition, the consent decree modification does not impose a penalty for the violations leading to this action.
Stone Energy Corporation Fined for Violating the CWA
The EPA has fined the Stone Energy Corporation of Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, $7,055 for violating federal Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) regulations outlined under the federal CWA.
A January 25, 2012, EPA inspection of its Main Pass 21 oil production facility located in Venice, Louisiana, revealed the facility had failed to conduct inspections in accordance with SPCC regulations. The inspection also found the facility’s SPCC plan did not discuss flowline high pressure devices and well shut-in valves as well as adequate protection of sub-marine piping against environmental stresses.
SPCC regulations require onshore oil production or bulk storage facilities to provide oil spill prevention, preparedness, and countermeasures to prevent oil discharges. The SPCC program helps protect our nation’s water quality since a spill of only one gallon of oil can contaminate one million gallons of water.
Petco Petroleum Corporation Fined for Violating the CWA
The EPA has fined the Petco Petroleum Corporation of Hinsdale, Illinois, $3,650 for violating federal SPCC regulations outlined under the CWA.
A March 31, 2012, EPA inspection of its Jemima Richard oil production facility located in Drumright, Creek County, Oklahoma, revealed personnel working at the facility had no training on the operation and maintenance of equipment to prevent discharges, discharge procedure protocols, or training on applicable pollution control laws, rules, and regulations. The inspection also found spill prevention briefings were not scheduled and conducted periodically, visual inspections of containers, foundation and supports were not conducted as required by SPCC regulations, and above ground valves and pipelines were not examined on a scheduled basis for general condition.
As part of an Expedited Settlement Agreement with the EPA, the facility has provided certification that all identified deficiencies have been corrected.
SPCC regulations require onshore oil production or bulk storage facilities to provide oil spill prevention, preparedness, and countermeasures to prevent oil discharges. The SPCC program helps protect our nation’s water quality since a spill of only one gallon of oil can contaminate one million gallons of water.
Occidental Chemical Corp. Moves Forward with Cleanup
In a settlement announced by the EPA, Occidental Chemical Corporation will continue to remediate contamination at its 300 acre facility located three miles northwest of Delaware City, Delaware.
Occidental, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, has agreed to implement the final cleanup remedy selected by EPA to address contamination resulting from the former operations at the Delaware facility. EPA’s cleanup plan includes the excavation, onsite consolidation, and capping of contaminated soils, along with administrative and legal safeguards to minimize exposure to contamination. In addition, the current use of slurry walls and removal of free product to clean up and prevent further groundwater contamination will continue, along with targeted in-situ treatment and institutional controls. Occidental and EPA will work together to implement this cleanup work and return the property to beneficial use. The total estimated cost to implement the final remedy is $8 million in capital, and $11 million in operation and maintenance costs.
The Occidental property has undergone demolition and decommissioning which paves the way for economic redevelopment. Along with generating jobs, the cleanup at this site will convert a vacant industrial property into a community asset.
The Occidental facility lies south of the confluence of Red Lion Creek and the Delaware River. The facility, surrounded by a heavily industrial and commercial area, operated as a chlor-alkali plant from 1964 through 2007. Chlorine production ceased at the facility in 2005, and the production of anhydrous potassium hydroxide ceased in 2007. Decommissioning and demolition of most plant structures was completed in 2007 and 2008. The site is currently fenced and contains seven buildings, several concrete slabs, a wastewater treatment plant, and groundwater extraction and treatment system.
Environmental News Links
Public Demands Bigger Role in Deciding Fate of Troubled California Nuclear Plant
Lessons Learned from the Dilbert Disaster
Court Strikes Down EPA Rule on Coal Pollution (see also: Court Rejects EPA’s Aggregation of Air Emissions, Easing Burden for Oil and Gas Industry)
Supreme Court Asked to Resolve Interplay Between CERCLA Cost Recovery and Contribution Provisions
TVA Found Liable for Massive Tennessee Coal Ash Spill
Romney Would Give Reins to States on Drilling on Federal Lands
Hanford Double-Shell Tank Leaks Nuclear Waste
Antarctic Peninsula Started Warming 600 Years Ago
Why We Are Poles Apart on Climate Change
Under Orange Skies: The Fallout of Locating Minority Public Schools in Polluted Areas
The Cost of Cool: Air-Conditioning Is an Environmental Quandary
Chevron Refinery Fire a Close Call
Sizing Up Romney and Obama Energy Plans
Arctic Sea Ice Likely to Hit Record Low Next Week
CWA’s Anti-Pollution Goals Prove Elusive
Reducing Food Waste and Losses in the US Food Supply
Fossil Fuel and Renewable Energy Subsidies on the Rise
Mapping US Renewable Energy Potential, State by State
Man Pleads Guilty to Disposing of Hazardous Waste
Toxic Waste No Match for the Composting Earthworm
Three Firms Agree to Spend $30 Million Fixing Superfund Site
Fracking’s Future Dependent on Hazardous Waste Loophole
Common RCRA Violations
Trivia Question of the Week
Which of the following is the slogan for EPA’s campaign advocating proper used oil management?
a. Used Oil: Black Gold
b. Every Drop Saves A Lot
c. You Dump It, You Drink It
d. Only Let a Professional Change Your Oil