EPA Announces New Electronic System for Filing Environmental Impact Statements
The EPA has announced e-NEPA, a new online system that allows federal agencies to submit environmental impact statements (EISs) electronically. Traditionally, EISs have been submitted to EPA in hard copy. e-NEPA eliminates the need to mail or deliver copies of EISs to EPA headquarters, reducing printing, shipping, and delivery costs. It also saves time through electronic filing and e-confirmation and improves transparency, allowing EPA to post EIS documents to EPA’s website.
The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires federal agencies to integrate environmental considerations into their decision-making processes by identifying the environmental impacts and reasonable alternatives to their proposed actions. To meet NEPA requirements federal agencies prepare detailed analyses known as EISs. EPA reviews, provides comments, and maintains a national filing system for EISs.
Beginning on October 1, 2012, all agencies are required to use the e-NEPA filing system.
Los Angeles, CA RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management in California and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course, in Los Angeles, California, from October 16–18 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 1-800-537-2372.
Knoxville, TN RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course (RCRA) and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course, in Knoxville, Tennessee, from October 23–25 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 1-800-537-2372.
Mobile, AL RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course (RCRA) and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course, in Mobile, Alabama, from October 30–November 1 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 January 18, March 22, or April 16, 2013.
Upgrade Your Career: Environmental and Safety Consultant/Trainers
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 openings for a top-notch consultants with expertise in:
RCRA hazardous waste regulations
DOT/IATA/IMO hazardous material transportation regulations
Environmental and safety audits
SARA Title III
Clean Air and Clean Water Acts
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 includes maintenance of training materials (books, PowerPoints, computer based training), 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 cannot be considered.
Environmental Resource Center offers a competitive salary based on experience, a 401(k), profit sharing, medical and dental insurance, and other great benefits.
EPA Reconsiders Deficient PVC Air Rule
The EPA recently sent a letter to environmental and community groups who challenged its 2012 air rule for polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plants announcing that it will reconsider this rule that failed to adequately limit air pollution nation-wide and singled out two PVC plants in Mossville, Louisiana, and Deer Park, Texas, for the most lax limits and worst protection. The EPA’s decision is great news for communities who are burdened by this toxic air pollution.
Read the June 18, 2012 Petition for Reconsideration
Read the June 18, 2012 press release: EPA Rule Leaves Gulf Coast Communities Burdened with More Toxic Pollution
Read the July 17, 2012 Letter to EPA
Read the August 8, 2012 Letter to EPA
Read the August 8, 2012 press release: Faith-Based and Socially Responsible Investors Call on EPA to Strengthen Air Safeguards at PVC Plants
New Guidelines for Water Reuse
Water reclamation and reuse have taken on increasing importance in the water supply of communities in the US and around the world to achieve efficient resource use, ensure protection of environmental and human health, and improve water management. EPA has released the Agency’s 2012 Guidelines for Water Reuse. The 2012 reuse guidelines update and build on the Agency’s previous reuse guidelines issued in 2004, incorporating information on water reuse that has been developed since the 2004 document was issued. In addition to summarizing US existing regulations, the document includes water reuse practices outside of the US, case studies, information on planning for future water reuse systems, and information on indirect potable reuse and industrial reuse. Disinfection and treatment technologies, emerging contaminants, and public involvement and acceptance are also discussed.
Ohio Proposes Changing Annual Reporting to Biennial Requirement
The Ohio EPA has prepared for review a package of nine draft hazardous waste management rules known as the Biennial Set. These rule amendments implement a portion of Ohio Senate Bill 294 by changing a particular annual reporting requirement to a biennial reporting requirement. For more information about the rules package, read the Interested Parties Letter and the Business Impact Analysis.
Comments on this package are due by close of business on October 12, 2012.
If you have any questions, please contact Kit Arthur or phone at 614-644-2932.
Pennsylvania DEP Releases Final Oil and Gas Air Aggregation Guidance for Drilling Activities
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has announced that the agency has finalized guidance on air quality permitting decisions for oil and gas operations. The guidance applies to permitting sources of emissions from the exploration, extraction, and production of oil and gas.
DEP published a version of the guidance for public comment last fall. The final guidance will discuss how DEP decides when to separately permit emission sources, such as natural gas compressor stations, and when to aggregate them.
A Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board Judge recently called the analysis of the Summit Petroleum case persuasive. The West Virginia Air Quality Board also recently affirmed an approach similar to DEP’s.
DEP regulates air emissions in the oil and gas industry through air quality plan approvals and general and operating permits. In the coming months, the agency will also announce a revised general permit for oil and gas compressor stations, which authorizes the operation of minor emission sources.
A Complete Solution for Oil-Spill Cleanup
Scientists are describing what may be a complete solution to cleaning up oil spills—a superabsorbent material that sops up 40 times its own weight in oil and then can be shipped to an oil refinery and processed to recover the oil. Their article, Novel Solution to Oil Spill Recovery: Using Thermodegradable Polyolefin Oil Superabsorbent Polymer (Oil-SAP), on the material appears in ACS journal Energy & Fuels.
T. C. Mike Chung and Xuepei Yuan point out that current methods for coping with oil spills like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster are low-tech, decades-old, and have many disadvantages. Corncobs, straw and other absorbents, for instance, can hold only about five times their own weight and pick up water, as well as oil. Those materials then become industrial waste that must be disposed of in special landfills or burned.
Their solution is a polymer material that transforms an oil spill into a soft, solid oil-containing gel. One pound of the material can recover about five gallons of crude oil. The gel is strong enough to be collected and transported. Then, it can be converted to a liquid and refined like regular crude oil. That oil would be worth $15 when crude oil sells for $100 a barrel. “Overall, this cost-effective new polyolefin Oil-SAP technology shall dramatically reduce the environmental impacts from oil spills and help recover one of our most precious natural resources,” the authors said.
Cell Phones Tested for Lead, Mercury, Hazardous Flame Retardants, and More
The Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center teamed up with technology gurus at ifixit.com to research toxic chemicals in 36 different cell phones, including the recently released iPhone 5 and Samsung’s Galaxy S III.
The Motorola Citrus ranked the least toxic phone followed by the iPhone 4 S and the LG Remarq. The new iPhone 5 ranked 5th, versus its primary competitor, Samsung Galaxy S III, which ranked 9th. The most toxic phone tested was the iPhone 2G.
Every phone sampled in this study contained at least one of following hazardous chemicals: lead, bromine, chlorine, mercury, and cadmium. These hazardous substances can pollute throughout a product’s life cycle, including when the minerals are extracted; when they are processed; during phone manufacturing; and at the end of the phone’s useful life. Emissions during disposal and recycling of phones as electronic waste, or e-waste, are particularly problematic. The mining of some tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold used in mobile phones has been linked to conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“Even the best phones from our study are still loaded with chemical hazards,” said Jeff Gearhart, research director at the Ecology Center and founder of HealthyStuff.org. “These chemicals, which are linked to birth defects, impaired learning, and other serious health problems, have been found in soils at levels 10 to 100 times higher than background levels at e-waste recycling sites in China. We need better federal regulation of these chemicals, and we need to create incentives for the design of greener consumer electronics.”
A 2004 study found that three-quarters of all cell phones leach lead at levels that would qualify them as hazardous waste. While tracking e-waste is difficult, it is estimated that 50-80% is exported to countries such as China, India, Pakistan, Vietnam, and the Phillipines, where there is a labor-intensive, informal recycling infrastrucure that often lacks environmental and human health safeguards.
“In 2009, 2.37 million tons of electronics were ready for what the EPA calls ‘end-of-life management’—code for broken, dead, outdated, and unwanted devices,” said Kyle Wiens, CEO of ifixit.com. “Of the digital castoffs, only 25% made it into recycling centers. We can’t allow the other 75% of our old electronics to become waste. All those toxics add up. E-waste is an enormous problem that can result in toxic chemicals seeping into drinking water and poisoning the environment.”
Most of the 36 cell phones analyzed were models released in the last five years. The phones tested represent 10 mobile phone manufacturers, including: Apple, Hewlett-Packard Development Company, HTC Corporation, Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd, LG Electronics, Motorola, Nokia Corporation, Palm, Research in Motion and Samsung Electronics. The sample represents the largest set ever released for any electronic product. In total, 1,105 samples were analyzed for 35 different chemicals and elements. The phones were completely disassembled and interior and exterior components were tested using X-ray Fluorescence (XRF).
“Consumer demand for more sustainable mobile phones is driving companies to produce better products,” said Gearhart. “We also need better federal and international policy to manage both chemicals and e-waste, as well as to promote sustainable design.”
Highlights of Findings:
100% of cell phones tested contain chemical hazards
Samsung phones had the highest average rating of all phone tested
Apple, now among industry leaders, showed the greatest improvement
The iPhone 2G, introduced in 2007 rated as the poorest phone tested
The two most recent Apple phones, the 4s and 5, are among the best phones tested
Newer phones are better than older phones. Overall product ratings have improved significantly (33%) since 2007.This reflects an increased focus on reducing chemical hazards by the industry.
Transition to safer alternatives is underway. Leading manufacturers, including Apple, Sony, Samsung, and others have started the shift to safer materials and chemistries.
Manufacturers are cleaning up their act in part by: 1) Using less hazardous resins, including thermoplastic copolymers and polyamide to replace PVC in cabling and other applications; 2) Avoiding the need for cabling through simplified design; 3) Using mercury-free LCD displays and arsenic-free glass; 4) Using bromine- and chlorine-free printed circuit board laminates; and 5) Moving to less toxic, reactive phosphorous-based flame retardant chemistries.
California Central Coast Water Board Fines South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District for Waste Water Spill
The California Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board) has voted to levy a $1,109,812.80 fine against the South San Luis Obispo County Sanitation District.
The fine stems from a sewer system spill during a storm on December 19 and 20, 2010 at the district’s Oceano Waste Water Treatment Plant. Floodwaters flowed into the plant’s headworks causing an electrical failure that shut down all four of the plant’s influent wastewater pumps. Additional malfunctions caused wastewater to back up into the collection system and spill from manholes, back up into homes in Oceano, and to spill into the Oceano Lagoon, Meadow Creek, Arroyo Grande Creek Estuary, and the Pacific Ocean.
The California State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) Office of Enforcement filed an Administrative Civil Liability Complaint against the sanitation district, alleging that the spill was caused by inadequate preparation and response by the district.
The board looked at four different estimates of the amount of water spilled, and found the estimate of the sanitation district’s hired consultant, at 674,400 gallons, to be the most credible.
The overflow occurred when floodwater entered the pump station, causing a control switch to short out. An investigation into the overflow conducted by the State Water Board’s enforcement team concluded that the incident was preventable. Sanitation District officials knew of the potential risks of the unprotected equipment and electrical wiring, according to the investigation.
The State Water Board conducted lengthy negotiations to reach a settlement with the Sanitation District, but ultimately reached an impasse. The sides were far apart on the volume of the spill and the fine to be paid.
The State Water Board’s investigation concluded that the volume of the spill was 1,139,825 gallons, and suggested a fine of $1,383,007.50. The sanitation district contended that the spill was much smaller, that the spill was an unavoidable result of a heavy storm, and that the fine should be reduced.
US Ecology Texas and TD*X Associates Fined for Processing and Storing Hazardous Waste Without a Permit
The EPA has announced it has reached a settlement with US Ecology Texas and TD*X Associates in Robstown, Texas, for violating federal hazardous waste laws. The settlement, a legal document called a Consent Agreement and Final Order (CAFO), resolves three counts against US Ecology of Texas and TD*X Associates for processing hazardous waste without a permit or interim status and one count against US Ecology Texas for storing hazardous waste without a permit or interim status.
The CAFO requires US Ecology Texas and TD*X Associates to follow specific standards for what can be processed at the facility, apply to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for a hazardous waste permit and pay a fine of $788,120.
The EPA has authorized the TCEQ to administer and enforce federal hazardous waste laws within the state of Texas.
A hazardous waste permit is a legally binding document that establishes the waste management activities that a facility can conduct and the conditions under which it can operate. The permit outlines facility design and operation, lays out safety standards, and describes activities that the facility must perform, such as monitoring and reporting.
Horse Facility to Restore 11+ Acres of Wetlands, Resolving CWA Violations
The owners of Falls Creek Farm, a horse boarding and training facility and farm located in Sterling, Connecticut, have agreed to restore and create 11.3 acres of wetlands to settle claims by the US that wetlands were illegally filled and altered during construction of a private golf course and other modifications to their property.
The case alleges that between 1987 and 2008, the owners and operators of the Falls Creek Farm directed the filling and alterations of 10.5 acres of wetlands and waters on the property without first obtaining a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE), as is required under the federal Clean Water Act (CWA). EPA learned of the violations in 2007 following a tip that an excavator was buried up to its cab in mud in a wetland area on the property.
In an earlier incident in 1997, the ACE determined that Guy P. Snowden, or persons working on his behalf, discharged fill material into wetlands at another location on the property. Mr. Snowden completed a restoration of 2.4 acres of wetlands in 2001 to resolve the issues raised by the Army Corps. Since EPA discovered the more recent discharges in 2007, the owners of the property have cooperated with the EPA investigation, as well as in developing the restoration, mitigation, and preservation plan.
In addition to restoring and creating wetlands, the settlement agreement requires the owners to permanently preserve approximately 19 acres on the property between Carson Brook and the Rhode Island border and pay a $405,000 penalty. Carson Brook is a headwater stream which flows to recreational fishing area and then into Rhode Island. The settlement requires wetlands restoration and preservation that will restore valuable wetlands functions and result in improvements in downstream water quality, improve wetlands habitats, reduce the drainage of water from adjacent wetlands, and help protect downstream areas from flooding.
Natural wetlands are vital to protecting the integrity of our rivers and estuaries, and help to protect the health and safety of people and their communities by providing a natural filtration system for pollution before it gets into our rivers, lakes, and ponds, and by preventing flooding after storms. Small streams and wetlands are the source of the nation’s fresh waters, and changes that degrade headwater systems can affect other rivers and lakes downstream. Wetlands also provide valuable wildlife habitat, offering breeding and feeding grounds for a broad array of fish, birds, and other wildlife. Converting large areas of natural wetlands to other uses can profoundly alter flood flows, and reduce the pollutant-filtering abilities of wetlands.
New Jersey Glass Manufacturer to Install State-of-the-Art Emissions Controls to Resolve Violations of the CAA
The EPA and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have announced that Durand Glass Manufacturing Company Inc., has agreed to install emissions controls on its three glass furnaces that will reduce more than 173 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 23 tons of particulate matter (PM) per year. Emissions of these pollutants can cause serious respiratory illnesses, aggravate asthma, and contribute to the formation of ground level ozone, or smog. Durand also installed monitoring systems that will allow it to continuously measure its NOx emissions, and agreed to pay a $300,000 civil penalty to resolve violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA).
The complaint alleges that Durand constructed a new glass melting furnace at its facility in Millville, New Jersey, resulting in increased emissions of NOx and PM, without first obtaining pre-construction permits or installing the required pollution control equipment.
The consent decree requires Durand to operate the emissions controls to reduce NOx and PM pollution, including the first Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) device on a tableware glass furnace in the US. The SCR pollution controls are designed to reduce Durand’s NOx emissions by at least 90% from previous levels, to 1.2 lb of NOx per ton of glass produced on a 30-day average basis, and 1.0 lb of NOx per ton of glass produced on a long-term, 365-day average basis. Durand must also operate continuous emission rate monitoring systems that will allow it to monitor NOx emissions on an hourly basis and the company has already installed particulate filters to reduce its PM emissions. The pollution controls and monitoring systems are now fully operational.
The state of New Jersey was an active partner in the settlement.
Reducing air pollution from the largest sources of emissions, including glass manufacturing plants, is one of the EPA’s National Enforcement Initiatives for 2011–2013. NOx and PM, two key pollutants emitted from glass plants, have numerous adverse effects on human health. Reducing these harmful air pollutants will benefit the communities located near the facility, particularly those disproportionately impacted by environmental risks and vulnerable populations, including children.
Suiza Dairy Corporation to Spend $4 Million to Resolve Ammonia Process Safety Violations
Suiza Dairy has agreed to pay a penalty and make significant upgrades to settle CAA violations, the DOJ and the EPA announced. The case stems from violations at two Suiza Dairy Corporation dairies located in Rio Piedras and Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, including two major releases of anhydrous ammonia from the Rio Piedras facility.
The CAA violations stem from Suiza’s failure of its general duty of care to identify hazards and to maintain safe facilities and its failure to comply with regulatory requirements for process safety management under the CAA, as well as Suiza’s failure to comply with administrative orders at both facilities.
As part of the consent decree, Suiza will pay a penalty of $275,000. Suiza will also spend approximately $3.75 million on projects that will significantly improve the refrigeration systems at both facilities, considerably reduce the amount of anhydrous ammonia in the systems at both facilities, improve alarm and ammonia release notification procedures, and provide medical training and/or equipment to medical personnel to treat persons affected by exposure to anhydrous ammonia. Suiza will also conduct community emergency drills in the communities located adjacent to the facilities, to train community members on what to do in the event of an accidental release of anhydrous ammonia.
Suiza’s first accidental ammonia release from the Rio Piedras facility was in July 2005. Then in May 2007, approximately 1,146 lb of anhydrous ammonia was released into the atmosphere causing at least 14 residents from the community located near the Rio Piedras Facility to require medical attention. At least nine of the people requiring medical attention also required an overnight stay in the local hospital.
Following these releases, and complaints from residents near the Aguadilla facility, EPA submitted information requests to Suiza and conducted multiple inspections at both facilities. In September 2007, EPA issued Suiza administrative orders for both facilities, ordering Suiza to bring the facilities into compliance. Suiza failed to comply with both orders.
As a result of Suiza’s failure to comply with the orders and the substantive violations at both facilities, EPA reinspected both facilities in May and October 2009. Over 40 violations were identified at each facility; violations included, for example: corrosion to anhydrous ammonia transfer lines, failure to implement an adequate alarm system, improper labeling of valves and equipment, and improper ventilation.
The settlement requires Suiza to implement over 40 compliance measures at each facility to address the violations. In addition, the company has agreed to spend at least $3 million to reduce the amount of anhydrous ammonia used in the refrigeration process at the facilities, from approximately 18,000 lb to less than 8,400 lb at the Rio Piedras facility (54% reduction) and from 4,700 lb to less than 3,300 lb at the Aguadilla facility (30% reduction). Suiza will also install an enhanced alarm system at the Aguadilla facility that will continuously monitor anhydrous ammonia operating pressures, temperatures, and levels, as well as automatically alert operators to conditions not within normal operational ranges for these parameters.
DOJ and the EPA conducted community meetings near both facilities in August 2011. Partly as a result of that outreach, and the suggestions made by community members at those meetings, Suiza has agreed to conduct community emergency drills in the communities located adjacent to the facilities. Suiza will coordinate with first responders and EPA to simulate an accidental anhydrous ammonia release and train community members on what to do in the event of such a release.
Enforcement of the general duty of care and of the regulatory requirements under Section 112(r)(1) and (7) of the CAA is critical to ensuring that industry focuses on the safety of the public and the environment.
Elm Ridge Exploration Company Agrees to Resolve CAA Violations at Colorado Gas Plant
The EPA has announced a CAA settlement with Texas-based Elm Ridge Exploration Company, LLC, (Elm Ridge) resolving alleged violations at the Ignacio Gas Treating Plant located on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation near Ignacio, Colorado.
The settlement requires Elm Ridge to pay $207,150 in civil penalties as well as $67,850 in unpaid permit fees. In addition, the company has agreed to replace existing compressor engines with lower-emitting engines equipped with pollution-control equipment, administer a wood stove change out program with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, and implement a project that will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and conserve natural gas at the plant.
According to a complaint filed with the settlement, Elm Ridge allegedly violated provisions of the Title V Federal Operating Permit Program and the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants under the CAA. The company has worked cooperatively with EPA to resolve these violations.
The control measures and operational improvements taken by Elm Ridge are expected to reduce emissions of NOx, volatile organic compounds, and carbon monoxide by more than 140 tons annually. The measures will also reduce emissions of hazardous air pollutants by more than 10 tons per year and GHG emissions by more than 10 tons per year, and conserve enough natural gas to heat approximately seven homes annually.
As part of the settlement, Elm Ridge has agreed to replace the remaining four large uncontrolled engines at the facility with lower-emitting engines equipped with catalytic oxidation control systems. The company will also replace existing instrument gas system with an instrument air system, which conserves natural gas otherwise vented to the atmosphere. Finally, Elm Ridge will administer a wood stove change out program to replace older wood stoves with EPA-certified wood stoves and cleaner-burning, energy-efficient hearth appliances in homes on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation.
This enforcement action will benefit the local community, which includes low-income areas. Low-income populations comprise 23% of the area where the facility is located.
EPA Settles with Lead Acid Battery Manufacturer in Corona for Air Violations
The EPA has announced that US Battery Manufacturing Company (US Battery) has agreed to pay $167,300 to resolve federal CAA violations. US Battery, located in Corona, California, failed to comply with federal emissions monitoring and reporting requirements, including performance testing requirements for its lead emission control devices. In addition to paying the penalty, the company will install secondary high efficiency air filters to capture additional lead particles.
EPA discovered the violations after the company failed to provide a thorough response to an information request sent by the agency in February 2010. After further review, federal investigators found that US Battery failed to perform semi-annual inspection and maintenance to ensure proper performance of its equipment, failed to submit performance reports, and failed to conduct performance testing of its air pollution control devices.
In addition to the fine, US Battery has agreed to improve its work practices by voluntarily installing High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters to further reduce lead emissions. These HEPA filters will serve as secondary filters that will be used to capture remaining lead emissions that pass through the existing air pollution control equipment. HEPA filters can capture more than 99.9% of particles.
The facility has been operating as a lead acid battery manufacturing plant in Corona since 1991 and is located within a mile of several schools and a residential neighborhood.
Lead is a major environmental health hazard for young children and pregnant women. Exposure to lead can result in lowered intelligence, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, and hyperactivity.
Two Washington State Fruit Companies Violate Federal Air Regulations
Two eastern Washington fruit companies failed to meet risk management plan requirements under the federal CAA, according to separate settlements with the EPA. As part of the settlements, Dovex Fruit Company and Clasen Family Company will pay fines and submit missing reports to manage ammonia use.
According to Wally Moon, EPA’s Pacific Northwest Emergency Preparedness and Prevention Unit Manager, having a solid prevention program can help stop things going from bad to worse if a workplace accident causes a chemical release.
Under the CAA, facilities that handle large amounts of chemicals are required to develop a risk management program, which assesses the hazards associated with dangerous chemicals. The program must include an accident prevention program and an emergency response plan to deal with accidental releases.
Both companies use more than 10,000 lb of anhydrous ammonia, one of the most potentially dangerous chemicals used in refrigeration and agriculture today. Ammonia is a colorless gas that can cause severe burns to skin, eyes, throat, and lungs, and with high enough exposure, death.
Dovex Fruit Company
Dovex Fruit Company (Dovex), a fresh fruit and vegetable processor with a facility located in Wenatchee, Washington, will pay a fine of $134,613 for failing to meet risk management requirements for equipment maintenance since August 2008. Dovex has corrected the violations. In 2008, Dovex was fined $98,241 for failing to submit their risk management plan since 2003.
Clasen Family Company
The Clasen Family Company (Clasen), a cold fruit storage company, failed to submit their risk management plan since 2004. The company will pay a fine of $17,030 and spend at least $58,800 implementing a supplemental environmental project. The project includes installing equipment that reduces the risk of ammonia releases and improves emergency response in case of an accidental release at their Union Gap and Yakima, Washington facilities.
Olson Wire Products Co. Inc. Settles Hazardous Waste Violations at its Baltimore Facility
Olson Wire Products Co., has agreed to pay a $80,000 civil penalty to settle alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations at its manufacturing facility in Baltimore, Maryland, the EPA has announced.
EPA cited Olson Wire, which manufactures steel wire shelving and fabricated wire products, for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the federal law governing the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. RCRA is designed to protect public health and the environment, and avoid costly cleanups, by requiring the safe, environmentally sound storage, and disposal of hazardous waste.
Following an inspection by on May 25, 2011 EPA cited the company for violations of federally authorized state regulations involving hazardous waste stored at the facility, including wastewater treatment sludge from the electroplating operations, spent lead anode rods from plating processes, and used aerosol cans containing an enamel-based product that is sprayed onto metal parts in preparation for powder coating.
The alleged violations included the failure to make required hazardous waste determinations, storage of hazardous waste for periods greater than 90 days without a permit, failure to properly label and keep containers of hazardous waste closed during storage, offering hazardous waste for off-site transport and disposal without preparing approved manifest forms, and through parties not authorized to transport or receive hazardous waste, failure to maintain training records of personnel having hazardous waste management responsibilities and failing to prepare and submit a biennial report concerning hazardous waste activities at the facility in calendar year 2009.
The settlement penalty reflects the company’s compliance efforts, and its cooperation with EPA in the resolution of this matter. As part of the settlement, Olsen Wire has neither admitted nor denied liability for the alleged violations, but has certified its compliance with applicable RCRA requirements.
Three Men and One Company Sentenced in Tennessee for Environmental Crimes
Three men who conspired to violate CAA workplace safety standards when they demolished a Chattanooga, Tennessee, factory containing large amounts of asbestos were sentenced in federal court. US District Judge Curtis Collier sentenced David Wood, James Mathis and Donald Fillers, and the Watkins Street Project LLC, for their roles in the conspiracy.
Fillers was sentenced to serve 48 months in federal prison, pay a $20,000 fine and serve three years of supervised release; Mathis was sentenced to serve 18 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release; Wood was sentenced to serve 20 months in federal prison and three years of supervised release; and Watkins Street Project was ordered to pay a $30,000 fine. In addition, the defendants were ordered to pay $27,899 in restitution to the EPA, the Chattanooga Department of Public Works and the Chattanooga Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Board for expenditures associated with the emergency response and clean-up of the former Standard Coosa Thatcher plant in Chattanooga.
A jury convicted these defendants on January 27, 2012, of conspiracy and criminal violations of the CAA, as well as obstruction of justice in relation to salvage and demolition activities at the former Standard Coosa Thatcher plant. More specifically, the evidence proved that the defendants entered into a year-long scheme in which the plant was illegally demolished while still containing extensive amounts of asbestos. Additionally, the defendants hired day laborers and paid them low wages to improperly remove asbestos-containing materials without following federal regulations that were intended to keep the asbestos, a known carcinogen, from becoming airborne where it could be inhaled.
Witness testimony established that dust from the salvage and demolition activities frequently wafted onto neighboring properties. The evidence also showed the defendants attempted to cover up their illegal activities by falsifying documents and Wood lied to federal authorities investigating the case.
Solutia Fined $39,000 for Air Pollution Violations
The Massachusetts DEP (MassDEP) has penalized Solutia, Inc., of Springfield, Massachusetts, $39,000 for violations of the Commonwealth’s air pollution control regulations.
MassDEP was notified by Solutia of a permit violation resulting in excess emissions to the ambient air. The emissions were due to the bypass of an emission control device. The emissions lasted for 347 days and were the result of blocking off of an inlet to a storage tank condenser during a routine cleaning. Other noncompliance at the company’s facility included a failure to conduct a visual inspection for pump leaks during the week of December 18, 2011, and failure to calibrate the biofilter flow and pressure-drop indicators during December 2011.
As part of a consent agreement with MassDEP, Solutia is required to correct the violations and pay the $33,000 penalty. MassDEP has agreed to suspend $6,000 of the penalty pending the company’s compliance with the terms of the agreement.
Company Settles Hazardous Waste Violations at its Glen Rock, Pa. Manufacturing Facility
Bimax, Inc., has agreed to pay a $36,455 penalty to settle alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations at its chemical manufacturing facility, located at 158 Industrial Road in Glen Rock, Pa., the EPA announced. As part of the settlement, Bimax has also agreed to spend $305,000 to install a system that will eliminate 99% of the hazardous pollutants emitted from the facility.
Following a March 2011 compliance inspection at Bimax, EPA noted hazardous waste, including solvents, that was improperly stored in violation of the RCRA, the federal law governing the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. RCRA is designed to protect public health and the environment, and avoid costly cleanups, by requiring the safe, environmentally sound storage and disposal of hazardous waste.
The alleged violations included operating a treatment, storage, or disposal facility without a permit, failure to determine if the waste was hazardous, failure to obtain required certification from a qualified professional engineer attesting that the facility’s tank system has sufficient structural integrity for the storage of hazardous waste, failure to monitor pump leaks weekly, and failure to monitor valves for air emission leaks.
By completing the supplemental environment project valued at $305,000, Bimax exceeds the requirements of federal and state environmental regulations. The company will install and operate a thermal oxidizer as part of its existing air pollution control system at the Glen Rock facility that is designed to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds and hazardous air pollutants by 99%.
The settlement penalty reflects the company’s compliance efforts, and its cooperation with EPA in the investigation and resolution of this matter. As part of the settlement, Bimax has neither admitted nor denied liability for the alleged violations, but has certified its compliance with applicable RCRA requirements.
Bayer CropScience LP to Pay $13,900 Penalty for Distribution of Misbranded Pesticides
Bayer CropScience LP, has agreed to pay a $13,900 civil penalty to the US to settle a series of environmental violations related to the distribution of misbranded pesticides through its facility in Kansas City, Missouri.
According to an administrative consent agreement and final order filed by EPA Region 7 in Kansas City, Kansas, an inspection of Bayer’s Kansas City facility in November 2011 found that on November 28, 2011, Bayer CropScience shipped a quantity of the pesticide Ethosumesate, without a product label, an EPA registration number, or an EPA producing establishment number.
In December 2011, EPA Region 7 received two Notices of Arrival from Bayer for the importation of two separate shipments due that month of quantities of unregistered Methomyl insecticide for the purpose of producing the product into the registered product Larvin Technical. The label provided by Bayer for the two shipments of the unregistered pesticide contained a false or misleading statement in its Directions for Use section.
The labeling deficiencies related to the two pesticides were in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), according to the settlement.
The sale or distribution of misbranded or mislabeled pesticides can pose serious risks to human health, plant and animal life, and the environment. Without proper labeling or safety instructions on packaging, users can unintentionally misapply pesticides and may not have adequate information to address needs for first aid in the event of emergency.
As a result of EPA’s enforcement action, Bayer CropScience LP, was required to relabel all of the shipments in question. The company has also instituted changes in its practices to prevent similar violations.
MassDEP Penalizes Commonwealth Tank $10,887 for Asbestos Violations at University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth
The MassDEP has penalized Commonwealth Tank of Wakefield $10,887 for asbestos violations that occurred during a boiler plant demolition project conducted by the company at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth.
On June 24, 2010, MassDEP conducted an unannounced inspection at this facility where Commonwealth Tank was demolishing an oil-tank piping tunnel. MassDEP observed how broken sections of heavy concrete had fallen onto asbestos-containing pipe insulation, and that workers had attempted to wet down the damaged area with a garden hose. Lab samples taken that day by MassDEP confirmed the presence of asbestos material in the broken insulation and caulking.
Following MassDEP’s inspection, the work was halted and Commonwealth Tank was required to retain the services of a licensed and certified asbestos contractor to submit for approval a plan to complete the work. On July 13, 2010, the cleanup work was completed in compliance with all applicable regulations.
ThermoEnergy Corp. of Worcester Pays $2,800 Penalty for Industrial Wastewater, Hazardous Waste Violations
The MassDEP has assessed a $2,800 penalty against ThermoEnergy Corporation for violating Industrial Wastewater and Hazardous Waste Management regulations at its facility in Worcester.
ThermoEnergy Corp., assembles and tests water processing machinery.
During a routine inspection conducted by MassDEP in February, 2012, it was determined that the company operated its industrial wastewater treatment system without a certified wastewater treatment plant operator. The company also failed to prepare an industrial wastewater pretreatment system Operation and Maintenance Manual, and failed to meet some administrative requirements for generators of hazardous waste.
In a consent order, ThermoEnergy agreed to comply with all applicable regulations and pay the penalty.
Hidden Cameras Identify Illegal Dumping in Public Spaces
In a cooperative effort to combat illegal dumping in the City of Lawrence, the MassDEP installed hidden cameras in high-risk locales that captured images of multiple perpetrators who were subsequently fined, and in some cases, brought back to clean up their mess.
MassDEP worked with the Lawrence Inspectional Services to install small battery-operated digital cameras in public rights-of-way that were triggered by motion sensors. MassDEP shared its new cameras with license plate-reading technology, which has helped increase the rate of identification of dumpers at night.
The dumping site selected is adjacent to a new public walking trail on the Spicket River. After installing the cameras, MassDEP and the city found frequent scofflaws who dumped construction debris, tires, appliances, household garbage, and furniture. Lawrence has struggled with illegal dumping, just like other urban municipalities, incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayer cleanup costs at several public sites.
In addition to increasing the city’s disposal costs, public works crews are being diverted from important maintenance work on roads, sewers, and water lines, simply to deal with the cleanup of debris whose origin, source, and content previously had been unknown.
Beginning in June 2012, two cameras were installed by the Environmental Strike Force and Lawrence Inspectional Services at the subject dumpsite. The cameras are capable of taking tens of thousands of high resolution pictures over many weeks on a single set of batteries. They are equipped with infrared night vision capability and one of the cameras is specially designed to read license plates at night.
More than a dozen incidents of dumping were captured by the cameras, with nine of the dumpers identified thus far. The dumpers were issued a minimum of a $300 citation by the City of Lawrence.
The following individuals have been identified and penalized for illegal dumping in Lawrence under this initiative:
June 2, 4:06 p.m.—Jeovanny Gonzalez of Lawrence, dumped broken furniture and household trash from a rented truck.
June 8, 5:20 p.m.—Juan Ortega of Lawrence, dumped a television.
June 22, 10:52 p.m.—Jose Nieves of Haverhill, dumped a pickup truck full of debris.
June 27, 1:27 p.m.—Amparo Coste of 99 Oakland Ave., Methuen dumped a computer.
June 30, 11:03 a.m.—Leonel Alonso of Lawrence, dumped a mattress and a couch. He was subsequently caught by Lawrence Police dumping at another location. His truck was impounded and released upon payment of fines.
July 1, 6:12 p.m.—Jose Nieves, who dumped previously at the site, dumped a truck load of scrap wood.
July 7, 7:50 a.m.—Jaime Villa of Lawrence, dumped old furniture. Villa returned to the site later the same day and was observed dumping two mattresses by MassDEP personnel who were there to check the cameras.
July 9, 3:12 p.m.—Juan Torres of Methuen, dumped a couch and dresser at the site.
July 12, 9:03 a.m.—Enrique Arias of Lawrence, dumped wood debris and a television.
The waste that was dumped could, in many cases, have been disposed of for free by simply contacting the Lawrence Department of Public Works or by obtaining a bulk item sticker for a nominal fee. Lawrence is in the process of upgrading its dumping bylaw and is upgrading its own camera program to catch future dumpers.
Since the start of the “Candid Camera” program in 2005, MassDEP has partnered with more than 20 municipalities at frequent illegal dumpsites. To date, the program has resulted in approximately 100 illegal dumpers being identified and fined by the communities or by MassDEP. The program continues to seek new municipal partners. Municipalities with a chronic dumpsite that they think might be a good candidate for the program, can contact the MassDEP Environmental Strike Force at 617-556-1000.
Settlement Reached With Mobile Home Park Owners over Drinking Water and Waste Water Violations
Frank Perano and a series of his corporations and related entities own, operate, and/or manage mobile home parks in Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia. After a joint multi-year investigation, EPA and the Pennsylvania DEP (DEP) found evidence of more than 4,300 Clean Water Act (CWA) violations at 15 mobile home parks in Pennsylvania where the defendants treat waste water, and more than 900 Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) violations at 30 mobile home parks also in Pennsylvania.
The complaint filed with the proposed consent decree details violations during the past five years. The monetary settlement will be divided between the US and Pennsylvania.
The CWA violations involved illegal discharges of partially treated or untreated sewage into nearby streams and failure to properly operate and maintain treatment facilities. SDWA violations generally involved the defendants’ exceedances of federal drinking water standards for certain pollutants and their failure to notify residents about drinking water problems.
EPA and DEP identified the violations by conducting inspections, sharing technical and legal expertise, and requiring the defendants to provide documentation concerning sampling, operation and maintenance, and other regulated activities.
While not all of the defendants’ mobile home parks were cited for violations, the investigation identified widespread environmental management problems that warranted company-wide measures. In addition to the penalty, the consent decree requires the defendants to take numerous steps to protect public health and the environment and achieve compliance with environmental regulations at all 73 of its mobile home parks, including:
Hiring an approved third-party environmental consultant to perform environmental audits at each mobile home park, including examination of the treatment, collection, and drinking water systems. The environmental audits will include a report that will identify any corrective measures needed to achieve and maintain compliance.
Implementing the corrective measures in a timely fashion, subject to EPA and DEP oversight and approval.
Conducting monthly compliance evaluations at all the mobile home parks.
Implementing specific corrective measures at two mobile home parks in Pennsylvania that had significant problems.
Working with the environmental consultant to develop a company-wide set of processes and practices designed to enable the defendants to reduce its environmental impacts and help prevent the defendants from repeating the kinds of violations they made in the past. EPA will monitor the defendants’ implementation of and compliance with these processes and practices throughout the life of the consent decree.
Paying stipulated penalties for future violations and taking specific response actions if ongoing violations occur.
The defendants cooperated with the investigation. As part of the settlement, the defendants did not admit liability for the alleged violations.
Russian River Gravel Mining Settlement Lessens Environmental Damage
The environment impacts of mining gravel out of the Russian River will be less destructive because of a settlement between environmental groups and the mining company, after a nearly two year battle.
Under the settlement, the mining company will be allowed to take up to 175,000 tons of gravel a year for the first three years, instead of the 350,000 tons initially approved. An additional 40,000 tons per year could be salvaged from habitat improvement projects. The settlement also establishes a comprehensive monitoring and adaptive management process, under which annual mining plans will be reviewed each spring by an independent scientific review team, with input from the public, to ensure the mining company takes no more gravel than is replenished naturally from upstream.
Earthjustice represented Russian Riverkeeper and the Redwood Empire Chapter of Trout Unlimited in the lawsuit over mining company Syar Industry’s proposed gravel mining project in the Alexander Valley Reach of the Russian River near the town of Geyserville. The lawsuit had challenged the environmental impact report for the mining project, which was approved by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors in December 2010.
The Russian River was once a world-famous fishing river and anglers came from around the globe to match wits with its salmon and steelhead. In recent years salmon numbers have declined, largely due to habitat destruction in the river. Damage from in-stream gravel mining to salmon and steelhead is well-documented. Salmon are a resilient species and will respond favorably as river habitat is restored.
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Trivia Question of the Week
The national recycling rate in the US is 34%. However, some products are recycled at a significantly higher rate. Which of the following products has the highest recycling rate, at 96.2%?
a. Automotive batteries
c. Steel cans