November 12, 2018
In response to petitions for rulemaking submitted by the regulated community, the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Administration (PHMSA) has amended the Hazardous Materials Regulations
(HMR; 49 CFR parts 171-180) to update, clarify, streamline, or provide relief from miscellaneous regulatory requirements. Specifically, PHMSA has adopted the following changes:
- Incorporated by Reference (IBR) multiple publications from the Compressed Gas Association (CGA), the Chlorine Institute, and the Department of Defense (DoD).
- Revised the table in 49 CFR 180.407(g)(1)(iv) to make this section consistent with the applicable packaging specification (e.g., 49 CFR 178.347).
- Addressed inconsistencies with domestic and international labels and placards.
- Revised 49 CFR 173.150(g) include the use of the International System of Units (SI).
- Excepted limited quantities of “UN1942, Ammonium nitrate'' from requiring permission from the Captain of the Port (COTP) before being loaded or unloaded from a vessel at a waterfront facility.
- Allow for combination non-bulk packagings that are tested and marked for a liquid hazardous material to be filled with a solid hazardous material.
- Include an additional hazardous material description for transport in roadway striping vehicles.
- Extended the service life of interim compliant toxic inhalation hazard (TIH) tank cars to the full service life of all other tank cars.
- Allowed the use of plastic, metal, or composite pallets to transport materials classed and marked as limited quantities.
- No longer mandating that excepted quantities comply with the emergency response telephone requirement.
- Harmonized the recordkeeping requirements for portable tanks.
- Allowing for printing tolerances for labels and placards.
- Allowing electronic signatures for EPA hazardous waste manifest.
- No longer requiring the service pressure to be marked on DOT 8 and 8L cylinders.
- Acknowledged that the marked date of manufacture on a composite intermediate bulk container (IBC) may differ from the marked date of manufacture on the inner receptacle of that IBC.
- Revised the basis weight tolerance for fiberboard boxes from +/- 5% to +/- 10% from the nominal basis weight reported in the initial design qualification test report.
Job Openings at Environmental Resource Center
We’re looking for new team members with hands-on environmental and safety experience. The successful candidate would have at least four years EHS experience at a manufacturing, consulting, or government facility in a position implementing safety and environmental regulations or at a government agency that enforces the regulations. Job functions will include providing consulting services and audits, as well as training program development and presentation. Excellent writing and public speaking skills are required. Frequent air travel. Profit sharing, 401K, and other great benefits.
We also have an opening for an EHS associate. This position requires at least two years experience in the implementation of EHS regulations together with excellent writing and editing skills.
If you’d like to join a growing company that’s known for its quality, ethics, and expertise, send your resume to email@example.com
New Source Review Regulations Revised
EPA is restoring a long-delayed 2009 EPA action that clarifies “project aggregation” for the New Source Review (NSR) permitting program. According to the Agency, this action will greatly improve regulatory certainty and remove unnecessary obstacles to projects aiming to improve the reliability, efficiency, and safety of facilities while maintaining air quality standards.
“Previously, New Source Review regularly discouraged companies from employing the latest energy-efficient equipment,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Our updates will remove undue regulatory barriers, provide greater certainty to America’s job creators and energy providers, and incentivize upgrades that will improve air quality.”
This final action
will revise implementation of the NSR program by identifying clear principles for project aggregation, thus improving the implementation of the permitting program and serving as a helpful guide for facilities when considering or undergoing modifications. This, in turn, will ensure better compliance with air quality standards and continue the U.S. trend toward even cleaner air.
“Project aggregation” refers to the assessment by owners and permitting authorities regarding whether multiple related physical or operational changes to a facility should be considered a single “project” for NSR applicability. In this action EPA is affirming the interpretation of its NSR program as set forth in a 2009 action on “project aggregation,” and further clarifying the implications of that action for the NSR program. In particular, EPA is affirming the test it developed in 2009 to assess the “interrelatedness” of projects and the presumed time period of exclusion at three years.
This is the latest in a series of actions the agency has undertaken to improve the NSR process
and related permitting programs, including:
- In December 2017, EPA issued a policy memorandum clarifying that, under the existing regulatory language, so long as a company complies with the procedural requirements for making a preconstruction “projected actual emissions” analysis, then EPA will not come in and “second guess” that analysis.
- In January 2018, Assistant Administrator Wehrum issued a guidance memorandum withdrawing the 1995 “once-in-always-in” policy for the classification of major sources of hazardous air pollutants under section 112 of the Clean Air Act. This memo is another step by which EPA is reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens that deterred innovative efforts to improve the environment.
- In March 2018, EPA issued a memorandum titled, “Project Emissions Accounting Under the New Source Review Preconstruction Permitting Program,” providing EPA’s interpretation of existing NSR regulations with respect to the accounting of emissions changes from a project under Step 1 of the NSR applicability process. The memo streamlines permitting without sacrificing environmental protections, and reduces burdens to develop and expand facilities while encouraging companies to reduce pollution.
Congress established New Source Review as a preconstruction permitting program in the 1977 Clean Air Act Amendments. The program intended to ensure the maintenance of air quality standards around the country and that innovative technology is installed at new plants or existing plants undergoing major modifications.
Under the NSR program, before constructing a new stationary emission source or major modification of an existing source, the source operator must determine whether the project will increase emissions above a certain threshold. If so, the operator may need to get a permit from a state government or EPA that may require installation of control technology or other measures.
This interpretation of project aggregation was laid out in a more comprehensive 2009 action issued at the end of the Bush Administration. In 2010 during the Obama Administration, EPA proposed to revoke that interpretation by issuing a formal “reconsideration” and opened a public notice and comment period. While the agency assessed whether it would ultimately change the interpretation, EPA put a hold on the action and stayed it pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). Until this new rulemaking, EPA had not taken any action with regard to its interpretation since that comment period closed.
EPA is now taking action to do the following:
- Make a final determination not to revoke the 2009 project aggregation action;
- Clarify and uphold the interpretation laid out in the 2009 action; and
- Lift the APA stay of the action that has been in place since 2010.
Whiting Metals Cited for Lead Air Pollution in Northwest Indiana
EPA and Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) have issued notices of violation
against Whiting Metals, LLC, for excessive lead emissions from the company’s facility in northwest Indiana.
EPA and IDEM determined
that lead concentrations exceeded the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) near the Whiting Metals recycling facility at 2230 Indianapolis Boulevard in Hammond. The NAAQS for lead and its compounds are 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3
), averaged over a 3-month period. Based on the most recent data collected at IDEM’s monitor, the three-month average lead concentration at the monitor reached 0.31 μg/m3
for the period of August through October 2018.
IDEM installed a lead ambient air monitor adjacent to the Whiting facility and began sampling in August 2018. In response to elevated lead concentrations detected by the air monitor, EPA and IDEM inspected the facility in September. EPA in coordination with IDEM then installed a meteorological tower and an additional air monitor that collects hourly lead concentrations. EPA and IDEM determined that the Whiting Metals facility is the primary contributor of the lead emissions at that location, as the highest lead concentrations have been detected during the facility’s operating hours and coming from the direction of the facility. The notices of violation provide Whiting Metals with an opportunity to confer with, respectively, EPA and IDEM regarding these allegations as the agencies evaluate potential enforcement options under the Clean Air Act and state authorities.
Lead can adversely affect the nervous system, kidney function, immune system, reproductive and developmental systems, and the cardiovascular system. Infants and young children are especially sensitive to lead, which may contribute to behavioral problems and learning deficits.
American Cooling Inc. Cited for Stormwater Violations
EPA reached a settlement with American Cooling, Inc.
over Clean Water Act violations at its refrigerated warehouse and storage facility in Salinas, Calif. The agreement requires the company to pay a $28,900 penalty to resolve violations associated with unauthorized stormwater and wastewater discharges between August 2013 and June 2018.
“Pollutants in industrial stormwater runoff can harm local water bodies,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “EPA is committed to protecting our water resources, such as Monterey Bay and the Salinas River, which provide critical habitat for endangered species and support a wide range of recreational activities.”
EPA inspected American Cooling’s SEMCO facility in November 2016 and found the company did not have a stormwater discharge permit from the California State Water Resources Control Board. Stormwater runoff from American Cooling’s Salinas facility discharges into Alisal Creek, a tributary to the Salinas River, which flows into Monterey Bay.
EPA also found the facility was discharging industrial wastewater into the City of Salinas municipal storm sewer system, rather than the Monterey One Wastewater Treatment Plant, due to improper operation of a system of storm drain plugs and valves intended to control these discharges. In addition, the facility was operating without a stormwater pollution prevention plan, which details standard operating procedures designed to reduce or eliminate pollutants in stormwater runoff. The company has since obtained the necessary permit, developed an adequate stormwater pollution prevention plan, and has come into compliance with Clean Water Act requirements.
Pollutants from industrial facilities, if not properly managed, can damage water quality and aquatic life. Stormwater runoff associated with refrigerated cooling activities can include total suspended solids, oil and grease, salts, elevated pH and organic wastes.
The CWA requires that certain industrial facilities obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
permits to control the discharge of pollutants in stormwater runoff into nearby water bodies. These facilities must develop and implement stormwater pollution prevention plans to prevent runoff from washing harmful pollutants into local water bodies.
Pool Chemical Company Ordered to Stop Selling Unregistered Product
EPA has ordered Pool Water Products Inc. to stop selling an improperly registered pesticide, ALL CLEAR 3” Jumbo Chlorinating Tablets.
EPA’s action, which applies to nationwide distribution, transport and sales of the product, follows a statewide stop-sale order issued earlier this month by the Arizona Department of Agriculture. State inspectors discovered the unregistered pesticide, which is used to disinfect pools, during an August 30 inspection of the company’s Phoenix warehouse.
Under federal law, companies must provide formulation and production data to EPA in registering a pesticide product. This ensures the efficacy and integrity of products for consumers. ALL CLEAR 3” Jumbo Chlorinating Tablets is registered with EPA. The registered product is made in the United States. Its formula and data demonstrating its effectiveness have been evaluated by the EPA. However, Pool Water Products was selling and distributing an unregistered version of the product made in China that has not been evaluated by the EPA. Consumers who purchased ALL CLEAR 3” Jumbo Chlorinating Tablets manufactured in China should contact their local waste management authorities for advice on proper disposal.
Federal pesticide laws require registration of pesticide products and pesticide-production facilities, as well as proper pesticide labeling and packaging. These requirements protect public health and the environment by minimizing the risks associated with the production, use, storage and disposal of pesticides.
Air Pollution Is Associated with Increased Emergency Department Visits for Heart and Lung Disease
Outdoor air pollution is a major health threat worldwide. New research by George Mason University found that exposure to certain air pollutants is linked to increased emergency department (ED) visits for respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
Mason Assistant Professor of Global and Community Health Dr. Jenna Krall
led the research with colleagues from Emory University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and the University of Pittsburgh. They found that exposure to pollutants such as ground-level ozone and nitrogen oxides, which are created from burning fossil fuels, led to increased ED visits. The study was published online in August and will appear in the November issue of Environment International
"We found that primary pollutants--those that are emitted directly from a source, such as car exhaust--were associated with ED visits for cardiovascular and respiratory diseases," explains Krall. "Additionally, secondary pollutants--those that are formed through chemical reactions in the air--were linked to ED visits for respiratory diseases."
While most past studies were conducted on a single-city level, this study looked at pollution across five cities--Atlanta, Birmingham, Dallas, Pittsburgh, and St. Louis. The researchers analyzed the associations between cardiorespiratory ED visits and twelve major air pollutants to examine short-term changes in health as pollution varies on a daily basis. "By looking at the five cities, we hope to get a better sense of how these associations hold in general, instead of for individual cities," Krall noted.
This is also one of first multicity studies to look at multiple air pollutants, including gases and particles, and multiple causes of ED visits, such as asthma and stroke. It is a larger and more comprehensive study than previous work that has commonly looked at one pollutant and multiple health outcomes, or multiple pollutants and one health outcome.
"Down the line, this research has implications for how we think about future pollution regulations because the way we regulate pollutants might differ between primary and secondary pollution," explains Krall.
Recycling Experts Hit Milestone in Quest for Zero-Waste Phone
UBC researchers have perfected a process to efficiently separate fiberglass and resin - two of the most commonly discarded parts of a cellphone - bringing them closer to their goal of a zero-waste cellphone.
It's one of the first processes to use simple techniques like gravity separation to cleanly lift organic resins from inorganic fiberglass.
"Discarded cellphones are a huge, growing source of electronic waste, with close to two billion new cellphones sold every year around the world and people replacing their phones every few years," said UBC mining engineering professor Maria Holuszko, who led the research. "The challenge is to break down models that can no longer be reused into useful materials--in a way that doesn't harm the environment."
Most e-waste recycling firms focus on recovering useful metals like gold, silver, copper and palladium, which can be used to manufacture other products. But nonmetal parts like fiberglass and resins, which make up the bulk of cellphones' printed circuit boards, are generally discarded because they're less valuable and more difficult to process. They're either fed to incinerators or become landfill, where they can leach hazardous chemicals into groundwater, soil and air.
Holuszko, who co-founded UBC's urban mining innovation center--a unit focused on reclaiming valuable metals and other materials from electronic waste--was determined to find a better recycling solution. With PhD student Amit Kumar, she developed a process that uses gravity separation and other simple physical techniques to process cellphone fiberglass and resins in an environmentally neutral fashion.
"The key here is gravity separation, which efficiently separates the fiberglass from the resin by using the differences in their densities. The separated fiberglass can then be used as a raw material for construction and insulation. In the future, if we can find a way to improve the quality of the recycled fiberglass, it may even be suitable for manufacturing new circuit boards," said Kumar.
The researchers are now looking into developing a large-scale commercial model of the process, in partnership with Ronin8, a Richmond, B.C. recycling company that separates the different plastics, fibers and metals in electronic waste streams without using toxic chemicals or losing precious metals.
"Ronin8 has developed an innovative e-waste process for electronic waste that aims to address the intrinsic faults in traditional e-waste processes today," said Travis Janke, director of engineering at Ronin8. "Our vision is to achieve a zero-waste end-of-life solution for electronics, and our work with Maria and Amit at UBC has moved us closer to this reality."
The researchers say their task has taken on a new urgency in light of China's waste import ban, which took effect Jan. 1, 2018.
"We need a better way to manage our electronic hardware recycling, and a cost-effective, environmentally responsible method of mining e-waste for valuable materials would be a good step in that direction," said Holuszko.
New Acid-Free Magnet Recycling Process
A new rare-earth magnet recycling process developed by researchers at the Critical Materials Institute (CMI) dissolves magnets in an acid-free solution and recovers high purity rare earth elements. For shredded magnet-containing electronic wastes, the process does not require pre-processing such as pre-sorting or demagnetization of the electronic waste.
Rare earths are vital to many technologies and are critical ingredients in the world's strongest magnets, but they are subject to supply shortages. Recycling is a possible solution to the supply-chain problems, but until now has faced serious economic and ecological challenges. CMI, a U.S. Department of Energy Innovation Hub led by Ames Laboratory, was able to overcome several hurdles to the environmental viability of rare-earth recycling with this processing technology, according to lead researcher Ikenna Nlebedim.
"The difficulty with traditional hydrometallurgical methods for rare-earth magnet recycling is that they rely on the use of hazardous mineral acids, and this presents a number of problems from an economic and environmental standpoint," said Nlebedim. "It produces toxic fumes; the acids need to be contained, and so do acid-contaminated wastes."
The new process has been applied to waste magnet materials obtained from U.S. magnet processing plants. "The technology is remarkably selective in recovering rare-earth elements even from chunks of magnet-containing shredded electronic wastes," said Nlebedim. In shredded computer hard drives for example, rare earth elements were selectively removed from the e-waste without the need to pre-sort or pre-concentrate the magnet content of the materials, further reducing steps and costs.
The result is recovered rare-earth oxides of high purity, without the production of fumes or use of hazardous mineral acids. The process has been adapted for the recovery of rare earth elements from both Nd-Fe-B (Neodymium-Iron-Boron) and Sm-Co (Samarium-Cobalt) magnets.
Other valuable by-products of e-waste components can be recovered for further recycling including copper, chromium, nickel and other metals or their composites.
"Available rare earth elements recovery methods are rarely profitable" said postdoctoral researcher Denis Prodius. "This method not only recovers high-purity rare earths, it also recovers other marketable materials. The by-products pay for chemicals used in the recycling process."
Information regarding the licensing of this technology is available from Craig Forney at Iowa State University's Office of Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer, 515-294-9513, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Critical Materials Institute is a Department of Energy Innovation Hub led by the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory and supported by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Advanced Manufacturing Office, which supports early-stage applied research and development of new materials, information, and processes that improve American manufacturing's energy efficiency, as well as platform technologies for manufacturing clean energy products. CMI seeks ways to eliminate and reduce reliance on rare-earth metals and other materials critical to the success of clean energy technologies.
Land O’Lakes Purina Feed LLC Fined for Stormwater Violations
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has fined Purina Animal Nutrition LLC, also known as Land O’Lakes Purina Feed LLC, $9,290
for failing to perform stormwater monitoring at its facility off Booth Bend Road.
The violations took place during the 2017-2018 monitoring year. The company’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System 1200-Z Permit requires it to take samples to measure various pollutants up to four times a year depending on the pollutant.
Monitoring can reveal the presence of harmful levels of pollutants that pose a threat to waters of the state. Monitoring also allows permittees and DEQ to gauge the effectiveness of stormwater controls and practices aimed at reducing stormwater runoff.
Oregon Companies Mishandled Hazardous Waste Transported Across State Lines
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued penalties totaling $120,838 to two Oregon businesses for environmental violations that resulted in the improper disposal of hazardous waste in Idaho.
Between July 2015 and July 2017, Patheon Development Services generated chlorinated solvent waste at its pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Bend and failed to accurately identify and report the waste as hazardous.
Pantheon provided the waste to Univar USA Inc., doing business as ChemCare, which transported 14 shipments totaling 7,270 pounds without the required documentation.
Univar transported the waste to a US Ecology facility in Grand View, Idaho, where the lack of documentation led to the chemical being disposed in a landfill without first being properly treated. The waste should have been incinerated in a specialized hazardous waste incinerator prior to being deposited in a landfill.
Untreated chlorinated solvents can pass through landfill barriers and reach groundwater where they threaten drinking water resources and the environment. Solvents may also off-gas toxic compounds into the air. Exposure to chlorinated solvents can harm the central nervous system and increase risk of liver and lung cancer.
DEQ penalized Patheon Development Services $59,890
and Univar USA Inc. $60,948
. A portion of Univar’s penalty is for operating a solid waste transfer facility in Portland without a DEQ-issued permit.
DEQ regulates the accumulation, storage, handling and disposal of hazardous waste to protect public health and the environment.
Both companies have until November 13 to appeal.
100 Percent of Companies in Cap-and-Trade Program Meet 2015-2017 Compliance Requirements
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) announced that all businesses covered by the state’s cap-and-trade program have fully met their obligations for the three-year compliance period covering 2015 through 2017.
”One hundred percent compliance demonstrates that the program is running effectively, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey. “California’s industrial, fuel supply, and utility sectors are working to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”
The cap-and-trade program requires companies to account for their greenhouse gas emissions by purchasing allowances and turning them in to the state. Companies are also allowed to purchase a limited number of offsets. The program sets a declining cap on carbon emissions and allows companies to trade emission allowances to achieve statewide greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions in the most cost-effective manner and create incentives for investments in clean technology. Businesses in the cap-and-trade program account for approximately 80 percent of California’s climate-changing emissions.
The program uses multi-year compliance periods to provide companies additional flexibility. For the first two years of each period, companies are required to surrender allowances or limited offsets to cover only 30 percent of their emissions for that year. At the end of each three-year year period, however, they are required to surrender allowances or limited offsets to cover all outstanding emissions for the entire compliance period.
CARB also released data from the Mandatory Reporting Regulation (MRR), which indicates emissions continued to remain below 1990 levels in 2017. The MRR data
shows a reduction of 5.1 million metric tons (1.4 percent) from 2016.
Similar to the previous year, the biggest reported reductions for 2017 continue to come from California’s electricity sector, which saw a 10.7 percent drop in emissions from in-state electricity generation, due largely to more renewable fuels such as hydroelectric power, which increased 50 percent compared to 2016 and solar power, which saw a 22 percent increase. Emissions from out-of-state generation declined 10.1 percent due primarily to reduced use of out-of-state energy and cleaner sources.
Emissions from other sectors were similar to the previous year with minimal increases in emissions from fuel suppliers, refiners and hydrogen production, transportation fuels, and cement plants. Emissions from oil and gas production decreased slightly by 0.9 percent.
Recently released Greenhouse Gas Inventory figures
indicated that California reached its initial 2020 reduction target -- bringing emissions down to 1990 levels – in 2016, four years ahead of schedule. (The inventory includes data on emissions that companies must report for cap-and-trade under the MRR as well as statistical data from a variety of state and federal agencies.)
The cap-and-trade program is one of several major GHG emissions reduction programs developed under Assembly Bill 32 (the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act). AB 32 requires the state to reduce GHG emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020. The state’s 2030 reduction target is a further 40 percent reduction below the 1990 levels. Other AB 32 programs work in tandem with cap-and-trade to reduce emissions across the economy. Those other programs include the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, the Renewables Portfolio Standard and the Advanced Clean Cars program.
Additional details on cap-and-trade compliance will be released in early December.
Environmental News Links
Trivia Question of the Week