EPA Ends Delay of Ozone NAAQS

August 07, 2017

After being sued by a throng of public interest groups and 16 states, EPA Scott Pruitt late Wednesday reversed his earlier decision to put off implementing Obama-era federal standards curbing emissions of smog-causing air pollutants. In June, Pruitt announced he would delay the October 1 implementation date by a year requiring states to begin meeting the 2015 standards for ground-level ozone. Public health and environmental organizations sued the EPA on July 12, and asked the D.C. Circuit Court to immediately strike down or block the delay. The EPA’s withdrawal of the delay came the evening before its response to the lawsuit was due.

In October 2015, the EPA revised the national air quality standards for smog, strengthening those standards.  The Clean Air Act requires the Agency, within two years after issuance of new or revised standards, to designate areas of the county that are in “attainment” or “non-attainment” with these public health and welfare standards.  In the case of the 2015 smog standards, EPA was required to issue attainment or non-attainment designations by October 1, 2017.  However, on June 28, 2017, EPA Administrator Pruitt published a notice stalling the deadline for the smog designations for all areas in the country for one year—to October 1, 2018.

The designation of areas for national air quality standards is a key statutory obligation under the Clean Air Act—and for protecting the public’s health.  For areas designated as in non-attainment for the standards, states must adopt “implementation plans”—a collection of actions that the state will undertake to reduce pollution in order to ensure standards will be met in those areas.  The deadlines for submitting implementation plans—and for ensuring that air quality standards are met within designated areas—are both directly keyed to the date of EPA designations.  

The EPA estimates that, when communities meet the standard, it will save hundreds of lives, prevent 230,000 asthma attacks in children, and prevent 160,000 missed school days for kids each year. In June, the EPA announced it was delaying identifying the areas that must clean up their air because they violate the 2015 smog standard. This would mean polluters would escape the effective pollution controls the Clean Air Act requires.

Smog forms when nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and carbon monoxide emitted from power plants, motor vehicles, factories, refineries, and other sources react under suitable conditions.  Because these reactions occur in the atmosphere, smog can form far from where its precursor gases are emitted and, once formed, smog can travel far distances. That is why, despite enacting stringent in-state controls on sources of these pollutants, many states are not, alone, able to meet federal health-based air quality standards for smog.

Charlotte RCRA and DOT Update and IATA Training

Register for RCRA and DOT Annual Update and Refresher in Charlotte, NC, on September 6 and get your RCRA and DOT training up to date in one day. If you ship dangerous goods by air attend IATA: How to Ship Dangerous Goods by Air on September 7 and ensure you have the training you need. To register for these courses, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Nashville RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Nashville, TN, on September 12–14 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

San Francisco Hazardous Waste and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management in California and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in San Francisco, CA, on September 12–14 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Air Quality Continued to Improve Through 2016

The EPA released its annual report on air quality, showing the significant progress the US has made to improve air quality across the country. “Our Nation’s Air: Status and Trends Through 2016” documents the steady and significant progress made in improving air quality across America, over more than 45 years under the Clean Air Act.

This progress is often overlooked; the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies has called it “The Greatest Story Seldom Told,” explaining that “Through the Clean Air Act’s framework of cooperative federalism, hard-working state and local air agencies have been responsible for tremendous progress in virtually every measure of air quality.”

EPA’s most recent report highlights that, between 1970 and 2016, the combined emissions of six key pollutants dropped by 73%, while the U.S. economy grew more than three times. A closer look at more recent progress shows that between 1990 and 2016, national concentration averages of harmful air pollutants decreased considerably:

  • Lead (3-month average) down 99%
  • Carbon monoxide (8-hour) down 77%
  • Sulfur dioxide (1-hour) down 85%
  • Nitrogen dioxide (annual) down 56%
  • Ground-level ozone (8-hour) down 22%
  • Coarse Particulate Matter (24-hour) ↓ down 39% and Fine Particulate Matter (24-hour) down 44%

“Despite this success, there is more work to be done,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. “Nearly 40% of Americans are still living in areas classified as non-attainment for failing to achieve national standards. EPA will continue to work with states, tribes, and local air agencies to help more areas of the country come into compliance.”

This year’s update to the report includes new, interactive graphics that enable you to view and download detailed information by pollutant, geographic location, and time period.

California Water Board Approves Removal of Drinking Water Standard for Hexavalent Chromium; Board to Create New Standard

In accordance with a recent court ruling, the State Water Resources Control Board recently adopted a resolution to remove the current maximum contaminant level (MCL) for the pollutant hexavalent chromium found in drinking water. The State Water Board will now begin work on establishing a new MCL for the contaminant.

On May 31 the Superior Court of Sacramento County invalidated the MCL for hexavalent chromium, saying the state “failed to properly consider the economic feasibility of complying with the MCL.” The court did “not decide whether the MCL is economically feasible,” nor did it conclude whether the MCL was too high or too low. Rather, the court said the regulation did not adequately document why the MCL was economically feasible.

Hexavalent chromium, also known as chrome 6, is a naturally occurring heavy metal that is also used in a variety of industrial processes. Long-term exposure to the metal may cause cancer.

California became the first state in the nation to issue a drinking water standard for chrome 6 when it set the MCL at 10 parts per billion (ppb) in 2014. The regulation was crafted when the Division of Drinking Water was under the authority of the California Department of Public Health. The Division was transferred to the State Water Board in July 2014.

While the Board disagrees with the court's decision, it has decided not to appeal and instead will begin the process for adopting a new MCL as soon as possible. The Board will use the wealth of data collected over the last three years since the standard was adopted to help craft a new MCL. Generally, regulation development takes between 18 and 24 months to complete.

With adoption of the resolution, staff will now begin the process of having the text of the current MCL deleted from the California Code of Regulations. The State Water Board must let the court know this has been done by Aug. 15. After the Office of Administrative Law approves the proposal to remove the text, it will be effective in late September.

Since the current MCL will be removed, the State Water Board will no longer enforce compliance plans that public water systems entered into for hexavalent chromium.

However, the state MCL for total chromium of 50 ppb will remain in place. Total chromium measures both trivalent and hexavalent chromium in water together and does not indicate how much of either type exists. Trivalent chromium is not considered toxic and is an essential nutrient in trace amounts. The U.S. EPA’s MCL for total chromium is 100 ppb.

Chrome 6 remains a threat to public health as it is still present in the water supply of many public water systems. Because of this, the Board will establish a new MCL for Chrome 6 as close as possible to the public health goal set by the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. The new standard could be at the same level as the now invalid one.

Public water systems that planned and, in some cases, completed projects to install treatment may be able to use that information and experience in any work necessary to comply with the new MCL when it is adopted. Public water systems that have already installed and are operating treatment systems are encouraged to continue to operate these facilities.

For more information on the development of the new drinking water standard for chrome 6, see the Division of Drinking Water webpage.

Public Demands End to Delayed Implementation of Crucial Clean Water Protections

The EPA held a public hearing on a proposal to postpone indefinitely critical public health protections for cleaning up toxic water pollution from power plants. Community leaders and environmental groups are disgusted with the delay that keeps in place decades-old power plant wastewater standards that contain no specific limits on the amount of toxic pollutants such as arsenic, mercury, and lead that power plants are allowed to dump into our waters.

The new standards that EPA seeks to put on hold were finalized in 2015 to modernize outdated 1982 rules on toxic discharges produced by coal-burning power plants under the Clean Water Act. Less than two months after the Trump Administration took office, industry petitioned EPA to reconsider the standards. EPA found when it issued these public health protections that they only required industry to install readily available, affordable wastewater treatment technologies, but EPA is now seeking to postpone compliance for the 2015 rule while the agency reconsiders it.

Coal power plants are the largest source of toxic water pollution in America. The metals and other chemicals in their wastewater can cause severe health problems like cancer, lowered IQ among children, and deformities. These toxins also harm wildlife living in and around the contaminated water.

Mychal Ozaeta, Earthjustice attorney representing environmental groups challenging the hold in court said, “Water is one of our most critical resources. The people of this country should not have to be concerned with whether the EPA is protecting the quality of the water they drink, swim and fish in.”

“The EPA freezing the new standards threatens to the health of wildlife and communities dependent on Illinois rivers for their livelihood and recreation.” said Andrew Rehn, Water Resources Engineer for Prairie Rivers Network. We should not be stuck with pollution technology from the 1980s when EPA has newly updated standards. We can, and should, do better.”

The finalized protections would prevent more than 1 billion pounds of pollutants from being dumped into our nation’s rivers and lakes each year.

This EPA decision rejects years of rigorous scientific research and strong public support. Delaying implementation of the rule is a violation of the law and a blatant gift to industry at the expense of public health and the environment.

Facility in Washington Fined for Dangerous Waste Violations

An aircraft maintenance facility on Kenmore’s Lake Washington waterfront faces a $25,000 state environmental penalty for dangerous waste violations.

The Washington Department of Ecology issued the fine to Kenmore Air Harbor, 6321 NE 175th St., after observing repeated violations in regular inspections since 2009. The most recent violations were found during an inspection on August 17, 2016.

The company maintains float planes at the facility.

“With Kenmore Air’s location right on the lake there’s very little room for error in managing dangerous wastes,” said Darin Rice, manager of Ecology’s Hazardous Waste and Toxics Reduction program. “They’ve cooperated and made corrections after past inspections, but four of those violations have re-appeared at least twice in subsequent inspections.”

Ecology is fining the company for failing to determine whether its wastes should be designated as dangerous waste, properly label and close all its dangerous waste containers, and keep required records of dangerous waste shipments.

Washington’s dangerous waste law and regulations set standards to protect the public and the environment by preventing releases of potentially harmful waste materials at commercial and industrial facilities. Ecology inspects workplaces that generate dangerous wastes to ensure compliance with requirements for safe handling and storage.

“We immediately responded to Ecology’s August 2016 inspection report with changes to procedures and training that we believe will keep our Air Harbor facility in compliance,” said Todd Banks, Kenmore Air President. “We’ve been committed to sustaining and nurturing the Pacific Northwest since our founding in 1946. Our business and employees genuinely care about a healthy environment. We intend to work collaboratively with Ecology to ensure that our operation continues to meet all required environmental standards.”

Ecology penalties may be appealed within 30 days to the Washington State Pollution Control Hearings Board. Kenmore Air has informed Ecology that the company intends to file such an appeal.

Harcros Chemicals Fined $950,000 for Failure to Prevent Accidental Releases

The U.S. Department of Justice and the EPA recently announced that Harcros Chemicals, Inc., has entered into a proposed agreement to settle claims that Harcros violated provisions of the Clean Air Act aimed at preventing accidental releases of chemicals that can have serious consequences for public health, safety and the environment. Under the proposed agreement, Harcros will assure that its accident prevention program complies with all applicable requirements.

Headquartered in Kansas City, Kansas, Harcros maintains and operates 31 facilities in 19 states that manufacture, blend, repackage, and distribute a wide variety of commercial chemicals, including extremely hazardous substances.

“This important agreement will improve chemical safety and minimize the risk of accidental releases at Harcros’ facilities nationwide,” said Acting Assistant Administrator Larry Starfield of the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “It is a priority for EPA to ensure that companies properly manage risks posed by chemicals in a way that protects communities from accidental releases.”

“This resolution ensures that Harcros complies with important Clean Air Act requirements that seek to prevent catastrophic releases of hazardous chemicals to the environment,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey H. Wood of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Today’s action shows that DOJ and EPA are serious about enforcing compliance with the Clean Air Act and protecting American workers and their communities from risks associated with accidental releases of hazardous substances. We also appreciate the positive cooperation that we received from Harcros during the resolution of this matter.”

Under the proposed settlement, Harcros will audit 28 of its facilities to identify and correct any potential violations of its risk management program and comply with Clean Air Act requirements that facilities adequately assess hazards, undertake measures to prevent accidents, and be prepared to effectively address such accidents when they do occur. Harcros will correct any violations identified in the audits according to a schedule set forth in the agreement. The settlement agreement also requires Harcros to pay a $950,000 penalty.

Also, as part of the recent agreement, Harcros will install foam-based sprinkler systems at eight of its facilities. The enhanced fire suppression system is expected to minimize the impacts of an accident by enhancing the speed and effectiveness of the facilities’ ability to extinguish the flames and prevent spread of chemicals.

The proposed settlement reflects the fact that Harcros Chemicals initially brought these violations to the attention of the EPA. In addition, Harcros cooperated fully with the Justice Department and the EPA during the negotiation of the consent decree.

The proposed consent decree was lodged with the United States District Court for the District of Kansas and will be subject to a 30-day public comment period following its publication in the Federal Register.

Illinois EPA Files Community Water Supply Rules with Pollution Control Board

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA) Director Alec Messina recently announced the Agency has submitted proposed new rules to the Illinois Pollution Control Board and revisions to other parts of Subtitle F of the Illinois Pollution Control Board's rules addressing community water supplies.  The proposed rules are the culmination of five years of work from an Illinois EPA workgroup.

The new Part 604 to the Illinois Pollution Control Board rules consolidates current community water supply operation, design and maintenance rules into a single, cohesive part. The current rules have not been updated since the 1980s and are spread out over five different areas within the Board's rules.

"The new rules establish a concise and understandable framework for ensuring the protection of Illinois water consumers," said Director Messina. "These changes are based on common sense and sound engineering practices."

The regulatory proposal includes Operating Permits by Rule for water main extensions and construction projects not requiring disinfection.  The Illinois EPA estimates that this will expedite up to 80% of permit applications received by the Agency each year.  By expediting these permits, water systems will be able to put projects into service more rapidly and therefore minimize the disruption of water service to Illinois consumers.  Additionally, the proposed rules reduce costs to those systems by decreasing regulatory uncertainties which exist with outdated rules found in different parts.

In response to the Agency's filing, the Illinois Pollution Control Board will hold two public hearings and accept comments before the rules are filed with the Secretary of State for First Notice publication in the Illinois Register. 

Massachusetts’ Environmental Agencies Launch Online Data Information and Public Access System

Massachusetts recently launched the first phase of a transformative environmental data and public information access system. The new system will deliver online permitting, greater data accessibility, and provide increased transparency in state government operations for businesses and stakeholder groups across the Commonwealth and the public at-large. The Energy and Environmental Information and Public Access System (EIPAS) will provide the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) and its agencies with a modern, digital platform to more efficiently and effectively execute its mission of protecting the Commonwealth’s environmental and energy resources. The first phase establishes online permitting for 30 permits, which includes many for air quality, hazardous waste, solid waste, Toxic Use Reduction, water supply, special use permits, and pesticides.

“Providing timely environmental and energy permitting options for businesses and immediate public access to relevant state data and documents are important and responsive services for state government to provide,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This new, innovative system will bolster those processes and make the public-private dynamic more interactive.”

“With technology rapidly evolving and improving, it is essential that governmental agencies keep up with the needs of the public,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “Importantly, the Energy and Environmental Information and Public Access System will enable finding environmental and energy information online in real time.”

EEA has implemented online permitting for some permits through EIPAS for three agencies: the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP); the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) Pesticide Applicator Licenses; and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Special Use Permits (coming soon for the 2018 season). As part of the first phase, virtually all of MassDEP’s air quality permits can now be submitted online.

“The EIPAS initiative will update EEA’s existing legacy systems by replacing them with a highly functional and integrated online system,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “This is just the beginning of the process, as we plan to implement additional phases and agency permits over the next year that will continue to increase automation, improve citizen experiences, and increase governmental transparency.”

Through EIPAS, EEA and its agencies have also activated two public-facing online portals:

  • The Public Comment Portal allows citizens to access information on EEA and agency permit applications and final decisions, as well as to submit and view public comments pertaining to permit applications.
  • The Information Data Portal’s initial release includes 20 years of MassDEP’s permit, inspection, facility and enforcement data, providing both data query and analytical dashboard capabilities.

“The online data portal is a ground-breaking initiative that provides a way to search MassDEP permitting, facility, inspection and enforcement data all at once,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “The portal allows traditional search capabilities and enables the user to link a specific permit back to a regulated facility and then to inspections or enforcement actions associated with that facility.”

“EIPAS is a tremendous, positive game-changer for one of MDAR's largest customer groups: licensed pesticide applicators,” said MDAR Commissioner John Lebeaux. “With this system's introduction, our customers may now quickly and conveniently process essential licensing and examination transactions on-line, a vast improvement over the previous method.”

“The Energy and Environmental Information and Public Access System will truly benefit those seeking permits from the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and other agencies by streamlining and simplifying the process,” said DCR Commissioner Leo Roy. “This new system is an excellent example of the Baker-Polito Administration’s priority to make state government more user friendly for businesses, the public, and other stakeholders.”

The initial phases of EIPAS are permitting and the online data portals. The permitting component of EIPAS is part of a larger Commonwealth-wide online permitting initiative, “ePLACE,” which stands for Permitting, Licensing, Authorizations, Certifications and Eligibility. When fully implemented, EIPAS will include features that support key regulatory business processes, including permitting, compliance and enforcement tracking, and online reporting.

The fully implemented EIPAS platform will provide benefits and value to citizens and the regulated community by growing the Commonwealth’s ability to:

  • Facilitate transparent sharing of data with citizens, regulated entities, energy and environmental professionals, and other public agencies
  • Automate transactions with the regulated community through expanded online permitting and environmental reporting, resulting in streamlined interactions with EEA and its agencies
  • Enhance and streamline EEA agencies’ compliance and enforcement efforts through data-driven compliance strategies—automating manual compliance and enforcement processes
  • Enable EEA and its agencies to more quickly adapt their processes to evolving environmental issues

The ePermitting “ePLACE” portal can be found here. The Information Data portal can be found here.

Ohio to Rescind Infectious and Pathological Waste Incinerator Rules

Ohio’s Director of Environmental Protection, under the authority of Sections 3704.14 of the Ohio Revised Code (ORC) has rescinded Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) rules 3745-75-01 through 3745-75-06 and 3745-105-01 through 3745-105-06.

Because the EPA has proposed changes to the rules governing the incinerator operations at the federal level; the Ohio EPA does not believe that it is an appropriate use of resources to amend the existing State rules to conform to the federal revisions given that there are only a few remaining facilities subject to the infectious and pathological waste incinerator requirements. Therefore, Ohio EPA has proposed to rescind the rules from State law, and has requested that U.S. EPA withdraw the rules under OAC Chapter 3745-75 from the State Implementation Plan, and allow the OAC Chapter 3745-75 and OAC Chapter 3745-105 rules to be superseded by the Federal Plan (40 CFR 62, Subpart HHH).

The Director's order of rescission was issued on July 31, 2017. The rule rescissions will become effective on August 10, 2017.

State Water Board Settles Storage Tank Cleanup Cases

The State Water Resources Control Board has settled with three more Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund (Cleanup Fund) claimants about costs billed to the Cleanup Fund for work conducted by their contractor.

These latest agreements stem from a January settlement between the State Water Board and environmental contractor Ami Adini & Associates over allegations of negligence and the submission of false information related to cleaning up petroleum contamination at the claimants’ sites. The Cleanup Fund has settled six similar cases with claimants since 2016.

“It is unfortunate when site owners do not receive reimbursements due to their consultants’ behavior,” said Cris Carrigan, director of the Office of Enforcement. “Site owners need to manage their consultants and press them to clean up their contaminated property in the quickest and most cost effective manner. Site owners should be particularly alert when a cleanup seems to be dragging on without achieving site closure.”

The three settlement agreements resolve all pending requests for reimbursement from the Cleanup Fund for the three Los Angeles County sites. In addition, all three claimants agree to waive appeals for any work performed by their contractor—Ami Adini & Associates. The settlements result in a savings of more than $19,000 to the Cleanup Fund. These agreements do not relieve the claimants’ responsibility to clean up their sites.

As part of the January 2017 settlement between Ami Adini & Associates and the State Water Board, Ami Adini & Associates agreed to surrender more than $1 million in reimbursements it was seeking from the State Water Board’s Cleanup Fund and, along with company principals Ami Adini and Elie Balas, agreed to never again perform work for any State Water Board program.

The settlement agreement with Ami Adini & Associates can be viewed on the Office of Enforcement website.

For more information on the State Water Board’s efforts to prevent, investigate and prosecute cases of fraud against the Cleanup Fund, see the fact sheet.

Suspected fraud against the Cleanup Fund can be reported by email at reportfraud@waterboards.ca.gov, by toll-free message line (1-855-263-0863), or by mailing or faxing a Fraud Reporting Complaint Form to the State Water Board at:

State Water Board

Office of Enforcement

PO. Box 100

Sacramento, CA 95812

Fax: 916-341-5896

The Fraud Reporting Complaint Form can be found online.

Motorcycle Dealer Fined for Hazardous Waste Management Violations

Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources announced that Central Vermont Motorcycles, Inc., a powersports dealer and service center in Rutland, has been required to pay a fine of $23,062 for multiple violations of Vermont Hazardous Waste Management Regulations.

Vermont DEC’s Waste Management and Prevention Division is authorized by the EPA to implement hazardous waste regulations and inspect businesses for compliance, and provides the information and support that generators need to comply with state and federal laws. All non-household generators of hazardous waste are required to comply with baseline regulations that protect the health and safety of their own personnel as well as public health and safety, and the environment. Larger generators have more extensive responsibilities, including specific labeling and storage protocol, personnel training requirements, contingency plans for operators and emergency responders, and detailed recordkeeping.

“Because of the potential risks inherent in hazardous waste management, we hold generators responsible for taking proactive steps to protect not only public health and the environment, but also the people managing hazardous waste,” sais Emily Boedecker, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation. “Vermonters expect hazardous waste generators to meet these responsibilities.”

During a March 2015 inspection of Central Vermont Motorcycles, DEC personnel identified multiple violations of hazardous waste management regulations. Two 55-gallon drums and dozens of smaller containers were stored on the property and known to hold hazardous materials including bad gasoline, spent antifreeze, and used oil. The actively used waste containers were not stored near the waste generating process, or service activities, which put the waste out of the control of the process operator. The smaller storage containers were stored outside, without protection from rain or snow, and both the drums and containers were not protected from freezing. Additionally, the drums and containers were in various states of disrepair, some were left open, and none were properly marked as hazardous waste. Agency personnel also observed used oil rags were being stored in open, unmarked containers.  In addition, staff confirmed the shop burns used oil without first testing to ensure the used oil composition is safe to burn. Finally, Central Vermont Motorcycle staff were unaware of the exact contents of the waste containers, and could not demonstrate sufficient knowledge of required emergency preparedness and response procedures.

Following the site visit, the Agency issued Notices of Alleged Violation to Central Vermont Motorcycles with directives for bringing the business into compliance with hazardous waste regulations. For these violations, Central Vermont Motorcycle has agreed to an Assurance of Discontinuance that requires a penalty of $23,062.50. The Assurance was incorporated into a Final Judicial Order on July 25, 2017. Within thirty days of the Order, Central Vermont Motorcycles is required to submit an inventory of hazardous waste onsite, documentation of composition testing of used oil, and photo documentation verifying proper storage and labeling of hazardous waste, including used oil rags.

Intalco Fined for Air Quality Violations

Intalco Aluminum has been fined $32,500 for air quality permit violations at its Ferndale, Washington, smelter tied to issues with the facility’s operations and to a November 2016 fire at the plant.

The operational issues at Intalco stem from a planned shutdown of the plant in 2016. That curtailment was cancelled in June 2016 after the company signed a new agreement with the Bonneville Power Administration, but the process of stopping the curtailment preparations, combined with the loss of trained personnel, resulted in a number of emission limit violations in the potlines. The potlines are the area of the smelting facility where electric current is used in the creation of metallic aluminum.

The violations were tied to these ongoing issues, and Ecology issued a $27,500 penalty for these problems. Ecology is also fining the smelter $5,000 for separate violations that occurred as it worked to restore production following a fire in the bake oven in November 2016.

An Ecology toxicologist analyzed the reported emissions from the potlines and bake oven and concluded that they were not likely to have caused exposure levels that would result in adverse health effects or impacts to the environment.

Ecology is also ordering the company to improve its training programs to help minimize emissions in the future.

“Intalco worked in good faith to minimize and correct the problems,” said James DeMay, manager of Ecology’s Industrial Section, which regulates the Intalco smelter. “We recognize Intalco has faced some challenges, but the company still needs to meet its air quality permit requirements.” The company may appeal the penalty within 30 days to the state’s Pollution Control Hearings Board.

TCEQ Fines Pasadena Refining System for Air Emissions Violations

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approved penalties totaling $669,842 against 16 regulated entities for violations of state environmental regulations.

Agreed orders were issued for the following enforcement categories: six air quality, five municipal wastewater discharge, three petroleum storage tank, one public water system, and one water quality.

Included in the total are fines of $452,825 against Pasadena Refining System Inc. in Harris County for air emissions violations in 2014 through 2016. Of the total, as part of a Supplemental Environmental Project, $201,412 will be paid to the Houston-Galveston Area Council to replace higher emission buses that do not meet emissions standards with new, lower emission buses. Additionally, $25,000 will be paid to the Texas Association of Resource Conservation and Development Areas, Inc., for the Tire Collection Events and Cleanup of Abandoned Tire Sites project. The amount will be used to coordinate events where residents will be able to drop off used tires for proper disposal or recycling.

In addition, on August 1, the executive director approved a total of 34 penalties, totaling $79,577.

Washington to Increase Wastewater/Stormwater Permit Fees

Washington State law (RCW 80.48.465 – Water Pollution Control) requires the Department of Ecology to fund its wastewater and stormwater permit programs through annual fees paid by permit holders.

The proposed changes sought to continue moving the program toward payment equity between permit categories. Ecology adopted a larger percentage fee increase for underpaying categories and a smaller percentage fee increase for overpaying categories.

Ecology’s goals in establishing the percentage splits are to honor the need for fund equity while not over-burdening the under-paying categories with an increase that is not sustainable.

We updated rule language to account for changes in current business practices relating to electronic payment options, collection processes, and data collection. We also removed the winery general permit fee category for the 2017-19 biennium, as this new permit will not be effective until July 1, 2019.

The adopted percentages increase by category are:

Underpaying Fee Categories

SFY 2018

(July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018)

6.37%

  • Aluminum Alloys
  • Aluminum and Magnesium Reduction Mills
  • Aluminum Forming
  • Aggregate Production – Individual and General Permits
  • Aquatic Pest Control
  • Boatyards (Individual and General Permits)
  • Coal Mining and Preparation
  • Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations
  • Dairies
  • Iron and Steel
  • Metal Finishing
  • Nonferrous Metals Forming
  • Ore Mining
  • Private and State Owned Facilities
  • Shipyards
  • Stormwater Construction (Individual and General Permits)
  • Stormwater Industrial (Individual and General Permits)
  • Stormwater Municipal Phase 1 and 2 Permits

SFY 2019

(July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019)

5.58%

Overpaying Fee Categories

SFY 2018

(July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018)

5.50%

  • Aquaculture
  • Combined Industrial Waste Treatment
  • Combined Food Processing Waste Treatment
  • Combined Sewer Overflow System
  • Commercial Laundry
  • Crop Preparing (Individual and General Permits Facilities
  • Not Otherwise Classified (Individual and General Permits)
  • Flavor Extraction
  • Food Processing
  • Fuel and Chemical Storage
  • Hazardous Waste Cleanup Sites
  • Ink Formulation and Printing
  • Inorganic Chemicals Manufacturing Noncontact Cooling Water with Additives (Individual and General Permits)
  • Noncontact Cooling Water Without Additives (Individual and General Permits)
  • Municipal Wastewater - >250,000 Residential Equivalents
  • Organic Chemical Manufacturing
  • Petroleum Refining
  • Photofinishers
  • Power and/or Steam Plants
  • Radioactive Effluents and Discharges
  • RCRA Corrective Action Sites
  • Seafood Processing
  • Solid Waste Sites
  • Textile Mills
  • Timber Products
  • Vegetable/Bulb Washing Facilities
  • Vehicle Maintenance and Freight Transfer
  • Water Plants (Individual and General Permits)

SFY19

(July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019

4.50%

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Trivia Question of the Week

According to EPA’s Office of Inspector General, for every dollar that EPA has spent on WaterSense, U.S. consumers have saved how much money?

  1. $11
  2. $110
  3. $1,100
  4. $– 0.50 (U.S. consumers lost fifty cents per dollar spent by EPA)

Answer: c

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