Biden Requests Biggest EPA Budget Ever

April 12, 2021
On April 9, the Biden-Harris Administration submitted the President’s priorities for fiscal year 2022 discretionary spending to Congress. According to the proposal, the funding request invests in the core foundations of our country’s strength and advances key EPA priorities, including tackling the climate crisis, delivering environmental justice, and rebuilding core functions at the Agency.
 
"The FY 2022 discretionary request for EPA makes historic investments to tackle the climate crisis and to make sure that all communities, regardless of their zip code, have clean air, clean water, and safe places to live and work," said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. "Today's announcement recognizes that science is at the core of all that we do at the EPA and says loud and clear that the EPA is back and ready to work."
 
The President’s FY22 discretionary request invests in:
  • Tackling Climate Change with the Urgency Science Demands: In line with the urgency needed to address this crisis, the discretionary request invests $1.8 billion in programs that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while also delivering environmental justice to marginalized and over-burdened communities. Within this investment, an additional $100 million is provided for air quality grants for states and Tribes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act. An additional $30 million is included to improve knowledge of the impacts of climate change on human health and the environment – more than doubling EPA’s climate change research.
  • Delivering Environmental Justice for Overburdened and Marginalized Communities: For decades, low-income and marginalized communities have been overburdened with air pollution and other environmental hazards. The discretionary request directs more than $900 million towards a new Accelerating Environmental and Economic Justice initiative that will help create jobs, clean up pollution, and secure environmental justice for communities who too often have been left behind, including rural and Tribal communities. This includes $100 million for a new community air quality monitoring and notification program and an additional $30 million to enforce existing laws meant to protect communities from hazardous pollution and hold polluters accountable.
  • Investing in Critical Water Infrastructure and Creating Jobs: The discretionary request provides a total of $3.6 billion for water infrastructure, an increase of $625 million over the FY 2021 enacted level. These funds could be used to advance water infrastructure improvement efforts for community water systems, schools, and households, as well as broader efforts to improve drinking water and waste water infrastructure while creating good-paying construction jobs across the nation and in Tribal communities.
  • Protecting Communities from Hazardous Waste and Environmental Damage: Preventing and cleaning up environmental damage that harms communities and poses a risk to public health and safety is both an economic and moral imperative. The discretionary request provides $882 million for the Superfund Remedial program to clean up some of the nation’s most contaminated land, reduce emissions of toxic substances and greenhouse gases from existing and abandoned infrastructure, and respond to environmental emergencies, oil spills, and natural disasters.
    Addressing Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Pollution: PFAS are a set of man-made chemicals that threaten the health and safety of communities across the nation, disproportionately impacting historically disadvantaged communities. As part of the President’s commitment to tackling PFAS pollution, the discretionary request provides approximately $75 million to accelerate toxicity studies and research to inform the regulatory developments of designating PFAS as hazardous substances and setting enforceable limits for PFAS under the Safe Drinking Water Act, and for grants for technical assistance as State and local governments deal with PFAS contamination.
  • Restores Critical Capacity to Carry Out EPA’s Core Mission: EPA has lost nearly 1,000 staff over the past four years, impacting the Agency’s ability to effectively carry out its core duties and functions to protect public health and the environment. The discretionary request invests in restoring EPA’s critical staff capacity and programmatic capabilities that focus on protecting clean air, land, and water. Restoring capacity across the Agency will advance efforts to tackle climate change, bolster State climate programs, prioritize climate research at the Agency, and invest in resilient infrastructure across the United States.
 
These investments are one part of the Administration’s whole of government approach to protect the environment and combat climate change. The priorities outlined in the discretionary request ensure the Environmental Protection Agency has the resources it needs to deliver on its mission to protect human health and the environment for all people. In the coming months, the Administration will release the President’s Budget, which will present a unified, comprehensive plan to address the overlapping crises we face in a fiscally and economically responsible way.
 
For more information on the President’s FY 2022 Discretionary Request to Congress, go to: https://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/FY-2022-Discretionary-Request.
 
Upcoming Training
 
To help you get the training you need, Environmental Resource Center has added a number of dates to our already popular live webcast training. Stay in compliance and learn the latest regulations from the comfort of your office or home. You’ll receive the same benefits as our seminar attendees including expert instruction, comprehensive course materials, one year of access to our AnswerlineTM service, course certificate, and a personalized user portal on Environmental Resource Center’s website.
 
Environmental Resource Center’s live webcast training is the best way to learn how to comply with the latest regulations that apply to your site. Learn from the experts and get your site-specific questions answered at these upcoming sessions:
 
Live Training Resumes in July
 
If you prefer live face to face training, we have good news for you. Environmental Resource Center is resuming its schedule of live nationwide training. We’ll be following the current CDC recommendations for a safe environment and work hard to ensure that you remain safe throughout the sessions. Here’s a list of classes that you can choose from:
Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course (RCRA) Macon July 13-14
  Cary/Raleigh July 20-21
  Birmingham August 3-4
  Indianapolis August 10-11
  Richmond August 17-18
  Nashville August 31-September 1
  Pittsburgh September 14-15
  Spartanburg September 28-29
Texas Hazardous Waste Management Dallas July 27-28
  Houston August 24-25
  San Antonio September 21-22
California Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course Ontario August 3-4
  Los Angeles September 21-22
DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course Macon July 15
  Cary/Raleigh July 22
  Dallas July 29
  Ontario August 5
  Birmingham August 5
  Indianapolis August 12
  Richmond August 19
  Houston August 26
  Nashville September 2
  Pittsburgh September 16
  San Antonio September 23
  Los Angeles September 23
  Spartanburg September 30
RCRA and DOT Annual Update and Refresher Charlotte September 8
  Cary/Raleigh September 29
IATA: How to Ship Dangerous Goods by Air Charlotte September 9
HAZWOPER 8-Hour Refresher Cary/Raleigh September 28
 
What Are Forever Chemicals, and Do They Last Forever?
 
Forever chemicals are known for being water-, heat- and oil-resistant, which makes them useful in everything from rain jackets to firefighting foams. But the chemistry that makes them so useful also makes them stick around in the environment and in us –– and that could be a bad thing
 
Find out what these chemicals are and how they work in Reactions, a video series produced by the American Chemical Society and PBS Digital Studios: https://youtu.be/tqKEG5LxPiY.
 
New CDC Guidance to Prevent COVID Transmission in Buildings
 
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a layered approach to reduce exposures to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This approach includes using multiple mitigation strategies, including improvements to building ventilation, to reduce the spread of disease and lower the risk of exposure. In addition to ventilation improvements, the layered approach includes physical distancing, wearing face masks, hand hygiene, and vaccination.
 
The Agency recently updated its guidance, with the following changes:
  • Simplified language in the overall list of tools to improve ventilation.
  • Added three new Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the usefulness of carbon dioxide monitors to inform ventilation decisions, the useful of temperature and relative humidity to control the spread of COVID-19, and the use of fans indoors.
  • Expanded the FAQ on emerging technologies to include more products available on the market.
  • Added additional information with simple calculations to the FAQ on portable HEPA air cleaners to help consumers choose appropriate units for their spaces.
 
Verizon Mobile Jetpack Hotspots Recalled Due to Fire Hazard
 
The recalled Jetpacks are dark navy plastic oval devices that are about 3.5 inches wide and 2.25 inches tall. “Verizon” is printed below the digital display window on the front of the device. The charger provided with the recalled Jetpacks has a sticker on the wire that states: Compatible: FWC MHS900L, Model: FWCR900TVL, DC151030.
 
The hotspots were sold at Verizon stores nationwide, and other stores and to school districts nationwide and online at www.verizon.com from April 2017 through March 2021 for between $50 to $150. Verizon has received 15 reports of devices overheating, including six reports of fire damage to bedding or flooring and two reports of minor burn injuries.
 
You can reduce the risk of hazard by powering the unit off, unplugging it from its power source and store in a place away from children, on top a hard surface with adequate ventilation around the unit and away from combustibles until it can be properly returned to Verizon.
 
Take the following steps if you must use the product for internet access:
  • Turn the recalled hotspot “on” and plug it in to allow the hotspot to receive two over-the-air automatic software updates that enable the device’s identifying number to be viewed on its scrolling screen and prevent the device from charging while the device is plugged in and powered on.
  • After the software update is applied, you should leave the device powered on while it is plugged in. When not in use, the device should be turned off, unplugged from its power source, and securely stored.
 
To receive a replacement hotspot free of charge and a return envelope to return the Ellipsis to Verizon for safe disposal, call Verizon toll-free at 855-205-2627 from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET or online at www.EllipsisJetpackRecall.expertinquiry.com.
 
$137K Penalty for RMP Violations
 
A company that made media for growing plants in South Portland, Maine, has agreed to pay a $137,294 penalty to settle charges by the EPA that it violated the Clean Air Act's chemical accident prevention rules.
 
In the action, EPA alleged that Quick Plug N.A. failed to follow federal regulations in its use of toluene diisocyanate, an extremely hazardous substance known as TDI that it used in making a soil-like media for growing seeds. EPA further alleged that the company failed to prepare and submit a Risk Management Plan (RMP) due to its use of the chemical. RMPs help facilities manage their extremely hazardous chemicals properly to ensure public safety.
 
"Complying with risk management plan regulations helps companies prevent accidental releases of extremely hazardous substances," said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deborah Szaro. "These requirements are designed to help protect local communities and the emergency responders who may be called on if there is an accident at the facility."
 
Quick Plug, a company based in the Netherlands, made trays of growth media for seedlings and small plants in South Portland until it stopped operating in Maine in December 2020. During an EPA inspection of the facility before it closed, inspectors documented several issues, including improper handling and storage of TDI.
 
TDI is a regulated extremely hazardous substance under the Clean Air Act's chemical accident prevention regulations. TDI, a possible carcinogen, can cause respiratory irritation or breathing difficulties if it is inhaled. Those at risk can develop chronic asthma with even minimal exposure.
 
EPA alleged that from about 2016 to 2018, this facility used more than the threshold quantity of 10,000 pounds in its process and was required to submit a risk management plan to EPA, including a registration for its process. Quick Plug did not file a risk management plan during this time. When Quick Plug was operating with less than 10,000 pounds of TDI, it was subject to the Clean Air Act's General Duty Clause, which has more general accident prevention and mitigation requirements.
 
Among the issues named by EPA, inspectors found missing signs; fire hazards caused by use of extension cords; use of a portable electric space heater inside the chemical storage area; improper storage of combustible wood pallets; lack of proper ventilation; failure to maintain equipment that was leaking TDI; and open drums of TDI-containing chemicals.
 
EPA also found that secondary containment was missing in several chemical storage areas, and safety showers were missing at eyewash stations near the carousel line and chemical storage hut.
 
Adhesive Manufacturer Fined $349K for RMP Violations
 
Under a recent settlement with the EPA, ITW Polymers Sealants North America, Inc. (ITW) has corrected alleged violations of chemical safety regulations and will pay a settlement penalty of $345,000 to settle claims that the company violated chemical accident prevention laws at its adhesives manufacturing facility in Rockland, Massachusetts.
 
EPA alleged that ITW, a wholly owned subsidiary of Illinois Tools Works Inc., failed to comply with chemical accident prevention requirements stemming from the federal Clean Air Act. The company stores highly flammable and toxic chemical substances in large outdoor storage tanks, and then transports the chemicals through piping into the facility's buildings to manufacture adhesives and sealants. Many of ITW's violations involved the failure to properly inspect and maintain the outdoor chemical storage tanks and piping.
 
"EPA's enforcement action, and ITW's subsequent actions in response to it, have resulted in a safer facility and helped protect human health and the environment," said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deborah Szaro. "This settlement demonstrates that the Clean Air Act's chemical accident prevention requirements are in place for a reason and shows EPA's dedication to working with facilities to ensure chemical safety compliance."
 
EPA inspected the ITW facility and found that the outdoor tanks and piping had not been properly inspected or maintained, resulting in many potential Clean Air Act General Duty Cause (GDC) and Risk Management Plan (RMP) regulation violations. When contacted by EPA, ITW agreed to address and correct the potential violations. EPA and ITW then reached an administrative settlement of EPA's enforcement case. ITW has now corrected nearly all of the alleged violations and will finish the remaining corrective work by the end of May 2021. The company has also agreed to conduct a follow-up chemical safety compliance audit using an independent auditing firm and produce a written audit report that will be provided to EPA.
 
The company allegedly violated the GDC, a Clean Air Act Section 112(r) statutory provision, that requires companies to design and maintain safe facilities and minimize the potential consequences of hazardous chemical releases. The violations included the failure to inspect outdoor tanks holding seven different GDC-subject chemicals (including toluene, methyl acetate, and acetone), failure to anchor two vertical tanks, and failure to inspect and properly label piping. Two of the tanks were missing required overflow controls and the concrete catch basins, used for spill control around many of the tanks, were chipped and cracked.
 
The company also allegedly violated the federal RMP regulations, also promulgated under Clean Air Act Section 112(r), that include requirements that companies maintain and inspect their hazardous chemical-processing tanks and equipment in accordance with recognized industry standards to help prevent chemical accidents. ITW had failed to conduct inspections of three outdoor, pressurized chemical storage tanks in service at the facility since 2003. ITW had also failed to regularly test or replace the tanks' pressure relief valves. In addition, ITW failed to timely conduct ultrasonic testing on pipes carrying RMP chemicals. The company also failed to properly analyze potential hazards involved in their chemical processes in accordance with RMP regulations.
 
Companies with Clean Air Act RMP and GDC obligations sometimes face challenges in maintaining a proper schedule of tank and pipe inspections, hiring well-qualified tank inspectors, and developing systems to ensure overall compliance. Well-performed, comprehensive inspections not only satisfy compliance requirements, but also help ensure that tanks, pipes, and equipment have full, useful service lives.
 
Safe Disposal of Coal Ash Act Introduced in Congress
 
Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) introduced the Ensuring the Safe Disposal of Coal Ash Act, strengthening protections against coal ash contamination by rectifying deficiencies in the 2015 Coal Ash Rule.
 
Congressman Cohen released the following statement: “I have been acutely aware of the dangers of coal ash contamination because of the disastrous 2008 coal ash spill in Kingston, Tennessee, and the unacceptably slow clean up of the contaminated groundwater beneath coal ash pits at TVA’s Allen Fossil Plant in my own district. This plant is now identified as one of the most-contaminated sites in the country. The measure I am introducing strengthens protections outlined in the 2015 Coal Ash Rule and protects communities by mandating safer and faster disposal of this dangerous waste product of electricity production.”
 
The Ensuring the Safe Disposal of Coal Ash Act would require that any EPA-approved coal ash program conduct air monitoring and limit the amount of fugitive dust at coal ash sites, which is toxic and, when inhaled, can become lodged in lungs, causing asthma, lung disease, and cancer.
 
The industry’s own data reveal that more than 91 percent of coal ash ponds across the U.S. are polluting groundwater with toxic metals like arsenic, cobalt, and lithium at unsafe levels. The bill addresses this issue by denying utilities seeking permits to close their ponds if coal ash would remain in place and continue leaking into the groundwater. It also places financial accountability on utilities for cleanup by requiring permits or approval of all ponds that have not been closed.
 
The Ensuring the Safe Disposal of Coal Ash Act would also ensure EPA-approved state coal ash programs are as protective as the federal regulations. The bill further compels the agency to finalize rulemakings requiring state programs to include meaningful public participation and transparency, and adopt requirements to protect low-income and communities of color plagued by coal ash contamination.
 
More Companies Caught Selling Diesel Engine Pollution Control Defeat Devices
 
On April 8, EPA announced settlements with three facilities in Pennsylvania that were involved in the illegal sale and installation of aftermarket devices that were designed to defeat the emissions control systems of heavy-duty diesel engines.
 
The companies (listed below) allegedly violated the Clean Air Act’s prohibition on the sale or installation of so-called defeat devices, which are designed to “bypass, defeat or render inoperative” a motor vehicle engine’s air pollution control equipment or systems. Specifically, all three companies were penalized for allegedly selling defeat devices and have certified that they are now are now in compliance with applicable requirements. The three Pennsylvania companies are:
  • Pypes Performance Exhaust, LLC of Hatfield, Montgomery County, paid an $84,000 penalty.
  • Hassler Diesel Performance of Bethel, Berks County, paid a $30,000 penalty.
  • Bell Performance Solutions of Shoemakersville, Berks County, paid a $23,892 penalty.
 
Illegally modified vehicles and engines contribute substantial excess pollution that harms public health and impedes efforts by EPA, tribes, states, and local agencies to attain air quality standards.
 
Clean Air Act penalties consider various factors such as the seriousness and duration of the violations, size of the business, the penalty’s impact on the business, compliance history, good faith efforts, and economic benefit of past non-compliance.
 
 
Today’s vehicles emit far less pollution than vehicles of the past. This is made possible by careful engine calibrations, and the use of filters and catalysts in the exhaust system. Aftermarket defeat devices undo this progress and pollute the air we breathe. EPA testing has shown that a truck’s emissions increase drastically (tens or hundreds of times, depending on the pollutant) when its emissions controls are removed.
 
$104,000 Fine for Multiple Repeat Fall Protection Violations
 
Oregon OSHA has fined a roofing and painting company in Portland $104,000 for six job safety violations, including repeatedly failing to follow the minimum requirements to protect workers from fall hazards that could kill them.
 
The division cited West Coast Roofing and Painting Inc. following an inspection. The inspection included an examination of work activity at a residential construction site in Portland, interviews of employees and a supervisor, and a review of the company’s recordkeeping practices.
 
Of the six violations Oregon OSHA cited the company for, five were repeat violations.
In one violation, the company failed to follow requirements to implement adequate fall protection systems – such as a personal fall arrest system – where workers are exposed to falling six feet or more to a lower level. The company left four employees in danger of potentially falling between approximately 11 feet and 22 feet.
 
The failure to comply with Oregon OSHA’s six-foot trigger-height requirements was a repeat violation by West Coast Roofing and Painting. In fact, it was the seventh such violation committed by the company since May 2018.
 
Under Oregon OSHA’s rules, penalties multiply when employers commit repeat offenses. In this case, the division cited West Coast Roofing and Painting $75,000 for not ensuring employees are protected from falling when working six feet or more above a lower level.
 
Oregon OSHA also cited the company for not ensuring that the side rails of a ladder extended at least three feet above an upper landing surface to which the ladder was used to gain access. It was the fourth violation of this rule since May 2018. Proposed penalty: $24,000.
 
Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry. “There is absolutely no good reason to violate clear and time-tested fall protection standards that we know are effective at protecting employees against fall hazards,” said Michael Wood, administrator for Oregon OSHA. “To repeatedly fail at implementing those standards serves just one purpose: to increase the risk to workers of serious injury or death.”
 
The other repeat violations were the following:
  • The employer did not ensure that employees who operated or were in close proximity to an employee operating a staple gun used proper eye protection. This was the third violation since June 2019. Proposed penalty: $1,400.
  • The employer did not verify in writing that employees were trained in fall protection systems. This was the fourth violation since May 2018. Proposed penalty: $1,000.
  • The employer did not maintain proper injury and illness documents for 2019. This was the second violation. Proposed penalty: $200.
 
The citation also included a serious violation for not properly installing personal fall arrest system anchors. Specifically, the anchors were secured by an insufficient number of fasteners according to the manufacturer’s installation requirements. The proposed penalty is $2,400. This violation was complied with at the time of the inspection.
The citation issued against West Coast Roofing and Painting reflects appropriate penalty reductions based on the small size of the company, as well as upward adjustments based on the repeat violations.
 
Oregon OSHA offers employers resources to help improve workplace safety and health. These resources include the division’s Fall Protection Suite of online video training and its A-to-Z topic page about fall protection.
 
Learn more about help provided by Oregon OSHA’s consultation services, technical staff, and additional education and training services.
 
Oklahoman Sentenced After Pleading Guilty to Violating the Clean Water Act
 
Dakota Brennan Gray, of Carmen, Oklahoma, pleaded guilty to a single-count Information charging him with negligently discharging oil into a water of the United States, in violation of the Clean Water Act, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Robert J. Troester.
 
On December 2, 2020, Gray was charged by Information with violating the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act was enacted by Congress to restore and maintain the chemical, physical, and biological quality of the Nation’s waters. In addition, the Clean Water Act was enacted to prevent, reduce and eliminate water pollution in the United States and to conserve the waters of the United States for the protection and propagation of fish and aquatic life and wildlife, for recreational purposes, and for the use of such waters for public drinking water, agricultural, and industrial purposes. Among other offenses, the Clean Water Act prohibits the negligent discharge of oil or a hazardous substance in harmful quantities into a water of the United States.
 
Yesterday, Gray pleaded guilty to discharging crude oil into the Cottonwood Creek in Major County, Oklahoma. At the hearing, Gray admitted that he opened the valves on a tank battery that contained approximately 129 barrels of crude oil. Gray discharged the crude oil onto the ground and most of the oil eventually spilled into Cottonwood Creek, which is a tributary stream that flows approximately 22 miles from its headwaters in Major County northeast to is confluence with the Cimarron River near Orienta, Oklahoma. The Cimarron River flows to the Arkansas River, the Mississippi River, and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico.
 
A response team from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with the tank battery’s owners, participated in the cleanup and recovery operation. Response actions included the placement of rigid booms, sorbent pads, and an underflow dam to recover and remove the crude oil from Cottonwood Creek and the accompanying shoreline. Due to the prompt response and cleanup efforts, inspectors did not observe any permanent contamination of the affected area during follow-up inspections.
 
At yesterday’s combined plea and sentencing hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge Suzanne Mitchell accepted Gray’s guilty plea and sentenced him to serve three years of probation.
 
"Enforcement of the Clean Water Act protects public health and the environment," said Acting U.S. Attorney Troester. "I commend the dedicated efforts of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for their investigative efforts and rapid response to mitigate the impact of the pollution."
 
"Our nation’s environmental laws are designed to protect our communities and our natural resources," said Special Agent in Charge Christopher Brooks of EPA’s Southwest Area Office. "EPA will continue to hold individuals responsible for their environmental crimes and the resulting harm."   
 
This case is the result of an investigation by the EPA – Criminal Investigation Division. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Brown.
 
Updated PFBS Toxicity Assessment Released by EPA
 
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are synthetic chemicals used in a wide range of products because of their ability to repel water, grease, and oil. PFBS has been used as a replacement chemical for PFOS. PFOS is a chemical that was voluntarily phased out by the primary U.S. manufacturer by 2002. PFBS has been identified in environmental media and consumer products, including surface water, wastewater, drinking water, dust, carpeting and carpet cleaners, and floor wax. The assessment is part of EPA’s efforts to increase the amount of research and information that is publicly available on chemicals in the PFAS family.
 
A toxicity assessment is a written summary of the potential health effects associated with a chemical and identifies the dose levels at which those health effects may occur in order to calculate toxicity values. Toxicity is only one piece of information that public officials consider when determining whether there is a risk to public health. Other factors, such as exposure, must also be considered. Toxicity information, when combined with specific information on potential exposures could be used by EPA Programs/Regions, and state, tribal, and local partners to help characterize the public health risks of this chemical, which completes the human health risk assessment process. Public officials can then work to identify what actions are appropriate to address these potential public health risks. When considering actions to address risks, officials weigh and integrate scientific information, statutory and other legal considerations, risk management options, potential health impacts, cost/benefit analyses, economic and social factors, and other considerations.
 
EPA has released an updated toxicity assessment for perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS), a member of a larger group of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). EPA said that the PFBS assessment is part of Agency’s commitment to restore scientific integrity to all of the agency’s actions and increase the amount of research and information available to the public on PFAS chemicals.
 
“This PFBS assessment reflects the best available science, involved extensive federal, state, and public engagement, and is critical to EPA efforts to help communities impacted by PFAS,” said senior career scientist Dr. Jennifer Orme-Zavaleta, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Research and Development and the agency’s Science Advisor. “The assessment posted today fixes the errors in the version issued earlier this year, was developed by EPA career scientists, and upholds the values of scientific integrity. I’m proud to release such an important assessment that will help EPA and communities take action to address PFAS and protect public health.”
 
EPA, federal agencies, states, tribes, and local communities can use the PFBS toxicity assessment, along with specific exposure and other relevant information, to determine if and when it is necessary to take action to address potential health risks associated with human exposures to PFBS under appropriate regulations and statutes.
 
The assessment has gone through all appropriate reviews, includes input EPA received from external peer review, upholds the tenets of scientific integrity, was authored by expert career scientists in EPA’s Office of Research and Development, and has not been compromised by political staff – these were all issues with a version of the assessment that was posted during the previous administration. The release of today’s PFBS assessment upholds the integrity of EPA’s science, which EPA, states, tribes, and more rely on to make decisions that protect the health of their communities.
 
Greenworks Pressure Washer Spray Guns Recalled
 
This recall involves the Greenworks brand 2000 psi plastic pressure washer spray guns. Hongkong Sun Rise, the product manufacturer, has received 15 reports of the pressure washer spray gun connector breaking, allowing the hose and/or parts of the connector to become dislodged when under pressure during use. This resulted in 13 reports of injuries, including 7 of which required medical treatment for post-concussion, broken bones and/or injuries to the eyes and mouth.
 
The spray guns were included in: the Greenworks brand 2000 psi Plastic Gun Accessory kit, Greenworks brand Pressure Washer models ranging from 1500 -1800 psi, and certain Powerworks brand Pressure Washer models ranging from 1700-1800 psi. The model number is printed on the back of the pressure washer unit, near the top. The brand, Greenworks or Powerworks, appears on the side of the pressure washer spray gun. In addition, when the spray gun is removed from the hose, the interior connector is made of black plastic, not metal, on recalled units.
Model Number
Description
Date Codes
GPW1500
GREENWORKS 1500 PSI Pressure Washer
1/1/17 - 10/31/19
GPW1501
GREENWORKS 1500 PSI Pressure Washer
1/1/17 - 5/11/20
GPW1600
GREENWORKS 1600 PSI Pressure Washer
1/1/17 - 10/31/19
GPW1602
GREENWORKS 1600 PSI Pressure Washer
1/1/17 - 6/2/20
GPW1702
GREENWORKS 1700 PSI Pressure Washer
1/1/17 - 10/31/19 (sold at Lowe’s) 1/1/17 - 6/8/20 (sold elsewhere)
GPW1704
GREENWORKS 1700 PSI Pressure Washer
1/1/17 - 10/31/19
GPW1800
GREENWORKS 1800 PSI Pressure Washer
1/1/17 - 7/7/20
GPW1803
GREENWORKS 1800 PSI Pressure Washer
1/1/17 - 12/17/19
5202002
Plastic Gun Kit
All with that model number
PWA101
POWERWORKS 1700 PSI Pressure Washer
1/10/20
PWA104
POWERWORKS 1800 PSI Pressure Washer
1/11/20
 
If you have one of these units, yoou should immediately stop using the recalled spray guns and contact Hongkong Sun Rise Trading for a free replacement of the spray gun handle. Call toll-free at 833-211-9185 Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET or online at https://www.greenworkstools.com/important-safety-notices.
 
Draft Reference Exposure Levels for Trivalent Chromium
 
California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) announced the release of draft Reference Exposure Levels (RELs) for Chromium, Trivalent (Inorganic Water-Soluble Compounds) for review by the Scientific Review Panel (SRP) on Toxic Air Contaminants. The SRP will discuss the draft RELs at its next Zoom meeting on May 7, 2019.
 
RELs are developed for use in the Air Toxics Hot Spots Program. RELs are airborne concentrations of a chemical that are not anticipated to result in adverse noncancer health effects for specified exposure durations in the general population, including sensitive subpopulations.
 
The Chromium, Trivalent (Inorganic Water-Soluble Compounds) REL values proposed are:
  • Acute REL (for a 1–hour exposure): 0.48 micrograms Cr(III) per cubic meter (µg Cr(III)/m3)
  • 8–Hour REL (for repeated 8–hour exposures): 0.06 µg Cr(III)/m3
  • Chronic REL (for long–term exposures): 0.12 µg Cr(III)/m3
 
Abatement Company Owner Guilty of Illegal Asbestos Removal
 
According to court documents, between 2015 and 2016, Stephanie Laskin, 45, of Newburgh, along with several others, conspired to illegally remove asbestos from a former IBM site in Kingston, now known as TechCity. The facility in question contained over 400,000 square feet of regulated asbestos-containing material (RACM), as well as an additional 6,000 linear feet of RACM pipe wrap.
 
Laskin, the owner of A2 Environmental Services (A2ES), who had special asbestos abatement training, hired numerous workers and supervisors to conduct the asbestos removal. She and her co-conspirators pressured these workers to expedite the removal of asbestos at the site to meet contract deadlines. In doing so, she led them to cut corners, violate their remediation training, and handle RACM in dangerous and illegal ways.
 
At times, she and other A2ES supervisors, including Gunay Yakup who pleaded guilty in March, instructed workers to remove RACM dry. Wetting is required by law and helps to prevent airborne asbestos fibers. When the workers questioned her, Laskin gave them the choice of following her directions or losing their jobs. This resulted in numerous violations of the Clean Air Act’s “work practice standards,” which address how asbestos can be stripped, bagged, removed, and disposed of with relative safety. Laskin is scheduled to be sentenced on July 27 and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
 
“Defendant Laskin went into this project with her eyes open, planning to do it on the cheap,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Jean E. Williams of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD). “But, that meant doing this project in knowing violation of the law and her supervisor training, placing others at risk of inhaling asbestos fibers. This criminal prosecution holds her accountable.”
 
Laskin admitted that she and her supervisors, workers, and other co-conspirators removed substantial amounts of RACM from the site in violation of the work-practice standards and were issued numerous notices of violation (NOVs) associated with dry removal, storing bulk quantities of RACM waste on-site in open containers, failing to properly contain work areas to avoid discharges of RACM to the outside air, sweeping dry RACM in ways that produced visible emissions, and conducting work outside containment and other dry removal abatement techniques. In light of the repeated violations, New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) inspectors issued “red tags” for the site on Aug.1, 2016, which stopped all work and ended Laskin’s company’s illegal abatement efforts.
 
The site was later deemed to be contaminated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and municipal authorities. Cleanup costs associated with asbestos contamination at the site are estimated to be in the millions. Asbestos has been determined to cause lung cancer, asbestosis, and mesothelioma, an invariably fatal disease. The EPA has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.
 
Special agents of the EPA and individuals from the New York Departments of Labor and Environmental Conservation investigated the case. Todd W. Gleason and Gary N. Donner of ENRD’s Environmental Crimes Section prosecuted the case with the assistance of paralegal Chloe Harris.
 
Separating Beer Waste into Proteins for Foods, and Fiber for Biofuels
 
Home brewing enthusiasts and major manufacturers alike experience the same result of the beer-making process: mounds of leftover grain. Once all the flavor has been extracted from barley and other grains, what’s left is a protein- and fiber-rich powder that is typically used in cattle feed or put in landfills. Scientists have found a new way to extract the protein and fiber from brewer’s spent grain and use it to create new types of protein sources, biofuels and more.
 
“There is a critical need in the brewing industry to reduce waste,” says Haibo Huang, Ph.D., the project’s principal investigator. His team partnered with local breweries to find a way to transform leftover grain into value-added products. The researchers presented their results at the spring meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS Spring 2021 is being held online April 5-30. Live sessions will be hosted April 5-16, and on-demand and networking content will continue through April 30. The meeting features nearly 9,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.
 
“Spent grain has a very high percentage of protein compared to other agricultural waste, so our goal was to find a novel way to extract and use it,” says Yanhong He, a graduate student who is presenting the work at the meeting. Both Huang and He are at Virginia Polytechnic and State University (Virginia Tech).
 
Craft brewing has become more popular than ever in the U.S. This increased demand has led to an increase in production, generating a major uptick in waste material from breweries, 85% of which is spent grain. This byproduct comprises up to 30% protein and up to 70% fiber, and while cows and other animals may be able to digest spent grain, it is difficult for humans to digest it because of its high fiber content.
 
In order to transform this waste into something more functional, Huang and He developed a novel wet milling fractionation process to separate the protein from the fiber. Compared to other techniques, the new process is more efficient because the researchers do not have to dry the grain first. They tested three commercially available enzymes — alcalase, neutrase and pepsin — in this process and found that alcalase treatment provided the best separation without losing large amounts of either component. After a sieving step, the result was a protein concentrate and a fiber-rich product.
 
Up to 83% of the protein in the spent grain was recaptured in the protein concentrate. Initially the researchers proposed using the extracted protein as a cheaper, more sustainable replacement for fishmeal to feed farmed shrimp. But more recently, Huang and He have started to explore using the protein as an ingredient in food products, catering to the consumer demand for alternate protein sources.
 
However, that still left the remaining fiber-rich product without a specific use. Last year, Huang’s postdoctoral researcher Joshua O’Hair, Ph.D., reported finding a new species of Bacillus lichenformis in a spring at Yellowstone National Park. In the paper, they noted that the bacteria could convert various sugars to 2,3-butanediol, a compound that is used to make many products, such as synthetic rubber, plasticizers and 2-butanol, a fuel. So, He pretreated the extracted fiber with sulfuric acid, then broke it down into sugars from cellulose and hemicellulose. She then fed the sugars to the microbe, producing 2,3-butanediol.
 
Next, the team plans to work on scaling up the process of separating the protein and fiber components in order to keep up with the volume of spent grain generated at breweries. They are also working with colleagues to determine the economic feasibility of the separation process, as the enzymes currently used to separate the protein and fiber components are expensive. Huang and He hope to find suitable enzymes and green chemicals to make this process even more sustainable, scalable and affordable.
 
The researchers acknowledged support and funding from Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Graduate Student Grant, the Virginia Agricultural Council and the John Lee Pratt Graduate Scholar Program.
 
$61K Fine for Fall Hazards
 
Falls are among the most fatal hazards construction workers face. A recent inspection of a Bunnell residential work site showed a framing and sheathing contractor failed to protect their employees from falls.
 
As part of its Regional Emphasis Program for Falls in Construction, OSHA cited P & S Service Group Inc. for repeat violations for failing to ensure employees used a fall protection system while working from heights greater than 6 feet. OSHA cited the company for a similar violation in October 2017. The company faces $61,575 in penalties.
 
“This employer has repeatedly disregarded the safety of their employees despite previous OSHA violations,” said OSHA Area Director Michelle Gonzalez in Jacksonville, Florida. “Employers must ensure that workers are protected from these well-known hazards.”
 
OSHA’s Fall Protection in Construction booklet provides information on federal fall prevention requirements, including conventional fall protection systems, restraints and training. The Fall Protection webpage offers extensive reference materials to help employers and workers recognize and prevent fall hazards.
 
Auto Body Manufacturing Plant Cited for Numerous Willful, Serious Violations
 
Employees at a Waterville auto body manufacturing plant repeatedly informed management of fall and noise hazards but these reports went ignored until OSHA opened an inspection on Oct. 1, 2020, in response to a complaint.
 
Now, The Shyft Group Duramag LLC – formerly F3 MFG Inc. – faces $393,992 in proposed fines for not addressing these and other hazards that placed employees at risk. OSHA cited the plant for two willful and 10 serious violations.
 
"Our inspectors found plant employees without fall protection working atop truck bodies and others exposed to excess noise levels while steam cleaning," said OSHA Area Director David McGuan in Augusta, Maine. "Management's knowledge of these hazards and their failure to correct them led us to cite these conditions as willful violations."
 
OSHA also issued citations for serious violations stemming from the plant's failure to:
  • Guard employees against struck-by and crushing hazards from homemade attachments used on auto lifts and provide adequate training to employees.
  • Guard machinery to prevent employees from coming in contact with machines' operating parts.
  • Conduct a hazard assessment to determine what personal protective equipment employees required and select appropriate protective equipment for employees.
  • Provide appropriate protective goggles for workers and other persons near a welding area that lacked noncombustible or flameproof screens or shields.
  • Establish and implement a respiratory protection program, medically evaluate employees' ability to wear respirators, fit-test employees before using respirators, train employees on respirators and adequately maintain and store respirators.
  • Securely anchor machines to prevent them from moving.
  • Refrain from using flexible cords and/or cables as a substitute for fixed electrical wiring and adequately guard electrical openings.
 
OSHA's website includes information for employees and employers about hazards and safeguards associated with fall protection, noise, machine guarding, respiratory protection and other topics.
 
Verso Luke, LLC and Verso Corporation Agree to Settle Water and Waste Violations
 
Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Ben Grumbles announced a settlement with Verso Luke LLC and its parent company, Verso Corporation, owners of the Luke Paper Mill in Western Maryland, for seepages into the North Branch Potomac River that threatened public health and the environment. The consent decree settles a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) on behalf of the Potomac Riverkeeper Network (PRKN) on March 24, 2020, alleging that the release of pulping liquor at the Verso Luke Mill created an imminent and substantial endangerment to Maryland under the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The State of Maryland intervened in the lawsuit on May 28, 2020, alleging, in addition to the RCRA claim, violations of state environmental laws.
 
“Verso repeatedly discharged toxic pulping liquor into Maryland’s waters,” said Attorney General Frosh. “These repeated discharges degraded water quality and were harmful to fish and wildlife. Today’s settlement requires Verso to stop its discharges of pulping liquor, develop and implement a remediation plan, and pay a significant penalty to the State for its repeated violations.”
 
“This is a healthy shot in the arm for the Potomac River that has endured toxic leaks and a stiff penalty for the polluting company that failed to protect it,” said Secretary Grumbles. “Our enforcement settlement holds the polluter accountable for the cleanup and begins a new chapter of opportunity for beneficial reuse of the property to help the citizens and communities in the region.”
 
Under the terms of the settlement, Verso will be required to continue its investigation into the source of the seepages and the extent of the contamination. Verso is also required to permanently stop the discharge and remediate the contaminated site. In addition, Verso is required to pay a civil penalty of $650,000, reimburse the State’s attorneys’ fees, and pay past and future costs to the State for the oversight of the investigation and remediation. This settlement would allow the future redevelopment of the site while allowing the investigation and remedial work to continue.”
 
Sun Valley Express Metals Recycling Ordered to Stop Releasing Hazardous Waste and to Clean Up Releases
 
After finding evidence of contaminated soil, state regulators, in two enforcement actions, have ordered Express Metals Recycling in Sun Valley to stop releasing hazardous waste and have asked a judge to find that the defendant is liable for civil penalties.
 
In a civil complaint, the state Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), which is tasked with protecting Californians from hazardous chemicals, asked a Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge to order CSC Auto Salvage and Dismantling Inc., which does business as Express Metals Recycling, to stop violating hazardous waste laws. DTSC is also seeking penalties of up to $25,000 per violation.
 
In a separate corrective action order, DTSC ordered the present and prior owners or operators of the facility and property to determine the extent of contamination from its Branford Street facility, including whether the pollution has spread to ground or surface water, and to clean it up.
 
This is the latest in a string of enforcement actions DTSC has taken against metal recyclers in California, many of them in the Los Angeles area and in communities, such as Sun Valley, that suffer from high levels of pollution.
 
“We have a responsibility to protect people and their communities from companies and industries that pollute,” said DTSC Director Meredith Williams. “DTSC is continuing to take actions to protect all Californians from potential exposure to harmful materials stemming from the operation of metal recycling activities – especially in neighborhoods already suffering from multiple sources of pollution.”
 
Express Metals Recycling receives metal waste such as old appliances, and then sorts and stockpiles the metal for shipment to buyers of metal for recycling. Soil samples collected on site by DTSC inspectors contained elevated levels of cadmium, lead, mercury, and zinc. These contaminants have harmful effects on humans, particularly children.
 
The recycling facility is in an industrial area. The Hansen Spreading Grounds to the south and southeast receive discharge waters from Hansen Dam to replenish the groundwater. The nearest homes are 600 feet northwest of the facility. The neighborhood suffers from some of the highest pollution in the state, according to CalEnviroScreen, an online tool used to identify environmentally burdened areas.
 
DTSC found:
  • Large stockpiles of soil and debris contaminated with elevated levels of zinc, cadmium, lead, mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs);
  • Numerous roll-off bins containing large amounts of contaminated soil and metal shredder residue that were stored without covers and which were not labelled as hazardous waste;
  • Piles of printed circuit boards; ballasts and compressors containing oil; and various types of batteries – all improperly managed.
 
Under the corrective action order, the respondents must identify the extent of contamination and evaluate if there is a risk to human health or the environment. The order contains timetables for meeting certain conditions and submitting required investigation reports, including a plan for cleaning up contamination. DTSC will hold a public meeting so residents can weigh in on the elements of a possible cleanup plan.
 
ErgoMine 2.0 Helps Mining Professionals Conduct Ergonomics and Safety Audits
 
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has launched version 2.0 of the ErgoMine app, an on-the-ground resource for mine workers and mine safety and health professionals. The auditing app helps to identify, record, and track ergonomics and safety hazards that can lead to injuries, illnesses, and fatalities at the worksite.
 
“ErgoMine 2.0 puts a powerful and easy to use auditing tool right where mining professionals need one—in their hands,” said NIOSH Associate Director for Mining Dr. Jessica Kogel. “ErgoMine is a versatile app that mine safety professionals and workers alike can use to identify and address musculoskeletal hazards at the jobsite.”
 
The updated ErgoMine app for iOS and Android devices includes checklists to identify slip, trip, and fall hazards on walkways, stairways, and fixed ladders. The new version also offers forms to identify and evaluate risk factors for musculoskeletal disorders. These forms include evaluations for hand tools, manual tasks, and ergonomic workplace improvements, a risk factor reporting card, and a musculoskeletal symptom evaluation based on the Nordic Musculoskeletal Symptoms Questionnaire. In addition, the updated app features a fix list manager to help you track changes needed at your worksite.
 
You can access the app on your mobile device or print PDFs to use the same functionality in hard copy. You can audit haul truck and bagging operations, and maintenance and repair work at their worksites. In addition, you can fix existing hazards and make ergonomics improvements based on the app-generated recommendations.
 
To install the ErgoMine 2.0 app on your iOS or Android device, visit the NIOSH Mining webpage.
 
Free Amazon HD 10 Tablet with RCRA and DOT Training
 
Annual training is required by 40 CFR 262.17(a)(7). Learn how to complete EPA’s new electronic hazardous waste manifest, and the more than 60 changes in EPA’s new Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule. Environmental Resource Center’s Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course is available via live webcasts. If you plan to also attend DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course, call 800-537-2372 to find out how you can get your course materials on an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet at no extra charge.
 
Job Openings at Environmental Resource Center
 
Environmental Resource Center has openings for EHS consultants and trainers. If you are looking for a new challenge, send your resume and salary requirements to Brian Karnofsky at brian@ercweb.com.
 
News Links
 
 
Trivia Question of the Week