CEQ Requires Climate Change Impact Assessments in NEPA Reviews

August 08, 2016

Federal agencies have a huge impact on climate change. Much of the nation’s fossil fuel production comes from federal lands: 40% of coal, one-fifth of the oil, and about 15% of natural gas. Federal agencies also permit interstate and international pipelines and export facilities that encourage oil and natural gas production. The US Forest Service and other land agencies manage hundreds of millions of acres of carbon-trapping forests.

The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) has released final guidance for Federal agencies on how to consider the impacts of their actions on global climate change in their National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews. This final guidance provides a framework for agencies to consider both the effects of a proposed action on climate change, as indicated by its estimated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and the effects of climate change on a proposed action. The final guidance applies to all types of proposed Federal agency actions that are subject to NEPA analysis and guides agencies on how to address the GHG emissions from Federal actions and the effects of climate change on their proposed actions within the existing NEPA regulatory framework. Below is the guidance and related information, including a list of GHG accounting tools available to Federal agencies.

New Exclusions for Solvent Recycling and Hazardous Secondary Materials

EPA’s new final on the definition of solid waste creates new opportunities for waste recycling outside the scope of the full hazardous waste regulations. This, which went into effect on July 13, 2015, streamlines the regulatory burden for wastes that are legitimately recycled.

The first of the two exclusions is an exclusion from the definition of solid waste for high-value solvents transferred from one manufacturer to another for the purpose of extending the useful life of the original solvent by keeping the materials in commerce to reproduce a commercial grade of the original solvent product.

The second, and more wide-reaching of the two exclusions, is a revision of the existing hazardous secondary material recycling exclusion. This exclusion allows you to recycle, or send off-site for recycling, virtually any hazardous secondary material. Provided you meet the terms of the exclusion, the material will no longer be hazardous waste.

Learn how to take advantage of these exclusions at Environmental Resource Center’s live webcast on October 14 where you will learn:

  • Which of your materials qualify under the new exclusions
  • What qualifies as a hazardous secondary material
  • Which solvents can be remanufactured, and which cannot
  • What is a tolling agreement
  • What is legitimate recycling
  • Generator storage requirements
  • What documentation you must maintain
  • Requirements for off-site shipments
  • Training and emergency planning requirements
  • If it is acceptable for the recycler to be outside the US

Bring your questions to this live webcast. Click here to register online or call 800-537-2372.

Richmond RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Richmond, VA, on August 23–25 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Raleigh Area 40-Hour HAZWOPER Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response 40-Hour Training and ensure you are ready to respond. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Houston RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management in Texas and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Houston, TX, on August 30–September 1 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Draft Aquatic Life Criteria for Copper in Estuarine/Marine Waters

EPA is soliciting public comment on draft aquatic life criteria for copper in estuarine/marine waters. The 2016 draft criteria incorporates a recently developed saltwater biotic ligand model and the latest scientific information for estuarine/marine aquatic organisms. The model allows users to develop protective chronic and acute values based on site-specific water quality variables including temperature, dissolved organic carbon, salinity, and pH.

Copper is toxic to aquatic organisms at higher concentrations. The updated criteria will be particularly beneficial for protecting aquatic life in and around coastal harbors and marinas, where antifouling paints and coatings on vessels and marine structures are some of the most commonly identified sources of copper to the estuarine/marine environment. EPA will accept comments on the 2016 draft criteria document for 60 days upon Federal Register publication.

New Clean Water Rule Adopted in Washington

Following extensive outreach, the Washington Department of Ecology adopted a water quality rule that safeguards the health of Washington’s people and its economy.

The fish consumption rule, as it is widely known, updates Washington’s water quality standards for toxics, establishing how clean lakes, rivers, and marine waters need to be. The standards set pollution limits for businesses and municipalities that discharge wastewater. They are based, in part, on the amount of toxics contained in the fish that people eat from Washington waters and are required by the federal Clean Water Act.

Last year, the EPA released its own draft rule for Washington. EPA would be required to adopt its rule if the state failed to complete a rule.

“We believe our new rule is strong, yet reasonable. It sets standards that are protective and achievable,” said Ecology Director Maia Bellon. “With this rule now complete, we will continue to press forward to reduce and eliminate toxics from every-day sources.”

“The EPA has indicated its preference for a Washington-led rule and we believe we have developed a rule that EPA can approve,” Bellon added.

Ecology sent the new state rule to EPA for approval. Under the federal Clean Water Act, EPA has 60 days to approve, or 90 days to disapprove, the state rule.

Facts at a glance about new rule:

  • Updates standards for 97 chemicals. Previously, the federal rule that Washington relied on covered 85 chemicals.
  • Sets 88 marine and 73 freshwater standards that are equally or more protective than the current federal standards, and sets new standards for pollutants not currently regulated
  • Sets an average fish consumption rate of 175 grams per day and a one-in-1 million cancer risk rate. This means if you eat 175 grams of fish a day from Washington waters for 70 years, you would have a one-in-1 million chance of developing cancer beyond your current risk. The initial 2015 draft rule used the same fish portion with a one in 100,000 cancer risk rate.
  • Maintains the current standards for PCBs, makes no changes for mercury, and aligns arsenic with the federal drinking water standard
  • Clarifies language on how combined sewer-stormwater treatment plants can implement the new standards

Federal Judge Rules EPA Must Protect People from Dangerously Weak Water Pollution Standards

A federal judge recently imposed a tight deadline on the EPA to finalize new anti-pollution water quality rules aimed at protecting public health. The rules, often called fish consumption rules, must ensure that fish caught and eaten from Washington waters are safe for the most vulnerable and exposed populations.

U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Rothstein found EPA in violation of the Clean Water Act for failing to meet deadlines aimed at protecting human health in Washington from water pollution.

“The judge wholeheartedly agreed we need safer water laws NOW and that EPA has been derelict in finalizing protective standards,” said Janette Brimmer, an attorney with Earthjustice. “The State and EPA fiddled for years while deadline after deadline passed, but finally the courts and the Clean Water Act are calling the tune. Now it is up to EPA to act quickly and reject the rule the State proposed this week as wholly inadequate and merely a repeat of a proposal already found wholly lacking.”

Earthjustice, a national nonprofit environmental law firm, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle on behalf of Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, Spokane Riverkeeper, North Sound Baykeeper, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, and Institute for Fisheries Resources, seeking to compel quick action against EPA’s admitted failure to comply with the Clean Water Act. Additional delay will simply cause increasing harm.

“The judge agreed—EPA sat on its hands for far too long,” said Chris Wilke, Executive Director of Puget Soundkeeper Alliance. “We need quick action to ensure clean, healthy waters for all communities. Our food and water must be safe and free of toxic chemicals that cause harm to our health. That includes rejection of the Ecology rule that leaves unaddressed the most prevalent and dangerous pollutants—PCBs, mercury, and arsenic.”

For more than a decade, the Washington State Department of Ecology has failed to update water pollution standards. At issue is how much fish people eat in Washington and consequently how much toxic pollution they consume.

Until two days ago, the state standards grossly underestimated how much fish people eat—which led to under-protective water quality standards for many toxic pollutants, including poisons such as PCBs, mercury, and arsenic. While the State has now increased the fish consumption rate to a more realistic and protective level, it is still well below what Tribes consume, leaving them at risk.

Last year, EPA officially determined that Washington’s water quality standards were inadequate and issued its own proposed rules to replace the weak standards. The proposed EPA rules must still be finalized. The State’s recent announcement contains the same flaws that EPA roundly criticized last spring as wholly inadequate and not compliant with the Clean Water Act.

“Our fishing families rely on our waters being clean and our seafood healthy. The court agreed with what we have being saying for years—the state and EPA’s inaction gave a pass to polluters and allowed too much toxic water pollution,” said Glen Spain, Northwest Regional Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA). “This hurts the livelihoods of fish-dependent families, communities, and industries.”

“We applaud the ruling. The judge agreed it is long past time for EPA to do what federal law has requires,” said Lee First of North Sound Baykeeper.

“Perhaps now we can have a heated race to a proper standard, instead of foot-dragging, to solve the pressing problem of toxic contaminants flowing into our waterways,” said Jerry White of Spokane Riverkeeper. “We need protective standards to ensure our waters are clean and healthful for generations to come.”

EPA Report Tracks Changing Climate Impacts on Health and Environment

The EPA recently released a report that shows compelling and clear evidence of long-term changes to our climate, and highlights impacts on human health and the environment in the United States and around the world. The report, Climate Change Indicators in the United States, features observed trend data on 37 climate indicators, including U.S and global temperatures, ocean acidity, sea level, river flooding, droughts, and wildfires.

“With each new year of data, the signs of climate change are stronger and more compelling,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “This report reiterates that climate change is a present threat and underscores the need to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and prepare for the changes underway, to protect Americans’ health and safeguard our children’s future.”

The report shows:

  • Carbon Dioxide Levels – Average annual carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has exceeded 400 parts per million for the first time in at least 800,000 years.
  • Temperatures – Average surface air temperatures have risen across the U.S. since 1901. Eight of the top 10 warmest years on record have occurred since 1998, and 2012 and 2015 were the two warmest years on record.
  • Sea level – Sea level (relative to the land) rose along much of the U.S. coastline between 1960 and 2015, particularly the Mid-Atlantic coast and parts of the Gulf coast.
  • Coastal Flooding – Nearly every city with a long-term measurement site has experienced an increase in tidal flooding since the 1950s.
  • Arctic Sea Ice – March sea ice reached the lowest extent on record in 2015–2016.
  • Marine Species Distribution – As ocean waters have warmed, marine fish and invertebrate species along U.S. coasts, such as lobster, black sea bass, and red hake are shifting northward and moving deeper in the ocean.
  • Ragweed Pollen Season – Warmer temperatures and later fall frosts are increasing the length of ragweed pollen season, which has increased at 10 out of 11 locations studied in the central United States and Canada since 1995.

This fourth edition of the report, which was last published in 2014, provides additional years of data for previously-published indicators and adds seven new indicators: heat-related illnesses, West Nile Virus, river flooding, coastal flooding, Antarctic sea ice, stream temperature, and marine species distribution. The report also features a special section that highlights the many connections between climate change and human health.

EPA partners with more than 40 data contributors from various government agencies, academic institutions, and other organizations to develop the climate change indicators. Each indicator and the report in its entirety were peer-reviewed by independent experts.

Two Southern California Facilities Fined $130,000 for Improper Handling of Hazardous Waste

The EPA recently announced settlements with two Southern California facilities for improper handling of hazardous waste. Bachem Americas, Inc., and Crosby & Overton, Inc., will collectively pay more than $130,000 in penalties and emergency response assistance for federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) violations.

“Whether a company generates its own hazardous waste or treats waste from offsite, the material must be handled correctly to keep surrounding communities safe,” said Kathleen Johnson, EPA’s Enforcement Division Director for the Pacific Southwest. “EPA and the state are working together to improve oversight of these facilities, especially as we increase our focus on RCRA air emissions compliance.”

Bachem is a Swiss pharmaceutical company. In April 2015, EPA inspected Bachem’s U.S. manufacturing facility in Torrance. Hazardous waste at the facility included acetonitrile (which is flammable) and trifluoroacetic acid (which is corrosive). EPA found that the company operated hazardous waste storage tanks and related equipment without inspecting and monitoring them for leaks, in violation of air emission standards. Bachem also failed to store hazardous waste correctly, with containers closed and properly labeled.

Bachem has agreed to pay a $22,376 penalty and spend at least $29,000 on a supplemental environmental project in support of the Torrance Fire Department’s emergency planning and preparedness efforts. By providing the fire department with emergency response equipment, including tablets and laptops, Bachem will enhance the department’s ability to plan for and respond to hazardous material spills or releases in the community. The firm has corrected all the identified compliance issues.

EPA inspected Crosby & Overton’s hazardous waste treatment facility in Long Beach in August 2014. EPA found that the company failed to safely store broken batteries, which contain corrosive hazardous waste. In addition, Crosby & Overton did not properly use and maintain equipment—such as a diaphragm pump for pumping paint waste—and failed to conduct the required inspections and monitoring to manage hazardous materials and related air emissions. Crosby & Overton has corrected the violations and agreed to pay a $78,570 penalty.

Under EPA’s RCRA program, hazardous substances must be stored, handled and disposed of using measures that safeguard public health and the environment. Hazardous waste air emissions present a potential risk for nearby communities and facility employees, such as through fire or explosion risk and creation of harmful ground level toxins. Compliance with RCRA Air regulations will be emphasized as part of a National Enforcement Initiative beginning in 2017 and, as such, will be a focus of upcoming RCRA investigations.

SI Group to Pay $188,000 Penalty for EPCRA Violations

The EPA announced a legal settlement with the SI Group, Inc. of Rotterdam Junction, New York that will provide emergency response equipment worth at least $93,275 to the Rotterdam Junction Fire Department. The agreement resolves alleged violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA), which was designed to help communities protect public health, safety, and the environment from chemical hazards. The SI Group has also agreed to pay a $188,000 penalty for failure to properly submit information about chemicals it releases from its Rotterdam, New York, facility.

“Communities have a right to know what pollutants are being released into the environment,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “Companies that are required to report chemical releases must make sure that the information they provide is accurate and timely. That was not the case with the SI Group and therefore the EPA took action.”

The EPA requires that facilities that manufacture, process, or use toxic chemicals over certain quantities are required to file annual reports estimating the amounts released to the environment, treated or recycled on-site, or transferred off-site for waste management. The EPA compiles this information into a national Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) database. Since 1988, this database has been provided to the public annually to help people learn more about the chemicals present in their local environment and gauge environmental trends over time. The inventory contains the most comprehensive information about chemicals released into the environment reported annually by certain industries and federal facilities.

The EPA conducted inspections of the SI Group’s facility after a review of TRI data indicated that there was a gap in the data submitted by the company. These inspections found that the SI Group failed to submit complete and correct reports for naphthalene and 1,2,4 trimethyl benzene for the calendar years 2010, 2011, and 2012. The company also failed to report accurate estimates of other chemicals released into the environment from 2010–2013, including formaldehyde, ethyl benzene, and N-butyl alcohol.

Under the legal agreement with the EPA, the SI Group will comply with the requirements of EPCRA. The company has already submitted to the EPA information it had not previously filed as required by EPCRA. The company will also purchase an air bottle filling station and gas meters for the Rotterdam Junction Fire Department, which will improve the ability of the fire department to respond to emergencies. The Rotterdam Junction Fire Department is currently using a system that is over 20 years old and is not able to completely fill its Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus cylinders.

Connecticut Power Company Settles with EPA for Transformer Spill

The Connecticut Light and Power Company has agreed to pay $47,000 to settle claims by the EPA that it violated federal regulations in its management of a transformer that spilled 50 gallons of oil containing PCBs at a location in Waterbury.

EPA alleged that violations of the federal Toxics Substances Control Act occurred at a transformer at 130 Freight St., home to a client of the power company. The transformer was owned by the power company, which is doing business as Eversource Energy. Eversource was responsible for the storage and removal of the transformer.

Eversource has since removed and shipped for disposal the PCB-contaminated transformer and contaminated soil and concrete. About 70 cubic yards of material was removed as a result of the cleanup, according to Eversource officials. Connecticut Light and Power has now properly disposed of the transformer and cleaned the area where it stood.

“The toxic substances law is in place to make sure the public and the environment are protected from the potential damage of chemicals such as PCBs,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.

The transformer was reportedly vandalized in September of 2014 and several key components were stolen. On September 24 of that year, Eversource, then known as Northeast Utilities, took the transformer off line but due to an oversight did not remove it for over a year. In January of 2016, Eversource discovered the transformer had been vandalized again and a spill had occurred. The company estimated about 50 gallons of oil with a PCB concentration of 318 parts per million had been released.

Among the violations:

  • The PCB spill onto the concrete pad and soil constitutes improper disposal of PCBs
  • The transformer was stored for disposal more than 30 days without the facility receiving an EPA identification number
  • The PCB-contaminated transformer was stored for disposal more than 30 days in an area which did not meet the storage requirements of the law
  • The transformer was not disposed of within a year of the date the item was determined to be waste
  • The transformer was not inspected every 30 days for leaks and records of leak inspections were not maintained as required

Three New Hampshire Companies Fined for Lead Based Paint Violations

Three New Hampshire companies—two residential property owners, and a company hired for renovation work—face significant penalties from EPA under two civil complaints filed by EPA alleging that the companies failed to follow federal lead paint regulations at a commercial and residential property in Manchester.

In the first of the related actions, EPA has issued an administrative complaint against Brady Sullivan Millworks II, LLC, and Brady Sullivan Millworks IV, LLC, (Brady Sullivan) of Manchester, New Hampshire, seeking a penalty of $139,171 for alleged violations of the Real Estate Notification and Disclosure Rule and the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule. In the second of the related actions, EPA has issued an administrative complaint against Environmental Compliance Specialists, Inc. (ECSI) of Kingston, New Hampshire, seeking a penalty of $152,848 for alleged violations of the Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule. Both cases are being brought under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The alleged violations occurred at a residential and commercial property located at 195 McGregor Street in Manchester.

EPA’s complaint against Brady Sullivan alleges that the company violated TSCA when it failed to provide tenants in fourteen apartments at 195 McGregor Street (known as the Lofts at Mill West) with lead paint disclosure information. The complaint also alleges that Brady Sullivan Millworks IV violated three provisions of the RRP Rule during renovation activities occurring in portions of the building which it owns.

EPA’s complaint against ECSI alleges that during renovation activities at the McGregor Street building in 2015, the company violated six provisions of the RRP Rule, including the failure to properly contain the work area. ECSI was hired by Brady Sullivan Millworks IV as a subcontractor to perform demolition and renovation work on the first and second floors of the building as part of an effort to convert the space to residential units.

In May 2015, EPA performed a series of inspections at the building following the referral of a complaint about lead dust in the building received by the New Hampshire, Department of Health and Human Services (NH DHHS). During the inspections, EPA observed dust and chipping paint throughout the interior common areas of the building (areas to which tenants continued to have access during renovation activities). At the time of the inspections, building residents included children. As part of the joint EPA and NH investigation, NH DHHS conducted dust-wipe sampling, which confirmed levels of lead in the dust and in paint chips well above acceptable health-protective standards. Further, one building tenant hired a licensed lead paint inspector/risk assessor to perform independent dust testing in their unit and in the common hallway. Analysis of these dust wipe samples also revealed the presence of lead in the dust above the established regulatory levels. Additional testing showed that there was dust containing levels of lead above the regulatory limit in numerous residential units on the third and fourth floors of the McGregor Street building. The source of the dust was sandblasting being performed by ECSI on the first floor.

The City of Manchester ordered a halt to the sandblasting on May 11, 2015, because the subcontractor, ECSI, had not obtained the required permit from the City to conduct such activity. On June 19, 2015, EPA issued a unilateral order to Brady Sullivan to clean up lead dust and chipping lead paint on the third and fourth floors of the building and in common areas throughout the property.

Lead poisoning of infants and children can cause lowered intelligence, reading and learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity, and behavior problems. Adults with high lead levels can suffer difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, nerve disorders, memory problems, and muscle and joint pain.

“EPA always works to ensure that building owners, property managers, and construction contractors understand and comply with federal lead-paint disclosure and lead-safe work practice requirements to protect people from exposure to lead. This is especially important when children are involved since exposure to lead can have serious developmental impacts on kids’ growing bodies and minds,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.

EPA’s RRP Rule is designed to prevent children’s exposure to lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards resulting from renovation, repair and painting projects in pre-1978 residences, schools and other buildings where children are present. If lead painted surfaces are to be disturbed at a job site, the Rule requires individual renovators to complete an initial 8-hour accredited training course and the company or firm that they work for to be certified by EPA. These baseline requirements are critical to ensuring that companies take responsibility for their employees by following proper lead safe work practices including containing and managing lead dust and chips created during such projects. Further, the Rule requires that specific records be created and maintained in order to document compliance with the law.

The purpose of the Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Rule is to ensure that prospective tenants have enough information about lead-based paint in general and known lead-based paint hazards in specific housing to make an informed decision about whether to lease a particular property. The Disclosure Rule requires owners/managers of rental properties to provide prospective renters both with general information about lead-based paint risks and to provide specific information on whether or not there is known lead-based paint in a rental unit prior to the individual signing a lease. By fully disclosing the required information, individuals can make an informed decision about whether to lease a particular property.

Vita Craft Cited for Excess PCE Emissions

As part of a settlement with EPA, Vita Craft Corporation of Shawnee, Kansas, will install equipment to completely eliminate emissions of the hazardous air pollutant perchloroethylene (PCE) from its facility, which is beyond what the company is required to do by law.

Following an EPA inspection in September 2015 that revealed the facility’s PCE emissions were in excess of the regulatory threshold, Vita Craft approached EPA with a proposal to address the findings by eliminating PCE emissions entirely.

“This is a unique settlement where the company proposed to go beyond what is required by law to improve air quality in the local community,” said EPA Region 7 Air and Waste Management Division Director Rebecca Weber. “The result of today’s settlement is a great example of how government and business can come together to protect human health and the environment.”

While facilities are permitted to use and emit PCE up to an annual limit, Vita Craft, a manufacturer of high-end metal cookware, elected to modify its manufacturing process by installing an aqueous degreaser, which will result in zero PCE emissions to the surrounding community. EPA estimates this equipment will eliminate more than eight tons of PCE emissions annually.

This agreement is part of Region 7’s recent air toxics initiative and community air protection strategy, which focuses on facilities that emit hazardous air pollutants, and ensures compliance with regulatory requirements and limits for emissions of pollutants. Under the agreement filed, the new equipment is scheduled to be installed in October 2016.

PCE is a solvent commonly used as a degreasing agent in metal manufacturing and is a hazardous air pollutant under the Clean Air Act. Breathing high levels of PCE for a brief period may cause dizziness or drowsiness, headache, and incoordination. Exposure for longer periods to low levels of PCE may cause changes in mood, memory, attention, reaction time, and vision.

Consol Energy Ordered to Implement Water Management Upgrades to Protect Ohio River

The EPA and the state of Pennsylvania, recently announced that Consol Energy, Inc.; CNX Coal Resources; and Consol Pennsylvania Coal Co., LLC, (“Consol”) have agreed to implement extensive water management and monitoring activities to prevent contaminated discharges of mining wastewater from the Bailey Mine Complex (Complex) in Greene and Washington Counties in Pennsylvania, to the Ohio River and its tributaries.

In a consent decree filed in federal court in Pittsburgh, the company also agreed to continue to prevent certain discharges from the Complex, conduct regular long-term-monitoring to ensure sufficient storage capacity to prevent future discharges, develop contingency plans should future discharges become likely, and implement an environmental management system to ensure compliance with the Clean Water Act and other applicable environmental laws. In addition, Consol, the largest producer of coal from underground mines in the United States, will pay a $3 million civil penalty for Clean Water Act violations.

“Mining operations that discharge to our rivers, lakes and streams have an obligation to comply with our nation’s laws that protect those water bodies, as well as public health,” said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “The actions required by today’s settlement represent a major step forward in protecting local waterways and the health of communities.”

The U.S. government’s complaint, filed concurrently with the settlement, alleges chronic exceedances of osmotic pressure (OP) and other limits in Consol’s Clean Water Act discharge permits. The discharges primarily enter into tributaries of the Ohio River. OP is the standard used in Pennsylvania to protect aquatic life from excess amounts of total dissolved solids (TDS). Too much TDS going into a water body can increase the salinity of the water and harm aquatic life and impact drinking water quality.

“We will continue to vigorously protect our District’s waterways and other vital natural resources,” said U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton for the Western District of Pennsylvania. “Today’s settlement ensures that our rivers remain safe for future generations to use and enjoy.”

“Protecting Pennsylvania’s waterways is a top priority of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and we will not allow companies to pollute our rivers and streams,” said Acting DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “CONSOL has agreed to improve their facilities to prevent future discharges, and the actions today will go a long way towards ensuring Pennsylvania’s waters are protected.”

Under the terms of the consent decree, Consol has agreed to:

  • Complete and maintain certain water management measures to prevent discharges from certain outfalls at Complex
  • Monitor and report quarterly and annually, to ensure adequate storage capacity to prevent future discharges
  • Submit and implement a plan for achieving long term compliance through advanced treatment in the event of projected exhaustion of storage capacity
  • Develop and implement an environmental management system to ensure environmental compliance throughout the Complex
  • Pay a $3 million civil penalty

These measures will continue to reduce TDS in mining waters discharged to streams from the Complex. EPA estimates that implementation of the consent decree by Consol will eliminate more than 2.5 million pounds of pollutants in the form of TDS.

Clearview Home Improvements To Pay $58,450 for Lead Paint Hazards

The EPA recently fined Clearview Home Improvements, Inc., $58,450 for failing to comply with the federal Renovation, Repair, and Painting Rule while working at seven residential properties in Southern California. This rule was created to protect the public from lead-based paint hazards that occur during repair or remodeling activities in housing built before 1978.

“While renovations can make homes energy efficient, it is crucial to protect residents from the hazards of lead paint dust,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Lead-based paint is the main source of lead poisoning for children, and even low levels of lead in their blood can cause irreversible harm.”

Clearview, which operates as Clearview Home Energy Solutions, is located in Anaheim. The company performs energy efficient home improvements, such as installing windows and vinyl siding. An EPA inspection found that in 2013 the company performed renovation work at pre-1978 homes in Los Angeles, San Pedro, Huntington Beach, Carson, Mission Viejo, and Riverside without:

  • Confirming that a certified renovator, who ensured compliance with the Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule, was assigned to the job
  • Keeping records to show that the renovator complied with lead-safe work practices
  • Maintaining proper certification as a Renovation, Repair and Painting firm
  • Providing clients with the required federal Renovate Right brochure, which gives basic facts about lead and information about lead safety during renovation work

Lead-contaminated dust can be easily ingested or inhaled. Common renovation activities like sanding, cutting, and demolition can create hazardous lead dust and chips that can settle on home surfaces. Exposure to such contamination through hand-to-mouth contact or breathing can result in lead poisoning for children, families, and construction workers.

Though harmful at any age, lead exposure is most dangerous to children. Children’s growing bodies absorb more lead, and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to its damaging effects. Lead exposure can cause behavior and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, and diminished IQ. Children can be checked for lead with a simple blood test.

EPA enforces the federal Toxic Substances Control Act and its Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule to protect residents from exposure to lead-based paint hazards. Contractors who disturb painted surfaces in homes and child-occupied facilities built before 1978 must be trained and certified; must provide educational materials to residents; and must follow safe work practices. Lead-based paint was banned for residential use in 1978, but EPA estimates that it is still present in more than 37 million older homes in the United States.

AR Metalizing Ltd. to Pay $11,502 Penalty for Violating Air Pollution Control Regulations

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has penalized AR Metallizing Ltd., of Franklin, $11,502 for violating air pollution control regulations.

In December, 2015, MassDEP inspected the paper metallizing facility, located at 24 National Drive, and found that the company failed to obtain an Air Quality Plan Approval prior to installing new equipment. In addition, the company exceeded its permitted air emission limits due to operational breakdowns in March 2014 and October 2015.

In a consent order, the company agreed to comply with the applicable regulations and pay the penalty.

“AR Metallizing is cooperating with MassDEP by agreeing to address the failures,” said John Kronopolus, deputy director of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office in Worcester. “The company quickly applied for the necessary permit for the installed equipment and engaged the services of a third-party consultant to investigate ways to prevent future breakdowns.”

Environmental News Links

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Scientists’ Annual Physical of Planet: Earth’s Fever Rises

EPA Warns Automakers of Even Steeper U.S. Fuel-Economy Goals

NSF International Has Information for People Concerned About Lead in Drinking Water

EPA Wants Online Reporting of Hazardous Waste Imports and Exports

Medical Waste Management Association Launched

Aerial Emissions Are Not Disposal Under CERCLA

Truck with Hazardous Material Crashes on I-90

Hazmat Crews to Sky Harbor for Unknown Substance on Plane

Melting Greenland Ice May Expose Entombed Hazardous Waste

Trivia Question of the Week

About 93% of the heat energy trapped by greenhouse gases goes where?

a) The atmosphere

b) Is used by plants

c) The ocean

d) None of the above

Answer