In a recent report on corrosion inside diesel fuel underground storage tanks (USTs), the EPA found moderate or severe corrosion that could affect metal components inside both steel and fiberglass underground tank systems. Corrosion inside USTs can cause equipment failure by preventing proper operation of release detection and prevention equipment. If left unchecked, corrosion could cause UST system failures and releases, which could lead to groundwater contamination.
Underground tank releases have historically been a leading cause of groundwater contamination. Groundwater is a source of drinking water for almost half of the people in the U.S.
EPA’s report shows that 35 of 42—or 83%—of the USTs studied exhibited moderate or severe corrosion, but less than 25% of owners were aware of corrosion prior to the internal inspection.
Although EPA cannot project the actual percentage of USTs storing diesel that are affected by corrosion nationwide, the Agency is alerting owners of USTs storing diesel fuel about risks from corrosion. EPA’s notification recommends owners check inside their tank systems and further investigate the condition of their diesel fuel tanks. Owners’ awareness and early actions could help protect them from higher repair costs and help protect the environment from contamination from releases. EPA’s UST website provides information on actions tank owners can take to minimize corrosion and associated risks.
As part of EPA’s ongoing collaboration with the UST community, the Agency responded to concerns about reports of severe corrosion in USTs storing diesel fuel by working with industry and scientific experts to develop this research. The results are leading to a fuller understanding of the issue and possible causes, as well as laying the groundwork for future research efforts for identifying a solution.
Scientific evidence has not identified a specific cause of corrosion in diesel tanks, although microbiologically influenced corrosion is suspected to be involved. EPA is continuing to work collaboratively with partners in the UST community, industry, and scientific experts on additional laboratory research about the cause of corrosion.
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 July 8 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.
Greensboro RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Greensboro, NC, on August 2–4 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.
Dallas RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management in Texas and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Dallas, TX, on August 2–4 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.
Birmingham RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Birmingham, AL, on August 9–11 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.
Galvco Maryland LLC Fined $60,000 for Hazardous Waste Violations
Galvco Maryland, LLC, a steel galvanizer, has agreed to pay a $60,000 penalty to settle alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations at its manufacturing facility in Baltimore, Maryland, the EPA announced recently.
Alleged violations involved spent hydrochloric acid and included failure to conduct daily inspections of the tank, failure to have a leak detection system or secondary containment surrounding the tank to prevent a spill from reaching the environment should the tank fail, and failure to have the tank evaluated by a professional engineer before using it for hazardous waste storage.
EPA cited Galvco for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the federal law governing the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. RCRA is designed to protect public health and the environment, and avoid costly cleanups, by requiring the safe, environmentally sound storage and disposal of hazardous waste.
The violations did not involve any spill or release of hazardous waste into the environment.
The penalty reflects the company’s compliance efforts, and its cooperation with EPA in the resolution of this matter. As part of the settlement, Galvco has neither admitted nor denied liability for the alleged violations, but has certified its compliance with applicable RCRA requirements.
Oil Refiners to Pay Millions for Clean Air Act Violations
The EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice recently announced a $425 million settlement with subsidiaries of Tesoro Corp., and Par Hawaii Refining that resolves alleged Clean Air Act violations and protects public health by reducing air pollution at six refineries. Under the settlement, the two companies will spend about $403 million to install and operate pollution control equipment, and Tesoro will spend about $12 million to fund environmental projects in local communities previously impacted by pollution. Tesoro will also pay a $10.45 million civil penalty.
“The advanced technologies Tesoro and Par are required to implement are the future for protecting people from toxic air emissions,” said Cynthia Giles, EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This settlement puts new enforcement ideas to work that will dramatically cut pollution and protect communities.”
“This settlement, achieved in partnership with states, will benefit the air quality in communities across the Western United States,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “It uses cutting edge technology to address global environmental issues like climate change by controlling flaring and provides important reductions of harmful air pollution in communities facing environmental and health challenges.”
The recent settlement, a consent decree lodged in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, includes provisions that resolves ongoing Clean Air Act violations at refineries in Kenai, Alaska; Martinez, California; Kapolei, Hawaii; Mandan, North Dakota; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Anacortes, Washington. Of the $10.45 million civil penalty that Tesoro will pay, the United States will receive $8,050,000, and co-plaintiffs including the states of Alaska and Hawaii, and the Northwest Clean Air Agency will share $2.4 million.
Once the companies install the pollution controls required by the settlement, annual emissions reductions at the six refineries will total an estimated 773 tons of sulfur dioxide, 407 tons of nitrogen oxides, 1,140 tons of volatile organic compounds, 27 tons of hazardous air pollutants, 20 tons of hydrogen sulfide and the equivalent of 47,034 tons of carbon dioxide, which is a greenhouse gas (GHG). A large number of the emissions reductions will occur in areas with impaired air quality and protect populations at risk for respiratory illnesses. In particular, this settlement will reduce GHG emissions from flaring at the subject refineries by over 60%.
The settlement addresses a range of alleged leak detection and repair and flaring violations under the Clean Air Act at all six refineries as well as violations of the Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration, Non-Attainment New Source Review, New Source Performance Standards and National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants at certain refineries. The settlement also addresses various violations of state clean air laws, programs and permits.
Refineries process crude oil into products like gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, jet fuel, asphalt and liquefied petroleum gas and emit pollutants from a number of different sources. At the refineries subject to this settlement, fluid catalytic cracking units, sulfuric acid plants, heaters, boilers and sulfur recovery units, are substantial emitters of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2). Flaring results in emissions of SO2, GHGs and toxic air pollutants, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and hazardous air pollutants. Fugitive emissions of VOCs result from leaking valves and pumps and can result in numerous health effects, including eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches; loss of coordination; nausea and damage to liver; kidney and the central nervous system; among other effects.
Leaks, flares, and excess emissions from refineries emit hazardous air pollutants, or air toxics, that are known or suspected to cause cancer, birth defects, and seriously impact the environment. SO2 and NOx have numerous adverse effects on human health and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog, and haze. Refineries also emit GHGs that contribute to climate change, as well as fugitive VOCs.
The settlement incorporates the latest technological approaches to reducing flaring and making the flaring that does occur as efficient as possible. And in addition to installing pollution control equipment, the settlement requires Tesoro to use a series of state-of-the-art Next Generation Compliance tools to monitor pollution. Tesoro will use infrared gas-imaging cameras at four refineries to supplement the company’s enhanced leak detection and repair program. These cameras are able to locate fugitive VOC emissions that may not be otherwise detected and to address these fugitive emissions and in doing so protect refinery employees from them. Tesoro will also pay for third party auditing of compliance with the enhanced leak detection and repair requirements at all six facilities. EPA’s Next Generation Compliance strategy works to advance the use of state-of-the-art technology to identify and reduce pollution.
Under the settlement, Tesoro will also spend about $12.2 million to fund three pollution mitigation projects. In addition to installing infrared cameras, Tesoro will install ultra-low NOx burners on a furnace at its Salt Lake City refinery. Tesoro estimates that the cost of this mitigation project is $10.8 million and is expected to result in significant quantifiable reductions in NOX emissions. Tesoro will also contribute $1 million to fund the replacement of old diesel school buses in Contra Costa County, California, with new compressed natural gas (CNG) school buses.
Replacing existing school buses that run on diesel with vehicles that are powered by CNG decreases emissions of NOX, SO2, PM, GHGs and other air pollutants. This settlement is part of EPA’s National Enforcement Initiative to control harmful emissions from large sources of pollution, which includes refineries, under the Clean Air Act’s Prevention of Significant Deterioration requirements. The total combined SO2 and NOx emission reductions secured from all settlements under this initiative will exceed 2 million tons each year once all the required pollution controls have been installed and implemented.
Tesoro Corp., is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, and its subsidiaries, Tesoro Alaska Company LLC, Tesoro Logistics L.P. and Tesoro Refining & Marketing Company, LLC, operate five of the refineries covered by this settlement. Par Pacific Holdings, Inc., formerly known as Par Petroleum Corp., and a parent corporation of Par Hawaii Refining, purchased the Kapolei refinery from Tesoro in 2013.
There will be a 30-day public comment period on the consent decree lodged. Information on how to comment on the consent decree will be available in the Federal Register and on the Department of Justice’s website.
Ohio to Revise Sulfur Dioxide Emission Rules
In accordance with Ohio Revised Code (ORC) 106.03 and 106.031 (5-year rule review), the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Division of Air Pollution Control (DAPC) has reviewed the rules contained in Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) Chapter 3745-18. The rules in this chapter set limits, testing and recordkeeping requirements for emissions of sulfur dioxide from sources in the state of Ohio.
Upon review, Ohio EPA has determined that some changes are needed and that all rules in the chapter remain necessary. Primarily, Ohio EPA will be correcting a deficiency identified by US EPA in a recent amendment, removing facility specific emission requirements for shut down facilities, updating facility names and emissions unit identifications, and making minor changes for grammar and typographical errors throughout the chapter.
As part of the rule-making process, DAPC is consulting with organizations that represent political subdivisions, environmental interests, business interests, and others affected by the rules. The DAPC is offering these organizations the opportunity to comment on this rule before the division formally proposes them.
These rules and supporting documentation including a draft of the Business Impact Analysis (BIA) document are available electronically for review at: http://epa.ohio.gov/dapc/regs/regs.aspx. See the information under “Interested Party Review” tab for OAC Chapter 3745-18. Comments may be submitted to email@example.com and are due by August 26, 2016.
EPA Corrects Recent EPCRA Regulations
EPA issued a final rule in the Federal Register on June 13, 2016 (81 FR 38104) amending its hazardous chemical reporting regulations. That document inadvertently omitted the hazard “serious eye damage or eye irritation” in the 40 CFR 370.66 definition of health hazard. This action corrects that definition by adding the hazard, “serious eye damage or eye irritation” in 40 CFR 370.66 under the definition of health hazard.
The revisions became effective on July 21, 2016. The compliance date is January 1, 2018.
Research At WVU Concludes Waste From Test Fracking Wells Safe To Be On Highways
Researchers at West Virginia University studied drilling wastes produced at two research wells near Morgantown and found they are well below federal guidelines for radioactive or hazardous waste.
Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute at WVU, present these and other findings from the Marcellus Shale Energy and Environmental Laboratory, or MSEEL, last week at the Appalachian Basin Technology Workshop in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania.
Dr. Ziemkiewicz and his research team are studying the solid and liquid drilling wastes that are generated during shale gas development. These include drill cuttings, muds, and produced water.
Drilling a horizontal well in the Marcellus Shale produces about 500 tons of rock fragments, known as cuttings. WVU researchers have been studying the radioactivity and toxicity of the drill cuttings, which are trucked on public roads to county landfills.
MSEEL scientists found that using the “green” drilling mud BioBase 365 at the well site resulted in all 12 cuttings samples passing the EPA’s test for leaching toxicity, allowing them to be classified as non-hazardous for non-radiological parameters like benzene and arsenic.
They determined that the drilling mud exerted a strong influence over the environmental risks associated with handling and disposing of drill cuttings.
Ziemkiewicz discussed the findings in the context of the West Virginia, Pennsylvania and federal standards for transportation and landfilling. For example, the U.S. Department of Transportation classifies solid wastes exceeding 2,000 pico curies per gram (pCi/g) as low level radioactive waste requiring special permitting and handling.
“Radium is the dominant radioactive element in drilling wastes. In our study, the highest radium readings were below 10.8 pCi/g in the horizontal legs of the two production wells at the MSEEL site. Most were below 5 pCi/g,” says Ziemkiewicz. “The highest radium level in produced water found so far was 17 pCi/g. All of these are well below the U.S. Department of Transportation standard.”
Placing these materials in landfills, however, requires compliance with state landfilling regulations, which are based on exposure levels.
Ziemkiewicz’s team has also sampled the waste streams at the two production wells to identify changes in organic, inorganic, and radiochemical composition over time. Among these findings, Ziemkiewicz noted that almost all contaminants increase through the production phase of an unconventional gas well while the volume of water drops rapidly. Toxic concentrations far exceed permissible levels for drinking water or discharge to streams. Most of this water is used for subsequent hydraulic fracturing operations. The remainder is disposed of under the states’ underground injection well programs.
When the production wells were completed in early December 2015, about 50 gallons of produced water came out of the wells each minute. Within a week that dropped to four gallons per minute, and it is currently one third of a gallon per minute or 460 gallons per day.
The MSEEL project is led by West Virginia University and the Ohio State University in partnership with Northeast Natural Energy, Schlumberger, and the National Energy Technology Laboratory of the United States Department of Energy. It is the first-ever long-term, comprehensive field study of shale gas resources in which scientists will study the process from beginning-to-end.
The project site consists of an intensively instrumented science well and two shale gas production wells where researchers from WVU, Ohio State, the U.S. Geological Survey, USDOE and several other universities are studying what happens during and after hydraulic fracturing. The five-year MSEEL project includes engineers, ecologists, public health professionals, social scientists, and more. The comprehensive studies include monitoring of baseline air, noise, light and water, as well as collecting of geological, environmental, and other data.
“This has not been done in a publicly funded study before,” said Ziemkiewicz.
$177 Million Settlement on 2010 Oil Spills in Michigan and Illinois
The EPA and the Department of Justice recently announced a settlement with Enbridge Energy Limited Partnership and several related Enbridge companies to resolve claims stemming from its 2010 oil spills in Marshall, Michigan, and Romeoville, Illinois. Enbridge has agreed to spend at least $110 million on a series of measures to prevent spills and improve operations across nearly 2,000 miles of its pipeline system in the Great Lakes region. Enbridge will also pay civil penalties totaling $62 million for Clean Water Act violations—61 million for discharging at least 20,082 barrels of oil in Marshall and $1 million for discharging at least 6,427 barrels of oil in Romeoville.
In addition, the proposed settlement will resolve Enbridge’s liability under the Oil Pollution Act, based on Enbridge’s commitment to pay over $5.4 million in unreimbursed costs incurred by the government in connection with cleanup of the Marshall spill, as well as all future removal costs incurred by the government in connection with that spill. The recent settlement includes an extensive set of specific requirements to prevent spills and enhance leak detection capabilities throughout Enbridge’s Lakehead pipeline system—a network of 14 pipelines spanning nearly 2,000 miles across seven states. Enbridge must also take major actions to improve its spill preparedness and emergency response programs. Under the settlement, Enbridge is also required to replace close to 300 miles of one of its pipelines, after obtaining all necessary approvals. Enbridge’s Lakehead System delivers approximately 1.7 million barrels of oil in the United States each day.
“This agreement puts in place advanced leak detection and monitoring requirements to make sure a disaster like this one doesn’t happen again,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “This comprehensive program—including an independent third party to audit compliance—will protect our waterways and the people who depend on them.”
“This settlement will make the delivery of our nation’s energy resources safer and more environmentally responsible,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “It requires Enbridge to take robust measures to improve the maintenance and monitoring of its Lakehead pipeline system, protecting lakes, rivers, land, and communities across the upper Midwest, as well as pay a significant penalty.”
In addition to payments required under the proposed settlement, Enbridge has already reimbursed the government for $57.8 million in cleanup costs from the Marshall spill and $650,000 for cleanup costs from the Romeoville spill, and Enbridge reportedly incurred costs in excess of $1 billion for required cleanup activities relating to the Marshall and Romeoville spills.
Under the settlement, Enbridge is committing to the following measures, which it estimates will cost at least $110 million:
- Implement an enhanced pipeline inspection and spill prevention program
- Implement enhanced measures to improve leak detection and control room operations
- Commit to additional leak detection and spill prevention requirements for a portion of Enbridge’s Line 5 that crosses the Straits of Mackinac in Michigan
- Create and maintain an integrated database for its Lakehead Pipeline System
- Enhance its emergency spill response preparedness programs by conducting four emergency spill response exercises to test and practice Enbridge’s response to a major inland oil spill
- Improve training and coordination with state and local emergency responders by requiring incident command system training for employees, provide training to local responders, participate in area response planning and organize response exercises
- Hire an independent third party to assist with review of implementation of the requirements in the settlement agreement
The government’s complaint alleges that Enbridge owned or operated a 30 inch-pipeline, known as Line 6B, that ruptured near Marshall on July 25, 2010, discharging oil into the environment. Although the Line 6B rupture triggered numerous alarms in Enbridge’s control room, Enbridge failed to recognize a pipeline had ruptured until at least 17 hours later. In the meantime, Enbridge had restarted Line 6B on two separate occasions on July 26, 2010, pumping additional oil into the ruptured pipeline causing additional discharges of oil into the environment. Ultimately, Line 6B discharged at least 20,082 barrels of crude oil, much of which entered Talmadge Creek and flowed into the Kalamazoo River which flows to Lake Michigan. Flooding caused by heavy rains pushed the discharged oil over the river’s banks into its flood plains, and accelerated its migration over 35 miles downstream before it was contained. Enbridge later replaced Line 6B, which originates in Griffith, Indiana, crosses the lower peninsula of Michigan and ends in Sarnia, Canada, with a new, larger pipeline, also known as Line 6B. The rupture and discharges were caused by stress corrosion cracking on the pipeline, control room misinterpretations and other problems, and pervasive organization failures at Enbridge.
The complaint also alleges that on September 9, 2010, another Enbridge pipeline, known as Line 6A, discharged at least 6,427 barrels of oil which Romeoville, Illinois, much of which flowed through a drainage ditch into a retention pond in Romeoville.
There will be a 30-day public comment period on the consent decree lodged. Information on how to comment on the consent decree will be available in the Federal Register and on the Department of Justice’s website.
Lax Construction Site Erosion Control Leads to $4.6 Million Penalty
The San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board recently proposed a $4.6 million penalty against the city of San Diego for failing to ensure construction sites within the city did not pollute local streams and lagoons from 2010 to 2015. The alleged violations affected water bodies from Los Peñasquitos Lagoon in the north to the Tijuana River Estuary in the south.
“The San Diego Water Board put a lot of resources into collaborative, outcome-focused efforts to protect and restore areas like Los Peñasquitos Lagoon and Tijuana River Estuary,” said James Smith, San Diego Water Board assistant executive officer and prosecution team lead. “Enforcement like this is the result of a major deviation from the expectations we had for those partnerships.”
San Diego is alleged to have failed to take steps to conduct adequate site inspections, prevent sediment erosion and enforce its own water quality ordinances at private construction sites. The Water Board found the water quality ordinances the city council had adopted were not being applied in the field because inspectors were poorly trained in erosion control and unwilling, or unable, to take enforcement actions. It was also discovered that city departments could not coordinate basic activities to protect water quality.
The city’s ordinances outline requirements for erosion control at construction sites and specify enforcement actions for violations.
“The Water Board expects the city’s commitment to water quality ordinances to be embraced more broadly by all city staff—not just the planners who wrote them,” Smith said.
Erosion from construction sites sends sediment downstream to local creeks and lagoons, where it can smother habitat, create excessive turbidity, transport toxic pollutants and clog natural drainage systems. Noting that state regulations have been in place for more than 20 years, Smith said the city’s failures are surprising given the essentially unchanged nature of the requirements, and the city’s leadership in many other areas.
During the alleged violation period, a San Diego team was crafting plans with the Water Board and other community partners for addressing sediment problems affecting salt marsh habitat in the environmentally sensitive Los Peñasquitos Lagoon. Because of that collaboration, the Water Board adopted a unique, flexible regulatory approach for the lagoon that relied on commitments made by city negotiators.
However, the Water Board’s investigation found that at the same time and afterward, other city departments were allowing construction sites within the lagoon’s watershed to skirt erosion control requirements, leading to multiple instances of sediment pollution that could have easily been prevented.
A copy of the San Diego Water Board’s complaint is available for review on its website. The Water Board has scheduled a hearing to consider this complaint on October 12, 2016. The city of San Diego can pay the penalty, propose a settlement or supplemental environmental project, or contest the penalty before the San Diego Water Board.
Virginia Dairy Settles With EPA for Alleged Environmental Violations
The EPA recently announced that Sunshine Pride Dairy, Inc., will pay a $179,074 penalty to settle alleged federal environmental violations at its former cheese processing facility in Winchester, Virginia. The dairy shut down cheese processing operations in December 2011, but left anhydrous ammonia, a hazardous substance, stored in its refrigeration system with only a skeleton maintenance crew at the facility.
EPA alleged that in July 2012, the facility did not properly notify emergency response agencies about two instances when anhydrous ammonia was released into the air. These included one release of between 100-500 lb and another of more than 1,500 lb. After the second release, Sunshine Pride Dairy had the remaining anhydrous ammonia drained from the system.
EPA cited the company for not updating its operating procedures to reflect current conditions at the facility, failing to document proper training of its operators, and failing to maintain its ammonia processing equipment. In addition, EPA also alleged that the dairy did not report the ammonia to the state, county and local fire department as required on its annual chemical reporting forms for the years 2012 and 2013.
The settlement resolves alleged violations under three federal statutes: failing to maintain risk management obligations required under the Clean Air Act Section 112(r); failing to comply with community right-to-know reporting requirements; and failing to report releases to the National Response Center, as required by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act.
These requirements help to ensure safeguards are in place to protect the health and safety of workers, local residents and the environment. It’s also essential that local, state, and national emergency response authorities are notified immediately when a release of hazardous substances occurs, so they can respond quickly and effectively.
As a part of the settlement, the company did not admit or deny EPA’s allegations.
PNW Wind Down LLC Fined $89,000 for Violating Federal Clean Air Rules
PNW Wind Down, LLC, will pay an $89,000 penalty for repeatedly violating federal clean air rules while leasing and operating a tribally owned facility on the Colville Reservation in Omak, Washington. The facility is a lumber mill that produced plywood veneer from raw timber. The predecessor company was known as Omak Wood Products.
In a settlement announced recently, the EPA alleges that PNW Wind Down, LLC, exceeded permitted opacity limits during an emissions source test, failed to abide by the terms and conditions of a compliance order that the company agreed to, and did not submit a complete response to an Information Request issued by EPA under the Clean Air Act.
The facility, owned by the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and leased and operated by Omak Wood Products, LLC, the predecessor to PNW Wind Down, LLC, re-started in September 2013 after being shutdown for several years. EPA and Colville Tribal Air Quality staff received multiple complaints of heavy smoke and particulate pollution from local residents after the facility resumed operations. Following these complaints, EPA provided several months of extensive technical and compliance assistance to the facility.
Despite EPA’s assistance, the facility failed to come into compliance and EPA issued an initial Notice of Violation in December 2013. To address those violations, EPA and the facility entered into an Administrative Compliance Order on Consent in March 2014. After additional problems arose, EPA issued a formal Information Request in November 2014, then a second Notice of Violation in April 2015, prior to initiating the current penalty action.
According to Ed Kowalski, Director of EPA Region 10’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement, “Operating a facility before air pollution controls are fully in place and effective, violating the terms of a compliance order, and not responding accurately to an Information Request are serious violations that we enforce aggressively. Companies operating air pollution sources on tribal lands will be held to the same Clean Air Act standards as those operating outside of a reservation,” said Kowalski.
The Federal Air Rules for Reservations protect human health and the environment for approximately 200,000 people living and working on and near reservations in the Pacific Northwest. Before these rules were passed, very few basic air quality rules applied to tribal reservations under the federal Clean Air Act because state and local air agencies do not have authority to administer their rules on Indian lands.
Galliker Dairy Company Failed to Safely Manage Anhydrous Ammonia
The EPA has settled alleged violations with the Galliker Dairy Company for failing to safely manage a hazardous substance at its dairy products manufacturing plant in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. EPA cited Galliker Dairy for not safely managing the anhydrous ammonia—an extremely hazardous substance—used in its refrigeration system. The settlement requires the company to pay a $35,991 penalty.
Under the federal Clean Air Act’s general duty clause, facilities with extremely hazardous substances are required to identify and assess the hazards posed by the substances, design and maintain a safe facility, to prevent accidental releases to the air, and minimize the consequence of accidental releases if they occur.
The company violated these requirements by failing to ensure that the design and maintenance of the anhydrous ammonia refrigeration system was consistent with industry safety standards. These violations include deficiencies in training, maintenance documentation, detector/alarm settings, personal protective equipment, and protection of the system.
Ensuring safety measures are in place can prevent a release to the air, which protects employees as well as the community from potentially harmful effects. It also increases the effectiveness and efficiency of local responders who may be called to respond to an emergency.
As part of the settlement, the company has not admitted liability for the alleged violations, but has documented its current compliance with industry standards and corrected all of the deficiencies.
EPA, Goodrum Farm CR314 LLC Reach Settlement on Clean Water Act Violations
EPA Region 7 has reached a proposed administrative settlement with Goodrum Farm CR314, LLC, in Butler County, Mo., to resolve violations of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act (CWA). As part of the settlement, the company has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $15,000.
During a July 16, 2014, inspection, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) inspectors found the company had placed dredged and fill material into forested wetlands, in an effort to convert the wetlands to agricultural cropland. This resulted in the unauthorized impact of approximately 9.46 acres of wetlands adjacent to a designated “water of the United States.”
Under a previously issued administrative compliance order to address the CWA violations, Goodrum Farm CR314, LLC, mitigated the impacted wetland acres by placing approximately 35 acres of the property into a conservation easement, preventing further development, including future farming.
Under this proposed settlement, Goodrum Farm CR314, LLC, will pay a $15,000 penalty for its alleged Section 404 CWA violations.
Unpermitted destruction of wetland areas can create numerous environmental impacts, including degradation of watershed health, habitat loss, impacts to stream channel configuration, and decreased biological diversity. Wetland degradation also impedes a wetland’s abilities to absorb floodwaters and filter pollutants. Prior to conducting activities that may impact wetlands, streams, or rivers, landowners should consult with the USACE to determine if the planned activity is authorized under Section 404 of the CWA.
The Clean Water Act seeks to protect streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources. Protecting streams and wetlands is also part of adapting to climate change impacts like drought, stronger storms, and warmer temperatures.
PuriCore, Inc. Ordered to Stop Selling Unregistered Pesticide
PuriCore, Inc., of Malvern, Pennsylvania, has paid a $550,000 penalty for the unauthorized distribution of two pesticide products that were used in supermarkets nationwide, the EPA announced recently.
The products included ProduceFresh, an unregistered pesticide used as part of a crisping process in the produce section of stores, and FloraFresh that was used in floral departments.
Along with the penalty, EPA issued a stop-sale order to PuriCore, Inc., prohibiting the sale of ProduceFresh.
The order and penalty were issued under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), the federal statute regulating the manufacture, labeling, sale, and use of pesticide products. FIFRA’s safeguards protect public health and the environment by ensuring the safe production and handling of pesticides and devices; and by preventing false, misleading, or unverifiable product claims.
Although PuriCore has submitted an application to EPA to register ProduceFresh as a pesticide, EPA has not completed its review of the risks associated with the product. No stop-order was issued for FloraFresh because it was registered as a pesticide as of February 12. However, PuriCore had been distributing FloraFresh to supermarkets for at a least a year prior to it being registered.
Ecology and Aberdeen Contractor Settle $90,000 Penalty
A contractor for the State Route 520 bridge project has paid $60,000 to the Department of Ecology and agreed to develop internal training materials as part of an agreement to settle an earlier environmental penalty.
Ecology fined Kiewit General, A Joint Venture, $90,000 in October 2015 for failing to properly decommission 15 groundwater monitoring wells at a construction site in Aberdeen, which put groundwater at risk of contamination.
“We take groundwater contamination threats seriously,” says Mike Gallagher, section manager for Ecology’s Water Resources program. “It’s unfortunate that Kiewit failed to take the proper steps to remove these wells, but we’re confident that moving forward the company’s employees will be trained to properly decommission wells.”
In addition to the $60,000 payment, Kiewit agreed to prepare internal educational materials and an environmental program manual addressing water and monitoring wells, and steps employees are to take if one is found during a construction project.
The company has one year to implement the changes to its employee training program.
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Trivia Question of the Week
This year is on track to be the hottest in recorded history. What year currently holds this title?