Department of Justice Warns of Inaccurate Flyers and Postings Regarding the Use of Face Masks

August 31, 2020
United States Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Eric Dreiband reiterated that cards and other documents bearing the Department of Justice seal and claiming that individuals are exempt from face mask requirements are fraudulent.
Inaccurate flyers or other postings have been circulating on the web and via social media channels regarding the use of face masks and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these notices included use of the Department of Justice seal and ADA phone number.
As the Department has stated in a previous alert, the Department did not issue and does not endorse them in any way. The public should not rely on the information contained in these postings.
The ADA does not provide a blanket exemption to people with disabilities from complying with legitimate safety requirements necessary for safe operations.
You can visit or call the ADA Information Line at 800-514-0301 (voice) and 800-514-0383 (TTY) for more information.
The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) also reported that fraudulent exemption cards were being distributed to the public that assert the holder of the card is exempt from wearing a facemask despite public health orders requiring it. These cards falsely purport to be issued by NMDOH and the U.S. Department of Justice. Anyone fraudulently creating and/or using these cards could result in being charged with a 4th degree felony.
The card, prominently displaying both the NMDOH and U.S. Department of Justice logos, claims denial of the cardholder access to a business or organization despite not wearing a facemask will result in a fine – the opposite of all current orders in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The card is not officially recognized by the Department of Health.
“People lying about a medical condition to get out of wearing a facemask literally puts their lives and that of those around them at risk,” said Department of Health Cabinet Secretary Kathy Kunkel. “New Mexicans deserve to feel safe out in public, and fraudulent messaging like this is both illegal and potentially dangerous to people’s health.”
COVID-19 is proving to cause unpredictable and potentially severe complications in random cases of otherwise seemingly healthy people to include damage to the heart, liver or kidneys. The virus is also known to cause severe illness for older adults or those with underlying conditions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health understand wearing masks may not be possible for some residents to include
  • The deaf or hard of hearing
  • People with intellectual or developmental disabilities
  • Younger children for extended periods of time
The NM Department of Health is working with the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General to ensure anyone issuing fraudulent exemption cards is prosecuted appropriately.
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These States Aren’t Waiting for Federal COVID-19 Worker Safety Rules
From Stateline, an initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts
Ron Smith, a bus operator in San Mateo County, California, says at least six of his colleagues have tested positive for the new coronavirus. But until recently, he said, it was unclear whether bus operators should keep going to work if they were exposed to a sick colleague. The bus drivers union also wasn’t getting updates on the number of workers falling ill.
Smith said he’s worried about getting infected on the job and exposing his wife, who has Parkinson’s disease. “I would like to know the risk that I am taking coming to work, and the possibilities that I could expose my family member,” he said.
The transportation district has since told workers that if they’re exposed to an infected person, they should quarantine while waiting for coronavirus test results, Smith says. But he said it would be a good idea if the state laid out clear rules for all companies to keep workers safe during the pandemic.
In the absence of federal action, some left-leaning states are creating safety rules to protect workers from catching the coronavirus while on the job. Rules went into effect in Virginia last month, and regulators in California and Oregon are now debating a similar move.
Unions and labor advocates have implored states to create coronavirus-specific safety standards. They say employers must be forced to provide protective equipment, create socially distanced break rooms, tell sick workers to stay home and take other steps to reduce infection risk.
“In our experience in enforcing wage and hour violations — until there’s a law, non-union janitorial contractors will not follow it,” said Yardenna Aaron, executive director of the Maintenance Cooperation Trust Fund, a Los Angeles-based janitorial watchdog that’s petitioning for a standard in California. “So issuing guidance, in our opinion, is not enough.”
Yet business groups say there’s no need for new regulations. They say state and federal officials already can crack down on businesses for not protecting workers, and that states have resolved most coronavirus complaints fairly easily. Creating rules before scientists fully understand how COVID-19 spreads will burden companies with confusing paperwork, they argue.
Most Virginia businesses were following federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations and state public health orders before the state standard went into effect, said Nicole Riley, Virginia director of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, a Washington-D.C. based group that advocates for small businesses.
Businessowners now must study the new rules, assess employee risk of workplace exposure to the virus, write an infectious disease response plan and train workers in required safety protocols by the end of September.
“You as an owner are trying to do all this work on top of trying to keep your business afloat during this pandemic,” Riley said.
Dan Lieberman, a public affairs specialist for the San Mateo County Transit District, said in an email to Stateline that the agency promptly notified the bus drivers union when employees tested positive and has been following public health orders and guidance from the county, state and CDC.
“There has been no indication that an employee has contracted COVID-19 due to a workplace exposure,” he added.
No National Standard
The debate over safety rules has shifted to the states as it’s become clear that the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has no plans to create a national safety standard. The AFL-CIO in June lost a lawsuit it hoped would compel the agency to act.
“The federal agency that usually is responsible for protecting workers from dangerous conditions at work has totally abdicated its responsibility,” said Deborah Berkowitz, worker health and safety program director at the National Employment Law Project, a New York City-based think tank. “It’s completely missing in action.”
Berkowitz, a former OSHA official during the Obama administration, said the federal agency also isn’t doing enough to respond to coronavirus-related complaints. Despite receiving over 8,000 such complaints since April, it has issued only three citations, all to an Ohio nursing home chain.
U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia says OSHA’s industry-specific safety recommendations go far enough, given that federal law already requires businesses to provide workplaces free of deadly or seriously harmful hazards.
“We believe we already possess the enforcement authority we need,” Scalia said in a June speech at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington, D.C., think tank, “and that our current approach is the best means to protect workers and give employers guidance and confidence in the steps to be taken to provide a safe workplace and satisfy their obligations.”
It’s possible Congress will force Scalia’s hand: The latest House Democratic coronavirus aid bill would require OSHA to issue an emergency coronavirus standard.
But for now, labor advocates are looking to the states. About half the states run their own federally approved health and safety programs, which cover either all employees or just public sector workers. Officials in those states can create state-level workplace safety standards that go beyond federal requirements.
In Virginia, a Democratic governor sympathetic to labor, a grassroots pressure campaign that began with poultry plants and the structure of its OSHA program all helped the state become the first to announce a coronavirus-specific standard, said Rebecca Reindel, director of occupational safety and health at the AFL-CIO. “It’s sort of like the stars aligned.”
Virginia’s new standard codifies CDC guidance, such as by requiring all employers to provide face masks to certain workers and give staff frequent access to hand sanitizer or soap and water. It requires employers to train workers on coronavirus prevention and prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who report infection control concerns.
Not all governors can order emergency regulations, as Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam did. In North Carolina, for instance, the labor commissioner is an elected official who doesn’t report to the governor — making it politically more difficult to create a statewide standard, Reindel said.
Other progressive states may follow Virginia’s lead. Oregon’s OSHA is using its own statutory authority to create a temporary standard, and regulators there have begun hosting listening sessions with workers and businessowners. In California, regulators are currently considering a petition from labor groups to create a state standard.
Governors also can use executive orders to require enforcement of public health recommendations, Reindel said, as Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has done.
In a June executive order, Whitmer required businesses to take steps such as keeping everyone on a worksite at least six feet apart, requiring employees to wear face coverings if they can’t keep a safe distance from others and immediately notifying the local public health department, co-workers and contractors if a worker tests positive for the virus.
And as at the federal level, few of the complaints filed in California, Oregon and Virginia have resulted in formal citations and fines. In Oregon, for instance, most coronavirus-related safety complaints have been resolved after regulators talked to employers over the phone or sent them a letter.
The high number of easily closed cases appears to back up industry claims that few businesses are willfully violating safety recommendations. But worker advocates say the data also could suggest confusion within state agencies over what counts as a workplace safety violation during the pandemic.
“The reality is, they can’t enforce what doesn’t exist yet,” Oregon AFL-CIO President Graham Trainor said of the state agency. He said that a statewide standard would make it crystal clear when an employer is doing something wrong.
Oregon OSHA has received over 8,000 coronavirus-related complaints since March. Among them: an allegation that cashiers at a local grocery store weren’t wearing face coverings and an allegation that bosses at a tanning salon had told symptomatic employees to keep coming to work.
So far, regulators have conducted 60 inspections and issued 14 citations. “In most cases, we are in fact able to reach a resolution by clarifying issues with employers without the need for an actual enforcement visit,” said Aaron Corvin, a public information officer for Oregon OSHA, in an email to Stateline.
Corvin said the agency is “somewhat more hesitant” to conduct inspections during the pandemic, both because of the volume of complaints it’s receiving and the health risk of in-person interactions.
A new state standard is unlikely to change the process for responding to complaints.
California OSHA has received about 5,000 complaints, conducted 538 inspections and told 71 workplaces to prepare for a citation. Virginia’s labor department has received about 656 coronavirus-related complaints since the pandemic began and conducted 29 inspections (the agency did not respond to a Stateline request for citation numbers by publication time).
Poultry Plant Risks
In Virginia, coronavirus outbreaks at poultry plants pushed Northam in May to ask the state labor department to issue a temporary emergency standard for preventing the spread of the virus at all workplaces.
The temporary standard expires after six months, when the state of emergency declared by the governor ends or when it’s replaced by a permanent standard the state labor department is now developing and intends to adopt.
Poultry plant workers and their allies launched a campaign for statewide rules after workers said they weren’t being provided with face masks, couldn’t keep a safe distance from co-workers and were worried about retaliation if they complained, said Jason Yarashes, an attorney for the Charlottesville, Virginia-based Legal Aid Justice Center, a group that advocated for the standard.
Workers also were getting sick. Northam announced in early May that more than 260 coronavirus cases were associated with two poultry plants on Virginia’s Eastern Shore alone.
Poultry companies, like other businesses in the state, opposed the new rules and said they already were taking action to reduce infections.
“From the outset — way back in March or before — poultry plants across Virginia took significant and unprecedented steps to protect workers,” said Hobey Bauhan, president of the Virginia Poultry Federation, a trade group. That includes cleaning facilities thoroughly, checking employee’s temperatures and installing plastic dividers between workstations, he said.
While Bauhan acknowledged that at times there have been coronavirus outbreaks among poultry workers, “the caseload is way, way down,” he said.
It’s unclear how many coronavirus cases have been linked to poultry plants. Virginia’s health department has reported over 3,000 cases linked to non-health care “congregate settings,” such as businesses, churches and community events, but the agency doesn’t publish more specific data.
Advocates for workers say employers who are already following state and federal safety guidelines should embrace official standards. “Our belief is that if good actors are doing the right thing, a rule around infectious disease standards should be no big deal,” Trainor said.
Business groups and their allies, however, say it doesn’t make sense to create strict standards while scientific guidance is constantly changing.
Some aspects of the Virginia standard are already out of date, said Eric Conn, chair of the OSHA Workplace Safety Practice Group at Conn Maciel Carey, a Washington, D.C.-based law firm that represents employers.
For instance, the rules include a former CDC recommendation that employers use either symptoms or test results to judge when an infected employee can safely return to work. The latest CDC guidance advises employers to use only symptoms.
And business groups worry that new regulations could lead to lawsuits. While Virginia’s new standard doesn’t presume sick workers caught coronavirus on the job, Riley of the National Federation of Independent Businesses said it could still encourage lawsuits blaming employers for workplace outbreaks or holding them responsible for customer behavior. “That sets the businessowner up for a lot of liability,” she said.
Safely Get Your EHS Training at Home or in Your Office
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. Webcast attendees 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.
Upcoming hazardous waste and DOT hazardous materials webcasts:
Revised Final Beryllium Standards for Construction and Shipyards
OSHA has published a final rule on August 28 that revised the beryllium standards for construction and shipyards. The final rule includes changes designed to clarify the standards and simplify or improve compliance. According to the Agency, these changes maintain protection for workers while ensuring that the standard is well understood and compliance is simple and straightforward.
The final rule amends the following paragraphs in the beryllium standards for construction and shipyards: Definitions, Methods of Compliance, Respiratory Protection, Personal Protective Clothing and Equipment, Housekeeping, Hazard Communication, Medical Surveillance, and Recordkeeping. OSHA has removed the Hygiene Areas and Practices paragraph from the final standards because the necessary protections are provided by existing OSHA standards for sanitation.
The effective date of the revisions in this final rule is September 30, 2020. OSHA began enforcing the new permissible exposure limits in the 2017 beryllium standards for construction and shipyards in May 2018. OSHA will begin enforcing the remaining provisions of the standards on September 30, 2020. The final standard will affect approximately 12,000 workers employed in nearly 2,800 establishments in the construction and shipyard industries. The final standards are estimated to yield $2.5 million in total annualized cost savings to employers.
Virtual Safety Summit: Sept 21 – 25
At the Workplace Leaning Safety Summit, you can learn how to implement the WLS safety culture development system. The journey begins when safety is more than a goal or objective, but an unwavering value. Environmental Resource Center is partnering with WLS to provide environmental compliance training during the summit on the following topics:
  • EPCRA reporting
  • SPCC Tier I plans
  • Stormwater
  • Universal Waste
You can find the full agenda and registration details at this link.
Proposed Revisions to Boiler and Process Heater NESHAP
The National Emission Standard for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional Boilers and Process Heaters was first promulgated on March 21, 2011, and amended on January 31, 2013, and again on November 20, 2015. Following petitions from environmental groups and industry seeking judicial review of the NESHAP, the D.C. Circuit Court remanded some of the NESHAP’s emission standards because the court found that EPA had improperly excluded certain units in establishing the emission standards and remanded the use of CO as a surrogate for organic HAP for further explanation. In March 2018, the court in a separate case remanded the EPA’s decision to set a limit of 130 parts per million (ppm) CO as a minimum standard for certain subcategories for further explanation.
In response to these remands, the EPA has proposed to amend several emission standards consistent with the court’s opinion and proposed responses to two issues remanded for further explanation.
EPA has proposed to revise 34 different emission limits which it had previously promulgated in 2011 and amended in, 2013. Of these 34 emission limits, 28 of the limits would become more stringent and six of the limits would become less stringent. EPA is also proposing that facilities would have up to 3 years after the effective date of the final rule to demonstrate compliance with these revised emission limits.
A Coffee and Catnap Keep You Sharp on the Nightshift
A simple coffee and a quick catnap could be the cure for staying alert on the nightshift as new research from the University of South Australia shows that this unlikely combination can improve attention and reduce sleep inertia.
In Australia, more than 1.4 million people are employed in shift work, with more than 200,000 regularly working night or evening shifts.
Lead researcher, Dr Stephanie Centofanti from UniSA Online and the Sleep and Chronobiology Laboratory at UniSA says the finding could help counteract the kind of sleep inertia that is experienced by many shiftworkers.
“Shift workers are often chronically sleep-deprived because they have disrupted and irregular sleep patterns,” Dr Centofanti says. “As a result, they commonly use a range of strategies to try to boost their alertness while on the nightshift, and these can include taking power naps and drinking coffee – yet it’s important to understand that there are disadvantages for both.
“Many workers nap during a night shift because they get so tired. But the downside is that they can experience ‘sleep inertia’ – that grogginess you have just after you wake up – and this can impair their performance and mood for up to an hour after their nap.
“Caffeine is also used by many people to stay awake and alert. But again, if you have too much coffee it can harm your overall sleep and health. And, if you use it to perk you up after a nap, it can take a good 20-30 minutes to kick in, so there’s a significant time delay before you feel the desired effect.
“A ‘caffeine-nap’ (or ‘caff-nap’) could be a viable alternative – by drinking a coffee before taking a nap, shiftworkers can gain the benefits of a 20-30-minute nap then the perk of the caffeine when they wake. It’s a win-win.”
The small pilot study tested the impact of 200 mg of caffeine (equivalent to 1-2 regular cups of coffee) consumed by participants just before a 3.30am 30-minute nap, comparing results with a group that took a placebo.
Participants taking a ‘caffeine-nap’ showed marked improvements in both performance and alertness, indicating the potential of a ‘caffeine-nap’ to counteract sleep grogginess. Dr Centofanti says this shows a promising fatigue countermeasure for shift workers. She says the next move is to test the new finding on more people.
Environmental Resource Center Update
The health and wellbeing of our employees, customers and our communities is what matters most to all of us. To continue to serve you, our seminars have been converted to live online webcasts. You can find a list of upcoming live webcasts at this link.
If you have enrolled in a seminar in September through December, in many cases the seminar will be held on approximately the same dates and at the same times via online webcast. We will contact you by phone or email regarding the details on how to attend the class. On-site training and consulting services are proceeding as usual. If you wish to convert these to remote services, please call your Environmental Resource Center representative or customer service at 800-537-2372.
Because many of our live and on-site training sessions have been postponed or canceled, we have staff available to assist you in coping with COVID-19 as well as your routine EHS requirements. If you have EHS staff that have been quarantined, we can provide remote assistance to help you meet your ongoing environmental and safety compliance requirements. For details, call 800-537-2372 x 239.
10 Penalties for Oregon Environmental Violations
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued 10 penalties totaling $170,682 in July for various environmental violations. A detailed list of violations and resulting penalties is at
Fines ranged from $1,898 to $36,238. Alleged violations included operating a diesel storage tank without the proper permit, allowing cloudy stormwater into a creek and conducting unlicensed asbestos abatement.
DEQ issued civil penalties to the following organizations:
  • AZH Painting, Inc., dba Ace Building Maintenance, $25,600, Gresham, asbestos
  • High Desert Aggregate & Paving, Inc., $20,325, La Grande, air quality
  • Hitner Investments, LLC, $36,238, Myrtle Point, stormwater
  • Legacy Emanuel Hospital and Health Center, $25,582, Portland, diesel tank
  • Space Age Fuels, Inc., $1,898, Portland, gasoline tanks
  • Thabet Management, Inc., $7,800, Oakland, gasoline tanks
  • Thabet Management, Inc., $18,839, Eugene, fuel tanks
  • Thompson's Transfer and Disposal Inc., $8,400, Newport, solid waste
  • World Class Technology Corporation, $7,800, McMinnville, hazardous waste
  • Yagnapurush Investments, LLC, $18,200, Lincoln City, asbestos
These organizations or individuals must either pay the fines or file an appeal within 20 days of receiving notice of the penalty. They may be able to offset a portion of a penalty by funding a supplemental environmental project that improves Oregon’s environment.
Penalties may also include orders requiring specific tasks to prevent ongoing violations or additional environmental harm.
DEQ indicated that the Agency is committed to balancing its vital obligation to enforce the law and protect the environment with a consideration of the dramatic disruptions to public health and the economy caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. DEQ will continue to exercise reasonable enforcement discretion within its authority when issuing civil penalties. In addition, DEQ recognizes that the outbreak may affect the ability to comply with corrective actions or pay a civil penalty. See for more information about DEQ’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
U.S. Plastics Pact Launches to Ignite Change Toward Circular Economy for Plastic
On August 25, the U.S. Plastics Pact, a collaborative led by The Recycling Partnership and World Wildlife Fund (WWF), launched as part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s global Plastics Pact network. The U.S. Plastics Pact is an ambitious initiative to unify diverse public-private stakeholders across the plastics value chain to rethink the way we design, use, and reuse plastics, to create a path toward a circular economy for plastic in the United States.
U.S. industry leaders recognize that significant, systemwide change is needed to realize a circular economy for plastic; individualized action isn’t enough and thus, The U.S. Plastics Pact brings together companies, government entities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), researchers, and other stakeholders in a pre-competitive platform for industry-led innovation. The U.S. Plastics Pact will drive collaborative action and deliver a significant system change toward a circular economy for plastic, enabling companies and governments in the U.S. to collectively meet impactful goals by 2025 that they could not otherwise meet on their own.
“Together, through the U.S. Plastics Pact, we will ignite systems change to accelerate progress toward a circular economy,” says Sarah Dearman, VP of Circular Ventures for The Recycling Partnership. “As the lead organization that engages the full supply chain to advance circularity in the U.S., it’s a natural fit for The Recycling Partnership to further collaborative action with other industry leaders to create substantial, long-lasting change for the betterment of our planet. The results from the U.S. Plastics Pact’s efforts to advance packaging, improve recycling, and reduce plastic waste will benefit the entire system and all materials.”
In line with the Ellen McArthur Foundation’s vision of a circular economy for plastic, which unites more than 850+ organizations, underpinned by common definitions and concrete targets, the U.S. Plastics Pact brings together plastic packaging producers, brands, retailers, recyclers, waste management companies, policymakers, and other stakeholders to work collectively toward scalable solutions tailored to the unique needs and challenges within the U.S landscape, through vital knowledge sharing and coordinated action.
As of today, more than 60 Activators – including for-profit companies, government agencies, and NGOs – have joined the U.S. Plastics Pact, representing each part of the supply and plastics manufacturing chain. By joining the U.S. Plastics Pact, Activators agree to collectively deliver these four targets:
  1. Define a list of packaging to be designated as problematic or unnecessary by 2021 and take measures to eliminate them by 2025. ​
  2. By 2025, all plastic packaging is 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable. ​
  3. By 2025, undertake ambitious actions to effectively recycle or compost 50% of plastic packaging.
  4. By 2025, the average recycled content or responsibly sourced bio-based content in plastic packaging will be 30%.
Results of measurable change in each of the target areas and transparent reporting are key outcomes of the U.S. Plastics Pact. Progress of the U.S. Pact will be tracked through WWF’s ReSource: Plastic Footprint Tracker, which provides a standard methodology to track companies’ plastic footprints and publicly report on their plastic waste commitments each year. The report will be made publicly available each year.
“Plastic pollution is a global crisis that needs local solutions, and the United States is one of biggest opportunities where regional interventions can result in transformative change around the world,” said Erin Simon, Head, Plastic Waste and Business at World Wildlife Fund. “To do this, WWF sees the U.S. Plastics Pact as the linchpin for uniting the critical stakeholders—industry leaders, waste management systems, and policymakers—under a common vision and action plan for meaningful, measurable impact.”
Achieving this vision will require new levels of innovation and collaboration from all Activators of the U.S. Plastics Pact and beyond. The U.S. Pact is launched as part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Plastics Pact network, joining Plastics Pacts in Europe, Latin America and Africa as a globally-aligned response to plastic waste and pollution that brings together shared ambition, combined expertise, and collaboration to create regional and national solutions toward a circular economy in which plastic never becomes waste.
“This is an exciting step on the journey towards a circular economy for plastic in the United States, one that keeps plastic in the economy and out of the environment,” says Sander Defruyt, Lead of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy initiative. “This effort will not only help to create solutions in the US, but across the world, as part of our global network of Plastics Pacts. We are looking forward to working with all those involved to drive real change, by eliminating problematic and unnecessary plastic items, innovating to ensure all plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable, or compostable, and circulating it in practice. We encourage others to join us on this journey towards a United States free of plastic waste and pollution.”
The next step for the U.S. Plastics Pact will be to create a roadmap, laying out the steps to achieving the targets outlined above. For more information on how to join the U.S. Plastics Pact and drive collective action, visit the website or contact
To maintain continual and effective collaboration, the U.S. Plastics Pact will seek guidance from a robust Advisory Council, made up of 10 Activator organizations, companies, and governments. Those included in the Advisory Council are:
Amcor, Balcones Resources Inc., Austin Resource Recovery (City of Austin, TX), Eureka Recycling, Grove Collaborative, Mars, Incorporated, Target, The Coca-Cola Company, Unilever United States, and Walmart, Inc.
The U.S. Plastics Pact activators include: ALDI US, Amcor, American Beverage Association (ABA), Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR), City of Austin – Austin Resource Recovery (City of Austin, TX), Balcones Resources, Inc, Berkeley Ecology Center, Central Virginia Waste Management Association (CVWMA), City of Phoenix, AZ (Reimagine Phoenix), Closed Loop Partners, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Consumer Brands Association, Danone North America, Department of Ecology, State of Washington, Digimarc Corporation, Eastman, EcoCycle, Environment and Human Health, Inc. (EHHI), Eureka Recycling, FMI, The Food Industry Association, Grove Collaborative, HARC (Houston Advanced Research Center), Henkel Corporation, International Recycling Group, ISRI (Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc.), Kimberly-Clark, King County, WA, L’Oreal USA, Mars, Incorporated, Molson Coors Beverage Company, Mondelz International, Inc., NAPCOR (National Association for PET Container Resources), National Waste and Recycling Association, Northeast Recycling Council, Inc. (NERC), Nestlé, Ocean Conservancy, PakTech, Plant Based Products Council, Polywize, PreZero US, Inc., RB, Sustainable Manufacturing Innovation, Alliance (REMADE), Renewlogy, Revolution, Save Our Shores, Seattle Public Utilities, Soul Buffalo, Ocean Plastics Leadership Network, Solid Waste Agency of Lake County, IL (SWALCO), Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA), Target, Terracycle, Inc., The Clorox Company, The Coca-Cola Company, The Global Kaiteki Center, The Sustainability Consortium, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Unilever United States, UPM Raflatac, Inc., The United States Composting Council, Walmart, Inc.
New State of Nevada Climate Initiative
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak launched the new State of Nevada Climate Initiative (NCI) to further advance Nevada’s efforts to address climate change. This first-of-a-kind initiative includes the unveiling of the NCI website,, to serve as the State’s official online climate resource providing a Nevada-wide framework for climate action.
“I am proud to lead Nevada’s effort to take aggressive, needed action on climate change in our great state through my new Nevada Climate Initiative,” said Governor Sisolak. “Tackling climate change will require continued action on multiple fronts, and we all must be part of the solution.”
A key pillar of the initiative is robust public engagement and input from Nevada residents to help inform and guide Nevada’s climate action. As such, the NCI website includes an online public survey and a schedule of virtual listening sessions to provide all Nevadans with the opportunity to share their input and perspectives to help guide development of a new State Climate Strategy as required under Governor Sisolak’s Executive Order on Climate Change (Climate EO).
The State Climate Strategy will provide the needed framework for Nevada policymakers to evaluate the alignment of various climate policies and programs with the timelines and benchmarks necessary for Nevada to achieve greenhouse gas emission reduction goals established by the Legislature in 2019 and reinforced in the Governor’s Climate EO and Nevada’s membership in the U.S. Climate Alliance.
Nevadans are encouraged to take the online survey and register for the virtual listening sessions at to weigh in on a variety of climate topics, including clean transportation policies, energy-efficient homes and buildings, renewable energy, climate justice focused on socio-economic and urban/rural disparities, and more. For questions, please email
“The growing effects of climate change are already being felt in all corners of the Silver State, impacting our collective public health, threatening our natural landscapes and limited water resources, and challenging the vibrancy of our communities and economy. For the sake of our future, and our children’s future, we must take bold action to stem the negative impacts of climate change while moving quickly to capture the economic benefits of creating sustainable communities throughout Nevada,” Gov Sisolak added. “I want to thank the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and the Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy for leading the effort under my Administration to develop smart, strategic climate policies and guide the resources needed for Nevada to meet its established climate goals. Effectively tackling climate change will require coordinated Nevada-wide efforts to minimize the harmful impacts of climate while working to foster a sustainable, resilient, climate-friendly future for Nevada.”
The State of Nevada Climate Initiative, under Governor Sisolak, serves as the home of climate action across Nevada. To learn more about the State of Nevada Climate Initiative, visit and follow @NevClimate on Facebook and Twitter using #NevClimateAction.
Duluth Ready Mix Concrete Fined $12,300 for Industrial Stormwater Violations
Duluth Ready Mix Concrete Inc. has agreed to pay a $12,300 civil penalty to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) for stormwater violations at its gravel pit in Canyon, about 35 miles northwest of Duluth.
An inspection of the facility last October confirmed that the company didn’t adequately maintain a perimeter berm, or immediately repair it when it failed. The failed berm allowed a significant and prohibited discharge of rock, sand, and silt-laden water to flow into a wetland area on and adjacent to the company’s property. The inspection also revealed that the company failed to implement and maintain a required pollution prevention plan from 2013 to 2019, and was late in submitting several required discharge monitoring reports to the MPCA.
In addition to the civil penalty, the company had to remedy its water-fouling discharges, repair and inspect the Canyon site’s berm for stability, submit a pollution prevention plan, and train its staff to properly implement the plan.
Experts Reveal Major Holes in International Ozone Treaty
A new paper, co-authored by a University of Sussex scientist, has revealed major holes in an international treaty designed to help repair the ozone layer, putting human health at risk and increasing the speed of climate change.
Evidence amassed by scientists in the 1970s and 1980s showed that the depletion of the ozone layer in the stratosphere was one of the first truly global threats to humanity.
Chemicals produced through economic activity were slowly drifting to the upper atmosphere where they were destroying the ozone layer, which plays an indispensable role in protecting humanity and ecosystems by absorbing harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
In 1987, countries signed up to a treaty to take reparative action, known as the 'Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, which was eventually ratified by all 197 UN member states.'
But in a paper published in Nature Communications, experts have flagged major gaps in the treaty which must be addressed if the ozone layer is to be repaired and avert the risks posed to human health and the climate.
Professor Joseph Alcamo, Director of the Sussex Sustainability Research Programme and former Chief Scientist at UNEP, said: "The Montreal Protocol and its amendments have no doubt been an effective worldwide effort to control the toughest substances depleting the ozone. But our paper shows that the treaty has developed too many gaps to fully repair the ozone layer. It's time to plug the holes in the ozone hole treaty."
Professor Alcamo, along with lead author Professor Susan Solomon of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and co-author Professor A. R. Ravishankara of Colorado State University, have identified several 'gaps' which consist of ozone depleting substances not covered in the treaty.
These include:
  • Unaccounted for new sources of CFC and HFC emissions recently detected in the atmosphere.
  • Leakages of ozone depleting substances from old air conditioners, refrigerators and insulating foams.
  • Inadvertent releases of ozone-depleting gases from some manufacturing processes.
  • Emissions of the ozone-depleting gas, nitrous oxide, stemming mostly from agricultural activities.
The authors have called for a range of solutions to plug the gaps including:
  • A toughening of compliance with the treaty by using provisions that are already part of the Montreal Protocol.
  • Boosting the effectiveness of the treaty by adding in regular environmental monitoring of ozone-depleting substances.
  • Controlling the emissions of substances that have slipped through the treaty up to now, including nitrous oxide emissions from agriculture, and ozone-depleting substances leaking from old refrigerators and other equipment.
  • In addition, because ozone-depleting substances and their substitutes contribute significantly to global warming, the authors urge a faster phasing out of all of these substances as a way of combatting climate change.
The ozone layer absorbs harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun but this protective layer is slowly destroyed by industrial gases that slowly drift up from the earth's surface including CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) contained in refrigerants, foaming agents and, earlier, propellants in aerosol sprays.
Discovery of the 'ozone hole' above high latitudes in the 1980s provided final evidence of the importance of ozone depletion.
By 1985, countries had signed the Vienna Convention, which pledged to reduce CFCs and other ozone-depleting substances. Two years later, they signed the Montreal Protocol that laid out a plan of action.
During his time as the first Chief Scientist of UNEP, which hosts the Secretariat of the Montreal Protocol, Professor Alcamo coordinated groups of scientists in producing policy-oriented reports that addressed emerging ozone depletion issues.
UNEP reports that 98% of the chemicals targeted for removal in the Montreal Protocol had been phased out by 2009, avoiding hundreds of millions of cases of skin cancer and tens of millions of cases of cataracts. However, this new paper shows that some important sources were not targeted by the Protocol - and urgently need to be now.
Professor Alcamo said: "Since most ozone-depleting gases and their current substitutes are also potent greenhouse gases, it's time to use the Montreal Protocol to draw down these gases even faster to help avoid dangerous global warming.
"We won't be able to reach the global Sustainable Development Goals by 2030 without closing the gaps in the ozone treaty. It's hard to imagine, for example, how the global health and climate goals could be reached without drastically drawing down all ozone-depleting gases and their substitutes. If we fail, humanity will have to face a higher risk of skin cancers and more rapid climate change."
Permit Renewal for Hazardous Waste Facility Denied in California
California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) has denied a hazardous waste facility permit renewal application submitted by Stericycle Environmental Solutions Inc. for its General Environmental Management (GEM) hazardous waste facility in Rancho Cordova. DTSC’s decision is the result of the facility owner and operator’s failure to comply with, among other things, California’s hazardous waste laws and its permit. Its compliance history demonstrates a repeating pattern of violations and mismanagement of hazardous waste at the facility, which resulted in three fires and an explosion.
“This company has repeatedly failed to comply with California’s hazardous waste laws,” said DTSC Director Meredith Williams. “Today’s decision demonstrates that DTSC will take any and all action necessary to protect the public and our environment from toxic harm.”
The owner and operator will be required to close the permitted portion of the facility, located at 11855 White Rock Road in Ranch Cordova, if the decision becomes final following a 30-day appeal period. If there is an appeal, DTSC’s decision will be stayed and the owner and operator will be able to operate under the terms of its continued permit until DTSC’s Permit Appeal Officer issues a decision on the appeal.
DTSC held a public meeting and hearing during a public comment period after making the tentative decision to deny the permit application in August 2019. DTSC received 22 public comments and responded to them in its Response to Comments document. Anyone who made comments on the tentative denial may petition (appeal) DTSC to review any condition of the decision to deny by Sept 26.
In reaching this decision, DTSC considered GEM’s operations history over the last 10 years, which included more than 70 violations, one explosion, and three fires at the facility. In an October 2018 civil settlement, DTSC required GEM of Rancho Cordova LLC doing business as PSC Environmental Services of Rancho Cordova, LLC, Stericycle Environmental Solutions, Inc., and Stericycle, Inc. (collectively “Stericycle”) to pay more than $1.4 million in penalties for multiple violations, including those resulting from a fire in 2017 where employees intentionally ignited hazardous waste containing naphthalene, a flammable substance. There were also two earlier fires and an explosion at the facility involving improperly mixing incompatible hazardous waste. The settlement prohibited GEM and Stericycle from handling reactive waste and required them to adequately train employees handling hazardous waste, among other conditions. GEM and Stericycle have been unable to demonstrate compliance with those requirements. GEM and Stericycle’s history of noncompliance, along with an inability to meet the terms of the settlement which were imposed to prevent future instances of noncompliance, formed the basis of DTSC’s decision to deny the permit application.
Online Training for Oklahoma Water and Wastewater Operators
The Oklahoma DEQ announced the release of its Online Operator Training Platform. This new platform provides additional training opportunities to Oklahoma’s water and wastewater operators, and it is a no-cost web-based solution for acquiring Professional Development Hours (PDHs) required for certification renewal.
Due to COVID-19, there has been a significant reduction in training opportunities for operators. Recognizing the challenge this presented, DEQ extended the deadline for meeting annual PDH requirements from July 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020, and initiated efforts to develop online training.
DEQ is committed to developing solutions for training. While the immediate objective of providing an online training option as quickly as possible has been achieved, DEQ continues to work on developing new, online solutions with enhanced capabilities.
The training platform can be accessed by going to the Operator Certification page on the DEQ website and clicking on the Online Training button or by using the following link:
For questions or additional program information, please contact David Pruitt at 405-702-8184 or
At-Berth Regulation to Cut Pollution from Ships in California Ports
The California Air Resources Board has approved a new regulation designed to further reduce pollution from ocean-going vessels while docked at California’s busiest ports.
The rule builds on progress achieved by the groundbreaking At-Berth Regulation adopted in 2007. That rule has achieved an 80 percent reduction in harmful emissions from more than 13,000 vessel visits since 2014. The updated rule adds new vessel categories which will be required to control pollution when they run auxiliary engines or auxiliary boilers (for most tanker vessels) while docked. These auxiliary engines power the electricity and other onboard operations during a vessel’s visit, which can run from less than one day to several days.
"This rule clamps down on air pollution from the largest ships while they're docked in California ports, and there are multiple ways terminals, ports, ship owners and operators can comply," said CARB Chair Mary D. Nichols. “The action CARB took today will deliver cleaner air and public health benefits to all those who live in port-adjacent communities throughout California."
Vessels covered under the existing regulation include container ships, “reefers” (carrying refrigerated cargo) and cruise ships. The updated regulation adds auto carriers and tankers, two categories that produce 56 percent of all fine particulate pollution (PM 2.5) from ocean-going vessels at berth in California ports. Once fully implemented, the updated regulation will deliver a 90 percent reduction in pollution from an expected additional 2,300 vessel visits per year, and result in a 55 percent reduction in potential cancer risk for communities near the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Richmond.
The existing regulation stays in force through 2022; the updated regulation starts in 2023 when container, reefer and cruise vessels – already included under the existing rule - will transition to the new regulation. Auto carriers will need to comply starting in 2025. Tankers docking at the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach must also comply starting in 2025, while tankers in Northern California have until 2027.
The rule requires that every vessel coming into a regulated California port either use shore power (e.g., plug in to the local electrical grid) or a CARB-approved control technology to reduce harmful emissions. These include diesel particulate matter, fine particulate matter (PM2.5) oxides of nitrogen (NOx, a precursor to smog), reactive organic gases (ROG, another precursor to smog), greenhouse gases, and oxides of sulfur (SOx). One example of an alternative to shore power is what is known as capture-and-control technology that employs a “bonnet” to cover a ship’s exhaust stacks, both containing and treating harmful emissions.
Ship owners, terminal and port operators that need additional time to comply may petition the Board to use alternative means of achieving equivalent or greater emissions reductions in port-adjacent communities. An example would be purchasing zero-emission heavy-duty trucks for port use. Proposed projects will require extensive community review as well as CARB approval.
Ships or terminals that are unable to connect a vessel to an emissions control technology (due to equipment failure, port congestion, etc.) during a visit may be able to comply with the regulation by requesting a Terminal or Vessel Incident Event, a limited number of which are granted to each regulated terminal operator and vessel fleet per year.
In limited circumstances, port and shipping entities that are unable to comply will, if their application is approved by CARB, also have an opportunity to pay into a remediation fund. These funds must be used for environmental projects that will benefit port-adjacent neighborhoods.
The updated regulation also includes an interim evaluation, to be conducted in 2022, to evaluate progress and identify any problems relating to implementation or compliance with the updated At-Berth Regulation.
Free Online Training for Fall Protection in Construction
Employers and workers who engage in construction activities in Oregon now have a free and flexible way to improve their understanding of fall protection, thanks to an online video training course produced by Oregon OSHA.
The course, “Fall Protection for Construction,” is designed to help employers and workers meet the requirements of Oregon OSHA’s fall protection standards. It is the fourth course in the division’s “Fall Protection Suite,” which tackles fall hazards across specific industries and different on-the-job situations.
“This new course reflects Oregon OSHA’s ongoing commitment to expand our educational offerings in a way that fits the busy schedules of employers and workers, and that helps them maintain safe workplaces,” said Roy Kroker, consultation and public education manager for Oregon OSHA.
The multimedia “Fall Protection for Construction” course features insights from industry leaders and practical demonstrations. It highlights the relevant requirements, and explains terms and processes. It covers a comprehensive set of fall protection topics in construction. They include the purposes of fall arrest and fall restraint systems; fall clearance calculations; scaffolding; guardrails; leading edge work; and holes and openings.
Falls are the leading cause of injury and death in construction work. In Oregon, from 2014 to 2018, there were 6,187 accepted disabling claims in construction because of falls to a lower level.
The death and broken lives are avoidable. As Dan Daley, owner of Daley Construction in Bend, puts it in one of the course’s videos: “Nobody should get hurt to make a buck.”
The “Fall Protection for Construction” course includes the opportunity to receive a certificate of completion. Oregon OSHA encourages the use of online training. Learn more about the division’s education and training services.
FDA Warning: Hand Sanitizer Packaged in Food and Drink Containers
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning about alcohol-based hand sanitizers that are being packaged in containers that may appear as food or drinks and may put consumers at risk of serious injury or death if ingested. The agency has discovered that some hand sanitizers are being packaged in beer cans, children’s food pouches, water bottles, juice bottles and vodka bottles. Additionally, the FDA has found hand sanitizers that contain food flavors, such as chocolate or raspberry.
“I am increasingly concerned about hand sanitizer being packaged to appear to be consumable products, such as baby food or beverages. These products could confuse consumers into accidentally ingesting a potentially deadly product. It’s dangerous to add scents with food flavors to hand sanitizers which children could think smells like food, eat and get alcohol poisoning,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. “Manufacturers should be vigilant about packaging and marketing their hand sanitizers in food or drink packages in an effort to mitigate any potential inadvertent use by consumers. The FDA continues to monitor these products and we’ll take appropriate actions as needed to protect the health of Americans.”
In one recent example of consumer confusion, the FDA received a report that a consumer purchased a bottle they thought to be drinking water but was in fact hand sanitizer. The agency also received a report from a retailer about a hand sanitizer product marketed with cartoons for children that was in a pouch that resembles a snack. Drinking only a small amount of hand sanitizer is potentially lethal to a young child, who may be attracted by a pleasant smell or brightly colored bottle of hand sanitizer.
Hand sanitizer can be toxic when ingested. The FDA continues to see an increasing number of adverse events with hand sanitizer ingestion, including cardiac effects, effects on the central nervous system, hospitalizations and death, primarily reported to poison control centers and state departments of health. For more information, consumers should refer to the FDA’s guidelines on safe use of hand sanitizer as well as a question and answer page.
The FDA encouraged health care professionals, consumers and patients to report adverse events or quality problems experienced with the use of hand sanitizers to FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program (please provide the agency with as much information to identify the product as possible).
The FDA continues to proactively work with manufacturers to recall potentially dangerous hand sanitizer products and is strongly encouraging retailers to remove these products from store shelves and online marketplaces. A list of hand sanitizer products the FDA urges consumers not to use, along with a description for consumers on how to use the list, has been posted to the agency’s website, which is being updated regularly.
Free Amazon HD 10 Tablet with RCRA and DOT Training
Annual hazardous waste training is required for anyone who generates, accumulates, stores, transports, or treats hazardous waste. Learn how to manage your hazardous waste in accordance with the latest state and federal regulations. 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 Training is available via live webcasts. If you plan to also attend DOT hazardous materials training, call 800-537-2372 to find out how can get your course materials on an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet at no extra charge.
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