The U.S. Department of Transportation's Research and Special Programs Administration (RSPA), in order to prevent injuries to users of a certain type of aluminum cylinder, issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to amend requirements in the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR) for cylinders manufactured of a certain aluminum alloy.
The NPRM addresses cylinders made of the aluminum alloy 6351-T6. Cylinders made of this alloy are known to be susceptible to sustained load cracking in the neck and shoulder area of the cylinder.
"This proposed rulemaking addresses a safety issue of key interest to SCUBA divers, firefighters and others who use this type of aluminum alloy cylinder," said Samuel G. Bonasso, RSPA acting administrator. "The purpose of this action is to minimize the likelihood of personal injury occurring during cylinder filling and to adopt a standard for early detection of sustained load cracking to reduce the risk of a cylinder rupture."
This proposed rulemaking, HM-220F, would complement an earlier final rule, HM-220D. Under the new rule, all existing cylinders manufactured of aluminum alloy 6351-T6 used in self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA) for diving, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) for firefighting, and oxygen service would be required to:
- Undergo a non-destructive examination at the time of its required five-year periodic requalification. (This would include an electrical/eddy current examination combined with a visual inspection for cracks in the neck region),
- Have operational controls in place during the filling process, and
- Revise the entry in the HMR for the DOT 3 AL cylinder in the "Requalification of Cylinders" table to include a non-destructive examination for cylinders manufactured of aluminum alloy 6351-T6.
On August 8, 2002, RSPA published final rule HM-220D that amended the requirements of the HMR applicable to the maintenance, requalification, repair, and use of DOT specification cylinders. That final rule added several amendments pertaining to DOT specification cylinders manufactured with aluminum alloy 6351-T6.
RSPA's Office of Hazardous Materials Safety is the federal authority responsible for ensuring the safe and secure commercial movement of hazardous materials by all transportation modes.
DOT Increases Maximum and Minimum Civil Penalties
The DOT's Research and Special Programs Administration has increased to $32,500
and $275, respectively, the maximum and minimum civil penalties for a knowing
violation of Federal hazardous materials transportation law or a regulation
issued under that law. The Agency also revised baseline assessments for frequently
cited violations to provide the regulated community and the general public with
more current information on RSPA's hazardous material penalty assessment process.
The revisions to RSPA's baseline penalty assessments consider the increase in
the maximum civil penalty to $32,500. RSPA also advised the public that, in
proposing or assessing a civil penalty, they will not normally consider a prior
violation in a case that was initiated in a calendar year more than six years
prior to the year in which the current proceeding is initiated. In addition,
they are updating the address to which civil penalty payments must be sent.
This rule is effective on September 30, 2003.
For more information, see http://dmses.dot.gov/docimages/p77/254076.pdf
EPA Establishes New Water Security Division
G. Tracy Mehan III, EPA's Assistant Administrator for Water, announced September 9, 2003 that the Agency has taken strong steps to further protect and safeguard the nation's drinking water and wastewater systems from terrorist acts by forming a new Water Security Division. This Division will continue the work undertaken by the Water Protection Task Force established in October 2001.
To date, the original Task Force has supported activities to improve security of drinking water and wastewater utilities. Major accomplishments which will be enhanced by the Water Security Division include:
- Awarding $51 million in grants directly to large drinking water systems to assist compliance with the requirements of the "Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002." Out of 466 total systems, 464 have submitted vulnerability assessments to EPA.
- Awarding over $30 million in grants to the States, tribes, and non-profit organizations to provide tools, training and technical assistance to small and medium drinking water systems as well as wastewater utilities on vulnerability assessments and related security work.
- Supporting the establishment of the WaterISAC, a state-of-the-art, secure information system that shares up-to-date threat and incident information between the intelligence community and the water sector.
- Developing and implementing a comprehensive research plan to address water security needs along with EPA's Office of Research and Development.
Under the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act, EPA works with government agencies and drinking water and waste water utilities and associations to ensure clean and safe water. Industry and government are also working to improve drinking water and waste water security. For more information on water security go to http://www.epa.gov/safewater/security/.
TPQ for EHS IPDI Changed
EPA has issued a final rule amending the threshold planning quantity (TPQ)
for an extremely hazardous substance (EHS). This rule amends the list of extremely
hazardous substances issued under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know
Act (EPCRA) by changing the threshold planning quantity (TPQ) for isophorone diisocyanate (IPDI) from 100 pounds to 500 pounds.
This rule is effective October 8, 2003.
For more information, see http://www.epa.gov/fedreg/EPA-TRI/2003/September/Day-08/tri22770.htm
EPA and Marshall University Reach Settlement for Environmental Violations
The mid-Atlantic regional office of EPA has announced a settlement with Marshall University in Huntington, W. Va. over environmental violations found during a multi-media inspection in September 2002.
The university has agreed to pay a penalty of $15,400.
The university violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act by owning and/or operating a hazardous waste storage facility without a permit, and failing to properly label containers of used oil.
This action was taken as a result of EPA's college and university initiative, started in 1999 because many institutions of higher learning were not aware of their responsibilities under various environmental laws or had failed to implement strategies to comply with these laws. In addition to inspections and appropriate enforcement actions, this initiative included free workshops to help colleges and universities comply, and established a web site that provides information about their duties under the law.
During the 2002 inspection, the EPA found that Marshall University was operating a hazardous waste storage facility without a permit. The hazardous waste primarily consisted of spent chemicals produced in the chemistry and biology labs, including formaldehyde, methanol, sulphuric acid, nitric acid and benzene. None of the storage containers was labeled as hazardous waste or had an accumulation start date, as required.
In the university's maintenance shop, inspectors also found several 30-gallon containers of used oil, but there were no labels identifying the contents. The university also kept no records detailing the transfer of used oil to outside parties.
Marshall University is one of 13 schools inspected to date during EPA's College and University Initiative. EPA will continue to monitor environmental compliance at other colleges and universities.
EPA's audit policy is posted at http://www.epa.gov/compliance/incentives/auditing/auditpolicy.html.
EPA Proposes Fines Against City Public Works Departments for Lack of SPCC Plan
EPA announced it has filed complaints against the City of Claremont, N.H. and the City of New London, CT for failing to plan for and guard against oil spills at their public works facilities. EPA's complaints alleges that the cities did not have a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan in place, as required by federal law. The cities face a maximum penalty of $27,500 each.
Previous EPA inspections revealed that the facilities did not have a SPCC plan in place. While each facility had some secondary containment, SPCC plans also require other safeguards, such as employee training in spill prevention procedures, tank inspections, and site security measures.
Since EPA's inspection, the cities have contracted for an approved SPCC plan to be developed.
Over the past two years, EPA New England has focused much attention on improving environmental compliance at municipal facilities, including public works facilities, through compliance assistance programs and enforcement inspections. Among the enforcement actions since 1997 have been twelve cases against municipal public works facilities and two state transportation agencies for failure to adhere to the oil pollution prevention regulations of the Clean Water Act. More information on EPA New England's municipal compliance assistance efforts can be found at http://www.epa.gov/ne/assistance/neeat/muni/index.html
EPA Settles with Fresh Mark for Chemical Release Reporting Violations
EPA Region 5 has settled an administrative complaint against Fresh Mark Inc. for violation of federal laws on the reporting of a hazardous chemical release. The settlement includes a $12,000 fine and four required environmental projects.
EPA alleged that on June 22, 2002, a broken refrigeration system valve released about 7,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia from the company's sausage plant in Canton, Ohio. The release lasted about three hours and the plant was evacuated at the time of the incident. EPA computer modeling indicated that the chemical plume drifted onto neighboring properties. Fresh Mark did not promptly notify the National Response Center, the Ohio Emergency Response Commission or the Stark County emergency planning commission. The Canton fire department was notified about three hours into the incident and assisted in stopping the leak and breaking up the cloud of ammonia vapor.
Federal laws require facilities to immediately notify the National Response Center and state and local authorities about any anhydrous ammonia release larger than 100 pounds. In addition to the late notifications to the state and local authorities, the company failed to notify the NRC until more than 41 hours after the incident.
The four environmental projects the company must do are valued at $50,400 and must be completed by Dec. 1, 2003. The projects include: providing emergency response training for Canton fire fighters; installation of new roof lighting and roof access equipment to be used in the event of another incident; and upgrades to Fresh Mark's refrigeration control room system.
Army to Spend $2.3 Million in Fines, Environmental Projects in Alaska
The Northwest office of EPA announced that the U.S. Army will spend a total of $2.3 million to settle a 1999 EPA complaint accusing the Army of years of major violations of the federal Clean Air Act at its Fort Wainwright installation in Alaska. The complaint was subsequently amended to include violations at Fort Richardson.
In the settlement, the Army agrees to pay a $600,000 penalty, install pollution reducing bag-houses on all its coal-fired boilers at the Fort Wainwright central heat and power plants ("CHPP"), and spend an additional $1.7 million on related environmental improvement projects at the two facilities.
Most of the violations in the EPA's 1999 complaint occurred at the facilities' CHPPs which operate coal-fired boilers originally constructed in the 1950s. Ft. Wainwright operates six coal-fired boilers that are part of the largest coal-fired power plant operated by the U.S. military in the world.
An EPA Administrative Law Judge ruled in July 2001 that the Army had indeed committed multiple violations of the Clean Air Act' s requirements. The violations were due primarily to the Army's decade-long failure to install bag-houses on its boilers to control particulate matter. The Army also failed to install and operate monitoring equipment at its CHPP facilities and failed to control fugitive dust emissions. The Army permanently shut-down the Fort Richardson coal-fired boilers in 1999 following a joint ADEC/EPA inspection.
Highly regulated by the states and the EPA, particulate matter is the generic term for the coarse particles -- from sources such as wind blown dust and unpaved roads -- and fine particles -- those from industrial fuel combustion and vehicle exhaust closely linked to respiratory disease. The EPA and the Army estimate that the corrective actions taken at the two facilities will reduce potential emissions at Fort Wainwright by 1140 tons per year (tpy) particulate matter (PM) and at Fort Richardson by 23 tpy PM, 43 tpy carbon monoxide, 41 tpy nitrogen oxides, and 37 tpy sulfur dioxide.
The supplemental environmental projects ("SEPs") on which the Army will spend $1.7 million and which will result in additional environmental improvement include:
- installation of electric headbolt heater outlets around its installations to reduce carbon monoxide emissions from idling motor vehicles;
- the decommissioning/retrofitting snowmachines and outboard motors with 2-stroke engines;
- implementation of a comprehensive reforestation and revegetation program at the installations;
- acquisition of two street sweepers and the paving of some dirt roads to reduce fugitive dust.
"This is a good outcome in a difficult case," said EPA Regional Administrator John Iani. "While resolution of this case has taken time, it is a clear example of enforcement being the right tool for the job. Using enforcement to shine the light on a long-standing non-compliance issue helped the Army bring the necessary attention and resources to correct the problems. This settlement is a fine example of the federal agencies working together to achieve greater environmental benefits through the Army's willingness to implement a number of supplemental environmental projects. The work that will be done under this settlement ushers in a new era of environmental awareness and stewardship for the Army."
Three Michigan Men Charged with Hazardous Waste Dumping
On Aug. 27, William Ort of Melvindale, Mich., Michael Rowley of Hudson, Mich., and Lamoin Caskey of Fayette, Ohio, were charged in Lenawee County District Court in Adrian, Mich., in a case involving the alleged transportation and disposal of hazardous wastes in violation of state law.
The complaint alleges that, in February, Ort hired Rowley to dispose of 16 drums of liquid waste from a welding and machining shop in River Rouge, Mich. Analysis of the contents indicated the drums contained benzenes, industrial oils, metals, tetrachloroethylene, toluene and xylene. Some of these chemicals are known carcinogens. The charges allege Rowley hired Caskey to assist him in loading the waste in a trailer and hauling it behind Caskey's truck. While driving the trailer, it broke loose from the truck and crashed on Sutton Road in Raisin Charter Township, Mich. After the crash, Rowley and Caskey removed the license plate from the trailer and fled, leaving the wastes abandoned.
If convicted on all charges, each defendant faces a maximum of up to one year in prison per count and/or a fine of up to $50,000. The case was investigated by the Cleveland Area Office of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality's Office of Criminal Investigations and the Raisin Charter Township Department of Public Safety with the assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center. The case is being prosecuted by the Lenawee County District Attorney's Office in Adrian, Mich.