EPA has amended the list of chemical substances that are partially exempt from reporting additional information under the Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) rule. The Agency has determined that, based on the totality of information available on the chemical substances listed in this final rule, there is a low current interest in their CDR processing and use information. EPA reached this conclusion after considering a number of factors, including the risk of adverse human health or environmental effects, information needs for CDR processing and use information, and the availability of other sources of comparable processing and use information.
CAS Number Substance
61788-61-2 Fatty acids, tallow, methyl esters
67762-26-9 Fatty acids, C14-18 and C16-18 unsaturated, methyl esters
67762-38-3 Fatty acids, C16-18 and C-18 unsaturated, methyl esters
67784-80-9 Soybean oil, methyl esters
129828-16-6 Fatty acids, canola oil, methyl esters
515152-40-6 Fatty acids, corn oil, methyl esters
This final rule became effective on March 29, 2016.
Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule
In the first major modification to the hazardous waste regulations in over 10 years, EPA plans to modify and reorganize the hazardous waste generator rule. When adopted, the rule will provide greater flexibility in how hazardous waste is managed and close important gaps in the regulations.
Attend Environmental Resource Center’s live, online session on April 18 to learn:
- New requirements for documenting hazardous waste determinations
- Revised requirements for when and how to submit the Notification of Generator Status form to EPA
- How to take advantage of the episodic generation exclusion to avoid reclassification to a larger generator status
- Definitions of important new terms – “Very Small Quantity Generator” and “Central Accumulation Area”
- How to mark containers, tanks, and containment buildings with new information required at central accumulation areas and satellites
- New conditions under which containers can be left open at satellite accumulation areas
- Updated time and volume limits for satellite accumulation areas
- New documentation requirements for contingency plans and biennial reports
- New requirements for shipping hazardous waste from a VSQG to another facility owned by the same organization
Click here to register online or call 800-537-2372.
New Exclusions for Solvent Recycling and Hazardous Secondary Materials
EPA’s new final rule on the definition of solid waste creates new opportunities for waste recycling outside the scope of the full hazardous waste regulations. This rule, 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 April 11 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.
San Diego RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management in California and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in San Diego, CA, on April 12–14 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.
Philadelphia RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Philadelphia, PA, on April 12–14 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.
Virginia Beach RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Virginia Beach, VA, on April 19–21 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.
Michigan DEQ Takes Important Step to Permanently Reduce Sulfur Dioxide Emissions
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) recently took an important step to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from the U.S. Steel, Great Lakes Works facilities in Michigan. A rule currently awaiting Legislative approval contains new sulfur dioxide limits for U.S. Steel’s Zug Island Boiler Houses and the Hot Strip Mill Reheat Furnaces at the Ecorse facility.
Permanently reducing the sulfur dioxide emissions in Southwest Detroit is a priority for the DEQ. In 2010, the EPA identified a portion of Wayne County as having sulfur dioxide levels higher than the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for sulfur dioxide of 75 parts per billion. The federal Clean Air Act requires the NAAQS for sulfur dioxide be met by 2018.
The DEQ has developed a plan to reduce allowed emissions of sulfur dioxide in the area. In the fall of 2015, DEQ held a public comment period on a draft plan. A significant number of comments called for additional permanent sulfur dioxide reductions. Based on a further review of the data and these public concerns, the DEQ developed an approach that will satisfy all EPA requirements and add further protections for public health. The final part of the plan was the application of additional restrictions to sulfur dioxide emissions. The DEQ has already reached agreement with four of five companies in Southwest Detroit that are affected by the plan. The rule will require the final company, U.S. Steel, to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions at its two facilities.
The plan will be submitted to the EPA for review and approval. Sulfur dioxide levels in Southwest Detroit have dropped by 33% since 2010. Air monitoring data for the area now shows the sulfur dioxide level is at 64 parts per billion. This rule takes further action toward protecting human health and the environment. The DEQ is looking forward to continued partnership with the EPA, companies and the residents in Southwest Detroit and seeking to permanently reduce sulfur dioxide emissions in the area.
EPA Proposes Changes to Risk Management Program
The EPA is proposing to amend the Accidental Release Prevention Requirements of Risk Management Programs (RMP) under the Clean Air Act, Section 112(r)(7). The revisions aim to modernize chemical safety and security regulations, guidance, and policies are required under Executive Order (EO) 13650 in order to prevent chemical accidents. The proposed revisions include additional requirements for the process hazard analysis required for Program 3 processes, additional emergency preparedness requirements, third party audits, and increased availability of chemical hazard information to the public.
A public hearing on the proposed rule will be held on March 29, 2016. All comments must be received by May 13.
EPA Proposes Use of Climate-Friendly Alternatives to HFCs
The EPA is proposing to expand the list of acceptable substitutes and prohibit the use of certain chemicals in the U.S. that significantly contribute to climate change where safer, more climate-friendly alternatives exist. This is another step forward in a series under President Obama's Climate Action Plan, which aims to reduce emissions of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a class of potent greenhouse gases (GHGs) that can be up to 10,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide and are used in air-conditioning, refrigeration, and other equipment. The emissions avoided from this proposed rule are estimated to be up to 11 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2030, which is equal to the emissions from the energy used by approximately one million homes for one year.
“This new proposal would reduce the use and emissions of some of the most harmful HFCs, which are thousands of times more potent than carbon dioxide, and approves safer, more climate-friendly alternatives to protect public health and our environment,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “In support of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, this action will not only result in significant reductions of harmful greenhouse gases, but it expands the options for safer alternatives available on the market.”
EPA is both proposing to expand the agency’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) Program list of climate-friendly alternatives and, now that safer options are available, proposing to change the status of certain higher-global warming potential (GWP) substances that were previously listed as acceptable. In developing this proposal, the agency received input from industry, environmental groups and others through workshops and meetings over the past year.
EPA’s actions under the SNAP Program have been instrumental in the U.S. meeting its obligations under the Montreal Protocol, a global treaty through which all countries have agreed to reduce the use of chemicals that harm the Earth’s atmosphere. At the November 2015 Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol treaty in Dubai, led by Administrator McCarthy, countries across the world took the historic step to work together in 2016 to amend the Montreal Protocol to reduce the production and consumption of harmful HFCs. The statement released by Administrator McCarthy following the agreement can be viewed here. The SNAP proposal shows the U.S. commitment to these goals. The first preparatory session for the Montreal Protocol since the adoption of the Dubai Pathway will be held April 4–8 in Geneva.
EPA’s proposal includes:
- Listing as acceptable, subject to conditions to ensure safe use, propane and HFO-1234yf in specific end-uses in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector, and a new fire suppression agent for streaming and total flooding uses on aircraft;
- Listing as unacceptable certain flammable hydrocarbon (HC) refrigerants and HC blends for retrofitting existing residential central air conditioning equipment that was designed for non-flammable refrigerants;
- Listing as unacceptable propylene and the HC blend R-443A in specific end-uses in the refrigeration and air conditioning sector; and
- Modifying the listing status for certain high-GWP alternatives for certain end-uses in refrigeration and air conditioning (e.g., chillers and household refrigerators), foam blowing, and fire suppression and explosion protection sectors, and for methylene chloride for certain end-uses in the foam blowing sector.
Under the authority of the Clean Air Act, EPA’s SNAP Program evaluates chemicals and technologies on an ongoing basis within a comparative risk framework. Over the last two decades, SNAP has fostered continued innovation by evaluating more than 400 substitutes for some of the most harmful chemicals used across the economy.
The recent action builds on EPA’s July 2015 SNAP final rule prohibiting certain HFCs in the aerosols, foams, and refrigeration and air conditioning sectors.
EPA will accept comment on the proposal for 45 days after publication in the Federal Register. If a hearing is requested, further information will be provided at https://www.epa.gov/ozone/snap.
EPA Updates Aquatic Life Criteria for Cadmium
EPA has released the final updated water quality criteria for aquatic life for the metal cadmium. Acute exposure to cadmium causes mortality at elevated concentrations. Chronic exposure to cadmium negatively impacts growth, development, behavior, reproduction, and immune and endocrine systems in aquatic life. Mining and urbanization are responsible for approximately 90% of the cadmium found in surface waters. The 2016 cadmium water quality criteria reflect the best available science, including the results of new laboratory aquatic toxicity tests. The criteria underwent an external peer review that was completed in 2015 and a 60 day public comment period. EPA’s criteria for cadmium provide recommendations to states and tribes authorized to establish water quality standards under the Clean Water Act.
Ohio Adopts New Rule for VOC Emissions
Ohio EPA has adopted amended Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) Rule 3745-21-07, "Control of emissions of organic materials from stationary sources (i.e., emissions that are not regulated by rule 3745-21-09, 3745-21-12, 3745-21-13, 3745-21-14, 3745-21-15, 3745-21-16, or 3745-21-18, or 3745-21-26 of the Administrative Code)." This rule sets limits as well as monitoring and reporting requirements for emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from manufacturing processes except for those processes covered in the rules mentioned in the title.
The amended rule will go into effect on Friday, April 8, 2016.
EPA Releases Scientific Report Showing Half of U.S. Rivers and Streams Are in Poor Condition
EPA has released the National Rivers and Streams Assessment, which finds that 46% of the nation’s river and stream miles do not support healthy populations of aquatic life largely due to phosphorus and nitrogen pollution and poor habitat conditions. Phosphorus and nitrogen pollution comes from excess fertilizers, wastewater, runoff from urban areas, and other sources. The pollution can cause algae blooms and other problems such as low oxygen levels. Poor habitat conditions make rivers and streams more vulnerable to flooding, contribute to erosion, and allow more pollutants to enter waterways.
The Impact of Anti-Odor Clothing on the Environment
Anti-odor athletic clothes containing silver nanoparticles have gained a foothold among exercise buffs, but questions have arisen over how safe and effective they are. Now scientists report in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology that silver nanoparticles and coatings do wash off of commercially available garments in the laundry but at negligible levels. They also found that even low concentrations of silver on clothing kept microbes at bay.
Thanks to their antimicrobial properties, silver nanoparticles are found in an increasing array of products such as food packaging, bandages, and textiles. At the same time, scientists have been studying the possible effects silver nanoparticles might have on the environment and human health. Studies have shown that the particles can be toxic, but their safety is dependent on a number of factors such as size and dose. Few studies, however, have examined both their effectiveness in products and their potential for harm. Paul K. Westerhoff and colleagues wanted to see how the design of antimicrobial clothes affects how well they stand up to washing and their potential to leach silver into the environment.
The researchers tested commercial athletic shirts in which the silver nanoparticles were incorporated in one of four different ways. Washing the shirts released a range of silver concentrations, depending on how the nanoparticles were attached. But overall, the resulting toxicity of the wastewater due to its silver content was negligible to zebrafish embryos—a model animal used in toxicity studies. And after washing, the shirts still retained their antimicrobial effect even if their remaining metal concentration was low. The researchers also say, however, that the remaining silver will leach out over time when the clothes are discarded in landfills. They recommend keeping the initial metal concentration in these products low to help reduce their environmental impact while still maintaining their ability to fight off microbes.
FAA Proposes $52,000 Civil Penalty Against The Home Depot Inc. for Alleged Hazardous Material Violations
The U.S Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed a $52,000 civil penalty against The Home Depot, Inc., of Atlanta, Georgia, for allegedly violating the Hazardous Materials Regulations.
The FAA alleges that on October 3, 2014, The Home Depot offered a box containing 16 cans of spray paint, a flammable aerosol, to UPS for shipment by air from San Antonio, Texas, to Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. A UPS employee in San Antonio discovered the shipment before it was loaded onto the aircraft.
The FAA alleges the shipments were not accompanied by papers indicating the hazardous nature of their contents and were not properly marked or labeled. The company also failed to provide required emergency response information with the shipment, the FAA alleges.
The Home Depot has 30 days from receipt of the FAA’s enforcement letter to respond to the agency.
EPA Launches New Voluntary Methane Challenge Program
As part of the Obama Administration’s ongoing commitment to take action on climate change and protect public health, EPA is launching a new voluntary partnership program—with 41 founding partner companies in the oil and gas sector. The Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program builds upon the Natural Gas STAR Program, a flexible, voluntary partnership between EPA and the U.S. oil and natural gas industry that focuses on achieving cost-effective methane emission reductions from natural gas operations. Methane is upwards of 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide in warming the planet.
“To protect public health and combat climate change, today, we are expanding our voluntary partnerships to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector through our new Methane Challenge Program, which is a platform for companies to transparently report actions to reduce methane emissions and to be publicly recognized as leaders in reducing methane emissions in the United States,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “The voluntary Methane Challenge program is one important part of our overarching strategy to reduce methane emissions, and complements regulatory efforts that will help the United States meet the Obama Administration’s goal of reducing methane emissions by 40 to 45 percent by 2025.”
The new program was announced at the Global Methane Forum, hosted by the Global Methane Initiative and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, which has brought together hundreds of policymakers and industry experts from more than 50 countries to discuss strategies to reduce global methane emissions.
The Methane Challenge Program will provide partner companies with a platform to make company-wide commitments to cut emissions from sources within their operations by implementing a suite of best management practices within five years. Transparency is a fundamental part of the program, and partner achievements will be tracked by submitting annual data directly to EPA. Partner companies have committed to replacing or rehabilitating cast iron and unprotected steel distribution mains, and to reducing methane emissions from pipeline blowdowns, among other activities.
The Methane Challenge Program has the potential to achieve significant emissions reductions in a cost-effective way, and is an important component of the Administration’s 2014 Methane Strategy, which set out regulatory and voluntary approaches for reducing methane emissions by 40 to 45% below 2012 levels by 2025. EPA expects program participation to grow over time and is actively working to expand the options for participation by finalizing an additional Emissions Intensity Commitment option through the ONE Future Coalition. ONE Future is a coalition of natural gas companies focused on increasing efficiency across the natural gas supply chain.
Another key outcome of the Global Methane Forum is the re-chartering of the Global Methane Initiative (GMI) for the next five years. In addition, the Forum has provided an opportunity for the GMI, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, and the United Nation’s Economic Commission for Europe to collaborate in strategically aligning their methane mitigation activities.
The GMI is a partnership of 43 countries, including the United States, aimed at achieving cost-effective methane reductions across five sectors: municipal solid waste, wastewater, agriculture, coal, and the oil and gas sector. Together, GMI’s 43 partner countries account for approximately 70% of global methane emissions from targeted sources. Since 2004, partner countries avoided nearly 350 MMTCO2e in methane emissions from these sources.
Brenntag Northeast Cited for Hazardous Waste and Clean Water Act Violations
Brenntag Northeast, Inc., the owner and operator of a chemical repackaging and distribution plant in Reading, Pennsylvania, will pay a $55,000 penalty, and donate $30,000 of emergency response equipment to a local fire department, to settle alleged oil and hazardous waste storage violations of regulations designed to protect public health and the environment, the EPA announced recently.
EPA cited the company for violating federal and state safeguards governing the storage of hazardous waste and oil. The federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the federal Clean Water Act, and Pennsylvania’s hazardous waste regulations are designed to protect public health and the environment, and avoid costly cleanups, by requiring the safe, environmentally sound storage and disposal of hazardous waste and oil.
Alleged violations focused on how the materials were stored, and included failure to conduct proper and timely inspections, and failure to adequately control emissions of volatile waste, and failure to plan for oil spill prevention.
The settlement includes payment of a $55,000 penalty, of which $11,000 will be placed in the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund and be available to fund future oil cleanups at facilities nationwide.
In addition, Brenntag will purchase $30,000 of equipment for the Union Fire Department #1 of Leesport to improve their response to hazardous material incidents. This includes foam, foam hoses, and gas detectors.
As part of the settlement, the company has not admitted liability, but has certified that it is currently in compliance with the RCRA and the Clean Water Act requirements cited by EPA. The company also has developed new standard operating procedures documenting improved inspection and waste handling practices.
The Oregon Ice Cream Company Fined $55,000 for Risk Management Violations
The Oregon Ice Cream Company has agreed to make safety improvements and upgrade its refrigeration equipment to prevent toxic anhydrous ammonia releases at its manufacturing facility in Eugene, Oregon. In the settlement announced by the EPA, the company will also pay $55,000 in penalties for multiple violations of federal safety rules and risk management program requirements designed to prevent chemical emergencies.
“EPA’s Risk Management Program is designed to protect the public from accidental releases of extremely hazardous chemicals,” said Director Ed Kowalski of EPA’s Pacific Northwest Office of Compliance and Enforcement. “Our federal rules, by themselves, will not guarantee safety from chemical accidents. Companies that use toxic chemicals need to take responsibility to prevent, prepare for, and respond to emergencies.”
In 2011, EPA inspectors found that the Oregon Ice Cream facility failed to have an adequate risk management plan or proper safety equipment including leak detection and ventilation on its refrigeration system, which at the time was reported to contain over 10,000 lb of anhydrous ammonia. The company’s failure to meet industry safety standards for safe operation and maintenance of its ammonia refrigeration equipment and its failure to install a leak detection system or emergency ventilation were violations of the federal Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Plan rules.
Anhydrous ammonia is toxic and may be harmful if inhaled at high concentrations, resulting in severe respiratory injuries and possibly death. If anhydrous ammonia is released to the air from a leak in a pressurized refrigeration system, the risk of exposure increases since larger quantities of the toxic chemical have the potential for rapid release into the air.
Without proper safety plans and equipment in place, Oregon Ice Cream could have put its workers and the surrounding community at serious risk from a large ammonia release into the air. To correct the violations, the company has upgraded its refrigeration equipment to meet industry safety standards, installed leak detection systems, upgraded its emergency relieve valve system, installed a proper ventilation system, and improved overall safety and maintenance procedures to better prevent, detect, and safely respond to an accidental ammonia leak.
EPA uses an environmental justice mapping and screening tool, EJSCREEN, in enforcement and other agency programs to help determine the presence of potential environmental justice concerns in a community.
Texas May Grant Waivers for Electronic NPDES Reporting
On September 24, 2015, the EPA signed the final rule, which requires NPDES regulated entities to electronically submit specific permit and compliance monitoring information instead of filing paper reports.
This rule will be implemented in two phases. Phase I becomes effective on December 21, 2016, and Phase II becomes effective on December 21, 2020. The following is a brief summary of the Phase I and Phase II requirements as they apply to NPDES regulated entities.
Phase I Requirements – effective December 21, 2016
- All NPDES regulated entities that are required to submit discharge monitoring reports (DMRs) must do so electronically using NetDMR.
- NPDES regulated entities include facilities that discharge wastewater (for example, facilities classified as major or minor dischargers, individually permitted facilities, and facilities covered by general permits).
- The TCEQ may grant Temporary Waivers to the electronic reporting rule in limited cases where adequate broadband access is not available or other situations as approved by the EPA.
Phase II Requirements – effective December 21, 2020
- All NPDES regulated entities that are required to submit a notice of intent (NOI), a notice of termination (NOT), a no exposure certification (NEC), or a low erosivity waiver (LEW) must do so electronically using STEERS (for example, Industrial Multi-Sector General Permits and Construction Stormwater General Permits).
- NPDES regulated entities that are required to submit the following periodic reports must do so electronically: Sewage Sludge/Biosolids Annual Program Reports, Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) Annual Program Reports, Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Program Reports, Pretreatment Program Reports, Significant Industrial User Compliance Reports (in municipalities without approved pretreatment programs), Sewer Overflow/Bypass Event Reports, and CWA Section 316(b) Annual Reports.
- The TCEQ may grant Temporary Waivers to the electronic reporting rule in limited cases where adequate broadband access is not available or other situations as approved by the EPA.
If you have any questions concerning the NPDES Electronic Reporting Rule, please contact Texas Small Business and Local Government Assistance at 800-447-2827.
Two Connecticut Companies Settle EPA Claims of Violating PCB Regulations
Two Connecticut companies, a scrap metal recycling facility and a waste oil transporter, agreed to pay fines to settle claims by the EPA that they violated federal laws regarding toxic substances in their handling of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). In addition, as part of the settlements one company will clean up PCB contamination and the other has voluntarily changed operations to reduce the chance of contaminating waste oil shipments with PCBs.
G&S, a scrap metal recycling facility in South Windsor, Connecticut, will clean up an on-site lagoon that became polluted with toxic chemicals, and paid a penalty of $22,500, settling EPA claims that it violated the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).
Connecticut Oil Recycling Services in Middletown, Connecticut, a waste oil transporter and recycler, paid $20,000 to settle an EPA claim that it failed to properly prepare a hazardous waste manifest for waste containing PCBs when transporting waste that included PCBs.
Under federal law, a release of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, at concentrations greater than 50 parts per million is a disposal of PCBs, and anyone disposing of PCBs must do so in accordance with federal environmental regulations. PCBs are a carcinogen and also pose a number of non-cancer adverse health effects in humans and animals.
G&S, located at 444 Nutmeg Road North in South Windsor, buys and consolidates scrap metals, which it sorts inside the building or on concrete pads to reduce the chance of soil contamination. A system of oil/water separators and retention ponds are designed to capture any contaminants. The federal Clean Water Act permit issued to G&S requires the company to periodically sample discharges for PCBs. G&S conducted the required sampling and detected no PCBs in 2012 or 2013. In 2014, however sampling found PCBs in surface water and sediments. On discovering this, G&S started a cleanup and has submitted a cleanup plan to deal with the remaining contamination.
Connecticut Oil Recycling Services, at 27 Mill Street in Middletown, picked up waste from a customer and transported it to Active Oil, an oil processing facility in New Haven, Connecticut, for disposal or recycling. Neither the company nor its customers who provide the oil did sampling for PCB contamination. In April 2015, Active Oil found PCB contamination in its storage tank which was traced back to a shipment made by Connecticut Oil Recycling Services. EPA alleged that the company violated TSCA by failing to properly prepare a hazardous waste manifest for waste containing PCBs in a shipment on April 13, 2015. By adding PCB-contaminated waste oil to its tanker truck, combining it with waste oil collected from other customers, and then adding it to a tank at Active Oil, these actions led to the PCB contamination of about 15,000 gallons of waste oil.
The Bill of Lading that Connecticut Oil Recycling Services issued when it transported a tanker truck load of waste oil to Active Oil was not a proper hazardous waste manifest because, among other things, it did not identify the shipment as containing PCB waste.
Pennsylvania Suspends Laboratory
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has suspended the accreditation of Analytical Services, Inc., an environmental laboratory located in Williston, Vermont, effective immediately. DEP accredited the laboratory in March 2015 to provide analysis of drinking water supplies for cryptosporidium, giardia, and E. coli. Over the past year, 15 Pennsylvania public water systems in Pennsylvania used Analytical Services to conduct raw source water sampling as part of a routine assessment for only those contaminants.
As a result of the suspension, Analytical Services will no longer be allowed to conduct tests to demonstrate compliance with water quality regulations for public drinking water suppliers in Pennsylvania.
The suspension is the result of an investigation by DEP. “We do not tolerate any violations, especially when it comes to safeguarding public health,” said DEP Secretary John Quigley. “Our staff investigation revealed major violations of the Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Act, and therefore, Analytical Services may not continue to perform testing or analysis on environmental samples for Pennsylvania facilities.”
In addition to the suspension of accreditation, DEP issued a Notice of Violation to Analytical Services for violating multiple requirements of the Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Act. During the data audit and evaluation, DEP found that:
- Analytical Services’ laboratory supervisor and laboratory management failed to ensure the accuracy of the analytical data generated and reported
- Analytical Services’ laboratory analysts failed to meet the test method requirements for the testing and analysis of microbiology drinking water samples
Pennsylvania regulations require that the lab provide written notification of its suspension to its Pennsylvania clients within the next three days. The suspension notice also requires the lab to supply a list of its Pennsylvania clients to DEP within the next five days. DEP is already taking the extra step of notifying those clients that it is aware of.
All of these systems are currently in compliance with existing treatment technique requirements for filtration and disinfection. The raw source water cryptosporidium monitoring data that is being collected will be used to make future decisions about the need for additional levels of treatment.
Six other accredited commercial laboratories, all out of state, provide testing for cryptosporidium. DEP’s Laboratory Accreditation Program evaluates and accredits environmental laboratories in accordance with state and federal regulations to protect the environment and ensure public health, safety, and welfare. Labs performing testing on environmental samples for compliance with a statute administered by DEP must be registered with or accredited by DEP.
Connecticut Air Permit Contact Sheet
Connecticut companies may now obtain assistance in identifying the appropriate group or individual within the Bureau of Air Management's Engineering and Enforcement Division to contact for information concerning an issued permit or approval of registration using the new Air Permit Contact Sheet. The document may be found in the Contact Us and Air Permitting Assistance sections of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection website.
Southern California Contractor Fails to Warn Residents of Lead-Based Paint Dangers
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently fined G.D. Friend, Inc. (operating as Everlast Home Energy Solutions) $28,564 for failing to comply with the federal Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule while performing renovation work at two residential properties in Southern California. This rule seeks to protect the public from lead-based paint hazards that occur during repair or remodeling activities in housing built before 1978.
“Renovation work in older homes can create hazardous lead dust, but there are simple steps contractors can take to keep everyone safe,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “EPA will take enforcement action against companies to ensure they follow proper lead-safety procedures.”
G.D. Friend, located in Anaheim, California, installs energy efficient home improvement products, such as windows and siding. An EPA inspection found that in February and March 2014, the company performed work at two pre-1978 residential properties in Anaheim and La Verne without:
- Receiving proper certification from EPA
- Providing clients with the required federal Renovate Right brochure
- Keeping records indicating compliance with lead-safe work practices
- Ensuring a certified renovator performed all of its lead-based paint responsibilities
Lead-contaminated dust can be easily ingested or inhaled. Common renovation activities like sanding, cutting, and demolition can create hazardous lead dust and chips that can settle on home surfaces. Exposure to such contamination through hand-to-mouth contact or breathing can result in lead poisoning for children, families, and construction workers.
Though it is harmful at any age, lead exposure is most dangerous to children. Children’s growing bodies absorb more lead and their brain and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead. Lead exposure can lead to behavior and learning problems, slowed growth, hearing problems, and diminished IQ.
EPA enforces the federal Toxic Substances Control Act and its RRP rule to protect residents from exposure to lead-based paint hazards. Contractors who disturb painted surfaces in homes and child-occupied facilities built before 1978 must be trained and certified, provide educational materials to residents, and follow safe work practices. Lead-based paint was banned for residential use in 1978, but EPA estimates that it is still present in more than 37 million older homes in the United States.
Advance Coatings Co. Penalized $5,730 for Violating Air Quality Regulations
Advance Coatings Co., a manufacturer of polystyrene resins and specialty chemical products, has been assessed a $5,750 penalty by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) for violating air pollution control regulations at its facility in Westminster.
MassDEP inspected the company's plant on Depot Road in September, 2014 and found that it had not installed an air pollution control device for destroying organic compounds as required by its permit, and was operating another device instead.
In a consent order, the company has agreed to pay $1,744 of the penalty and to use the remaining penalty amount to conduct a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) to benefit the Westminster Fire Department. The SEP consists of purchasing air monitoring equipment for the Fire Department.
"Compliance with air permits safeguards the well-being of the environment and human health, particularly when it comes to pollution control," said Mary Jude Pigsley, director of MassDEP's Central Regional Office in Worcester. "The company will seek assistance from MassDEP to amend its permit to reflect its current operations."
New NAVFAC SiteWiseTM Version 3.1 and User Guide
SiteWise is an Excel-based remedy selection and optimization tool for green and sustainable remediation (GSR) planners. It was developed jointly by the Department of the Navy, Army Corps of Engineers, and Battelle. The software and companion guidance were recently updated with modules for sediment remediation technologies including dredging, capping, and monitored natural recovery. The updated guide includes instructions for using SiteWise and the basis of calculations. The updated tool will aid in evaluating the unique aspects of sediment remedies using GSR metrics. Visit the NAVFAC GSR Web page and look under "Tools" to view the new software and guidance.
FAA to Get the Lead Out of Aviation Fuel
As part of its ongoing efforts to develop an acceptable unleaded fuel for small airplanes, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced that it has selected two unleaded fuels for further testing. This will move the general aviation (GA) community a step closer to having new fuels that eliminate their reliance on leaded fuel.
“Small aircraft are the only mode of transportation that still relies on leaded fuel. We’re committed to finding safe fuels that benefit the environment and our general aviation community from this transportation source,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.
Fuel formulations from Shell and Swift Fuels were selected for Phase 2 engine and aircraft testing. Test data will help the companies obtain an ASTM International Production Specification for their fuels and allow the FAA to authorize the existing GA fleet to use the unleaded replacement fuels. The testing will begin this summer and conclude in 2018.
The Piston Aviation Fuels Initiative (PAFI), a government and industry partnership, is facilitating the development and deployment of a new unleaded aviation fuel that can be readily available across the GA fleet. Congress appropriated $7 million for the fiscal year 2016 budget to support the PAFI test program at the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center.
“Government and industry are successfully working together to lower aviation emissions. We’re on track to have unleaded aviation gasoline fully evaluated and ready to be authorized for use by the general aviation fleet in 2018,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.
As part of PAFI, in June 2013 the FAA requested that fuel producers submit their replacement fuel proposals to the FAA for evaluation. By July 2014, the agency received 17 formulations from six companies and assessed candidate fuels in terms of their impact on the existing fleet, the production and distribution infrastructure, the impact on the environment, toxicology, and the cost of aircraft operations. In September 2014, the FAA accepted four fuel formulations into the PAFI Phase 1 test program.
Approximately 167,000 GA aircraft in the U.S. currently rely on 100 octane low-lead aviation gasoline for safe operation. The small quantity of lead in the fuel creates the high octane levels needed for high-performance aircraft. Most commercial airplanes do not use leaded gas. Visit the FAA’s aviation gasoline website to learn more.
Background on the PAFI Test Program:
Phase 1 testing of the four candidate fuels concluded in December 2015. It included basic fit-for-purpose and chemical property laboratory evaluations, six rig tests, materials compatibility testing, engine testing, and a literature study which evaluated the chemical components of the fuels to obtain information on their toxicity and environmental impact. The companies then used the Phase 1 data to update the feasibility assessments that they submitted with their original proposals to assess the impact of their fuel on the current GA fleet of engines and aircraft, including the number and extent of aircraft modifications. They also examined production and distribution costs and environmental factors. The FAA reviewed the Phase 1 PAFI data and the updated feasibility assessments, and then selected the two fuels which would have the least impact on the GA fleet and on the fuel production and distribution infrastructure.
Massachusetts Power Plant Owner and Management Plead Guilty to Tampering and False Reporting
Berkshire Power Plant’s owner and management company have agreed to plead guilty to tampering with emissions equipment and submitting false information to both environmental and energy regulators. The former plant operation and maintenance company also agreed to pay a state civil penalty.
United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced the resolution following a joint federal and state investigation into allegations that Berkshire Power Plant in Agawam, Massachusetts tampered with its air pollution monitoring equipment and falsely reported data to environmental and energy regulators regarding its emissions levels and its availability to produce power.
“This resolution addresses a pattern of behavior by multiple persons and entities in obstructing the enforcement of laws designed to protect the air we breathe,” said United States Attorney Carmen Ortiz. “The comprehensive resolution, including the first ever criminal charges for false statements to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, demonstrates the seriousness with which we take conduct which undermines environmental compliance and the fair regulation of energy markets.”
“The deliberate scheme Berkshire Power Plant management and staff undertook gave them an unfair competitive advantage over responsible companies, and undermined a system that depends on honest data reporting,” said Tyler Amon, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division in Boston. “Maximizing profit to minimize the cost of controlling pollution is placing greed over protecting nearby communities. EPA will continue to pursue cases that maintain data integrity, so we can do our job to protect clean air.”
“Fraud against the Commonwealth is very serious and will be aggressively prosecuted, criminally and civilly, by this Office, especially when the consequence of the fraud is to expose the public to health and safety risks,” said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. “This type of conduct can not be tolerated.”
“Reporting environmental information accurately is essential to state and federal efforts to improve air quality. Cases where information is misrepresented will be pursued to the fullest extent to protect the integrity of our air quality programs,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “Some of the funds generated by this settlement will support innovative programs to improve air quality in the Commonwealth, including the woodstove change-out and electric vehicle subsidy programs.”
Berkshire Power Co. (“BPC”), the owner of Berkshire Power Plant (“the Plant”), and Power Plant Management Services (“PPMS”) the Plant manager, agreed to plead guilty to felony charges that they violated and conspired to violate the federal Clean Air Act. These charges arose from air pollution monitoring equipment tampering and related false emissions reporting between 2009 and 2011. PPMS also agreed to plead guilty to charges that it violated the Federal Power Act, the first ever criminal charges under this statute, for making false statements to the regional power grid administrator, ISO-New England, regarding the Plant’s availability to produce power.
Under the terms of the plea agreements, BPC and PPMS agree to pay a total of $4.25 million related to the criminal charges. BPC will pay $2.75 million in criminal fines for the Clean Air Act violations and make a $750,000 community service payment to the American Lung Association to fund a program for the replacement of polluting wood burning stoves in western Massachusetts. PPMS will pay $500,000 in criminal fines for the Clean Air Act and Federal Power Act violations and make a $250,000 community service payment to the American Lung Association’s wood stove change-out program. The wood stove program payments would be established only after sentencing.
Between them, BPC, PPMS, and the Plant’s former operation and maintenance company, EthosEnergy Power Plant Services, LLC (formerly Wood Group Power Plant Services, LLC), will also pay over $4 million in civil penalties. EthosEnergy agreed to resolve allegations that it violated sections of the Commonwealth’s Public Health Law dealing with air pollution stemming from its employees’ involvement with the air pollution monitoring equipment tampering at the Plant. Under the terms of the state Consent Judgment, EthosEnergy will pay a $1.1 million civil penalty, and make a $200,000 payment to fund the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in the Commonwealth.
In addition to the criminal fines outlined above, BPC and PPMS have agreed to pay $3,042,563 plus interest to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in civil penalties and disgorgement for their misrepresentations to ISO-New England regarding the Plant’s availability to produce power.
According to documents filed in federal and state court, between January 2009 and March 2011, BPC engaged PPMS to manage the Plant, including overseeing day-to-day operations and maintenance and to act as the owner’s representative for the Plant. A PPMS employee served as the Plant General Manager and as BPC’s on-site representative. BPC also retained Wood Group during this same time to provide the day-to-day Plant operation and maintenance.
PPMS and BPC caused the Wood Group employees at the Plant to tamper with the Plant’s air pollution monitoring equipment to conceal the fact that the Plant was emitting air pollutants in excess of permitted levels. This tampering was accomplished by intentionally biasing the Plant’s Continuous Emissions Monitoring System so it would show lower emissions levels than were actually being produced by the Plant. BPC and PPMS then used this inaccurate data in filing required emissions reports with the EPA and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (“MassDEP”). The purpose of the tampering was to avoid lost revenues that would have resulted from reducing power production to stay within the Plant’s air pollution emissions limits, or by taking the Plant out of service to implement needed repairs of the Plant’s pollution control and other equipment.
Excess nitrogen oxide (NOx) emitted from fossil-fuel-burning power plants and mobile sources, like cars and trucks, combines in the atmosphere with volatile organic compounds emitted from industrial and residential sources to form ground-level ozone. At ground level, ozone is a respiratory pollutant that can cause many human respiratory effects, and even premature mortality, especially in vulnerable elderly persons and young children. NOx emissions also cause environmental damage to coastal waters, aquatic life, and other property, and contribute to the formation in the atmosphere of fine particulates that also harm humans, aquatic life, and vegetation.
During the course of the tampering investigation, criminal investigators also learned that PPMS made and caused staff at the Plant to make false statements to the ISO-New England, about the Plant’s availability to produce power for the New England grid. They also caused staff at the Plant to falsely claim to the ISO that the Plant was available to produce power when it was not. PPMS did this to maximize the Plant’s revenues and to minimize repair expenditures.
In February 2015, Ortiz’s office filed charges against Frederick Baker and Scott Paterson, respectively, a former Wood Group manager and instrument control technician at the Plant at the time the tampering occurred. It is alleged that Baker had, at the direction of the PPMS on-site General Manager, directed Wood Group employees at the Plant, including Paterson, to tamper with the Continuous Emissions Monitoring System. In light of the fact Wood Group spearheaded the disclosure of the tampering conduct to EPA and MassDEP, and provided a high level of cooperation during the case, the case against EthosEnergy is being resolved with a civil settlement.
The federal criminal case is being prosecuted by Sara Miron Bloom of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit and Daniel Licata, an Assistant Attorney General with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office working as a Special Assistant United States Attorney, with the assistance of Dianne Chabot, USEPA Criminal Enforcement Counsel.
The case was investigated by USEPA-CID, the Massachusetts Environmental Crimes Strike Force (an interagency investigative team dedicated to developing the most significant environmental enforcement cases) and the Massachusetts Environmental Police, with the technical assistance of MassDEP including Marc Simpson, Todd Wheeler, Steve Ellis and Pamela Talbot and EPA Region 1.
The state civil case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Frederick Augenstern of Attorney General Healey’s Environmental Protection Division, with assistance from Christine LeBel and Jane Rothchild of MassDEP’s Office of General Counsel, and Marc Cohen, an Environmental Engineer in MassDEP’s Boston Office.
The details contained in the criminal information and civil complaint are allegations. The defendants in the criminal cases are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. By entering into the Consent Judgment, EthosEnergy does not admit to the truth of the allegations contained in the Complaint.
Get Recognized by the Ohio EPA
Each year Ohio EPA recognizes organizations in the Buckeye State for exceptional achievements in environmental stewardship through the Ohio EPA's Encouraging Environmental Excellence (E3) Program. Any business, industry, trade association, professional organization, or local government of Ohio can be recognized for their commitment to environmental excellence.
The program has a three-level approach providing recognition to Ohio organizations completing environmentally beneficial activities and escalates to higher levels of recognition for those who exceed regulatory requirements or commit to future environmental stewardship efforts.
DEFA is offering a free webinar April 20, 2016, Encouraging Environmental Excellence (E3), How to Gain Recognition for Your Organization's Efforts that outlines the program. This webinar will discuss Ohio EPA's E3 program and the three levels of recognition available. The content will focus on how to apply for achievement, silver, and gold level recognition and the type of information Ohio EPA needs to complete the review process. The requirements and deadlines for each level will be described along with a discussion of how DEFA can help organizations complete successful applications. Examples of organizations who have received recognition under the Encouraging Environmental Excellence program will be reviewed to demonstrate the types of activities Ohio EPA recognizes in this program, and the components of a successful application for the achievement, silver, and gold levels. Presenters: Mike Kelley and Bill Narotski, Ohio EPA, Division of Environmental & Financial Assistance (DEFA).
For more information on the program, see: Encouraging Environmental Excellence (E3) program.
Four Affiliated Companies to Pay Up to $129,000 to Settle Asbestos Violations
Four affiliated Worcester, Massachusetts-area companies will pay up to $129,000 to settle allegations that their workers illegally removed, stored, and handled asbestos-containing material during two demolition projects, and that one of the companies failed to pay a $54,714 penalty for prior asbestos violations, Attorney General Maura Healey announced recently.
The consent judgment, entered by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Dennis Curran, settles a lawsuit originally brought by the AG’s Office in July 2014 against the Oxford-based Patriots Environmental for failing to follow proper procedures and safety precautions while removing asbestos-containing materials from a home in Sturbridge, and for failing to pay a $54,714 penalty assessed by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) for asbestos and hazardous waste violations.
“Improper handling of asbestos during construction and demolition work can cause serious health hazards,” said AG Healey. “In order to prevent the exposure of workers, the public, and the environment to dangerous asbestos fibers, such projects must be conducted in strict accordance with state regulations, and we will vigorously pursue those who fail to comply with those safety requirements.”
“Licensed asbestos contractors must follow the proper removal practices and storage requirements to protect workers and the public from being exposed to this known carcinogen,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “As this settlement reflects, MassDEP and the Attorney General’s office work together to take strong enforcement against companies that fail to comply with the asbestos regulations and put citizens of the Commonwealth at risk of exposure.”
The proper handling of asbestos-containing materials during construction and demolition work is necessary to protect human health. Airborne asbestos fibers taken into the lungs by breathing may over time cause serious lung diseases, including asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma. Asbestosis is a serious, progressive, long-term, non-cancer disease of the lungs for which there is no known effective treatment. Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is found in the thin membranes of the lung, chest, abdomen, and heart, and may not show up until many years after exposure.
The complaint was amended by the AG’s Office in July 2015 to include allegations that the owners of Patriots Environmental were operating with three other companies they owned—Demo Realty in Oxford, CRB Demolition Corp. in Charlton, and Patriots Realty, LLC, in Worcester—including when conducting the illegal asbestos removal projects alleged in the complaint. The AG’s Office alleged that because Patriots Environmental shared finances, employees, ownership, and demolition and asbestos work with the other companies, they are also responsible for the violations.
In July 2013, Patriots Environmental was allegedly hired to remove asbestos shingles from the exterior walls of a single-family home in Sturbridge. During the project, Patriots Environmental, using workers from Demo Realty, allegedly caused the asbestos shingles to break apart, dropping asbestos-containing debris onto the ground and into unsealed plastic bags exposed to the air. Patriots Environmental also allegedly failed to wet, cover, or seal in containers the shingles and debris to prevent the release of asbestos fibers to the air during the work.
The amended complaint also alleged that both Demo Realty and CRB Demolition failed to properly remove asbestos-containing material during demolition of the Somerset Berkley Regional High School in Somerset. According to the complaint, the companies allegedly released asbestos fibers from the building into the air during the demolition and left piles of rubble containing asbestos on the ground without properly wetting or placing it in sealed storage containers.
Under the terms of the consent judgment, Patriots Environmental, Patriots Realty, Demo Realty, and CRB Demolition will pay a $129,000 civil penalty to the state, of which $65,000 will be paid out over a two-and-a-half year period, starting with an initial $20,000 due by May 1, 2016, and continuing with $9,000 payments every six months until November 1, 2018. The remaining $64,000 will be suspended if the defendants comply with the payment schedule and cause no further asbestos violations.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorneys General Tracy Triplett and Meghan Davoren, of AG Healey’s Environmental Protection Division, with assistance from Anne Blackman, Chief Regional Counsel, Gregory Levins, and Donald Heeley of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office, and Daniel d’Hedouville and Andrew Cooney of MassDEP’s Southeast Regional Office.
Four Plumbing and Building Codes Adopt NSF/ANSI 350 Standard for Water Reuse Systems
Four international plumbing and building codes now require that water reuse systems comply with NSF International’s standard for water reuse systems. NSF International, a global public health organization, developed NSF/ANSI 350: Onsite Residential and Commercial Water Reuse Treatment to standardize the material, design, and performance criteria for water reuse systems.
The 2015 International Residential Code (IRC), International Plumbing Code (IPC), Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC), and International Green Construction Code (IgCC) now all require that water reuse systems used for residential toilet and urinal flushing comply with the NSF/ANSI 350 standard.
Water reuse systems reduce costs associated with energy and water use by treating water onsite. In areas such as California where water scarcity is a growing concern, these systems can provide an additional source of critically needed water and reduce the strain on municipal resources.
Under these codes, should a builder choose to use an onsite water reuse system, certification to NSF/ANSI 350 is either required or constitutes a path to acceptance under these codes. NSF/ANSI 350 certificat