EPA Narrows Definition of Waters of the United States

September 16, 2019
At an event in Albany, New York, EPA Regional Administrator Pete Lopez, accompanied by representatives from the New York Farm Bureau and the Business Council of New York State, announced that EPA and the Department of the Army are repealing a 2015 rule that expanded the definition of “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) under the Clean Water Act. The agencies are also recodifying the longstanding and familiar regulatory text that existed prior to the 2015 rule—ending a regulatory patchwork that required implementing two competing Clean Water Act regulations.
“Today, EPA and the Department of the Army finalized a rule to repeal the previous administration’s overreach in the federal regulation of U.S. waters and recodify the longstanding and familiar regulatory text that previously existed,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Today’s Step 1 action fulfills a key promise of President Trump and sets the stage for Step 2 – a new WOTUS definition that will provide greater regulatory certainty for farmers, landowners, home builders, and developers nationwide.”
"Today, Administrator Wheeler and I signed a final rule that repeals the 2015 Clean Water Rule and restores the previous regulatory regime exactly how it existed prior to finalization of the 2015 Rule,” said R.D. James, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works. “Before this final rule, a patchwork of regulations existed across the country as a result of various judicial decisions enjoining the 2015 Rule. This final rule reestablishes national consistency across the country by returning all jurisdictions to the longstanding regulatory framework that existed prior to the 2015 Rule, which is more familiar to the agencies, States, Tribes, local governments, regulated entities, and the public while the agencies engage in a second rulemaking to revise the definition of "waters of the United States.”
“Throughout New York, New Jersey and the Caribbean, we rely on how to balance water resources to maintain environmental quality while ensuring economic opportunity,” said Regional Administrator Pete Lopez. “Repealing this rule and providing clear definition of this balance will allow us to protect our environment while allowing the economy to flourish.”
The rule is the first step—Step 1—in a two-step rulemaking process to define the scope of “waters of the United States” that are regulated under the Clean Water Act. Step 1 provides regulatory certainty as to the definition of “waters of the United States” following years of litigation surrounding the 2015 Rule. The two federal district courts that have reviewed the merits of the 2015 Rule found that the rule suffered from certain errors and issued orders remanding the 2015 Rule back to the agencies. Multiple other federal district courts have preliminarily enjoined the 2015 Rule pending a decision on the merits of the rule. In this action, EPA and the Army jointly concluded that multiple substantive and procedural errors warrant a repeal of the 2015 Rule. According to EPA, the 2015 Rule:
  • Did not implement the legal limits on the scope of the agencies’ authority under the Clean Water Act as intended by Congress and reflected in Supreme Court cases.
  • Failed to adequately recognize, preserve, and protect the primary responsibilities and rights of states to manage their own land and water resources.
  • Approached the limits of the agencies’ constitutional and statutory authority absent a clear statement from Congress.
  • Suffered from certain procedural errors and a lack of adequate record support as it relates to the 2015 rule’s distance-based limitations.
With this final repeal, the agencies will implement the pre-2015 regulations, that are currently in place in more than half of the states, informed by applicable agency guidance documents and consistent with Supreme Court decisions and longstanding agency practice. The final rule will take effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.
“The previous rule expanded regulation beyond the jurisdictional limits that Congress envisioned under the Clean Water Act,” said Ken Pokalsky, Vice President of The Business Council of New York State. “This revised rule will end a great deal of uncertainty, will provide much-needed clarity, and will return the regulatory focus that the manufacturers, farmers, and taxpayers of this state and country rightly desire.”
“AGC NYS believes that the federal government should not assert control over waters that have historically been under the sole jurisdiction of the states,” said Mike Elmendorf, President & CEO of Associated General Contractors of New York State (AGC NYS). “An expanded federal permitting process would slow economic growth by increasing the cost of, and delaying, necessary improvements to public and private infrastructure.”
In December 2018, EPA and the Army proposed a new definition—Step 2—that would clearly define where federal jurisdiction begins and ends in accordance with the Clean Water Act and Supreme Court precedent. In the proposal, the agencies provide a clear definition of the difference between federally regulated waterways and those waters that rightfully remain solely under state authority.
The final Step 1 rule follows President Trump’s Executive Order 13778, “Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism, and Economic Growth by Reviewing the ‘Waters of the United States’ Rule.” Section 1 of the Executive Order states that “[i]t is in the national interest to ensure that the Nation’s navigable waters are kept free from pollution, while at the same time promoting economic growth, minimizing regulatory uncertainty, and showing due regard for the roles of Congress and the States under the Constitution.” The Executive Order also directs the EPA and the Department of the Army to review the 2015 Rule for consistency with the policy outlined in Section 1 of the Order and to issue a proposed rule rescinding or revising the 2015 Rule as appropriate and consistent with law.
Since the Trump administration began going after the Clean Water Rule, four more states have recognized that a majority of Americans support clean water protections and dropped their opposition to the rule in the courts.
U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee said, “The Trump Administration is engaged in a full-on, two-part attack on clean water.  This repeal, coupled with a Clean Water Rule replacement regulation the Administration is seeking to finalize later this year, will jeopardize up to 60 percent of the country’s waterways and wetlands.  These waterbodies feed into the drinking water of nearly 1 in 3 Americans.  It is too clear that this repeal is the first step on a slippery slope that will jeopardize public health and the local economies dependent on access to healthy water and viable wetlands.”
“Once again, this federal administration is attacking our nation’s clean water defenses to help big polluters instead of protecting our families and communities,” said Blan Holman, managing attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center’s Charleston office. “They want to pretend that pollution doesn’t flow downstream, when everyone knows that the best way to keep water clean is to stop harmful pollution at its source. Our states depend on the Clean Water Act to protect communities from flooding and unlimited pollution. This administration wants to slash environmental protection in this country, but we are going to fight them every inch of the way.”
Free Amazon HD 10 Tablet with RCRA and DOT Training
Annual training is required by 40 CFR 262.17(a)(7).  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 at nationwide locations, and 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 a new Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet at no extra charge.
EPA to Reduce Animal Testing, Awards $4.25 Million to Advance Research on Alternative Methods
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler signed a directive to prioritize efforts to reduce animal testing. Administrator Wheeler also announced $4.25 million in funding to five universities to research the development and use of alternative test methods and strategies that reduce, refine, and/or replace vertebrate animal testing.
“Today’s memo directs the agency to aggressively reduce animal testing, including reducing mammal study requests and funding 30% by 2025 and completely eliminating them by 2035,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We are also awarding $4.25 million to advance the research and development of alternative test methods for evaluating the safety of chemicals that will minimize, and hopefully eliminate, the need for animal testing.”
In the memo, Administrator Wheeler calls for the agency to aggressively pursue a reduction in animal testing. The memo states, EPA will reduce its requests for, and funding of, mammal studies by 30% by 2025 and eliminate all mammal study requests and funding by 2035. Any mammal studies requested or funded by EPA after 2035 will require administrator approval on a case by case basis. It directs leadership and staff in the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention and the Office of Research and Development to prioritize ongoing efforts and to direct existing resources toward additional activities that will demonstrate measurable impacts in the reduction of animal testing while ensuring protection of human health and the environment.
In accordance with the memo, EPA will hold an annual conference on new approach methods beginning in 2019.
Maintenance Man Routed Hotel Sewage to Marsh
United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced that Maurice Avent, of Georgetown, SC pleaded guilty in federal court to a misdemeanor violation of the Clean Water Act.  United States District Court Judge Bruce Howe Hendricks, of Charleston, accepted the plea and will sentence Avent after receiving and reviewing a pre-sentence report prepared by the United States Probation Office.
Evidence presented at the hearing established that at the end of August 2018, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) received a complaint about raw sewage in the marsh behind a hotel in Georgetown.  A duty officer went to the hotel and observed a concrete pump station, also known as a wet well, with a black hose coming out of the top.  The hose was attached to a sump pump.  Raw sewage was inside the wet well.  The hose ran through the back parking lot, over a wooden fence, and into the marsh.  The sump pump was running at the time and was discharging sewage into the marsh.
Maintenance man Maurice Avent was contacted and said that the two pumps that normally emptied the well had stopped working.  Those pumps routed sewage from the wet well into the city sewage system.  When a fix was not immediately available, Avent improvised.  He bought the sump pump and directed the hose into the marsh.  The hose had been in place for about a week, but the sump pump only activated when needed.
City and state government officials suggested to Avent that he put the hose into the city sewage opening, which is where the original pumps – when working – were routed, and he followed that suggestion.
The maximum penalty faced by Avent is imprisonment for one year, with a potential fine between $2,500 and $25,000 for each day of the violation.
Truck Driver Dumped 3,000 Gallons of Diesel Fuel
The driver of a diesel fuel truck who dumped thousands of gallons of diesel fuel onto land draining into a Thomasville, Georgia creek in 2018, shutting down a school and causing a federally-led clean-up, entered a guilty plea for his crime in federal court Tuesday, announced Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. Jaron Coleman, 40, of Oakville, Georgia, pleaded guilty to one count of Unauthorized Discharge of Oil in the Waters of the United States on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 before U.S. District Judge Louis Sands. Mr. Coleman’s sentencing date has not been scheduled.
According to the Statement of Fact entered in Court, on April 19, 2018, Mr. Coleman admitted that he dumped approximately 3,000 gallons of fuel on the ground near a gas station in Thomasville, Georgia after he realized he had loaded the wrong product for a delivery in Pelham, Georgia. Mr. Coleman, who was working for Eco Energy, did not have any permit or authorization to discharge the diesel fuel. The diesel fuel dumped on the ground migrated into an adjacent storm water drainage system that flows directly into a creek. The unnamed creek is a tributary of Good Water Creek which flows into Oquina Creek and then into the Ochlockonee River, a traditionally navigable water of the United States, and protected by the Clean Water Act. Under the Clean Water Act, diesel fuel is considered “oil” and the amount discharged was a harmful quantity. The discharge caused the EPA to engage in a costly clean-up and caused the evacuation of Garrison Pilcher Elementary School in Thomasville, Georgia on the same day as the incident, after school officials discovered a large amount of diesel fuel had swelled in ditches around the school.
“Illegal dumping into our waterways damages one of our most precious resources.  Its harmful repercussions flow well beyond the confines of the initial dump site,” said Charlie Peeler, the U.S. Attorney. “We want the public to know that dumping is illegal and can carry serious consequences, including federal prosecution. I want to thank the EPA for its efforts to quickly respond to, investigate and clean up this mess.”
“The illegal discharge of fuel can threaten human health and damage the environment,” said Andy Castro, Special Agent in Charge of EPA's criminal enforcement program in Georgia. “EPA and our law enforcement partners are committed to enforcing environmental laws to protect our communities.”
Asbestos Abatement Contractor Sentenced to 12 Years for Violating Clean Air Act
Scott C. Blader, United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, announced that Lloyd Robl, 49, New Richmond, Wisconsin, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge William M. Conley to 12 years in prison, and three years of supervised release.
On June 20, 2019, Robl pleaded guilty to wire fraud and a Clean Air Act violation.  Judge Conley imposed a 72-month sentence on each count to run consecutive to each other.  The court also ordered the federal sentence to run consecutive to Robl’s current state prison sentence of 30 months for felony possession of methamphetamine.
Robl worked as a self-employed asbestos abatement contractor in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  He performed asbestos removal and disposal services for residential and commercial clients in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  Robl engaged in a scheme to defraud his clients by: falsely advertising on Craigslist he was licensed, insured and bonded to do asbestos abatements; failing to tell his clients that his Minnesota license had been revoked in July 2001 and he was permanently enjoined by the State of Minnesota from providing asbestos abatement services; and providing his clients with falsified records including falsified insurance policy documents, falsified Minnesota asbestos abatement licenses, falsified air sampling results, and falsified asbestos waste manifests.
In addition, Robl violated the Clean Air Act by knowingly releasing asbestos into the ambient air which placed others in imminent danger of death and serious bodily harm.  Robel improperly disposed of asbestos-laden waste by: burning the materials in burn piles or in 55-gallon drums at his home; and spreading the ashes collected in the 55-gallon burn barrels along the tree line and in the farm field behind his home.
At sentencing, nine victims testified against Robl, including four individuals who were methamphetamine addicts hired by Robl to do asbestos removal jobs with Robl.  These victims explained that Robl paid them with methamphetamine, and failed to properly train them or equip them with respirators, suits, or cleaning materials.  Two customers testified that Robl provided them with licenses purporting to show he was licensed by the State of Minnesota to remove asbestos.  Finally, two fire fighters with the New Richmond Fire Department testified about fires they put out at Robl’s home that involved out-of-control fires in burn pits and in 55-gallon drums. The fire fighters were never told there was asbestos waste in these fires.
Judge Conley noted at the sentencing that Robl “has a lack of any moral compass,” and that while Robl may have been a victim to his own methamphetamine addiction, “the gravity of his ways, and his use of other addicts, shows a depth of conduct not typically seen by other persons acting under the influence of drugs.”  Judge Conley added that Robl exposed people to a cancer-causing substance without their knowledge or consent.  “His willful conduct caused harm to society and the environment, and countless others who will never be known.”
After the sentencing, U.S. Attorney Blader said, “My office is committed to holding accountable those who endanger their fellow citizens by degrading the environment for their own selfish financial gains.”
Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Lynn of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division added, “The defendant improperly handled asbestos, presenting a serious health threat to workers and the general public, and then tried to conceal evidence of the illegal acts. The sentencing shows EPA’s commitment to prosecute those who try to undermine environmental laws and the protection of human health and the environment.”
The charges against Robl are the result of an investigation conducted by theU.S. Environmental Protection Agency- Criminal Investigation Division, the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Bureau of Law Enforcement.  The prosecution of this case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Graber.
How Effective Pollution Prevention Plans Can Protect the Environment and Save Money
Preventing the release of pollutants into the environment is an important part of protecting and enhancing public health and the environment of Arizona. This week, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) is celebrating Pollution Prevention (P2) Week and the success of our State’s P2 Program, which saves businesses and taxpayers money and conserves Arizona’s natural resources for future generations.
Since it was started in 1991, ADEQ’s P2 Program has:
  • Conserved nearly 4 billion gallons of water | enough water to supply more than 72,000 Arizona households for a year
  • Prevented the use of nearly 24,000 tons of toxic substances
  • Diverted more than 260,000 tons of solid waste
  • Prevented generation of nearly 44,000 tons of hazardous waste
  • Saved more than 1 billion kilowatt hours of electrical energy | enough energy to power more than 97,000 Arizona households for a year
  • Prevented creation of more than 876 million gallons of wastewater
  • Led to a net cost-savings of over $380 million for participants
“Our Pollution Prevention program was one of the first in the nation and continues to help businesses, schools and local government with innovative solutions to reduce their impacts on the environment and save money that can be directed to other valuable efforts,” said Laura Malone, ADEQ Waste Programs Division Director. “With more than 370 facilities in the state already participating, we continue to grow our efforts in preventing pollution from reaching our air, water and land each year.”
Sunoco Ordered to Cover Exposed Pipelines Identified Across Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has ordered Sunoco Pipeline, LP (Sunoco) to cover exposed pipelines at more than three dozen locations across the state.
Following the discovery of an exposed pipeline in June, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) requested that Sunoco identify any additional exposed pipelines and notify both DEP and PUC.
In total, portions of Sunoco’s pipeline network located throughout the commonwealth are exposed at 43 locations. The exposed pipeline at 42 of those locations is transporting refined petroleum products. The remaining exposed pipeline is transporting natural gas liquids. The exposed pipelines are not located at ongoing construction areas. For security purposes, the Public Utility Confidential Security Information Disclosure Protection Act prohibits state agencies from releasing the locations of the exposed pipelines.
Of the 43 locations, 10 do not require a permit from DEP to address the exposed pipelines due to their location in upland areas. Remediation action is in progress at 10 sites and about to commence at four additional sites. Sunoco has submitted permit applications that are under DEP review for 10 sites and plans to submit applications at nine additional sites.
“Pipelines can become exposed over time due to erosion in stream channels or due to their position in the ground, as many were constructed before there were standards on how deep they should be buried. These identified pipelines are now exposed to weather, flooding, and vandalism, which can result in a failure of the pipeline and subsequent impacts to our waterways, so it’s critical that Sunoco addresses them immediately,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell. “DEP is committed to enforcing our regulations and laws to protect our environment.”
Under DEP’s Chapter 105 regulations pertaining to Dam Safety and Waterway Management, “Pipelines under stream beds shall be located such that there will be a minimum of 3 feet of cover between the top of the pipe or encasement and the lowest point in the stream bed; provided, that if the pipeline is in rock, it shall have the depth of granular soil plus six inches for cover, but never less than one foot of total cover.”
According to the order, Sunoco has 30 days to apply for all needed permits on remaining sites and once appropriate permits and approvals are obtained, will have 60 days to bury all exposed pipelines to the appropriate amount of cover and then fully stabilize and restore the site.
Settlement with EPA and the Department of Justice Prohibits Performance Diesel, Inc. from Selling Diesel Engine Defeat Devices
EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a settlement with Performance Diesel Inc. (PDI) to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) associated with the manufacture, sale and installation of aftermarket products that defeat the emissions control systems of heavy-duty diesel engines. As part of the settlement, PDI has agreed to stop the sale of all products the government alleges violate the CAA. PDI will also pay a civil penalty of $1,100,000 over two years due to their limited financial ability to pay a higher penalty.
“Performance Diesel Inc. manufactured, sold and installed thousands of aftermarket defeat devices, and as a result thousands of heavy-duty trucks now operate without the filters, catalysts and other emissions controls that keep our air clean,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Susan Bodine. “Today’s settlement will prevent future violations by requiring PDI to ensure that their products do not adversely affect emissions.”
“This settlement prohibits PDI from selling illegal devices that defeat motor vehicle emissions controls and make an end run around federal laws that protect the public’s health,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jonathan D. Brightbill of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Justice Department will not tolerate this abuse of law and will continue to prosecute those responsible for trading in these illegal products.”
The United States alleges that PDI sold at least 5,549 aftermarket products that defeat the emissions control systems of heavy-duty diesel engines in violation of the CAA. Before May 1, 2018, PDI manufactured, sold and installed electronic tuning software, known as “tunes,” that allowed PDI to disable emissions control devices, or otherwise bypass, defeat or render inoperative parts of the engine used to comply with CAA emission standards. PDI’s aftermarket products are designed for use with numerous models of heavy-duty diesel engines manufactured by Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel, International and Paccar.
Included in the terms of this settlement, PDI must:
  • Stop sale of all products that violate the CAA according to the government’s complaint.
    For new tuning products, demonstrate a reasonable basis that their products do not increase emissions by obtaining a California Air Resources Board (CARB) Executive Order (EO) prior to manufacture, sale, offering for sale and installation of products.
  • For existing products not currently covered by a CARB EO, demonstrate a reasonable basis by submitting a complete application to CARB that covers the tunes prior to manufacture, sale, offering for sale and installation. Under this consent decree, a complete application includes emission test results sufficient to satisfy CARB’s requirements for obtaining a CARB EO.
  • The settlement has been lodged in the U.S. District Court for the State of Utah for a period of 30 days for public notice and comment. The first penalty payment is due within thirty days of entry of the Consent Decree.
Flint Hills Cited for Chemical Releases and Permit Violations
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul announced a consent order with chemical manufacturer Flint Hills Resources Peru, LLC (Flint Hills) that requires the company to address hazardous chemical releases and permit violations at its LaSalle County facility.
Raoul’s office entered the consent order in LaSalle County Circuit Court with Flint Hills, a subsidiary of Koch Industries, Inc., that manufactures chemicals and polymers in Peru, Ill. The consent order resolves a lawsuit the Attorney General’s office initially filed in 2014 after a system malfunction resulted in chemicals being released into the air and threatening a nearby river. The consent order requires Flint Hills to pay an $850,000 penalty and comply with all state environmental laws and permit requirements.
“This consent order will ensure that Flint Hills is held accountable for any future violations of state law,” Raoul said. “My office will work diligently to protect Illinois residents from contamination that threatens public health and the environment.”
Flint Hills’ Peru location produces polystyrene beads used for packaging materials. The Attorney General’s office filed a complaint in May 2014 after a system malfunction at the Flint Hills facility caused 56,000 pounds of styrene, a hazardous air pollutant, to be released into the air. Additionally, more than 2,000 pounds of liquid styrene was dumped onto the ground and threatened the Illinois River. After conducting internal reviews of its facility, Flint Hills reported several violations of state permit and reporting requirements. The violations included multiple styrene releases, as well as failures to comply with federal regulations that apply specifically to hazardous air pollutant facilities. The consent order resolves years of continued permit violations at the facility.
Under the consent order, Flint Hills must comply with all of the necessary permits required by the state in order to operate in Illinois. The company is also required to audit its program for detecting and repairing leaking valves and pipes to ensure the program meets all applicable requirements. The order also requires Flint Hills to pay a penalty of $850,000.
Chemical Solvents, Inc. Cited for Air and Waste Violations
EPA announced an agreement with Chemical Solvents, Inc., resolving allegations that the company violated the Clean Air Act (CAA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and Clean Water Act (CWA) at the firm’s contiguous Jennings and Denison sites located in Cleveland, Ohio. Chemical Solvents conducts its commodity chemical business at the Jennings site, and its solvent reclamation and chemical blending operations at the Denison site.
Under the terms of the consent decree, Chemical Solvents will pay a $400,000 penalty and upgrade control devices and monitoring equipment, implement a leak detection and repair program for waste and product tanks, and close a wastewater sump. The firm will also install a new sewer lateral, hire a professional engineer to complete a piping audit, submit a compliance plan based on the wastewater sampling results, and update its stormwater pollution prevention plan.
“This settlement brings Chemical Solvents into compliance with the Clean Air Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and Clean Water Act at their Jennings and Denison facilities,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Cathy Stepp. “By making needed changes at these facilities, Cleveland will be better protected from the harmful health effects of air emissions from industrial chemicals and hazardous waste.”
Chemical Solvents’ alleged RCRA violations include failure to comply with emission control requirements for process vents, control devices, hazardous waste tanks, and equipment leaks, as well as assorted hazardous waste violations. The firm’s alleged CAA violations include failure to meet control efficiency requirements, failure to operate and maintain monitoring equipment, and a lack of proper recordkeeping. Chemical Solvents’ alleged CWA violations include numerous exceedances of effluent discharge limits into the regional sewer system, and stormwater violations.
Pharmaceutical Waste Rule Impact in Utah
The Utah Division of Waste Management and Radiation has received many questions regarding the Pharmaceutical Waste Rule that was finalized by the EPA in February of 2019. The goals of this rule were to:
  1. create regulations that are a better fit for the healthcare sector,
  2. eliminate the intentional sewering of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals,
  3. reduce overlapping regulations,
  4. provide regulatory clarity and national consistency on how Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) applies to reverse distribution and reverse logistics and provide regulatory relief to healthcare facilities.
This final rule adds regulations for the management of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals by healthcare facilities and reverse distributors. Healthcare facilities (for both humans and animals) and reverse distributors will manage their hazardous waste pharmaceuticals under this new set of sector-specific standards in lieu of the existing hazardous waste generator regulations.
The new regulations prohibit the disposal of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals down the drain (sewering) and eliminate the dual regulation of RCRA hazardous waste pharmaceuticals that are also Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) controlled substances. The new rules also maintain the household hazardous waste exemption for pharmaceuticals collected during pharmaceutical takeback programs and events, while ensuring their proper disposal. Additionally, certain U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved over-the-counter (OTC) nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) are excluded from regulation as hazardous waste.
The question most often asked is, “Will Utah be adopting the Pharmaceutical Waste Rule?” The answer is YES and here is the timeline for adoption:
  1. The prohibition on sewering of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals was promulgated under authority of the Hazardous and Solid Waste Amendments (HSWA) and as such became effective in ALL 50 states, including Utah, six months after publication making it effective as of August 21, 2019.
  2. The amendment to the nicotine listing is considered LESS stringent than existing regulations and therefore authorized states like Utah are NOT required to adopt the amendment. The State of Utah plans to adopt the amendment in the spring of 2020.
  3. Subpart P which contains the new regulations for the management of hazardous waste pharmaceuticals by healthcare facilities and reverse distributors will not become effective in Utah until adopted. As an authorized state, Utah has until July 1, 2021 to adopt Subpart P. The State of Utah plans to adopt the rule in the spring of 2020.
Michigan to Protect Public from PFAS-Containing Firefighting Foam Under $1.4 Million Collection and Disposal Program
The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART) announced that the state has approved $1.4 million for the collection and disposal of PFAS-containing aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) currently held in inventory by fire departments and commercial airports across the state.
The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) procurement office awarded US Ecology of Livonia a seven-month, $1,441,671 contract to collect and safely dispose of more than 30,000 gallons of Class B AFFF.
“Michigan remains a leader in removing sources of PFAS contamination from our water,” said MPART executive director Steve Sliver. “We believe this is the largest collection and disposal effort yet among the handful of states that are taking action to prevent future contamination from Class B AFFF. This product has been responsible for contaminating drinking water around hundreds of US Air Force bases and commercial airports across the country and Michigan calls on the EPA, Department of Defense and FAA to take more action on this growing environmental and public health threat.”
The AFFF was identified through a 2018 MPART initiative to survey and educate fire departments throughout Michigan on the appropriate use and clean-up of PFAS-containing firefighting foam. Led by State Fire Marshal Kevin Sehlmeyer, the survey identified 326 fire departments with Class B AFFF in their inventories – nearly half of the 762 departments surveyed.
“Receiving this funding is critical to our efforts to remove PFAS from our communities, protect the public, and reduce the risks of exposure to Michiganders,” Sehlmeyer said.
Under the contract, US Ecology will collect Class B AFFF liquid from local fire departments and transport it to its licensed hazardous waste facility in Belleville, Michigan where it will be solidified and then disposed of in the landfill. The landfill contains a three-layer liner, leachate collection system and activated carbon filtration to provide additional containment.
Known to scientists as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, PFAS are a group of emerging and potentially harmful contaminants used in thousands of applications globally including firefighting foam, food packaging, and many other consumer products. These compounds also are used by industries such as tanneries, metal platers, and clothing manufacturers.
Nouryon Functional Chemicals Cited for PSD and Air Permit Violations at Axis, Alabama, Plant
EPA, the Alabama Department of Environmental Management and the U.S. Department of Justice announced a settlement agreement with Nouryon Functional Chemicals LLC (formerly Akzo Nobel Functional Chemicals LLC) to resolve allegations that the company violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) at its sulfuric acid plant located in Axis, Alabama.
Pursuant to the settlement, Nouryon Functional will pay $300,000 in civil penalties and perform an environmental mitigation project valued at $150,000 that will reduce emissions in areas impacted by the Nouryon Functional facility. The cost of the associated compliance measures is approximately $9.2 million, of which Nouryon Functional has already spent approximately $8,000,000 to install a peroxide scrubber. Through installation of the peroxide scrubber and stringent emission limits, emissions reductions of 2,340 tons per year (tpy) in sulfur dioxide (SO2) and 40 tpy in sulfuric acid mist (SAM) are already being achieved at the facility.
The terms of the settlement, contained in the consent decree, are being lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama concurrently with a complaint, which alleges that Nouryon Functional violated CAA requirements known as the Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD), Title V operating permits and the federally-enforceable Alabama State Implementation Plan (SIP).
"It is important that facilities comply with Clean Air Act requirements to ensure that people in the surrounding communities are able to enjoy healthy air quality," said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “Today’s agreement demonstrates EPA’s dedication to working with our state and local partners to pursue violations of laws that are critical to protecting public health and bring companies into compliance.”
Nouryon Functional’s facility is a chemical plant with six different process areas: sulfuric acid, crystex, carbon disulfide, sodium hydrosulfide, monochloroacetic acid, and the sulfur chlorides units. The sulfuric acid plant, one of the oldest process units at the facility, was originally constructed in 1956. 
EPA alleges that Nouryon Functional undertook a major modification, specifically, the replacement of an external superheater, without obtaining pre-construction permits or installing and operating the best available control technology for SO2 and SAM emissions as required by the PSD program and the SIP.
The compliance measures resulting from the settlement will substantially reduce SO2 and SAM emissions and directly improve the air quality of the communities located nearby the facility in Axis, Alabama. Sulfur oxides, including SO2, can cause adverse respiratory effects, such as bronchoconstriction, emphysema and increased asthma symptoms. SO2 is a major precursor of acid rain, which has acidified soil, lakes and streams, damaged vegetation and accelerated corrosion of buildings and monuments. SAM emissions can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat, and lungs.
The proposed consent decree was lodged in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama and is subject to a 30-day public comment period that will commence on the date that notice of the settlement is published in the Federal Register. 
Century 21 and Coldwell Banker Cited for Failures to Disclose Lead-Based Paint Information in Hawaii
EPA has settled with two real estate companies for violating the federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) by failing to provide proper lead-based paint disclosure to buyers and renters of homes built before 1978 in Maui and the Big Island. Century 21 Homefinders of Hawaii in Hilo, and Coldwell Banker Island Properties of Kahului, Maui, are paying, collectively, a total of more than $26,000 in penalties.
“Reducing childhood lead exposure and addressing associated health impacts is a top priority for EPA,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Mike Stoker. “These settlements protect Hawaii communities by ensuring that lead paint rules and regulations are followed.”
The companies were cited under TSCA’s lead-based paint Disclosure Rule, which applies to housing built before the residential use of lead-based paint was banned in 1978.
The Disclosure Rule requires sellers and lessors of pre-1978 homes to provide prospective homebuyers and tenants with a federal brochure about lead-based paint, any information known about lead-based paint in the home, and a warning statement about the potential dangers of lead-based paint.
Buyers also have the option to inspect pre-1978 homes before becoming obligated to make a purchase. With this knowledge, potential homebuyers and tenants can make informed decisions about whether to buy or rent a specific residence.
Century 21 Homefinders of Hawaii has agreed to pay a $6,962 penalty to settle alleged disclosure violations. Coldwell Banker Island Properties paid a $19,344 penalty in an earlier settlement. Both real estate companies have certified that they are presently in compliance with the requirement to provide prospective buyers and lessees with lead-based paint hazard disclosure information.
High blood levels of lead can cause permanent damage to the nervous system and widespread health problems, including reduced intelligence and attention span, hearing loss, stunted growth, reading and learning problems, and behavioral difficulties. Young children are most vulnerable because their nervous systems are still developing. Adults with high blood levels of lead can suffer difficulties during pregnancy, high blood pressure, nerve disorders, memory problems, and muscle and joint pain.
Trivia Question of the Week
Environmental News Links