EPA Penalties to Increase

July 04, 2016

EPA published an interim final rule to adjust the level of statutory civil monetary penalty amounts for the statutes that the agency administers. The increase in penalties is required by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990, as amended through 2015, which prescribes a formula for adjusting statutory civil penalties to reflect inflation, maintain the deterrent effect of statutory civil penalties, and promote compliance with the law. The rule does not necessarily revise the penalty amounts that EPA will to seek pursuant to its civil penalty policies in a particular case. EPA's civil penalty policies, which guide enforcement personnel in how to exercise EPA's statutory penalty authorities, take into account a number of fact-specific considerations, e.g., the seriousness of the violation, the violator's good faith efforts to comply, any economic benefit gained by the violator as a result of its noncompliance, and a violator's ability to pay.

Under the new rule, the new statutory maximum total penalty that may be assessed in an administrative penalty enforcement action under Clean Air Act (CAA) section 113(d)(1), 42 U.S.C. 7413(d)(1), and CAA section 205(c)(1), 42 U.S.C. 7524(c)(1), is increasing from $320,000 to $356,312.

The highest new penalties under the major environmental rules are:

RCRA $93,750

TSCA $37,500

CWA $257,848

CAA 356,312

SDWA $269,535

CERCLA $161,721

EPCRA $161,721

New Exclusions for Solvent Recycling and Hazardous Secondary Materials

EPA’s new final on the definition of solid waste creates new opportunities for waste recycling outside the scope of the full hazardous waste regulations. This, which went into effect on July 13, 2015, streamlines the regulatory burden for wastes that are legitimately recycled.

The first of the two exclusions is an exclusion from the definition of solid waste for high-value solvents transferred from one manufacturer to another for the purpose of extending the useful life of the original solvent by keeping the materials in commerce to reproduce a commercial grade of the original solvent product.

The second, and more wide-reaching of the two exclusions, is a revision of the existing hazardous secondary material recycling exclusion. This exclusion allows you to recycle, or send off-site for recycling, virtually any hazardous secondary material. Provided you meet the terms of the exclusion, the material will no longer be hazardous waste.

Learn how to take advantage of these exclusions at Environmental Resource Center’s live webcast on July 8 where you will learn:

  • Which of your materials qualify under the new exclusions
  • What qualifies as a hazardous secondary material
  • Which solvents can be remanufactured, and which cannot
  • What is a tolling agreement
  • What is legitimate recycling
  • Generator storage requirements
  • What documentation you must maintain
  • Requirements for off-site shipments
  • Training and emergency planning requirements
  • If it is acceptable for the recycler to be outside the US

Bring your questions to this live webcast. Click here to register online or call 800-537-2372.

Raleigh RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Raleigh, NC, on July 11–13 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Anaheim RCRA and DOT Refresher Training

Register for California Hazardous Waste and DOT Hazardous Materials Update and Refresher Training in Anaheim, CA, on July 12 and renew your California RCRA and DOT training in one day. To register for this course, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Macon, Georgia RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Macon, GA, on July 19–21 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

EPA Proposes User Fees for the Hazardous Waste Electronic Manifests

EPA published a proposed rule on the Agency’s method for setting and revising user fees for the hazardous waste electronic manifest (e-Manifest) system. This is a crucial step in the development of a national system for tracking hazardous waste shipments electronically. The e-Manifest system will improve access to higher quality and more timely shipment data and will significantly reduce burden associated with the current paper system.

The proposed rule requests comment on the user fee methodology, including several key considerations:

  • Who must pay e-Manifest user fees
  • The types of transactions that will give rise to fees
  • The formula that will be used to set fees
  • Options for making fee payments
  • The process EPA will use to revise fees
  • The possible sanctions for non-payment

EPA has proposed to tailor user fees according to whether manifests are submitted electronically or via paper to reflect the processing costs of these options. This proposal will be open for public comment for 60 days following publication in the Federal Register.

EPA used the General Services Administration’s new platform for submitting comments on this rule. The platform is designed to assist in understanding the rule and proposed regulatory changes, as well as to assist EPA in collecting comments that are automatically tagged and indexed to rulemaking topics, for ease of analysis and response. Information on the pilot can be found in the Federal Register notice for the proposed rule, as well as on EPA’s e-Manifest proposed rule webpage, at https://www.epa.gov/hw/proposed-rule-user-fees-electronic-hazardous-waste-manifest-system-e-manifest-and-amendments.

EPA Region 10 Completed 38 Enforcement Actions in the First Quarter of 2016

The EPA’s Region 10 completed 38 environmental compliance and enforcement actions in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington from January 1, 2016 through March 31, 2016.

Violations of environmental laws put public health and the environment at risk. EPA enforces federal environmental laws to protect communities and to keep our air, land, and water healthy. These compliance and enforcement efforts also level the playing field by deterring violators who might otherwise have an unfair business advantage over environmentally compliant facilities and businesses.

Click here for a list of EPA Region 10 completed environmental enforcement actions from January 1 through March 31, 2016.

Florida Agriculture Department Tried to Conceal Information on Polluting Fertilizer

With algae outbreaks turning South Florida’s coastal rivers and beaches a fluorescent green and No Swimming signs posted for the Fourth of July holiday, the Florida Department of Agriculture has proposed to wipe out a state requirement that local governments use to monitor fertilizer use.

Cities, counties, and other organizations use state-reported fertilizer sales information to figure out how much pollution could be headed to local waterways. Excess fertilizer, manure, and partially treated sewage spark nasty algae outbreaks in public waters, like the one sliming the coast north of Palm Beach right now.

Incredibly, as this environmental crisis unfolds, the Florida Department of Agriculture is proposing to wipe out a state requirement that tracks how many tons of fertilizer are sold.

“The slime outbreaks on our South Florida coasts are heartbreaking,” said Earthjustice attorney Alisa Coe. “These slugs of fertilizer-laden water are coming from Lake Okeechobee. When they pump it to the coasts, you can see what happens. Instead of trying to hide information from the public, the Department of Agriculture ought to be trying to solve this public crisis.”

Earthjustice, representing the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, has asked the state to hold a public hearing before it considers approving the rule to hide fertilizer information.

Iowa City Fined for Clean Air Act Violations

The City of Iowa City, Iowa, has reached an administrative civil settlement with EPA over alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at its sanitary landfill. The settlement includes an $8,225 civil penalty, a Supplemental Environmental Project estimated at $109,000, and other improvements estimated at $2 million to ensure continued compliance.

This enforcement action is part of EPA’s National Enforcement Initiative to cut hazardous air pollutants. One of the most common sources of these pollutants is municipal solid waste landfills. Landfill standards impose important controls on emissions of landfill gas, as well as monitoring, recordkeeping, and reporting requirements—all to help insure that landfill gas emissions are minimized.

A July 15, 2014, facility inspection and additional investigation by EPA Region 7 showed that Iowa City had failed to comply with certain requirements of the New Source Performance Standards for Municipal Solid Waste Landfills. Specific violations noted in the inspection included failing to conduct appropriate monitoring and expand the gas collection well system when the wells had exceeded the standards for oxygen content, methane concentration, and pressure; and failing to conduct proper surface emission monitoring and landfill cover integrity monitoring.

Under terms of this settlement filed by EPA in Lenexa, Kansas, Iowa City has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $8,225. The city has also agreed to implement several other measures at a cost of almost $2 million to ensure its continued compliance with the landfill regulations and benefit the communities surrounding the landfill.

Iowa City will develop and implement detailed Standard Operating Procedures that its employees will follow in conducting monthly monitoring of the landfill’s gas collection wells. The city will allow an independent third party to complete an audit of the landfill’s gas collection system, and has agreed to implement corrective actions recommended by an auditor. The city will provide access to a web-based “electronic portal” so that EPA can easily check the landfill’s monitoring data. Iowa City will also provide timely notice to neighboring communities if it anticipates conditions at the landfill that might lead to off-site odors.

Iowa City has agreed to spend more than $109,000 on a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) that has two related components. Iowa City will purchase and install four thermal cameras at the landfill. These cameras will monitor the surface and subsurface portions of the landfill site. If temperatures reach levels indicative of a potential landfill fire, the cameras will automatically trigger an early warning system to notify designated landfill staff and local emergency responders.

Iowa City will also create and implement a landfill fire risk management plan. This plan will provide training to landfill staff, the fire department, police department, and county Emergency Management Agency on emergency planning and coordination in the event of a landfill fire. Depending on the type of solid waste that is burning, a prolonged fire could lead to an increase in emissions of potentially hazardous pollutants, such as particulate matter, benzene, carbon monoxide and dioxins and furans. Not only will this project reduce the potential for a landfill fire, but it will also put procedures in place to respond rapidly and effectively if a fire should occur.

“This settlement is the result of cooperative and productive discussions with Iowa City,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Mark Hague. “As part of the settlement, the city will implement important, progressive measures that will minimize risks to the local community and improve public access to information about conditions at the site.”

Controlling these emissions is vital as those releases can cause, or contribute significantly to, air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare. Landfill gas, which is created by the decomposition of organic materials in solid waste, consists primarily of methane and carbon dioxide as well as less than 1% of many different “nonmethane” organic gases. Adverse effects of landfill gas include ground-level ozone formation, cancer and noncancer health effects, fire hazard potential (caused by methane migration), and odor nuisance. Methane emissions are a significant source of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and reducing those releases is a key element of the Administration’s plan to address climate change.

Calumet Refining Fined $55,750 for NOx and SO2 Violations

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality announced recently that Calumet Montana Refining, LLC has resolved violations of the Clean Air Act of Montana that occurred at the Calumet refinery in Great Falls.

Calumet exceeded emission limits for nitrogen oxides (NOx) and failed to monitor sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions as required.

According to DEQ Enforcement Officer John Rasmann, Calumet’s operating permit prohibits NOx emission limits over 0.019 lb/MMBtu. A performance test conducted in March 2014 showed NOx emissions to be 0.023 lb/MMBtu.

The company’s operating permit also requires monitoring for SO2 emissions during 95% of the reporting period. During the first quarter of 2014, Calumet’s monitoring system did not operate sufficiently 7.59% of the reporting period.

Calumet corrected the violations and paid a $55,750 administrative penalty for the violations.

Cherenzia Excavation Inc. to Pay $84,070 for Clean Air Act Violations

Cherenzia Excavation in Westerly, Rhode Island, has taken steps to help minimize emissions of hazardous air pollutants and visually test for dust under an agreement signed recently with the EPA. According to the settlement, the company will also pay a penalty of $84,070 for its alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.

The settlement relates to the company's two stone crushing and gravel processing plants at 64 Old Hopkinton Road and 109 White Rock Road. At the time of settlement, Cherenzia Excavation had come into compliance with two sets of federal Clean Air Act regulations.

Cherenzia Excavation uses three stationary diesel engines/generators at its Old Hopkinton Road facility, and one stationary diesel engine/generator at its White Rock Road facility. All four of these are subject to the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants for stationary reciprocating internal combustion engines.

To come into compliance with federal clean air laws, Cherenzia Excavation installed pollution control equipment on three of the engines and completed initial performance tests to demonstrate that the engines met the national emissions standards. Cherenzia Excavation replaced the remaining engine with a certified engine that meets EPA's emission requirements. Cherenzia Excavation also submitted required notifications and compliance status reports to EPA.

By retrofitting and replacing its stationary diesel engines, Cherenzia Excavation will reduce emissions of hazardous air pollutants such as formaldehyde. Exposure to air toxics may produce a wide variety of health difficulties. Compliance with emission standards also helps reduce emissions of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter. The health effects of these pollutants include a range of respiratory issues, especially asthma among children and seniors.

Cherenzia Excavation also operates various crushers, screeners, and conveyor belts and is subject to EPA’s New Source Performance Standards for Nonmetallic Mineral Processing Plants. Cherenzia Excavation came into compliance with this standard by performing required visible emissions testing for fugitive particulate matter, airborne dust that escapes from this processing machinery, and submitting overdue notifications for the start-up of its operations.

EPA Settles with Nevada Companies for Selling Unregistered, Misbranded Pesticide

The EPA announced that two companies based in Sparks, Nevada, WellPlant, Inc., and its affiliate GST International, Inc., have agreed to pay a $12,000 penalty to resolve allegations that the companies distributed and sold to consumers an unregistered and misbranded pesticide, “Mold Manager,” throughout the United States.

“Labels that are misleading put people at risk,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Consumers should look for EPA registration numbers and carefully follow application guidelines to ensure their safety.”

In December 2015, EPA issued a “Stop Sale” order to prevent the companies from continuing to distribute or sell Mold Manager, a liquid spray that claims to prevent the growth of mold, mildew, algae, and moss. Products purporting to prevent, destroy or repel mold, mildew, algae, or moss are considered pesticides. To prevent potential dangers from such products, the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act requires their registration with EPA.

The registration process provides EPA with information about the pesticide and facilitates EPA review of a pesticide label’s contents, directions for use, and appropriate warnings. In addition to being unregistered, “Mold Manager” was sold with labels that had misleading statements and did not list the percentages of active ingredients.

The companies have now provided documentation to EPA that their remaining inventory of Mold Manager was safely disposed. A follow-up inspection conducted by the Nevada Department of Agriculture on June 2 confirmed this.

Consumers who purchased Mold Manager should contact their local refuse management companies for advice on proper disposal. The product was offered for sale online and distributed to customers in California, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Minnesota, North Carolina, Nevada, Oregon, and Ohio.

Pesticide registration and labeling requirements protect public health and the environment by minimizing the risks associated with the production, handling and application of pesticides. Pesticides can also be harmful if improperly stored or disposed.

MassDEP Fines Costello Dismantling Company $10,000 for Air Quality Violations

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has fined Costello Dismantling Company, Inc., of West Wareham a total of $10,000 for failure to abide by the terms and conditions of an approved MassDEP permit for the former Uniroyal Complex in Chicopee.

The permit allowed Costello to demolish the buildings that contained inaccessible asbestos-containing material provided certain controls and contingencies were set in place to prevent and monitor the release of visible dust emissions.

On two separate occasions, August 24 and 26, 2015, MassDEP inspectors witnessed excessive amounts of dust emanating from the demolition process of the upper floors of one of the two buildings. Inadequate use of water caused the generation of a significant amount of visible dust emissions. The demolition work was immediately shut down until additional water hoses and water misters were employed to control future dust emissions.

“It is essential that environmental cleanup occur properly to ensure releases do not occur, resulting in threats to the public and further damage to the environment,” said Michael Gorski, director of MassDEP’s Western Regional Office in Springfield. “The cleanup of the Uniroyal complex will provide opportunities for future economic development of this property and the surrounding community.”

Property owners or contractors with questions about asbestos-containing materials, notification requirements, proper removal, handling, packaging, storage and disposal procedures, or the asbestos regulations are encouraged to contact the appropriate MassDEP Regional Office for assistance.

Classic Furniture Services Inc. of Franklin Ordered to Pay $5,453 Penalty for Violating Previous Consent Order

Jonathan T. White and his business, Classic Furniture Services, Inc., of Franklin, have been ordered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to pay a suspended penalty of $5,453 for failing to comply with a 2015 consent order that sought to address previous environmental violations.

Under that order, Mr. White agreed to submit a revised air quality report with detailed information about hazardous air pollutants used and emitted at his facility. The order was the result of an inspection in 2014, when MassDEP found that Mr. White’s operation had exceeded its registered status as a small quantity generator of hazardous waste and had submitted an incomplete air quality report.

MassDEP originally imposed a total penalty of $7,271, but suspended 75% of the fine pending compliance with the consent order under its small business penalty mitigation policy.

“MassDEP attempted to work with Mr. White to complete all of the action items in the consent order in a timely fashion,” said Mary Jude Pigsley, director of MassDEP’s Central Regional Office in Worcester. “Accurate reporting of air contaminants, and in particular hazardous air pollutants, is a crucial factor in MassDEP’s mission to protect human health and the environment.”

MassDEP Penalizes Chang Farms of Whately $16,500 for Wastewater Discharge and Reporting Violations

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) has issued a $16,500 penalty to Chang & Sons Enterprises Inc., owner of the Chang Farm in Whately, for violations of wastewater discharge permit limits and other operating requirements at the farm’s process water and wastewater treatment plant (WWTP).

In August 2015, MassDEP reviewed water quality discharge reports and other required submittals by Chang and conducted an inspection of the WWTP. MassDEP staff noted repeated exceedances of permit discharge limits for Biological Oxygen Demand, flow and suspended solids. Staff also determined that Chang failed to maintain monitoring equipment and update an Operations & Maintenance (O&M) Plan.

In addition, MassDEP noted that Chang had failed to fully comply with an order issued in 2013 that required a quality assurance plan for sampling and analysis at the WWTP to ensure and document that the treatment processes were functioning properly and accurate measurements were being reported from monitoring equipment.

In addition to the penalty, MassDEP is requiring Chang Farms to evaluate the current processes at the WWTP and propose modifications and a schedule to correct the water quality discharge permit violations. Additionally, Chang has agreed to update the sampling and analysis assurance program, update the O&M Plan, maintain equipment and ensure that the facility is properly staffed by licensed operators.

MassDEP assessed a penalty of $16,500, but has agreed to suspend $6,500 of the penalty provided Chang remains in compliance with the requirements of the order.

“It is important for wastewater treatment plant operators, including small systems, to maintain compliance with their discharge permit limits, as well as monitoring and reporting requirements to ensure water quality will be maintained to protect public health and the environment,” said Michael Gorski, director of MassDEP’s Western Regional Office in Springfield.

MassDEP Assesses $12,070 Penalty on West Boylston Residents for Violating Solid Waste Management Regulations

West Boylston residents James S. Keller and Julia Keller have been assessed a $12,070 penalty by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) for violating the solid waste regulations at their property at 491 Prospect Street.

MassDEP's Solid Waste Management regulations prohibit the disposal of solid waste without a site assignment from the local Board of Health or MassDEP. During inspections of the property in July and September of 2015, personnel from MassDEP and the West Boylston Building Department observed approximately 370 cubic yards of solid waste mixed with fill material that had been used in the Keller's back yard to raise the grade an average of four feet. The solid waste included brick, broken chunks of concrete, drainage piping, and plastic.

In a consent order, the Kellers have agreed to remove and properly dispose of or recycle the solid waste and fill material. Prior to that work, the Kellers will engage a wetlands specialist to delineate riverfront areas on their property and to determine if a wetland permit is needed. The property abuts land owned by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, which includes a stream.

Under the agreement, the Kellers must pay $3,000, and MassDEP will suspend the remaining portion of the penalty under its Homeowner Penalty Mitigation Policy, as long as the Kellers do not violate any part of the order for a year.

"Property owners, whether commercial or residential, cannot dispose of solid waste on their properties without local and state approvals," said Mary Jude Pigsley, director of MassDEP's Central Regional Office in Worcester. "MassDEP is committed to working with local authorities to protect the environment."

Groundwater Results from the Former Coakley Landfill in New Hampshire Contain Elevated Concentrations of PFCs

The EPA and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) have received preliminary results for groundwater samples collected at the former Coakley Landfill in North Hampton and Greenland, New Hampshire. The results show elevated concentrations of perfluorochemicals (PFCs), including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).

In response to a request from local officials and residents, the Coakley Landfill Group (a group of potentially responsible parties [PRPs]) collected and analyzed water samples from 8 monitoring wells at or adjacent to the landfill under the supervision of the EPA. These wells were previously installed to monitor the potential impact of the landfill on groundwater. The preliminary sampling results, which are still under third party review for quality assurance, showed that the groundwater samples contained combined PFOA and PFOS concentrations ranging from 71 parts per trillion (ppt) to 1108 ppt, with all wells sampled showing combined PFOA/PFOS concentrations above New Hampshire's Ambient Groundwater Quality Standard of 70 ppt.

To further evaluate the extent of the impact, the PRP will be required to expand PFC sampling to monitoring wells outside of the landfill footprint. In addition, NHDES will be contacting nearby residents with private drinking water wells to schedule appointments to collect water samples that will be analyzed by EPA's regional laboratory for the presence of PFCs.

The former Coakley Landfill, a federal Superfund site, received municipal and industrial wastes from 1972 to 1982. From 1982 to 1985, when landfilling activities terminated, the site received incinerator residue from the Portsmouth Refuse-to-Energy Facility at the Pease Air Force Base. The landfill was capped in 1998 to help prevent further migration of groundwater contamination. The site groundwater contamination is managed within Groundwater Management Zone (GMZ) under the provisions of a Groundwater Management Permit issued by NHDES. The Permit requires regular monitoring of water quality issues within the GMZ, which include the presence of other contaminants of concern including arsenic, manganese and 1,-4-dioxane. Remedy protectiveness of human health and the environment at the site are reviewed by the U.S. EPA and NHDES every five years. The next Five Year-Review is scheduled to be finalized in September 2016.

For more information, please contact Jim Murphy, U.S. EPA (617) 721-2868, or Drew Hoffman, NHDES at (603) 271-6778.

Contractors Fined for Not Following EPA Lead-Safe Requirements on Home Renovation Projects

The EPA has reached agreements with three North Dakota home renovation companies, JH & JH Properties, Clooten Siding & Window, and Buechler Construction, to resolve alleged violations of the lead-based paint Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (RRP Rule). The settlements are the result of joint inspections EPA conducted with the North Dakota Department of Health in 2015 to evaluate compliance with the rule at job sites throughout Fargo and Bismarck.

The RRP Rule protects the public from toxic lead hazards created by renovation activities involving lead-based paint and requires the certification of individuals and firms who are involved in these activities. Contractors working on homes built prior to 1978 must test for lead in paint, or presume lead is present, and apply applicable lead-safe work practices to minimize the risk of exposure.

“Lead-based paint is a significant source of lead poisoning for children,” said Suzanne Bohan, director of EPA’s regional enforcement program. “These settlements reflect EPA’s commitment to take action against companies that fail to take the necessary steps to educate residents and minimize exposure.”

Under the terms of the settlements, JH & JH Properties (Fargo) will pay $2,000, Clooten Siding & Window (Bismarck) will pay $2,800, and Buechler Construction (Bismarck) will pay $2,100 to resolve alleged violations. These include conducting work on homes built before 1978 without being an EPA RRP-certified firm; failure to inform property owners and the public of potential lead hazards; failure to have a properly trained RRP-certified renovator assigned to the project; inadequate records demonstrating RRP compliance; and, the failure to follow lead-safe work practices to minimize potential exposure.

Infants, children, and pregnant women are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure, which can, even at low levels, cause lifelong impacts including developmental impairment, learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity, and behavioral problems. Despite its ban from the U.S. in 1978, EPA estimates that lead-based paint is still present in more than 30 million homes across the nation.

Violations of the lead based paint RRP Rule regulations can be reported to EPA online: https://www.epa.gov/enforcement/report-environmental-violations.

Denver Contractors Failed to Follow Lead-Safe Requirements

The EPA has reached agreements with two Denver-area contractors, KSK Builders, LLC, and HomeWrights, LLC, resolving alleged violations of the lead-based paint Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule. The RRP Rule protects the public from toxic lead hazards created by renovation activities involving lead-based paint and requires the certification of individuals and firms who are involved in these activities. Contractors working on homes built prior to 1978 must test for lead in paint, or presume lead is present, and apply applicable lead-safe work practices to minimize the risk of toxic lead exposure.

“Protecting children’s health is a central part of EPA’s mission,” said Suzanne Bohan, director of EPA’s regional enforcement program. “EPA is taking a close look at neighborhoods where lead-based paint is a concern by providing residents with information about potential health impacts and making sure contractors are following requirements that reduce exposure in homes.”

According to the first settlement, KSK Builders, LLC, agreed to pay a $2,000 penalty to settle allegations that the firm conducted exterior renovations on a pre-1978 home in Denver without being an EPA RRP-certified firm and without establishing the required records of compliance with the RRP Rule. The second settlement alleges HomeWrights, LLC, conducted a renovation, including replacement of windows, on a pre-1978 home in Denver without being an EPA RRP-certified firm, without assigning a properly trained certified renovator, and without establishing the required records of compliance with the rule. The firm has agreed to pay a $9,400 penalty to resolve the alleged violations and has since become an RRP-certified firm.

The settlements announced recently are part of an ongoing initiative to protect northeast Denver communities from toxic lead paint hazards during home renovations. Most homes in these neighborhoods were built before lead was banned from use in paint products in 1978 and there is a high potential these homes may contain lead paint. The EPA initiative is focused on increasing awareness of the RRP requirements among both contractors and residents, as well as creating a strong deterrent for violators of the RRP Rule.

EPA has conducted outreach activities and inspected dozens of job sites in the Five Points, Cole, Clayton, Whittier, Skyland, and Park Hill neighborhoods since the launch of the initiative in 2015. The agency will continue to assess compliance associated with these inspections and pursue enforcement action when appropriate.

Underground Tanks on Navajo Nation Removed to Protect Local Water

The EPA located and removed two underground storage tanks at the former Smith Lake Trading Post in McKinley County, New Mexico, last month. The thousand-gallon tanks may have been buried for over 70 years.

The trading post burned down in 1995 and was abandoned. The Navajo Nation EPA identified this site as one of many abandoned gas stations throughout the reservation. The two underground storage tanks at the site are thought to have been taken out of service in 1981. At that time, the tanks were not checked to see if petroleum product remained. This work is part of EPA’s ongoing efforts to identify and remove abandoned underground storage tanks that have the potential to contaminate groundwater throughout the Navajo Nation.

“EPA and the Navajo Nation have achieved the cleanup of over a hundred abandoned underground storage tanks, and less than 60 sites remain,” said Jeff Scott, EPA’s Land Division Director for the Pacific Southwest Region. “Since 2000, the Agency has spent over $10 million on this collaborative effort.

The excavated tanks were badly rusted and had numerous holes. Petroleum product stored in the tanks could have leaked into the soil and potentially into the subsurface and groundwater and find its way into the nearby Smith Lake. Following the excavation and EPA crew sampled the soil. The level of contamination did not exceed federal and Tribal standards. The tanks were permanently decommissioned and taken to a recycling facility for scrap metal.

Approximately 566,000 underground storage tanks in the United States store petroleum or hazardous substances. The greatest potential threat from a leaking underground storage tank is contamination of ground water, the source of drinking water for nearly half of all Americans.

Since 1984, the EPA has provided more than $293 million in grants and assistance to the Navajo Nation, including grants that support the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency, contracts to construct drinking water and wastewater infrastructure for the Navajo people, and direct assistance in cleaning up abandoned uranium mines on the Reservation. The Navajo Nation currently manages 17 environmental grants from the EPA.

Clean Air and Climate Projects Win EPA Recognition

The EPA will recognize seven groups and individuals for their innovative work on clean air and climate projects. The 2016 Clean Air Excellence Awards are given to state, local, tribal, and private sector programs in five categories of activity that improve air quality, including technology development, public education, and transportation.

“Each of these award winners has taken real, tangible steps to improve public health in their communities by reducing air pollutants or greenhouse gases,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “These projects reflect the creativity and commitment of public and private sector organizations to make a difference and drive us toward a cleaner, healthier future.”

This year’s winners include:

  • Clean Air Technology Award: Georgia Ports Authority (Savannah, Georgia) – Electric Rubber Tire Gantry Cranes. Georgia Ports Authority is implementing an electric rubber tire gantry (RTG) crane program that will transfer the entire RTG fleet to electric power, reducing diesel use by 95%. This is the first electric RTG installation at a port in North America.
  • Community Action Award: Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District (Santa Barbara, California) – Protecting Blue Whales and Blue Skies. The Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District established a voluntary vessel speed reduction program for ships coming to and from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to reduce fuel use, and to lower the risk of ship strikes on endangered whales. By reducing ships down to 12 knots, they reduced more than 500 metric tons of GHG emissions, as well as 12 tons of ozone-forming nitrogen oxide emissions, and no whales were hit by these ships.
  • Education and Outreach Award: Smartpower of Washington, DC, and National Grid of Rhode Island for the Rhode Island Energy Challenge – Find Your Four! Smartpower worked with National Grid to encourage customers across Rhode Island to “find four” simple energy reductions they can undertake in their homes or businesses. Consumer knowledge on the need to reduce energy consumption and associating GHG emissions greatly increased, with 90% of participating homeowners taking at least one energy reduction effort, and 75% of participating homeowners indicating improved understanding of their energy use.
  • Regulatory and Policy Innovations Award: Southern Ute Indian Tribe Air Quality Program (Ignacio, Colorado) – Implementation of a Clean Air Act Title V Operating Permit Program. The Southern Ute Tribe has begun fully implementing a Title V operating air quality program (AQP), taking over 33 permits from the EPA and conducting 27 of their own permit inspections since 2014. So far, this is the first and only approved Title V air quality permit program in Indian country, setting an example for other Tribes to implement more sustainable air quality programs.
  • Regulatory and Policy Innovations Award: Great Basin Unified Air Pollution Control District (Bishop, California) – Owens Lake PM10. The project involves pollution control of the dried Owens Lake bed, which generated substantial emissions of PM10 (particulate matter 10 microns in diameter or less). At 48.6 square miles, it is the largest PM10 emission control project in the world, and has led to annual air pollution reductions of 75,000 tons.
  • Transportation and Energy Innovations Award: University of California at Irvine (UC Irvine) Transportation Services (Irvine, California) – Sustainable Transportation. UC Irvine Transportation Services has implemented a suite of sustainable transportation projects across campus. These projects have led to annual reductions of over 40.1 million vehicle miles traveled and 21,000 metric tons of GHG emissions.
  • Thomas W. Zosel Individual Achievement Award: Dr. John C. Wall is receiving this award for a career spent reducing commercial engine emissions. Among his accomplishments, Dr. Wall was involved in the development and implementation of technology leading to near-zero levels of emission of particulate matter and nitrogen oxide from both on and off-highway heavy-duty engines.

The Clean Air Excellence awards program was established in 2000 by EPA’s Clean Air Act Advisory Committee, and recognizes individuals and organizations that serve as pioneers in their fields, advance public understanding of air pollution and improve air quality. Entries are judged by the EPA and the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee.

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Coral With Leaves: Millions of Trees Joining the List of Climate Change Casualties

Regulators Close Loophole in Fees for Fossil Fuel Extraction

US, Mexico, Canada to Team Up on Clean Energy, Methane

House Office Building’s Water Contaminated with Lead

Coal Ash Bedevils Oklahoma Town, Revealing Weakness of EPA Rule

Hazardous Materials Unit Stops Chlorine Leak

ADEM Fines Mobile Paint for Hazardous Waste Violations

Trivia Question of the Week

When driving at slow speeds, it is more efficient to turn the air conditioning in your car off and drive with the windows open.

a) True

b) False

Answer