November 15, 2002
EPA Region 5 has reached an agreement with IFCO ICS Chicago Inc. (formerly Acme Barrel Co.) on alleged violations of clean-air regulations at the company's steel drum reconditioning plant in Chicago. EPA assessed a $25,000 penalty.

The agreement resolves an EPA complaint alleging IFCO failed to comply with an EPA request that the company test its drum furnace operation to see if it was capturing and destroying the required amounts of VOCs. EPA also charged IFCO with not keeping proper records of its VOC use and emissions.

As part of the agreement, IFCO agreed to install a permanent total enclosure around its drum furnace line. This enclosure will capture all VOC emissions and is the critical step in ensuring that IFCO complies with the Illinois VOC rules.

Volatile organic compounds contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone, or smog. Smog is formed when a mixture of air pollutants is baked in the hot summer sun. Smog can cause a variety of respiratory problems, including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain. Asthmatics, children and the elderly are especially at risk, but these health concerns are important to everyone. The Chicago area does not meet national health-based standards for ozone.


A coalition of health and environmental groups announced a court settlement that will improve cleanup of smog (ozone) in communities across the country. The settlement, reached with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a federal court lawsuit, will kick off a long-delayed process for lowering ozone levels to meet new national air quality standards issued in 1997.

The groups bringing the legal action on behalf of millions of Americans include the American Lung Association, Environmental Defense, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Sierra Club. Earthjustice has represented these organizations in the lawsuit. Five state and regional groups, including the Alabama Environmental Council, Clean Air Council, Michigan Environmental Council, Ohio Environmental Council, and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, have also participated in the suit, represented by the Clean Air Task Force.

Court papers call on EPA to formally determine, by April 2004, which areas fail to meet national standards for ozone. Air quality in numerous communities in 38 states is expected to be found out of compliance. Once EPA makes those determinations, state and local programs will be called on to reduce smog emissions to meet the standards.

EPA revised the national ozone standard five years ago to 0.08 parts per million averaged over eight hours, strengthening the previous standard (0.12 parts per million averaged over one hour). Although Congress directed EPA to determine, no later than July 2000, which areas fail to attain the new ozone standard, the agency has yet to do so.

The 1997 ozone standards are based on years of scientific review and mounting evidence of the public health risk. Ozone is a powerful irritant, which leaves the lungs inflamed, as though they were sunburned. Ozone causes asthma attacks, coughing, wheezing and other respiratory distress, and is linked to increased use of medications, hospitalizations, and emergency room visits. Recent studies showed that ozone levels low enough to comply with the previous ozone standard ­ levels experienced each year by millions of people around the nation ­ are still high enough to cause significant health impacts.

The proposed settlement was filed in United States District Court for the District of Columbia (Docket No. 02-2239).


Speaking before the "Brownfields 2002­Investing in the Future" Conference in Charlotte, N.C., EPA Administrator Christie Whitman announced that her agency and 21 other federal agencies and departments under the Bush Administration have committed to work together to redevelop Brownfields under the new Brownfields Federal Partnership Action Agenda. The Agenda makes over 100 commitments for cooperative work to help communities more effectively prevent, clean up and reuse Brownfields.

The action agenda is one piece of a comprehensive effort by the Bush Administration to address Brownfields cleanup and revitalization efforts. Earlier this year, President Bush signed the new Small Business Liability Relief and Brownfields Revitalization Act to help states and communities around the country clean up and revitalize Brownfield sites. As part of his FY 2003 budget request, the President has called for more than a doubling of money for the Brownfields program to $200 million. (Brownfields are real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.) The President and Congress recognized in this new law the importance of federal partnerships in achieving their mutual goals of environmental protection and economic revitalization. This action agenda fosters those partnerships.Highlights of the action agenda commitments include:

  • EPA's commitment to potentially provide $850 million over the next five years to states, tribes, counties, municipalities, and non-profit organizations through Brownfields assessment, cleanup, revolving loan fund, job training and state/tribal grants;
  • commitments by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of Justice, and U.S. Department of Labor to offer funding priority to Brownfields communities through their respective grant mechanisms;
  • the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's commitment to lead an interagency "Portfields" project that will focus on the redevelopment and reuse of idled or abandoned lands in and around ports, harbors and marine transportation hubs;
  • the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' commitment to announce eight new pilots under its "Urban Rivers Initiative" to address restoration in and around urban rivers;
  • a new, concerted effort to share program information with interest groups, by methods such as linking web sites;
  • changing federal agency policies to facilitate Brownfields redevelopment; and
  • making funding and technical assistance to Brownfields communities a budget priority at all federal agencies.

Whitman made the announcement at the seventh annual "Brownfields 2002 - Investing in the Future" Conference at the Charlotte, N.C., Convention Center. The Conference is co-hosted by the Engineers' Society of Western Pennsylvania and the International City/County Management Association. The program, held in the Charlotte Convention Center, includes more than 75 different technical sessions and workshops, over 40 roundtable discussions, an extensive exhibit hall and presentations of the Phoenix Awards, which were created in 1997 to recognize highly innovative yet practical remediation projects which bring Brownfields sites back to productive use. Within this diverse array of presentations, participants will explore almost every aspect of the new legislation, and share best practices and success stories.

Other topics addressed include finance, insurance, community involvement, legal liability, new state, local and tribal programs, land conservation, remediation technology, real estate transactions, and new industrial residential and commercial development. The conference also provides attendees with new opportunities to explore the banking and finance issues associated with Brownfields redevelopment.

To date, EPA's Brownfields assistance has leveraged more than $4.6 billion in private investment, helped create more than 20,000 jobs and has resulted in the assessment of more than 4,000 properties. Every acre of reclaimed Brownfield saves 4.5 acres of greenspace.

To obtain a copy of the Brownfields Federal Partnership Action Agenda, which includes a list of participating agencies, go to http://www.epa.gov/brownfields .


In celebration of America Recycles Day, the federal government, along with DC Government and a number of non-government and corporate partners are encouraging recycling today and tomorrow. Also today, a ceremony was held near the Washington Monument to celebrate America Recycles Day with representatives from the Bush Administration including Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton. Also attending were Mayor Anthony Williams and representatives from America Recycles Day and partners including UNICOR, Dell, the National Recycling Coalition, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc., Technology Policy Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), Intel, and the Electronic Industries Alliance. During the ceremony a proclamation issued today by President George W. Bush declaring November 15th "America Recycles Day," was presented to Mayor Williams by Secretary Norton.

In the proclamation, President Bush said, "On America Recycles Day, I encourage all Americans to rededicate themselves to using our resources more wisely by reusing and recycling the materials they purchase. Through these efforts, we help make our communities more livable, our businesses more competitive, and our Nation a healthier place for future generations to enjoy."

"America Recycles Day...A Capital Idea!", the first joint Federal Government and DC Government electronic recycling collection event, is open to all federal and DC government employees and DC residents. The two-day event on the historic Washington DC Mall, in front of the Washington Monument, is giving federal and district government employees and all residents of DC the opportunity to bring their old computers and components out of storage and recycle them. Used, broken, or outdated electronics are also being accepted.

UNICOR, a government corporation, will recycle items and provide tax donation forms to participants. Cell phones that are donated will be accepted by The Wireless Foundation. The Wireless Foundation is a non-profit organization that was established by the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA) in 1993. The Donate a Phone program collects wireless phones that are no longer being used by consumers, to help support local charities nationwide. The Foundation oversees a number of programs designed to put wireless technology to work addressing the challenges of society.

Major partners for today's event include Dell, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Interior (DOI), DOI's National Park Service, District of Columbia, UNICOR (Department of Justice's Federal Prison Industries, Inc.), AT&T, Department of Interior's National Business Center, Canon, Electronic Industries Alliance, Intel, Consumer Electronics Association, Office of the Federal Environmental Executive, Philips, National Recycling Coalition, Inc., Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc.

Additional support was provided by Social Security Administration (in Baltimore), PEPCO (in DC), Department of Health and Human Services (in Rockville), Department of Energy (in DC), and USDA's Forest Service.

Recycling makes a real contribution to such environmental goals as saving natural resources and reducing the need for more landfills. But there are additional, compelling incentives to recycle, beyond those widely understood. For example, recycling creates jobs and helps the economy in a number of ways. A recent study commissioned by EPA indicates that the recycling and reuse industry consists of approximately 56,000 establishments that employ over 1.1 million people. These businesses generate an annual payroll of nearly $37 billion, and gross over $236 billion in annual revenues.

America Recycles Day, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, which sponsors the annual ARD campaign. America Recycles Day, Inc. is sponsored by 100% Recycled Paperboard Alliance, Environmental Defense (formerly Environmental Defense Fund), Ford Motor Company, The Home Depot, National Recycling Coalition, National Soft Drink Association, Office of the Federal Environmental Executive, Recycling Coalition of Texas, Solid Waste Association of North America, Staples, U.S. Conference of Mayors, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Waste Management.

For more information on America Recycles Day, Inc. visit http://www.americarecyclesday.org . A copy of the President's Proclamation is available at http://www.whitehouse.gov .


On Friday, Nov. 8, 2002, U.S. EPA Pacific Southwest Region's study of the South Coast Air Quality Management District's RECLAIM program was made available to the public, both on hard-copy and on EPA's web site.

The Regional Clean Air Incentives Market, or RECLAIM program, was adopted by SCAQMD in October 1993. The program allows participating companies to trade air pollution while meeting clean air goals. Companies ranging from power producers to glass melters and facilities using industrial boilers participate in RECLAIM.

RECLAIM set an emissions cap and declining balance for many of the largest companies emitting nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur oxides (SOx) in the South Coast Air Basin. RECLAIM includes over 350 participants in its NOx market and about 40 participants in its SOx market. RECLAIM has the longest history and practical experience of any locally designed and implemented air emissions cap and trade program.

The program provides industry with flexibility to decide how to reduce emissions and advance pollution control technologies. NOx and SOx allocations were issued to RECLAIM companies based on their historic levels and in consideration of future controls. Companies in the program have the option of complying with their allocations by either reducing emissions or purchasing RECLAIM Trading Credits from other companies.

In 2000 and 2001, RECLAIM credit prices increased dramatically, while at the same time some facilities had difficulty meeting their emission levels. This resulted in emissions exceeding what is allowed under RECLAIM.

EPA decided to evaluate the causes of these events and to examine the effectiveness of the RECLAIM program.

EPA wanted to learn if expected emission reductions were achieved, what types of emission control strategies were applied by market participants, and whether the program was cost-effective overall.

The result of the study is that EPA believes that SCAQMD has done an effective job managing RECLAIM and modifying the program to adapt quickly to changing conditions.

Written requests for copies of the report or questions may be sent to Ken Israels, Air Division (AIR- 8), EPA Region IX, 75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. You may also submit your requests electronically to israels.ken@epa.gov.

A copy of the evaluation is also available in the Air Programs section of EPA Region 9's web site, http://www.epa.gov/region09/air/reclaim/