After an EPA’s assessment of trichloroethylene or TCE showed risk, the sole manufacturer of a fixative product using TCE voluntarily withdrew it from the marketplace. EPA is now taking action to ensure no other manufacturers, including importers, enter the marketplace before EPA has the opportunity to prohibit or limit these uses.
“EPA commends PLZ Aeroscience Corporation for removing TCE from its arts and crafts spray fixative product,” said Jim Jones, assistant administrator for the office of chemical safety and pollution prevention. “EPA is putting into place a level playing field to ensure importers and domestic manufacturers do not re-enter the marketplace before EPA has an opportunity to review.”
In a separate regulatory action under the Toxic Substances Control Act, EPA aims to reduce the risks from TCE in aerosol and vapor degreasing and as a spot cleaner in dry cleaning facilities.
The recent rule, known as a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR), requires anyone intending to initiate manufacture, including the import or processing of TCE for new uses to notify EPA at least 90 days before doing so. The notification will allow EPA to evaluate the intended use and to take appropriate action.
The TCE spray fixative product was used by artists, picture framers, graphic designers and printers to provide a water repellant and protective finish.
EPA’s June 2014 Work Plan Chemical Risk Assessment for TCE identified health risks associated with several TCE uses, including the arts and craft spray fixative use, aerosol and vapor degreasing, and as a spotting agent in dry cleaning facilities. In 2015, EPA worked with the only U.S. manufacturer of the TCE spray fixative product, PLZ Aeroscience Corporation of Addison, Illinois, resulting in an agreement to stop production of the TCE containing product and to reformulate the product with an alternate chemical.
A few current uses of TCE, such as use in cleaners and solvent degreasers, film cleaners, lubricants, mirror edge sealants, and pepper spray, are not subject to the final rule.
This final rule is effective 60 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register. Once published, the publication can be found in the Federal Register docket at http://www.regulations.gov by searching for EPA-HQ-OPPT-2014-0697.
A pre-publication copy of the final rule and more information can be found at: https://www.epa.gov/assessing-and-managing-chemicals-under-tsca/trichloroethylene-tce.
Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule
In the first major modification to the hazardous waste regulations in over 10 years, EPA plans to modify and reorganize the hazardous waste generator rule. When adopted, the rule will provide greater flexibility in how hazardous waste is managed and close important gaps in the regulations.
Attend Environmental Resource Center’s live, online session on April 18 to learn:
- New requirements for documenting hazardous waste determinations
- Revised requirements for when and how to submit the Notification of Generator Status form to EPA
- How to take advantage of the episodic generation exclusion to avoid reclassification to a larger generator status
- Definitions of important new terms – “Very Small Quantity Generator” and “Central Accumulation Area”
- How to mark containers, tanks, and containment buildings with new information required at central accumulation areas and satellites
- New conditions under which containers can be left open at satellite accumulation areas
- Updated time and volume limits for satellite accumulation areas
- New documentation requirements for contingency plans and biennial reports
- New requirements for shipping hazardous waste from a VSQG to another facility owned by the same organization
Click here to register online or call 800-537-2372.
New Exclusions for Solvent Recycling and Hazardous Secondary Materials
EPA’s new final rule on the definition of solid waste creates new opportunities for waste recycling outside the scope of the full hazardous waste regulations. This rule, which went into effect on July 13, 2015, streamlines the regulatory burden for wastes that are legitimately recycled.
The first of the two exclusions is an exclusion from the definition of solid waste for high-value solvents transferred from one manufacturer to another for the purpose of extending the useful life of the original solvent by keeping the materials in commerce to reproduce a commercial grade of the original solvent product.
The second, and more wide-reaching of the two exclusions, is a revision of the existing hazardous secondary material recycling exclusion. This exclusion allows you to recycle, or send off-site for recycling, virtually any hazardous secondary material. Provided you meet the terms of the exclusion, the material will no longer be hazardous waste.
Learn how to take advantage of these exclusions at Environmental Resource Center’s live webcast on April 11 where you will learn:
- Which of your materials qualify under the new exclusions
- What qualifies as a hazardous secondary material
- Which solvents can be remanufactured, and which cannot
- What is a tolling agreement
- What is legitimate recycling
- Generator storage requirements
- What documentation you must maintain
- Requirements for off-site shipments
- Training and emergency planning requirements
- If it is acceptable for the recycler to be outside the US
Bring your questions to this live webcast. Click here to register online or call 800-537-2372.
Virginia Beach RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Virginia Beach, VA, on April 12–14 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.
Atlanta RCRA and DOT Update and Advanced RCRA Training
Register for RCRA Hazardous Waste and DOT Hazardous Materials Update and Refresher Training and Advanced Hazardous Waste Management in Atlanta, GA, on April 26–27 and get up-to-date on your hazardous waste and hazardous materials training requirements. To register for these courses, click here or call 800-537-2372.
Cary 24-Hour HAZWOPER Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response 24-Hour Training in Cary, NC, on May 2–4 and ensure you are ready to respond. To register for this course, click here or call 800-537-2372.
Michigan DEQ Updates Permitting Rules, Rejects Calls to Reduce Oversight of Toxic Emissions
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality recently announced a decision to retain strong protection of public health by rejecting proposed changes to air program rules that would limit the number of toxic chemicals regulated by the State of Michigan.
This action finalizes a review of Michigan’s air permitting rules. Significant public concerns were expressed during the public comment period on the proposed changes that would have restricted DEQ authority to approximately 600 chemicals. Retaining the broad authority to review the health effects of any and all chemicals released into our air from new and modified facilities keeps in place the strong protection of public health the agency has employed in the air program for the last 25 years.
“This decision demonstrates our strong commitment to clean air for Michigan citizens,” said DEQ Air Quality Division Chief Lynn Fiedler. “Eliminating the safe guard for chemicals that have yet to be studied, as well as limiting the pollutants subject to regulation, would unnecessarily weaken current regulations. We agree with the public’s concerns about potential risks to health and will retain our strong air toxic program.”
Originally established in 1992, the air toxics rules authorize the review and analysis of proposed emissions of toxic air contaminants (TACs) for new or modified sources seeking a Permit to Install from the DEQ. The rules will retain the use of a default screening level for TACs that have little toxicological data but nevertheless may pose risks to the environment or human health.
Other proposed changes to the air permitting rules will continue forward in the rule adoption process. The DEQ intends to add new public review opportunities on toxic screening levels, remove obsolete dates in the Renewable Operation Permit rules, and make minor changes to the rules identifying small air pollution sources not required to obtain a Permit to Install.
New DOT Flammable Liquid Unit Trains Response Curriculum
DOT's Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) announced the launch of the web-accessible Transportation Rail Incident Preparedness and Response (TRIPR) training resource, which provides emergency responders with critical information and best practices related to rail incidents involving Hazard Class 3 Flammable Liquids such as crude oil and ethanol. This off-the-shelf training is available online and can be used anywhere throughout the country.
"TRIPR is the result of a concerted effort between federal agencies and rail safety stakeholders to improve emergency response organizations’ ability to prepare for and respond to rail incidents involving a release of flammable liquids like crude oil or ethanol," said PHMSA Administrator Marie Therese Dominguez. "We are committed to safety and providing responders with flexible, cost-effective training and resources that help them respond to hazmat incidents safely."
TRIPR was developed in conjunction with other public safety agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), and EPA, and leverages the expertise of rail carriers and industry subject matter experts to better prepare first responders to safely manage incidents involving flammable liquids.
"Some of the most important actions we have taken during the last two years to increase the safety of transporting crude oil by rail have been providing more resources, better information and quality training for first responders. This web-based training is another tool to help first responders in communities large and small, urban and rural quickly and effectively respond if a derailment happens," said FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg.
The TRIPR curriculum focuses on key hazmat response functions and incorporates three animated training scenarios along with introductory videos to help instructors facilitate tabletop discussions. The TRIPR resources offer a flexible approach to training first responders and emergency services personnel in pre-incident planning and response. Each module contains a PowerPoint presentation, Student Workbook, and Instructor Lesson Plan. PHMSA plans to host a series of open houses throughout the country to promote the TRIPR curriculum.
DOT has taken more than three dozen actions to increase the safety of energy products transported by rail in the last two years. In 2015, DOT released its comprehensive rule that raises the bar on the safety of transporting crude oil by rail. The rule requires stronger tank cars and a new brake system that activates simultaneously on all tank cars, reduces the distance and time needed for a train to stop, and keeps more tank cars on the track if a train does derail. DOT has also required that railroads transporting crude oil notify State Emergency Response Commissions of the movement of crude oil through individual states.
Last summer, DOT announced that it would make the requirement for railroads to notify State Emergency Response Commissions (SERCs) of the expected movement of Bakken crude oil trains permanent. This information then trickles down to first responders across states and counties. DOT has also partnered with the Transportation Technology Center, Inc. (TTCI), which is owned by the FRA and managed by the Association of American Railroads, to provide training for 1,500 first responders in TTCI’s Crude by Rail Training for First Responders course. The training at TTCI is provided at no cost to communities or first responders.
Click here to access the materials.
New Report on Impacts of Climate Change on Public Health
On the first day of National Public Health Week, EPA and seven other federal agencies, as well as the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, are releasing a new report summarizing the growing understanding of how climate change is affecting public health. The report, The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health in the United States: A Scientific Assessment, finds that “every American is vulnerable to the health impacts associated with climate change.” Drawing from decades of advances in the science of climate change and its influences on ecosystems and human society, the report strengthens our understanding of the significant threat that climate change poses to the health of all Americans and highlights factors that make some individuals and communities particularly vulnerable.
View the blog online here or read it below.
Washington State to Enhance Oil Transportation Safety
Two new rules aimed at enhancing the safety of transporting oil through the state are open for comment through the Washington Department of Ecology.
The first proposed rule establishes notice requirements for facilities receiving crude oil by rail and pipelines transporting crude oil. Ecology will share the information with affected communities to ensure a rapid response can happen if an oil spill occurs. Comments will be accepted April 6 through June 10, in a variety of ways:
- Email to Kim.Morley@ecy.wa.gov
- Mail to Kim Morley, Department of Ecology Spills Program, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600
- Fax to 360-407-7288
- Use the Online comment tool
- Participate in public hearings and webinars
The second rule describes contingency planning requirements for railroads that transport oil (crude or refined) in bulk. Contingency plans show that railroads are prepared to immediately respond to an oil spill if one occurs. Comments for this rule will also be accepted April 6 through June 10:
- Email to Linda.Pilkey-Jarvis@ecy.wa.gov
- Mail to Linda Pilkey-Jarvis, Department of Ecology Spills Program, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600
- Fax to 360-407-7288
- Use the Online comment tool
- Participate in public hearings and webinars
Ecology will host public hearings on the rule proposals in Spokane, Everett, and Vancouver. In addition, two webinars—online meeting forums that can be attended from any computer—are planned.
Revised Code of Conduct for Wind Energy Companies Operating in New York State
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced the release of a revised Code of Conduct for the wind energy industry in New York State. The Code promotes the sustainable growth of the wind industry by increasing transparency and deterring improper relationships between local government officials and wind development companies, such as improperly sought land-use agreements with citizens and public officials, and improper benefits being given to public officials to influence their official actions relating to wind farm development. These disclosure requirements deter improper relationships between wind development companies and local government officials, such as improperly sought land-use agreements with citizens and public officials, and improper benefits being given to public officials to influence their official actions relating to wind farm development.
“Public officials throughout New York should encourage the growth of a strong, sustainable wind industry for the public good and not for their own private financial gain,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “The revised code of conduct announced today will help ensure greater transparency and limit the potential for corruption and unfair outside influence, thereby fostering the growth of a responsible renewable energy industry throughout our state.”
The original New York State Code of Conduct for Wind Farm Development was signed by many wind companies in 2009—prior to the enactment of New York State’s comprehensive energy bill known as the “Power NY Act of 2011.” The Power NY Act of 2011 established a centralized process for the siting of electric generating facilities and re-powering projects. This Act included a new version of Article 10 of the Public Service Law and created a multi-agency Siting Board that is charged with streamlining the permitting process for power plants of 25 megawatts (MW) or greater.
Although the State Siting Board removes most local government approval from the wind farm development siting process, there are still certain local action requirements that remain outside of the State Siting Board process and subject to local approval. For example, local approval may be necessary for the subdivision of land, extensions of special improvement or benefit assessment districts, tax assessment or payment in lieu of taxes determinations, consents for the extension of utility franchises to provide station power, private water or consumption of water from a municipal supply, the discharge of sewage or storm water into a municipal wastewater treatment system, the setting an payment of hook-in fees, water rates, sewer rents and similar capital and consumption charges, industrial development agency leases and/or the overt grant of property rights or other privileges. In addition, the regulation of towers used to monitor meteorological conditions is not governed by the Siting Board and permitting, if required, may be under local codes.
The Code of Conduct was revised to address wind farm development projects proceeding through the State Siting process. The Code of Conduct seeks to ensure that wind farm development is done in a transparent manner in which municipal officials and companies are accountable, and wind farm development business practices are established and maintained so as to avoid conflicts, or even the appearance of conflicts, of interest. The new Code of Conduct will assure the public the wind power industry is acting properly and within the law.
The first wind companies to sign the revised Code of Conduct are all subsidiaries of Apex Clean Energy: Lighthouse Wind, LLC, has a proposed wind power project in Somerset (Niagara County) and Yates (Orleans County), Galloo Island Wind, LLC, has a proposed wind power project in Jefferson County and Stockbridge Wind, LLC, has a proposed wind power project in Madison County.
The Attorney General’s Code of Conduct prohibits conflicts of interest between municipal officials and wind companies and establishes specific public disclosure requirements.
The New Code of Conduct:
- Bans wind companies from hiring municipal employees or their relatives, giving gifts of more than $15 during a one-year period, or providing any other form of compensation that is contingent on any action before a municipal agency
- Prevents wind companies from soliciting, using, or knowingly receiving confidential information acquired by a municipal officer in the course of his or her officials duties
- Requires wind companies to establish and maintain a public website to disclose the names of all municipal officers or their relatives who have a financial stake in wind farm development
- Requires wind companies to submit in writing to the municipal clerk for public inspection and to publish in the local newspaper the nature and scope of the municipal officer’s financial interest
- Mandates that all wind easements and leases be in writing and filed with the County Clerk
- Dictates that within 90 days of signing the Code of Conduct, companies must conduct a seminar for employees about identifying and preventing conflicts of interest when working municipal employees
EPA Region 10 Completed 22 Enforcement Actions in Final Quarter of 2015
The EPA’s Pacific Northwest Region completed 22 environmental compliance and enforcement actions in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington from October 1, 2015 through December 31, 2015.
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, water, and lands 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.
For a complete list of EPA Region 10 completed environmental enforcement actions from October through December 2015 click here.
So Long Lithium, Hello Bacteria Batteries?
As renewable energy sources grow, so does the demand for new ways to store the resulting energy at low-cost and in environmentally friendly ways. Now scientists report in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters a first-of-its-kind development toward that goal: a rechargeable battery driven by bacteria.
Solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources are gaining ground as nations work to lower greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on petroleum. But sunlight and wind are not constant, so consumers can’t count on them 24-7. Storing energy can make renewables more reliable, but current technologies such as lithium-ion batteries are limited by safety issues, high costs, and other factors. Sam D. Molenaar and his colleagues from Wageningen University and Wetsus (The Netherlands) wanted to come up with a less expensive, sustainable solution.
The researchers combined, for the first time, two separate microbial energy systems: one that uses bacteria to form acetate from electricity and one to convert the produced acetate back into electricity. The researchers successfully charged the battery over a 16-hour period and discharged it over the next 8 hours, mimicking the day-night pattern typical for solar energy production. They repeated this cycle 15 times in as many days. With further optimization, they say the energy density of the microbial battery could be competitive with conventional technologies. Someday it could help us store energy from local renewable sources safely and at a lower cost than current options.
Advance Coatings Co. Fined $38,860 for Clean Water Violations
A Massachusetts resins manufacturer has agreed to pay a $38,860 penalty to settle claims by the EPA that it violated federal clean water laws.
EPA’s allegations involve an incident on September 30, 2014 when employees of Advance Coatings Co., in Westminster, Massachusetts were routinely filling containers with Styrene, a chemical compound used in making resins. Advance Coatings staff accidentally over-filled one container and an unknown amount spilled on the floor, but did not realize the product entered the sewer until a city employee notified them the next morning. Advance Coatings then discovered the Styrene had run into the East Fitchburg publicly-owned sewer treatment system because a concrete berm surrounding a floor drain leading to the sewer was compromised. The Styrene interfered with East Fitchburg’s treatment process and some of the Styrene passed through the treatment system, resulting in an unauthorized discharge into the Nashua River.
A follow-up inspection by EPA in April 2015 determined that Advanced Coatings, which sits in the drainage basin of a wetlands tributary to the Whitman River, which flows to the Nashua River, is subject to the Oil Pollution Prevention regulations but had failed to prepare a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Plan.
“By addressing these concerns, the facility will now be taking necessary steps to reduce the chance of an oil or chemical discharge that could harm people’s health or our environment,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office.
Pennsylvania Reignites Initiative to Improve Effectiveness, Consistency of Inspections, Compliance, and Enforcement Activities
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is restarting a process to improve statewide consistency in the way DEP conducts inspections of regulated entities and activities, ensures compliance with state and federal laws and regulations, and handles enforcement cases.
“The result of this process will be a general, inspection, compliance, and enforcement policy aimed at improving consistency for all our program-specific policies,” said DEP Secretary John Quigley. “This foundation will help to ensure that our work across all programs is internally aligned, consistent, and in compliance with state and federal regulatory requirements.”
In keeping with DEP’s commitment to transparency, the process will include a public notice and comment period, anticipated to occur in the summer.
DEP first launched a compliance monitoring initiative in 2013, to evaluate compliance and enforcement policies and strategies, and update a 2004 internal policy on how the agency handles violations of law and Commonwealth regulations. Recommendations were drafted but never implemented.
This month, Secretary Quigley re-energized the initiative, starting with an internal review of DEP policies on inspections, compliance, and enforcement. The internal review is expected to be completed in May, followed by the public comment period.
Maryland Enacts Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed SB 323, the Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act, which requires Maryland to reduce statewide gas emissions by 40% from 2006 levels by 2030. This bipartisan legislation, which was supported by the Maryland Departments of the Environment, Agriculture, and Natural Resources, is based on a recommendation of the Maryland Commission on Climate Change and enhances the 2009 Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Act. This law is expected to help create and maintain tens of thousands of jobs and represents a balanced, science-based approach to reduce carbon pollution.
Consultant to Pay $350,000 In Penalties; Debarred for Alleged Overbilling
California’s Office of the Attorney General, on behalf of the State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board), has reached a stipulated judgment with Hanover Environmental Services, Inc., over allegations it overbilled the State Water Board’s Underground Storage Tank Cleanup Fund (Cleanup Fund). Hanover will pay the State Water Board $350,000 and is debarred from future work with any State Water Board programs.
Hanover, based in Chico and owned by William and Carrie Bono, provided geological consulting services for more than 50 contaminated sites, including gas stations, throughout Northern California in Butte, Shasta, Colusa, Plumas, Sacramento, Sutter, and Yuba counties. As part of the judgment, in addition to the debarment, Hanover and the Bonos are prohibited from assisting others that receive payment or reimbursement from the State Water Board. This prohibition extends to all work overseen, directed, funded or administered by the State Water Board.
In the complaint, filed May 30, 2014, in Butte County, the State Water Board alleged that Hanover charged for services that were not performed, and conducted substandard work that prolonged the remediation time and unnecessarily increased costs. The State Water Board alleged Hanover’s field records contained misrepresentations and inaccuracies that were used to support its invoices to the Cleanup Fund. The State Water Board also alleged that Hanover continued to bill for the operation of treatment systems long after those systems stopped providing an environmental benefit.
“Preventing consultants who have demonstrated their inability to adhere to professional standards from working not only on cleanups of petroleum underground storage tanks reimbursed by the Cleanup Fund, but also working on projects for other Water Board programs, saves taxpayers’ money and ensures quality environmental work. This debarment is another win for the State Water Board,” said Cris Carrigan, director of the State Water Board’s Office of Enforcement. “The Cleanup Fund is a limited resource which must be protected from fraud, waste and abuse.”
This latest enforcement action is based on an investigation conducted by the State Water Board’s Fraud, Waste and Abuse Prevention (FWA) Unit. Since 2010, the FWA Unit has referred cases to the Office of the Attorney General that have resulted in criminal and civil penalties, including recent criminal pleas by Jordan-Botke Enterprises, Inc., also known as PW Environmental. Special assistance in the Hanover case was provided by the Cleanup Fund, the California Regional Water Quality Control Boards, the Department of Toxic Substances Control and the Air Resources Board.
The stipulated judgment and civil complaint are available at the Office of Enforcement’s website.
For more information on the State Water Board’s efforts to prevent, investigate, and prosecute cases of fraud against the Cleanup Fund, see the fact sheet.
Oil and Gas Companies Fined for 17 Violations of State Environmental Regulations
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has entered into three Consent Assessment of Civil Penalties (CACP) with Rice Drilling B, LLC, of Canonsburg, Washington County and two of its affiliates for violations at sites in Washington and Greene counties. DEP also assessed fines for the violations totaling $393,500, which the company has paid.
DEP fined Rice Drilling for violations in Amwell Township, Washington County, including installing a waterline between a well pad and an impoundment without a permit, building a pipeline through a wetland that was not authorized by permit, and putting three waterlines under a stream when the permit authorized only one pipeline.
The company was also cited for 21 stream crossings without proper DEP permitting.
Alpha Shale Resources, LP, a Rice affiliate, was cited for an August 9, 2012, spill at its Alpha Unit 2 1 H gas well in Jackson Township, Greene County. In this instance a fracking fluid tank overflowed, spilling 100 barrels of production water on the ground.
Rice Poseidon Midstream, LLC, another Rice affiliate, was cited for not using best management practices in erosion and sediment control that contributed to a landslide on March 4, 2015, that forced the temporary closing of Muddy Hollow Road in Holbrook, Greene County and impacting a nearby stream.
In all the above instances, the company has since complied with DEP Notices of Violations and is currently in compliance at these locations.
EPA Webinar on Disinfection Byproducts Regulatory Issues and Solutions
EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) and Office of Water (OW) is hosting monthly webinars to discuss challenges and treatment solutions for small drinking water and wastewater systems. On April 26, EPA will host a webinar on Disinfection Byproducts (DBPs) Regulatory Issues and Solutions from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
Michael Finn from the Office of Water will give a presentation on Stage 2 DBP regulatory review and implementation challenges, followed by a presentation by Jolyn Leslie from the Washington State Department of Health, on small system DBP challenges and solutions in Washington. A certificate for one continuing education contact hour will be offered for this webinar.
EPA to Empty Fuel from Abandoned Underground Tanks at Former Gas Station in Fresno
On Tuesday, the EPA will remove an estimated 4,400 gallons of fuel from three underground storage tanks (USTs) at a former gas station located in Fresno, California. The tanks’ proximity to a residential neighborhood makes addressing this site a high priority. This is part of a statewide initiative focused on cleaning up underground storage tank sites, including 38 sites in Fresno County.
“Underground storage tanks pose a threat to groundwater and local communities,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “This initiative is a great example of how collaboration with local partners can make a difference in our neighborhoods.”
The site, currently a foreclosed property, was operated by Valley Gas as a service station until 2004. The USTs used by the gas station ceased operating but remained in place. The tanks, made of single-walled steel, are especially susceptible to corrosion and leaking, and can contaminate shallow groundwater when left unmonitored. Once liquids are removed from each tank, EPA contractors will also be sealing the tanks with a concrete plug to prevent leaks and illegal waste disposal. The fuel will be recycled or properly disposed by DeMenno/Kerdoon—the largest used oil-recycling facility in California.
In addition to Tuesday’s work, EPA is performing similar activities at eight other sites in Fresno and Kern County found to have fuel still present. The work, completed over a two week period, is estimated to cost up to $102,000 and is being funded by a joint effort using EPA grants to the California State Water Board. U.S. EPA expects to visit another group of sites later in 2016.
Since November 2012, the EPA and the California State Water Resources Control Board have been working with local regulatory agencies to identify and assess tank sites that have been unaddressed in Fresno and throughout the state. To date, more than 340 abandoned sites have been identified and more than 174 underground storage tanks removed or closed, paving the way for redevelopment at 78 sites.
Due to the high cleanup costs, these sites have remained vacant for decades, lowering property values and creating blight in communities. Addressing these sites can cost anywhere from approximately $10,000 to $1.5 Million depending on contamination at the site. The U.S. EPA and the state will work together with property owners to assess and cleanup these sites, making them available for resale and reuse, bringing businesses and jobs back into the area.
Owner and Captain of Commercial Fishing Vessel Indicted for Clean Water and Ship Pollution Violations
The owner and captain of the commercial F/V Native Sun, were indicted Thursday for conspiracy, as well as violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS).
According to the indictment, starting in 2011 and continuing into 2013, Bingham and Randall Fox discharged and caused other crewmembers to illegally discharge oil and other pollutants into waters of the United States, coastal waters near Blaine, Washington, and the open ocean where the ship operated.
The discharge of oil and other bilge wastes are regulated by the CWA and APPS to protect the nation's waterways, port and ocean water quality. The discharge of oils and other pollutants in waters of the United States is prohibited absent a CWA permit. Open ocean discharges are also prohibited without using the oil-water separation (OWS) equipment specified in APPS.
The indictment describes that Bingham Fox owned the Native Sun and, as part of its dockside maintenance, ordered crew members to discharge oil and other bilge wastes overboard into the harbor and adjoining shorelines of Blaine. Bingham Fox’s son, Randall Fox, served both as a crewmember and later a captain aboard the Native Sun and ordered crewmembers to discharge oil and bilge wastes overboard while the vessel was underway on fishing trips. The Native Sun had neither a CWA permit to discharge wastes nor the OWS equipment on-board, as required by APPS.
The maximum penalty for each count of violating the Clean Water Act is three years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Knowing violations of APPS are punishable by up to six years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The defendants will be summoned to appear in U.S. district court in Seattle on April 14, 2016.
This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Brandy Parker and Senior Trial Attorney Todd W. Gleason of the Environment and Natural Resources Division. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound and the Coast Guard Investigative Service Northwest Region.
An indictment contains only allegations against an individual and, as with all defendants, the Foxes must be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Recycling Fraud Arrest: Same Trucking Company, New Driver, New Evolution Trucking Busted Twice In Three Months
On February 16, agents with the California Department of Justice’s Recycling Fraud Team conducted an investigation into a North Las Vegas storage yard with a history of trafficking used beverage containers into California. At 4:25 p.m., agents observed a white semi-truck labeled “New Evolution Trucking” enter the storage yard. The truck and trucking company had been known to illegally transport used beverage containers in the past. Agents followed the truck as it departed at 10:42 p.m. and requested assistance from CHP after the driver took a route which would avoid the CDFA border checkpoint in Yermo.
Carlos Flores, 36, of Los Angeles was stopped off I-15 in Barstow at 2:20 a.m. on February 17. Flores stated he did not have the bill of lading or Imported Material Report required to transport used beverage containers into California. Flores was arrested, and his 53-foot tractor-trailer was impounded. A subsequent check of the materials inside revealed 7,260 lb of aluminum and 3,360 lb of plastic used beverage containers with a potential California Redemption Value of $15,464. Flores was released on his own recognizance and is awaiting arraignment at the San Bernardino County Superior Court.
CDOJ investigates and prosecutes criminal cases on behalf of CalRecycle, which has administrative authority over the state’s beverage container recycling program. In addition to CalRecycle’s interagency agreements with CDOJ and CDFA, CalRecycle aggressively combats fraud and illicit payments through enhanced precertification training of recycling center owners, probationary reviews of recycling centers, oversight of certified processors, monitoring and tracking of imported materials, risk assessment of daily claims for reimbursement, application of prepayment controls, and post-payment reviews and investigations.
Environmental News Links
Trivia Question of the Week
Researchers have discovered that Florida produces enough waste from which of the following to power Disney World for 90 days?
a) Rotten tomatoes
b) Orange rinds
c) Fast food containers
d) Drips from leaky gasoline dispensers