EPA to Revise Toxics Release Reporting to Advance Environmental Justice

May 03, 2021
EPA announced that the agency will be taking significant steps under the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) to advance Environmental Justice, improve transparency, and increase access to environmental information. The comprehensive plan includes expanding the scope of TRI reporting requirements to include additional chemicals and facilities, including facilities that are not currently reporting on ethylene oxide (EtO) releases, and providing new tools to make TRI data more accessible to the public. TRI is a resource for learning about annual chemical releases, waste management, and pollution prevention activities reported by nearly 22,000 industrial and federal facilities.
 
“Every person in the United States has a right to know about what chemicals are released into their communities,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “By requiring new and more data on chemical releases from facilities, EPA and its partners will be better equipped to protect the health of every individual, including people of color and low-income communities that are often located near these facilities but have been left out of the conversation for too long.”
 
The revisions will include several components:
 
TRI Facility Expansion to Include Certain Contract Sterilizers using EtO
EPA recognizes and shares the public’s concerns about the harmful effects of EtO on human health, including cancer and the environment. The agency is committing to broadening TRI reporting on this chemical to include certain contract sterilization facilities that use EtO that are not currently required to report this information. EtO is used to make other industrial chemicals and is also used to sterilize medical devices.
 
Many of these contract sterilization facilities are located near areas with Environmental Justice concerns. Workers in facilities that use EtO and communities – including historically underserved communities – living adjacent to these facilities are at the highest risks from exposure to EtO. Making more information available about releases of EtO will assist the agency in identifying and responding to any human health and environmental threats they cause. The agency will provide more details in upcoming months on its effort to require these contract sterilization facilities to report to TRI and will keep the public informed as next steps are determined.
 
Additional TRI Reporting Requirements for Other Chemicals and Sectors
The agency will continue to expand the TRI program to protect the health and safety of underserved communities, including:
  • TRI Reporting for Natural Gas Processing Facilities: EPA plans to finalize a rule to add natural gas-processing facilities to the list of industry sectors covered under the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) section 313. This rule was proposed by EPA on January 6, 2017, following a petition submitted to EPA by the Environmental Integrity Project and other organizations. Adding natural gas processing facilities to TRI would increase the publicly available information on chemical releases and other waste management activities of TRI-listed chemicals from this sector. Millions of people live within 30 miles of at least one natural gas processing facility.
  • TRI Reporting for Additional Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS): EPA will continue to add new PFAS to TRI, in addition to the three PFAS added in Reporting Year 2021. The provisions included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) automatically add certain PFAS to the TRI chemical list when certain conditions are met (see NDAA Section 7321(c)). EPA also anticipates the automatic addition of more PFAS, including perfluorobutane sulfonic acid (PFBS), following EPA’s recent publication of a toxicity assessment on the chemical.
  • TRI Reporting for TSCA Workplan and High-Priority Chemicals: EPA plans to propose adding to TRI the chemicals included in the TSCA workplan and other substances designated as high-priority substances under TSCA. In addition, EPA plans to propose to list chemicals included in a 2014 petition received from the Toxics Use Reduction Institute. Many of these substances could be present in fence line communities, those communities within close proximity to industrial uses of these chemicals where releases to water, air, or land could be of a greater impact.
 
Additional TRI Tools for Communities
The ability to access and use TRI data empowers communities to make informed health and safety decisions. EPA has taken several steps to make TRI data more useful and accessible to communities with Environmental Justice concerns by:
  • Enhancing TRI search tools to include a “Demographic Profile” section which displays a map showing information like the income profile and the racial makeup surrounding TRI facilities derived from EJSCREEN. Users can also access demographic data for individual TRI facilities, as well as view a “Community Report” by selecting a facility from the “Facility Comparison Table” in the “Facility Summary” section.
  • Launching a Spanish version of the TRI website, making the most popular resources from the English version of the website available in Spanish for the first time and continuing to provide the annual TRI National Analysis in Spanish.
  • Promoting the use of Pollution Prevention (P2) information as a tool for communities to engage with reporting facilities on workable solutions for building community health by encouraging facilities to reduce their use and releases of toxic chemicals, thereby helping to prevent possible exposure to such chemicals. Reporting on P2 activities is required by TRI and reveals how facilities can – and have – adopted source reduction practices that can lead to meaningful reductions in releases, across a range of industrial sectors.
 
Learn more about TRI at this webcast.
 
Upcoming Training
 
To help you get the training you need, Environmental Resource Center has added a number of dates to our already popular live webcast training. Stay in compliance and learn the latest regulations from the comfort of your office or home. You’ll receive the same benefits as our seminar attendees including expert instruction, comprehensive course materials, one year of access to our AnswerlineTM service, course certificate, and a personalized user portal on Environmental Resource Center’s website.
 
Environmental Resource Center’s live webcast training is the best way to learn how to comply with the latest regulations that apply to your site. Learn from the experts and get your site-specific questions answered at these upcoming sessions:
 
Live Training Resumes in July
 
If you prefer live face to face training, we have good news for you. Environmental Resource Center is resuming its schedule of live nationwide training. We’ll be following the current CDC recommendations for a safe environment and work hard to ensure that you remain safe throughout the sessions. Here’s a list of classes that you can choose from:
Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course (RCRA) Macon July 13-14
  Cary/Raleigh July 20-21
  Birmingham August 3-4
  Indianapolis August 10-11
  Richmond August 17-18
  Nashville August 31-September 1
  Pittsburgh September 14-15
  Spartanburg September 28-29
Texas Hazardous Waste Management Dallas July 27-28
  Houston August 24-25
  San Antonio September 21-22
California Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course Ontario August 3-4
  Los Angeles September 21-22
DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course Macon July 15
  Cary/Raleigh July 22
  Dallas July 29
  Ontario August 5
  Birmingham August 5
  Indianapolis August 12
  Richmond August 19
  Houston August 26
  Nashville September 2
  Pittsburgh September 16
  San Antonio September 23
  Los Angeles September 23
  Spartanburg September 30
RCRA and DOT Annual Update and Refresher Charlotte September 8
  Cary/Raleigh September 29
IATA: How to Ship Dangerous Goods by Air Charlotte September 9
HAZWOPER 8-Hour Refresher Cary/Raleigh September 28
 
OSHA Covid Standard, More Enforcement on the Way
 
In 2021, the OSHA’s will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Before the 1971 enactment of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the OSHA’s creation, many workers lacked basic protections from workplace hazards. Since then, OSHA and its many partners have helped transform U.S. workplaces and have reduced injuries, illnesses and fatalities significantly.
 
Despite OSHA’s half-century of progress, more than 5,000 people suffer fatal injuries at work each year, and thousands more are hurt or sickened. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted – perhaps more than in any time in its history – the vital importance of OSHA’s mission. To date, the pandemic has killed more than 570,000 people, many of them essential frontline workers, many people of color and immigrants among them, whose work served a nation in desperate need.
 
In response to the devastation, President Biden issued an executive order that directed the Department of Labor to consider whether any emergency temporary standards were necessary to keep workers safe from the hazard created by COVID-19. On April 26, OSHA sent draft standards to the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs for review after working with its science-agency partners, economic agencies and others in the U.S. government to get the proposed emergency standard right.  When available, a copy of the temporary emergency standard will be published here.
 
"In its 50-year history, OSHA has been at the forefront of many positive changes in workplace safety, but the pandemic made it clear – there remains much room for improvement and much more work to do," said Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick. "We intend to honor those workers who risked and lost their lives in the pandemic – and those they leave behind – by making America’s workplaces the safest and healthiest they can be."
 
With $100 million in additional funding in the American Rescue Plan of 2021, OSHA is working to protect workers now and in the future. This includes ensuring that OSHA has the resources, such as much-needed staff, to do the agency’s work. The agency is planning to hire more than 160 new critical personnel, including compliance safety and health officers to respond to the pandemic. OSHA will also make available an additional $10 million in funds for Susan Harwood Training grants to support organizations delivering vital training to prevent vulnerable workers from exposure to the coronavirus and infectious disease.
 
The department’s Mine Safety and Health Administration is also ramping up efforts to protect workers at the nation’s thousands of mines by hiring dozens of inspectors and specialists to serve critical geographic areas. Increasing staff will enable the agency to direct more needed enforcement efforts to targeted safety and health hazards, as well as to provide more compliance assistance to special emphasis programs, including coronavirus.
 
"Today we’re honoring the 29 miners who lost their lives on the job in 2020, and recognizing the devastating impact of their absence for their families and communities," said Acting Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Jeannette Galanis. "More importantly, we’re recommitting to creating safe and healthful workplaces where miners and their families can trust that a day’s work will end with them heading home, safe and healthy."
 
OSHA also launched a new Workers Memorial Page that aims to lift up the voices of workers who lost their lives on the job. A virtual Workers Memorial Wall features names and images of workers as a solemn tribute for workers’ families, friends and coworkers.
 
Important Updates on EPA’s TSCA New Chemicals Program
 
EPA is conducting an evaluation of its policies, guidance, templates, and regulations under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) new chemicals program to ensure they adhere to statutory requirements, the Biden-Harris administration’s executive orders, and other directives. The agency has identified several instances where the approach for making determinations and managing risks associated with new chemicals can more closely align with the requirements of TSCA to ensure protections for human health and the environment, including the use of significant new use rules (SNURs) and assumptions related to worker exposures.
 
EPA remains committed to meeting statutory deadlines for review and determinations on new chemicals submissions under TSCA section 5 and will continue to engage with submitters to ensure the agency is moving as expeditiously as possible to come to a resolution on their submissions. Additionally, EPA will provide timely communication for any changes to stakeholders and the public through the normal distribution lists used to announce TSCA developments.
 
Use of SNURs
EPA will stop issuing determinations of “not likely to present an unreasonable risk” based on the existence of proposed SNURs. Rather than excluding reasonably foreseen conditions of use from EPA’s review of a new substance by means of a SNUR, Congress anticipated that EPA would review all conditions of use when making determinations on new chemicals and, where appropriate, issue orders to address potential risks. Going forward, when EPA’s review leads to a conclusion that one or more uses may present an unreasonable risk, or when EPA lacks the information needed to make a safety finding, the agency will issue an order to address those potential risks.
 
As has been the long-standing practice, EPA intends to continue issuing SNURs following TSCA section 5(e) and 5(f) orders for new chemicals to ensure the requirements imposed on the submitter via an order apply to any person who manufacturers or processes the chemical in the future. This ensures that other manufacturers of the same new chemical substance are held to the same conditions as the submitter subject to the TSCA section 5(e) or 5(f) order. A SNUR requires manufacturers to submit a significant new use notification to EPA for assessment before the chemical substance can be manufactured or processed for the new use described in the SNUR.
 
Worker Exposures
EPA now intends to ensure necessary protections for workers identified in its review of new chemicals through regulatory means. Where EPA identifies a potential unreasonable risk to workers that could be addressed with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and hazard communication, EPA will no longer assume that workers are adequately protected under OSHA’s worker protection standards and updated Safety Data Sheets (SDS). Instead, EPA will identify the absence of worker safeguards as “reasonably foreseen” conditions of use, and mandate necessary protections through a TSCA section 5(e) order, as appropriate.
 
California Seeks Greater Protection of Children and Environment from Hazardous Chemicals
 
In a three-year workplan, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) made a commitment to work with U.S. manufacturers to make toys, jewelry, and artificial turf sold in California healthier for children.
 
State officials will also study whether automotive tires sold in California can be made safer for the environment. Chemicals released from worn tire tread end up in California’s water supplies where they must be removed through expensive treatment. They also wash into rivers and streams where they can harm spawning Coho salmon.
 
The Three Year Priority Product Work Plan 2021-2023 is a blueprint for consumer protection research projects that the department will undertake over the next three years through its Safer Consumer Products (SCP) program.
 
DTSC’s SCP program compels the use of safer chemicals in consumer products during the manufacturing process.  When the department identifies a product for research, manufacturers are required to look for ways to ensure it is made of safer materials. Requiring manufacturers to perform an “alternative analysis” reduces the risk of replacing one dangerous chemical with another that is as harmful, or worse.
 
Other notable highlights of the 2021-23 workplan include:
  • An initiative to research products that contain microplastics, which is a growing threat to California’s aquatic environment and drinking water.
  • An announcement that DTSC will not further investigate safer alternatives to lead-acid batteries since billions of dollars are already invested worldwide in researching safer battery technologies.
  • A commitment to continue working in beauty, personal care, and hygiene products; cleaning products; and food packaging.
 
POTW Operator Cited for Falsifying Reports
 
Christopher Hall, 43, of Pikeville, Kentucky, pleaded guilty to violating the Clean Water Act. According to court documents, Hall managed the town of Matewan’s Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW), a facility designed to collect and remove domestic sewage sludge from wastewater and then properly treat the wastewater.  After the water is treated and tested, the water can be safely discharged into the Tug Fork River.   The removed sludge is to be dried and then properly disposed in a landfill designated to receive dried sewage sludge.  It is a requirement of the Clean Water Act that the sludge removal process and disposal must be reported every month to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to ensure proper operation of the treatment facility.  As manager of the POTW, Hall was responsible for monitoring the sludge removal and accurately reporting its monthly removal to a landfill.
 
On August 20, 2018, Hall falsely reported in a sludge management report that five tons of sludge had been removed from the Matewan POTW, properly dried, and then disposed at a permitted landfill.  In fact, no sludge had been removed from the facility.  Hall admitted to submitting a total of ten false sludge management reports indicating that a total of 55 tons of sludge had been removed from the facility and disposed in the landfill from July 2017 to June 2018.  Hall further admitted that he knew all ten reports were false and that no sludge was disposed of at a landfill when he submitted the false reports.
 
Hall pleaded guilty to making a false statement on a sludge management report and faces a maximum possible sentence of two years in prison, a $250,000 fine, one year of supervised release, and an order of restitution when he is sentenced on July 22, 2021.
 
Acting United States Attorney Lisa G. Johnston made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the EPA’s Criminal Investigations Division, the FBI, and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection.
 
United States District Judge Joseph R. Goodwin presided over the hearing.  EPA Attorney Perry McDaniel and Assistant United States Attorney Erik S. Goes are prosecuting the case.
 
Water Purification System Engineered from Wood, With Help from a Microwave Oven
 
Reporting in the journal Sustainable Materials and Technologies, researchers from KTH Royal Institute of Technology, in collaboration with Politecnico di Torino, engineered a more sustainable technique for producing hydrogel composites, a type of material that is widely studied for wastewater decontamination.
 
Minna Hakkarainen, who leads the Division of Polymer Technology at KTH, says that the hydrogels remove contaminants such as heavy metal ions, dyes and other common pollutants.
 
“The total amount of water on Earth doesn’t change with time, but demand does,” she says. “These all-lignocellulose hydrogels offer a promising, sustainable solution to help ensure access to clean water.”
 
The hydrogel composites can be made from 100 percent lignocellulose, or plant matter – the most abundant bioresource on Earth, she says. One ingredient is cellulose gum (carboxymethyl cellulose, or CMC), a thickener and emulsion derived commonly from wood pulp or cotton processing byproducts and used in various food products, including ice cream. Added to the hydrogel are graphene oxide-like carbon dots synthesized from biomass with the help of microwave heat. The hydrogel composites are then cured with UV light, a mild process that takes place in water at room temperature.
 
Hydrogels consist of a network of polymer chains that not only absorb water, but also collect molecules and ions by means of electrostatic interactions – a process known as adsorption. Hakkarainen says the new process also reinforces the stability of the hydrogel composites so that they can outlast ordinary hydrogels for repeated cycles of water purification.
 
Graphene oxide has become a favored additive to this mix, because of its high adsorption capacity, but the environmental cost of graphene oxide production is high.
 
Two bottles, one with clear liquid, the other with dark blue liquid.
 
Before and after. On the left is an aqueous solution containing methylene blue, and on
 
“Graphene oxide is a great adsorbent, but the production process is harsh,” she says. "Our route is based on common bio-based raw materials and significantly milder processes with less impact on the environment.”
 
Graphene is derived from graphite, a crystalline form of carbon that most people would recognize as the “lead” in pencils. In oxidized form it can be used in hydrogels but the oxidation process requires harsh chemicals and conditions. Synthesizing graphene from biomass often requires temperatures of up to 1300C.
 
By contrast, the researchers at KTH found a way to carbonize biomass at much lower temperatures. They reduced sodium lignosulfate, a byproduct from wood pulping, into carbon flakes by heating it in water in a microwave oven. The water is brought to 240C, and it is kept at that temperature for two hours.
 
Ultimately after a process of oxidation they produced carbon dots of about 10 to 80 nanometers in diameter, which are then mixed with the methacrylated CMC and treated with UV-light to form the hydrogel.
 
“This is a simple, sustainable system,” Hakkarainen says. “It works as well, if not better, than hydrogel systems currently in use.”
 
Battery Parts Can Be Recycled Without Crushing or Melting
 
The proliferation of electric cars, smartphones, and portable devices is leading to an estimated 25% increase globally in the manufacturing of rechargeable batteries each year. Many raw materials used in the batteries, such as cobalt, may soon be in short supply. The European Commission is preparing a new battery decree, which would require the recycling of 95% of the cobalt in batteries. Yet existing battery recycling methods are far from perfect.
 
Researchers at Aalto University have now discovered that electrodes in lithium batteries containing cobalt can be reused as is after being newly saturated with lithium. In comparison to traditional recycling, which typically extracts metals from crushed batteries by melting or dissolving them, the new process saves valuable raw materials, and likely also energy.
 
‘In our earlier study of how lithium cobalt oxide batteries age, we noticed that one of the main causes of battery deterioration is the depletion of lithium in the electrode material. The structures can nevertheless remain relatively stable, so we wanted to see if they can be reused,’ explains Professor Tanja Kallio at Aalto University.
 
The proliferation of electric cars, smartphones, and portable devices is leading to an estimated 25 percent increase globally in the manufacturing of rechargeable batteries each year. Many raw materials used in the batteries, such as cobalt, may soon be in short supply. The European Commission is preparing a new battery decree, which would require the recycling of 95 percent of the cobalt in batteries. Yet existing battery recycling methods are far from perfect.
 
Researchers at Aalto University have now discovered that electrodes in lithium batteries containing cobalt can be reused as is after being newly saturated with lithium. In comparison to traditional recycling, which typically extracts metals from crushed batteries by melting or dissolving them, the new process saves valuable raw materials, and likely also energy.
 
‘In our earlier study of how lithium cobalt oxide batteries age, we noticed that one of the main causes of battery deterioration is the depletion of lithium in the electrode material. The structures can nevertheless remain relatively stable, so we wanted to see if they can be reused,’ explains Professor Tanja Kallio at Aalto University.
 
Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries have two electrodes between which electrically charged particles move. Lithium cobalt oxide is used in one electrode and, in most of the batteries, the other is made of carbon and copper.
 
In traditional battery recycling methods, some of batteries’ raw materials are lost and lithium cobalt oxide turns into other cobalt compounds, which require a lengthy chemical refinement process to turn them back into electrode material. The new method sidesteps this painstaking process: by replenishing the spent lithium in the electrode through an electrolysis process, commonly used in industry, the cobalt compound can be directly reused.
 
The results show that the performance of electrodes newly saturated with lithium is almost as good as that of those made of new material. Kallio believes that with further development the method would also work on an industrial scale.
 
‘By reusing the structures of batteries we can avoid a lot of the labour that is common in recycling and potentially save energy at the same time. We believe that the method could help companies that are developing industrial recycling,’ Kallio says.
 
The researchers next aim to see if the same method could also be used with the nickel-based batteries of electric cars.
 
The research was published in ChemSusChem journal.
 
Lahtinen, K., Rautama, E., Jiang, H., Räsänen, S. and Kallio, T. (2021), The reuse of LiCoO2 electrodes collected from spent Li‐ion batteries after the electrochemical re‐lithiation of the electrode. ChemSusChem.
 
Cement Plant Fined for Clean Water Act Violations
 
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York, the EPA, and the State of New York announced a settlement with Holcim (US) Inc. to resolve alleged violations of the federal Clean Water Act and New York State water quality regulations at its cement manufacturing facility in Ravena, New York, announced Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon.
 
The settlement, set forth in a consent decree lodged with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, requires Holcim to comply with the terms of its State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit (Permit), pay an $850,000 civil penalty ($212,000 of which will be directed to a NYS Environmental Benefit Project improving stormwater management at Coeymans Landing Park in the Town of Coeymans, New York), and make other physical and operational improvements to the Facility.
 
The settlement resolves violations alleged in the complaint of the United States and the State of New York, which was filed yesterday. The complaint alleges that, between April 2015 and April 2021, the facility violated the Permit’s numeric effluent limitations 273 times for pollutants such as biological oxygen demand, fecal coliform, total suspended solids, settleable solids, pH, and temperature differential and three prior administrative consent orders issued from 2011 to 2015. The administrative orders document over 150 Permit numeric effluent limitation violations for similar pollutants as well as unauthorized discharges of an unreported sulfuric acid spill,  and discharges of partially treated landfill leachate to tributaries of the Hudson River, such as Coeyman’s Creek and Hannacroix Creek.  During the course of negotiations over the terms of the Consent Decree, Holcim made substantial improvements to its stormwater and leachate management practices to address the violations at issue, which resulted in the demolition and removal of two failing slurry basins, and installing an impermeable geomembrane-backed French drain along a portion of the perimeter of its landfill.  Under the terms of the Consent Decree, Holcim will undertake additional measures to ensure that the Facility is fully compliant with the terms of its Permit by October of 2022.
 
“We are all custodians of our community’s precious environmental resources.  This settlement will benefit the Hudson River, and help preserve this treasured  resource for future generations,” said Acting United States Attorney Antoinette T. Bacon.
 
“This settlement helps protect clean water and ecosystems in the Hudson Valley for local communities and it has already improved Holcim’s compliance with critical federal and state environmental laws,” said EPA acting Region Administrator Walter Mugdan. “This case exemplifies EPA’s commitment to work with our federal and state partners to ensure entities like Holcim comply with regulations that protect public health and the environment.”
 
“For years, Holcim failed to live up to its legal responsibilities, repeatedly violating laws established to ensure the health of our waters,” said New York Attorney General Letitia James. “Today, we hold this company accountable for polluting our natural resources and we ensure that proper measures are taken to remediate the harm caused to our communities.  My office will continue to aggressively enforce the laws that protect the health and safety of our environment and of all New Yorkers.” 
 
“New York State has a long history of holding polluters accountable for their impacts both on our communities and the environment and I thank the U.S. Attorney and the Attorney General for their efforts to finalize this agreement that does just that,” Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “The Consent Decree announced today will help to resolve years of violations and exceedances under federal and state rules and regulations and requires a significant penalty of $850,000. And in addition to requiring actions to further clean up its operations, this agreement requires this facility to invest in an Environmental Benefit Project that will help improve the health of the Hudson River – a victory for the town of Coeymans.”
 
This case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney John Hoggan for the United States and Assistant Attorney General Joseph Kowalczyk for the State of New York.
 
Pool Company Fined for Chlorine Spill that Killed Fish
 
Employees at All Iowa Pool and Supply, Inc.  Polk County, Iowa responded to a chlorine leak from a 250-gallon tank by rinsing off contaminated concrete, which resulted in a release of chlorine to Walnut Creek. Numerous dead fish were noted in the water on several occasions after the spill.
 
On April 19, the company was required to replace the tank with smaller containers, and fined $6,000 by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
 
Xylem Cited for Confined Space Injury
 
A worker for Xylem Inc., a water technology company in Pewaukee, suffered an injury when a guardrail loosened and he fell and struck his head on a support beam as he lowered himself into a nearly 30-foot deep water test pit.
 
OSHA received a report of the injury on Oct. 29, 2020. Its inspectors later determined that the company exposed employees to walking-working surfaces hazards, failed to provide employees with fall protection before they entered a 100 by 24-foot water-testing pit and failed to follow specific permit-required confined spaces safety procedures prior to entering the water test pits. OSHA proposed penalties of $234,054 for one willful and eight serious safety violations.
 
“This worker’s injury could have been prevented if appropriate fall protection was provided,” said OSHA Area Director Christine Zortman in Milwaukee. “OSHA has regulations for protecting workers who enter confined spaces, including having rescue equipment available and attendants ready to ensure their co-workers’ safety and to call for rescue services if necessary.”
 
Based in Rye Brook, New York, Xylem is an international company that tests, troubleshoots and repairs large industrial water treatment pumps used by power plants and municipalities. The company employs more than 1,600 workers nationwide and 57 at the Pewaukee facility.
 
National Discount Retailer Faces $265K in Penalties for Repeat Violations
 
Dollar Tree store workers across the country continue to face the same hazardous working conditions at the national discount chain as they have for many years. Since 2016, OSHA has inspected company locations more than 300 times.
 
Following an October 2020 inspection at a Dollar Tree store in Beverly Hills, Florida, OSHA determined that the company exposed workers to fire, entrapment and struck-by hazards, blocked exit routes, and improperly stacked boxes and other materials that might fall and injure workers. OSHA proposed $265,265 in penalties.
 
Since 2018, inspections at Dollar Tree Stores in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee have resulted in proposed penalties of more than $1.3 million. Nationwide, Dollar Tree inspections in the past five years have resulted in proposed penalties of more than $9.3 million.
 
“Dollar Tree Stores have a history of not taking the safety of its workers and customers seriously,” said OSHA Area Director Danelle Jindra in Tampa, Florida. “Until appropriate precautions are taken to protect their employees from these well-known and frequent hazards, OSHA will continue to hold them accountable.”
 
Additional information about OSHA requirements for keeping exits clear is available in the agency’s Emergency Exit Routes fact sheet. OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs includes information on how to identify and assess hazards in the workplace.
 
Plasti Dip Fined $170,000 For Air Quality Violations
 
The California Air Resources Board announced a settlement of $170,000 with Plasti Dip International, Incorporated (Plasti Dip) for violating California’s Consumer Products Regulations, specifically related to aerosol coatings.
 
Plasti Dip, located in Blaine, Minnesota, is the manufacturer of a multi-purpose rubber coating sold nationwide, including in auto and hardware stores throughout California.
 
“CARB is continuously working to ensure that products sold to consumers in California meet the standards for smog-causing chemicals,” CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey said. “These violations impact air quality and public health.”
 
Aerosol coatings like Plasti Dip products dispense product ingredients by means of a propellant. They are packaged in a disposable aerosol container for hand-held application, or for use in specialized equipment such as ground traffic and other marking applications.
 
CARB adopted its Aerosol Coating Products Regulation to reduce reactive organic compounds (ROC) from aerosol coating products by limiting product reactivity. Reactivity refers to ROC’s potential to undergo a chemical reaction to form ground-level ozone. ROCs are an important precursor, or component in the formation of ground level ozone, a major part of California's smog problem. Any person or company selling or manufacturing aerosol coating products for use in California must comply with the standards in the Aerosol Coating Products Regulation, including the reactivity limits, as well as labeling, reporting, dating, and other administrative requirements.
 
Plasti Dip violated the Aerosol Coating Products Regulation by selling, for use in California, Plasti Dip Metalizer, Plasti Dip Classic Muscle, and Plasti Dip Glossifier, all of which exceeded the allowed reactivity limit.
 
To meet the terms of its settlement agreement, Plasti Dip modified its products to meet CARB’s regulatory requirements. They will also pay a settlement amount of $170,000 to the Air Pollution Control Fund.
 
Free Amazon HD 10 Tablet with RCRA and DOT Training
 
Annual training is required by 40 CFR 262.17(a)(7). Learn how to complete EPA’s new electronic hazardous waste manifest, and the more than 60 changes in EPA’s new Hazardous Waste Generator Improvements Rule. Environmental Resource Center’s Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course is available via live webcasts. If you plan to also attend DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course, call 800-537-2372 to find out how you can get your course materials on an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet at no extra charge.
 
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Environmental Resource Center has openings for EHS consultants and trainers. If you are looking for a new challenge, send your resume and salary requirements to Brian Karnofsky at brian@ercweb.com.
 
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