The FAA, Southern Region, has proposed to assess a $59,500 civil penalty against 84 Lumber Company of Eighty-Four, Pa., for allegedly violating Department of Transportation hazardous materials regulations.
FAA alleges that 84 Lumber Company improperly offered five fiberboard boxes containing four one-gallon cans of "Majic, High Gloss Enamel" paint, a flammable liquid, to Federal Express for transportation by air. Ground handling employees at the Federal Express sort facility in Athens, Ga., discovered the shipment leaking.
84 Lumber Company offered the hazardous materials for transportation when they were not packaged, labeled, marked, classed, described, documented, or in condition for shipment as required by regulations. 84 Lumber Company also failed to ensure that employees were trained to properly package and handle hazardous materials, and did not make available at all times the required emergency response information.
84 Lumber Company has 30 days from receipt of the FAA notice to
submit a reply to the agency.
UNITED STATES ANNOUNCES $11.2 MILLION SETTLEMENT OF HAZARDOUS WASTE CASE AGAINST EXXONMOBIL
The US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and EPA Region 2 announced one of the largest hazardous waste settlements in history, with the filing of a Consent Decree, settling a hazardous waste case filed in 1996 against Mobil Oil Corp. The case alleged mismanagement of benzene-contaminated wastes at Port Mobil, a major petroleum product storage and distribution terminal on the Arthur Kill in Staten Island. The case was scheduled for trial this week. The Consent Decree is with Exxon Mobil Corp., as a result of the 1999 merger of Mobil and Exxon.
The Consent Decree provides for the following:
- A total payment by ExxonMobil of $11.2 million;
- $8.2 million of the settlement amount is a civil penalty pursuant to the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). This is one of the largest civil penalties ever obtained pursuant to RCRA;
- $3 million of the settlement amount will be used to purchase or restore environmentally sensitive lands in New York City on the Arthur Kill waterway that runs between Staten Island and New Jersey, or nearby;
- Mobil admits liability for discharging hazardous wastes from 1991 to1993 into two large artificial ponds on the site without a permit and without the protections required by law;
- An injunction will be entered requiring ExxonMobil to perform cleanup at Port Mobil, to the extent EPA requires it after studies are completed;
- An injunction will be entered requiring ExxonMobil to comply at Port Mobil with the hazardous waste law and regulations raised in the case; and
- An injunction will be entered barring ExxonMobil, nationwide, from arguing that hazardous waste laws do not apply to individual disposal events, but rather only apply if long-term averaging of multiple events demonstrates the existence of toxic levels of waste.
In 1996, the United States Attorney's Office filed this civil environmental case against Mobil Oil Corp., seeking penalties for violations of RCRA. In enacting RCRA, Congress declared it to be the national policy to reduce or eliminate the generation of hazardous wastes, but to the extent that they are nevertheless generated, to require that the wastes be treated, stored or disposed of so as to minimize the threat to human health and the environment. Accordingly, Congress made it illegal to treat, store, or dispose of hazardous wastes without a permit from EPA. Benzene, a known human carcinogen, became a regulated hazardous waste under RCRA in 1990.
The government's investigation disclosed that Mobil generated the benzene-contaminated wastes at its Port Mobil Terminal Facility. The facility can store approximately 125 million gallons of petroleum products, including gasoline, fuel oil, heating oil and kerosene. Mobil distributes these products throughout the northeast by barge. As part of its operation, Port Mobil ran a barge cleaning and vacuuming operation to remove residue petroleum and sediment from the barges after they were unloaded. This process created a petroleum/water mix which was then further processed to draw off as much petroleum as possible; nevertheless, after processing, the mix still contained petroleum residues, including hazardous levels of benzene. Moreover, Mobil added to its petroleum/water mix hazardous petroleum storage tank bottom waters, and hazardous oil-containing waters that had leached into the surrounding ground area. Mobil routed this hazardous petroleum/water mix to two large open-air ponds at the site, where it underwent further processing, including mixing with rain water, and then was discharged into the Arthur Kill.
On three occasions in 1993, EPA RCRA enforcers caught Mobil unlawfully discharging the benzene-contaminated wastes into the open-air ponds without the permit required by Congress and EPA. EPA's National Environmental Investigations Center (NEIC) analyzed EPA's 1993 samples from Port Mobil, and found levels of benzene as much as twenty times in excess of the lawful level. It also determined that the Mobil wastes were consistently hazardous for benzene, contrary to what Mobil had indicated in written submissions to EPA in 1992. The government's investigation determined that the 1992 samples tested by Mobil were below the prescribed levels only because Mobil engineers manipulated its testing process, and that additional samples had actually been taken by Mobil engineers and routinely showed the wastes to be hazardous. When the 1992 manipulated samples were taken, Mobil personnel feared that a finding of hazardous waste management would force them to either close down their barge cleaning business, at a great loss of profit, or, worse, to close the entire facility. Mobil also calculated that avoiding federal hazardous waste regulation would save the company millions of dollars in cleanup costs.
In 1993, based on the results of its testing, EPA directed Mobil to cease discharging wastes to the open-air ponds. The investigation disclosed that for several months thereafter, Mobil unlawfully discharged the hazardous waste waters directly into the Arthur Kill, in violation of the Clean Water Act.
In order to obtain permission to treat, store or dispose of waste containing hazardous levels of benzene in its open-air ponds, Mobil was required to install proper groundwater wells and a monitoring system by September 1991, and to complete a year of groundwater monitoring by September 1992. Mobil failed to install the wells on time, and thereby lost the right to use the ponds for its benzene-contaminated waste. When Mobil finally did install the wells, it installed them improperly, so that they were not capable of immediately detecting leaks, as the law required. Indeed, although Mobil advised EPA that the liners in the ponds were leak-proof, internal company records revealed that there might be holes in the liners. In fact, after several years of delay, in 2000 ExxonMobil finally inspected the liners, and several holes were found.
In announcing the settlement, U.S. Attorney Alan Vinegrad stated: "For two years, Mobil Oil dumped benzene-contaminated waste from its Port Mobil facility on Staten Island into ponds and then the Arthur Kill waterway, in violation of federal environmental laws. After years of hard-fought litigation, the government has achieved enormous success in righting the wrongs caused by Mobil's unlawful conduct - - an $8.2 million civil penalty, funding for the purchase of environmentally sensitive property along the Arthur Kill waterway, the agreement to clean up the Port Mobil facility, and an order prohibiting Mobil from arguing that the environmental laws do not prohibit individual instances of hazardous waste dumping. I commend ExxonMobil for agreeing to take all of these steps in furtherance of our city's environment."
"At a time when we are losing so much green space in and around
urban areas, this settlement insures key areas will be preserved
or improved. Under the settlement, ExxonMobil will spend $3
million to restore or protect environmentally sensitive lands in
the Arthur Kill area," said Jane Kenny, EPA Region 2
Administrator. "While the environmental violations in this case
were very serious, a positive result has come from this case."
FAA PROPOSES $51,000 PENALTY AGAINST MSC/INDUSTRIAL SUPPLY FOR HAZMAT VIOLATIONS
The FAA, Southern Region, has proposed to assess a $51,000 civil penalty against MSC/Industrial Supply Co. of Mableton, Ga., for allegedly violating Department of Transportation hazardous materials regulations.
FAA alleges that MSC/Industrial Supply Co. improperly offered two fiberboard boxes containing four one-gallon cans of "WD-40," a flammable liquid, to UPS for transportation by air. Ground handling employees at the UPS sort facility in Louisville, Ky., discovered the shipment leaking.
MSC/Industrial Supply Co. offered the hazardous materials for transportation when they were not packaged, labeled, marked, classed, described, documented, or in condition for shipment as required by regulations. MSC/Industrial Supply Co. also failed to ensure that employees were trained to properly package and handle hazardous materials, and did not make available at all times the required emergency response information.
MSC/Industrial Supply Co. has 30 days from receipt of the FAA
notice to submit a reply to the agency.
UPCOMING DEADLINES - SAFE DRINKING WATER ACT
- December 16: Public water systems that serve a population of 10,000 or more must comply with national primary drinking water standards for disinfectants and disinfection byproducts
- December 17: Public water systems that serve a population of 10,000 or more must comply with requirements for total trihalomethanes, haloacetic acids, bromate, chlorite, chlorine, chloramines, and chlorine dioxide
- December 17: Public water systems that serve at least 10,000 are subject to enhanced filtration and treatment requirements
UNITED STATES SETTLES CLAIMS AT PENNSYLVANIA SUPERFUND SITE
The United States has reached a settlement with four companies allegedly liable for the cleanup of the 120-acre Boarhead Farms Superfund Site in Upper Black Eddy, Bridgeton Township, Pennsylvania.
In papers filed today in federal court in Philadelphia, the settling companies ? SPS Technologies, Inc., Ford Motor Co., TI Group Automotive Systems Corp., and Cytec Industries Inc. (formerly known as American Cyanamid Co.) agreed to complete the ongoing cleanup of the Bucks County site. The four defendants also agreed to reimburse the government $7 million for EPA's prior cleanup activities and certain future cleanup costs.
The Boarhead Farms Superfund Site, located on Lonely Cottage Road, is the site of the now-defunct DeRewal Chemical Company, a chemical and waste hauling company. The property is currently owned by the Boarhead Corporation. Manfred DeRewal Sr. is the president of both companies.
In the 1970s, state and local officials responded to several chemical spills at the site and discovered discarded and buried drums throughout the property. Testing of soil, surface water and groundwater revealed contamination by several hazardous substances, including concentrated acids and caustics, paint solvents, pesticides, chloride, chromium, copper, nickel, zinc, copper ammonium sulfate, arsenic pentoxide and copper naptholate.
In 1976, the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas ordered DeRewal and both of his companies to remove all chemicals from the site. In 1989, EPA put the site on the "National Priorities List" for Superfund cleanups. Since 1992, EPA and its contractors have excavated and removed over 2,600 drums of chemicals, constructed a groundwater treatment facility and installed and maintained residential well filtration systems.
According to EPA, the settling defendants generated some of the hazardous substances found at Boarhead. These four companies are among several landowners, waste generators or waste transporters that EPA has identified as being potentially responsible under the Superfund statute for cleaning up the Boarhead site.
In November 1998, EPA issued a "Record of Decision" (ROD) describing the agency's cleanup plan for the site and later divided the work under this plan into two "operable units." In a prior consent decree, Cytec, Ford and SPS agreed to complete the "Operable Unit 1" (OU-1) work, which includes maintaining and operating the groundwater extraction and treatment system, maintaining the residential well treatment units, implementing a long-term groundwater monitoring program and installing six additional monitoring wells.
In the settlement, these three companies, along with TI Group Automotive Systems LLC, have agreed to perform the remaining "Operable Unit 2" work needed to finish the cleanup at the site. The OU-2 work includes soil aeration, treatment of volatile organic compound "hot spots," excavation and off-site disposal of any remaining buried drums and other activities.
The proposed consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment
period and final court approval.
PANEL OF SCIENTIFIC EXPERTS SUBMIT REPORT ON CCA-TREATED WOOD
A panel of scientific experts has submitted its recommendations to EPA concerning the Agency's process of determining risks to children from exposure to a wood preservative found in lumber used in many playground structures.
Under EPA's ongoing process of reviewing older pesticides to ensure they meet current science and safety standards, EPA is evaluating the wood preservative chromated copper arsenate, or CCA. As part of this effort, EPA is reviewing the potential risks to children from playing on play-structures built with CCA-treated wood. Last October, EPA convened a public meeting of an independent panel of scientific experts to solicit its review of the Agency's preliminary scientific assessments and review methodologies. The panel's recommendations will help the Agency determine what additional data, and/or revised risk assessment procedures, will contribute to a thorough and comprehensive review of CCA, and help ensure that EPA's scientific assumptions are based on the most current data and understanding.
As advised by the scientific experts, the Agency has begun to
develop a probabilistic model for assessing exposure to CCA. This
model is expected to make EPA's exposure analyses more realistic
and scientifically sound. EPA will now consider the panel's
recommendations to further strengthen the risk assessment
methodologies and is continuing work on the comprehensive
reassessment of CCA-treated wood. The Agency remains committed to
making available for public comment the preliminary risk
assessment in Spring 2002. The Panel's report soon will be
available at http://www.epa.gov/scipoly/sap/whatsnew.htm.
NORTH CAROLINA OIL REFINERY, THREE INDIVIDUALS INDICTED
High Rise Services Co. Inc., of Leland, N.C.; its president, Andrew Jackson Simmons, Jr.; a company foreman, Anthony Paul Norris; and Terry Ray Hill; were indicted on Dec. 6 on various federal charges relating to the operation of High Rise's business of re-refining used oils into useable products.
The indictment alleges that Simmons and Norris conspired to discharge oil into the Cape Fear River in violation of the Clean Water Act, that they failed to notify the federal government of the discharge and that they obstructed justice and made false statements to the U.S. Coast Guard. The indictment also alleges that Simmons, Norris and High Rise Services knowingly violated used oil regulations by storing used oil in leaking or unlabeled containers. Simmons and Hill also were charged with impeding the collection of federal income taxes.
Releasing oil into surface waters can make the waters unfit for recreation and drinking and can cause significant harm to fish and wildlife. If convicted on all charges, High Rise Services could be fined up to $1.7 million; Simmons could receive a maximum of up to 40 years in prison and/or up to $2.25 million in fines; Norris could receive a maximum of up to 35 years in prison and/or up to $2 million in fines; and Hill could receive up to five years in prison and/or up to $250,000 in fines.
The case was investigated by EPA's Criminal Investigation
Division, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Internal Revenue Service and
the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, with the
assistance of EPA's National Enforcement Investigations Center.
It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's office in
Greenville, N.C. An indictment is merely an allegation and all
defendants are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in
a court of law.
FAA PROPOSES $59,500 PENALTY AGAINST AROMA TRADING FOR HAZMAT VIOLATIONS
The FAA, Southern Region, has proposed to assess a $59,500 civil penalty against Aroma Trading of Dunstable, England, for allegedly violating Department of Transportation hazardous materials regulations.
FAA alleges that Aroma Trading improperly offered a 10-gallon metal drum containing "Rosemary Oil," a flammable liquid, to UPS for transportation by air. Ground handling employees at the UPS sort facility in Louisville, Ky., discovered the shipment leaking.
Aroma Trading offered the hazardous materials for transportation when they were not packaged, labeled, marked, classed, described, documented, or in condition for shipment as required by regulations. Aroma Trading Ltd. also failed to ensure that employees were trained to properly package and handle hazardous materials, and did not make available at all times the required emergency response information.
Aroma Trading has 30 days from receipt of the FAA notice to submit a reply to the agency.