"In order to ensure that this nation's bodies of water are cleaned up, we need an effective national program that involves the active participation and support of all levels of government and local communities," EPA Administrator Christie Whitman said. "Unfortunately, the 2000 rule, designed to implement the TMDL program, fell short of that goal and others. We have an existing TMDL program, and this action will not stop ongoing implementation of that program, development of water quality standards, issuance of permits to control discharges, or enforcement against violators. EPA and states will continue to cooperate to identify impaired waters and set protective standards for those waters. EPA will continue to work diligently on ways to improve this program to ensure that we meet our goal of purer water."
An overwhelming majority of comments (more than 90 percent) supported EPA’s proposed action to withdraw the July 2000 rule. These comments came from a broad cross-section of stakeholders, including agricultural and forestry groups, business and industry entities and trade associations, state agencies, professional associations, academic groups and private citizens.
The Clean Water Act requires states to identify waters not meeting water quality standards and to develop plans for cleaning them up. The Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program provides a process for determining pollution budgets for the nation's waters that, once implemented, will assure that Clean Water Act goals will be met.
EPA is continuing efforts to improve the TMDL program in order to further enhance the quality of the nation's waters. In 2001 and 2002 combined, more than 5,000 TMDLs were approved or established under the current TMDL rule. The number of TMDLs approved or established annually has steadily increased in the last four years jumping from 500 in 1999 to nearly 3,000 in 2002. EPA has been working steadily to identify options to improve the TMDL program, including addressing problems reported by the National Academy of Sciences. The agency has conducted several public meetings and is reviewing its ongoing implementation of the existing program with a view toward continuous improvement and regulatory changes in light of stakeholder input and the NRC recommendations.
EPA ADMINISTRATOR WHITMAN SAYS SMALL BUSINESSES WORK TO BETTER ENVIRONMENTEPA Administrator Christie Whitman outlined a newly revised small business strategy, new initiatives, and the creation of the National Center for Environmental Innovation at the first "National Summit on Small Business and the Environment."
"EPA recognizes and supports small businesses, the backbone of our nation's economy. State, local, trade associations, the Small Business Administration and other federal agencies can work together to assist small businesses to meet environmental obligations, while understanding a business' fiscal obligations," said Whitman.
The National Summit on Small Business Environment gathered key business influencers from national, state and local levels. Small Business Administrator, Hector Barreto, remarked on the significance of EPA and SBA partnership, and commended the EPA for understanding the uniqueness of small businesses.
"Small business is not small when you consider its relevance to the country. Clean natural environment and economic strength are inextricably connected. Owners of these businesses are some of the best people to preserve the environment because they live where they do business," said Small Business Administrator Hector Barreto.
EPA small business initiatives discussed include:
- The opening of two Compliance Assistance Centers, which will focus on the auto salvaging and construction sectors. Combined with EPA's other ten compliance centers, these information portals help businesses to understand and meet their environmental obligations.
- The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program, which awards small high-tech firms that, develop progressive environmental technologies.
- "Presidential Green Chemistry Award Program" that recognizes businesses that develop environmentally safe chemical products.
- "Design for the Environment" program that increases the competitiveness of small businesses by spurring the innovation of cleaner technologies.
- E-rulemaking to assist small businesses owners and operators in understanding complex environmental rules and regulations.
Other announcements included the creation of the EPA National Center for Environmental Innovation, headed by Director Jay Benforado and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the National Park Service (NPS). The MOU creates a partnership with the NPS and seeks environmental performance improvement among park businesses and contractors.
For more information on EPA small business programs, go to: http://www.epa.gov/smallbusiness/
EPA PROPOSES $358,000 PENALTY AGAINST FITCHBURG STATE COLLEGE FOR WASTE VIOLATIONSEPA has proposed a $358,518 penalty against Fitchburg State College in Fitchburg, MA for violations of hazardous waste laws last year. The proposed penalty stems from violations found during EPA inspections at the college's 90-acre campus in April 2002.
According to the complaint, EPA inspectors found several containers of improperly stored reactive hazardous wastes in a room at the Condike Building adjacent to two active classrooms. Reactive hazardous wastes may potentially explode and/or release toxic vapors. Inspectors also found numerous containers of unknown materials and improperly marked wastes in the Anthony and Condike buildings. The college had not made any determination as to whether these wastes were hazardous. Some of the wastes were in a degraded condition or had been stored in unsound containers. The materials were ultimately removed from the campus as hazardous waste. In addition, memos obtained from Fitchburg State College by EPA indicate that employees repeatedly brought these conditions to the attention of college administrators prior to EPA's inspections.
"The college's failure to follow basic rules of handling and storing hazardous waste put students and employees, as well as the environment, at an increased risk of harm," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "Hopefully, the college now realizes that it is less costly and safer for everyone when the school is in compliance with our nation's environmental laws."
This action is the latest of numerous enforcement actions EPA's New England Office has filed against colleges and universities as part of its College and University Initiative. Launched in 1999, the initiative has also included enforcement actions against Boston University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, as well as other colleges and universities in the region.
The initiative was launched after EPA inspectors noticed generally poor compliance during their visits to universities, which typically have large numbers of laboratories and other operations generating a large array of toxic chemicals. In addition to enforcement activities, the initiative includes extensive compliance assistance, including workshops geared for university environmental compliance personnel and a university compliance web page at http://www.epa.gov/region01/assistance/univ/
EPA New England is also conducting a College and University Audit Initiative, in which colleges and universities can disclose and correct violations before an EPA inspection occurs. By making such disclosures, participants become eligible for significant penalty reductions or elimination. More than 175 university facilities in New England are participating in this program and more than 125 self-disclosures have been received and reviewed to date. Fitchburg State College has not participated in this project.
U.S. ANNOUNCES CLEAN AIR AGREEMENT WITH LION OILThe U.S. Justice Department and EPA announced a comprehensive Clean Air Act settlement with Lion Oil Company to reduce harmful air emissions from the company's El Dorado, Ark., refinery by 1,380 tons per year. The State of Arkansas is joining in the settlement.
The agreement will address air pollutants—nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and particulate emissions—that can cause serious respiratory problems and exacerbate cases of childhood asthma, as well as carbon monoxide, which can be harmful to the cardiovascular system.
The settlement calls for Lion Oil to spend more than $21.5 million to install state-of-the-art pollution control technology to significantly reduce emissions from a catalytic cracking unit (its largest emissions unit), heaters, boilers, wastewater vents, flares, and leaking valves throughout its refinery. With this settlement, the company will continue its operations and continue meeting the public's demand for fuel and increased production capacity. Lion Oil also will pay a $348,000 civil penalty, which the State of Arkansas will share, and spend more than $450,000 on supplemental environmental projects designed to reduce emissions from the refinery.
Under the settlement, Lion Oil will cut air emissions by using innovative control technologies, incorporating improved leak detection and repair practices, and making other emission control upgrades at the El Dorado refinery. Currently the refinery has a processing capacity of more than 58,000 barrels of oil per day. These improvements will reduce annual emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) by approximately 530 tons, sulfur dioxide (SO2) by approximately 650 tons, particulate matter (PM) by approximately 200 tons, and significantly reduce carbon monoxide (CO) emissions from process units at the El Dorado refinery.
This settlement is the latest global agreement reached to assure the petroleum refining industry's compliance with major provisions of the Clean Air Act. During the past few years, petroleum refiners, like Lion Oil, have voluntarily entered into global discussions with the United States. Those companies include Koch Petroleum, BP Exploration and Oil, Motiva Enterprises, Equilon Enterprises LLC, Deer Park Refining Limited Partnership, Marathon Ashland Petroleum LLC, Conoco, and Navajo Refining. Together these settlements provide for a comprehensive and cooperative approach to addressing environmental problems across the industry.
The settlement will be lodged with the U.S. District Court in Fort Smith, Ark., for 30 days to allow for public comment.
CALIFORNIA AIR AGENCY SEEKS $319 MILLION FINE FROM BP FOR AIR POLLUTION VIOLATIONSA California air quality agency filed a civil lawsuit this week seeking $319 million from BP/ARCO for thousands of air pollution violations over an eight-year period at the company’s Carson refinery.
“This is by far the largest penalty every sought by AQMD,” said Barry Wallerstein, executive officer of the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD). “We are seeking more than $300 million from BP/ARCO because the company committed thousands of violations involving excess air pollution while routinely submitting records to AQMD that showed no violations.”
AQMD’s attorneys filed the civil complaint for $319,265,000 against BP West Coast Products LLC this week in Los Angeles County Superior Court’s Central Division. The 109-page complaint specifies three main categories of air pollution violations at the company’s Carson oil refinery between 1994 and 2002:
- Submittal of false inspection reports and failure to maintain an inspection and maintenance program for floating roof tanks under AQMD’s Rule 463, resulting in excess emissions from the tanks;
- Failure to sample pollutant gases in refinery flares, as required by AQMD’s Rule 1118; and
- Two incidents that resulted in strong odors, a public nuisance and evacuation of nearby schools.
“We hope this lawsuit and any penalty recovered will serve as a strong deterrent to other companies violating air pollution regulations and thereby endangering the public’s health,” Wallerstein said.
He further noted that any penalties recovered will go into air pollution control projects or health studies related to air pollution.
AQMD is the air pollution control agency for Orange County and major portions of Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties.