First Chlorpyrifos Ban Approved in Hawaii

May 07, 2018

Hawaii’s legislature approved a state ban on chlorpyrifos, a highly dangerous restricted use pesticide (RUP) widely used in industrial farming. Besides phasing out all chlorpyrifos uses by 2023, this comprehensive bill puts in place robust pesticide reporting, prohibits the use of the most toxic pesticides within 100 feet of schools during normal school hours, requires a pesticide drift monitoring pilot study, and beefs up funding for the state’s pesticide enforcement. Governor David Ige could sign the bill into law in the coming days.

Chlorpyrifos has been linked to reduced IQ and attention deficit disorder in children, and is highly toxic to farmworkers, some of whom have been poisoned by it on multiple occasions on Hawaii farms in recent years. Last year, the EPA refused to ban chlorpyrifos, claiming the science is “unresolved” and decided it would study the issue until 2022.

The following statement is from Paul Achitoff, Earthjustice managing attorney:

“We applaud the Hawaii legislature for passing this important bill and commend Senators Russell Ruderman and Mike Gabbard, as well as Representatives Richard Creagan and Chris Lee, for their leadership on this issue. Banning this nerve agent from our food and farms is critical to protecting children, workers, and countless communities that face the dangers of pesticide drift every day. We urge the governor to sign the first chlorpyrifos ban in the nation and rid Hawaii of this dangerous chemical once and for all.”

Hilton Head Hazardous Waste and DOT Hazardous Materials Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Hilton Head, SC on May 22-24 and save $100 or receive an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet with electronic versions of both handbooks. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Baton Rouge Hazardous Waste and DOT Hazardous Materials Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Baton Rouge, LA on June 5-7 and save $100 or receive an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet with electronic versions of both handbooks. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Chattanooga Hazardous Waste and DOT Hazardous Materials Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Chattanooga, TN on June 12-14 and save $100 or receive an Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet with electronic versions of both handbooks. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Free Air Quality Alerts for Smog Season

With the coming warm weather months, the EPA and New England states offer free resources for the public to monitor the latest air quality forecasts. These tools help people be aware of the increased risk of ground-level ozone and fine particle air pollution (when combined, often referred to as smog), and take health precautions when smog levels are high.

"Thanks to the hard work of EPA and our state partners, we know that over the long-term, New England has experienced a large decrease in the number of unhealthy ozone days. This trend towards healthier air quality is because of reductions in emissions that form ozone," said Alexandra Dunn, Regional Administrator of EPA's New England Office. "On days when unhealthy air quality is predicted, we can all take individual actions to help reduce the air emissions that contribute to air pollution."

Ground-level Ozone air pollution can be a significant public health issue in New England, especially for people who suffer from respiratory problems. EPA and medical experts recommend that people limit their strenuous outdoor activity on air quality alert days.

Air quality forecasts are issued daily by the New England state air agencies. Current air quality conditions and next day forecasts for New England are available each day at EPA's web site. People can also sign up to receive "Air Quality Alerts." These alerts, provided free by EPA through the EnviroFlash system, in cooperation with the New England states, automatically notify participants by e-mail or text message when high concentrations of ground-level ozone or fine particles are predicted in their area.

Warm summer temperatures aid in the formation of ground-level ozone. The current ozone standard is 0.070 parts per million (ppm) on an 8-hour average basis. Air quality alerts are issued when ozone concentrations exceed, or are predicted to exceed, this level. EPA New England shares the list of exceedances of the ozone standard, by date and monitor location, on our web site.

Although the number of days with unhealthy air quality may vary from year to year due to weather conditions, the long-term trend is that New England now experiences far fewer air quality alert days. In 1983, New England had 118 unhealthy days (based on the current ozone standard), compared with 25 in 2017.

Poor air quality affects everyone, but some people are particularly sensitive to air pollutants, including people who are active outdoors, and people with respiratory diseases such as asthma. When air quality is predicted to be unhealthy for sensitive groups, EPA and the States will announce an air quality alert for the affected areas. EPA recommends that people in these areas limit strenuous outdoor activity. On these days, the public and businesses can take actions that will help reduce air pollution and protect the public health. Everyone can reduce air pollution through the following actions:

  • Use public transportation, or combine errands and car-pool to reduce driving time and mileage
  • Use less electricity by turning air conditioning to a higher temperature setting
  • Use less electricity by turning off lights, TVs, and computers when they are not being used
  • Avoid using small gasoline-powered engines, such as lawn mowers, string trimmers, chain saws, power-washers, air compressors and leaf blowers on unhealthy air days

 

More information:

 

EPA Considering New Ideas for Wastewater Management

The EPA is embarking on a new study that will take a holistic look at how EPA, states, and stakeholders regulate and manage wastewater from the oil and gas industry.

Large volumes of wastewater are generated in the oil and gas industry, and projections show that these volumes will only increase. Currently, the majority of this wastewater is managed by disposing of it using a practice known as underground injection, where that water can no longer be accessed or used. Some states and stakeholders are asking whether it makes sense to continue to waste this water, particularly in water scarce areas of the country, and what steps would be necessary to treat and renew it for other purposes.

”In New Mexico’s arid environment, conserving our resources by recycling produced water for more beneficial uses presents a significant economic development and water supply opportunity,” said New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department Cabinet Secretary Ken McQueen. “For years New Mexico has advocated recycling of produced water in oil and gas completion activities. Continued collaboration with EPA on this issue will no doubt encourage even greater recycling and additional reuse opportunities.”

The focus of the Agency’s study will be to engage with stakeholders to consider available approaches to manage wastewater from both conventional and unconventional oil and gas extraction at onshore facilities. EPA’s study will address questions such as how existing federal approaches to produced water management under the Clean Water Act can interact more effectively with state regulations, requirements or policy needs, and whether any potential federal regulations that may allow for broader discharge of treated produced water to surface waters are supported.

EPA is particularly interested in working with its regulatory partners at the state level, who are at the forefront of the changing industry, and often manage complex water allocation programs under state law.

EPA is just starting the process to gather information for this study. In the coming months, EPA plans to reach out to stakeholders – including states, industry, and nongovernmental organizations – to facilitate conversations. Following this study, EPA will determine if future agency actions are appropriate to further address oil and gas extraction wastewater.

Study Finds Changing Urban Food Systems May Help Reduce Carbon Emissions

Many U.S, cities and states are looking for ways to slash greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, including cap-and-trade programs, building-efficiency regulations, and boosting public transit and renewable energy sources. Now scientists report in ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology additional measures cities could take to further cut their carbon footprint: by tackling emissions related to food consumption and waste.

According to previous studies, feeding urban populations—from producing food to transporting it, to refrigeration and cooking meals, and finally to tossing leftovers—accounts for 20 to 30% of global GHG emissions. This large contribution makes the food system a prime target when researchers and policymakers are looking for ways to reduce cities’ carbon footprints. Conversations around this idea have focused primarily on the agricultural production side of the equation. But Eugene Mohareb and colleagues wanted to see what would happen if they reframed the issue from the urban consumption standpoint.

Building off of a review of diet-related emissions conducted by one of the members of the team, the researchers pooled data from a variety of sources to estimate emissions related to different components of the U.S. food system, including transportation, processing and waste disposal methods. They then estimated how changes in specific urban consumption practices could reduce these emissions. Interestingly, they found that increasing urban agriculture to occupy half of the vacant land in cities would reduce food-related emissions by only 1%. But switching from fossil fuel-based electricity to carbon-free energy sources would slash food-related emissions by at least 18%; reducing retail and consumer food waste by half would decrease emissions by 11%; and replacing a quarter of total beef consumption with chicken would drop emissions by 6%.

Sunoco Charged Additional $355,000 Penalty for Clean Streams Law Violations

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has levied a $355,622 penalty against Sunoco Pipeline LP (Sunoco) for violations of the Clean Streams Law that occurred during the construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline between May 3, 2017 and February 27, 2018.

“No violations are acceptable,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.  “Cleaning up a spill does not excuse Sunoco, or any other company, from complying with the law or paying an appropriate penalty.”

Sunoco’s construction activities resulted in an unpermitted discharge of drilling fluids to wetlands, wild trout streams, and High-Quality Waters at a number of locations in Allegheny, Blair, Cambria, Cumberland, Dauphin, Huntingdon, Indiana, Lancaster, and Washington Counties in violation of its permits and the Clean Streams Law.  In each instance, Sunoco was required to halt operations, remediate the impacts, and submit proposed modifications to its construction methodologies to DEP for approval.  Sunoco was allowed to resume operations only after DEP reviewed and approved Sunoco’s proposed modifications.

Most of the penalty amount, $337,724, will go to the Clean Water Fund, with the remainder used to reimburse the county conservation districts in the impacted counties for costs incurred inspecting the various impacted sites. This penalty is in addition to the $12.6 million penalty levied against the company in February and covers separate violations.

Additional information, including the Consent Assessment of Civil Penalty and supporting documents, can be found on the Mariner East 2 page of the DEP website

New Hampshire and Maine Launched Initiative to Reduce Children’s Exposure to Lead

EPA's New England regional office began an initiative to improve compliance with laws that protect children from lead paint poisoning by sending certified letters to about 400 home renovation and painting contractors, property management companies and landlords in and around Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Portland, Maine areas.

Under the initiative, EPA will provide educational materials on lead paint rules to affected companies. EPA will also outline steps the Agency is taking to increase compliance on the part of these entities with the federal lead-based paint Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule under the TSCA. EPA's RRP Rule became effective in April 2010.

"This place-based initiative is a focused effort with our state and local counterparts aiming to reduce lead exposure in the Maine and New Hampshire seacoast areas, where there is a large amount of older housing stock that hasn't been renovated and lead paint has not been removed.", said Alexandra Dunn, regional administrator of EPA's New England office.

EPA's RRP Rule was designed to prevent children's exposure to lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards resulting from renovation, repair, and painting projects in pre-1978 residences, schools, and other buildings where children are present. If lead painted surfaces are to be disturbed at a job site, the Rule requires individual renovators to complete an initial 8-hour accredited training course and the company or firm that they work for to be certified by EPA. These baseline requirements are critical to ensuring that companies take responsibility for their employees following proper lead safe work practices by containing and managing lead dust and chips created during such projects. Further, the Rule requires that specific records be created and maintained in order to document compliance with the law.

Infants and children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure, which can cause lifelong impacts including developmental impairment, learning disabilities, impaired hearing, reduced attention span, hyperactivity and behavioral problems. Because New England has a lot of older housing stock, lead paint is still frequently present in buildings that were built before 1978, when lead paint was banned.

EPA met with stakeholders and local governments in both Portsmouth, N.H. and Portland, Maine at the end of April. Outreach efforts have continued in May. Over the course of several weeks in June and July, EPA will conduct inspections of renovation, painting and property management companies in the area to assess compliance with the RRP Rule. EPA may also assess compliance with the Real Estate Notification and Disclosure Rule, which requires landlords, property management companies, real estate agencies, and sellers to inform potential lessees and purchasers of the presence of lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards in pre-1978 housing. This rule ensures that potential tenants and home buyers are receiving the information necessary to protect themselves and their families from lead-based paint hazards prior to being obligated to rent or purchase pre-1978 housing. The inspections may be followed up with enforcement which may include the issuance of fines.

"Enforcing lead paint notification and worksite standards helps to level the playing field for companies complying with the law, as well as helps to provide a safer and healthier environment for children," said Regional Administrator Dunn.

EPA is coordinating with many state, local and federal agencies, including several municipal departments in both cities, state health and environmental departments, HUD and OSHA.

Although lead paint has been identified as the primary source of childhood lead poisoning, there are other potential sources of lead, including drinking water, soil, air, and consumer products.

Report a Lead paint violation online or by phone at 617-918-TIPS [8477].

$1.2 Billion Invested in Cleaning Up California’s School Buses

At the 2018 ACT Expo in Long Beach, California officials announced that to date the state had pumped more than $1.2 billion into projects that put a growing number of zero-emission and low-carbon buses, trucks and cars onto California’s roads and highways. Fully 48% of these investments benefit low-income and disadvantaged neighborhoods—those most in need of improvements in air quality.

Standing before an eLion electric school bus, the officials also highlighted a new project to deliver dozens of these ultra-clean school buses to rural school districts to ensure that the children and drivers in districts away from California’s urban centers also benefit from the state’s transition to low-carbon transportation.

“Thanks to California Climate Investments, thousands of schoolkids in remote school districts across California will be riding in the cleanest-running school buses on the market,” CARB Vice Chair Sandy Berg said. “This is one example of how these investments are changing people’s lives and cleaning the air. To date, $1.2 billion is putting hundreds of the cleanest cars, trucks and buses on our streets and highways, with almost half of that benefitting the communities that need it the most.”

California’s rural and small school districts have some of the oldest, dirtiest-running school buses in the state. The Rural School Bus Pilot Project, administered by the North Coast Unified Air Quality Management District, is helping to change that.

In total, California Climate Investments will fund about 150 cleaner school buses across the state. These include zero-emission battery electric models and conventional models using renewable diesel. The year-old Rural School Bus Pilot Project, which has received $25 million in cap-and-trade funding, will fund as many as 60 of those new school buses statewide in rural areas of the state, reducing 10,000 metric tons of GHG emissions. About 40 of those school buses in rural areas will be zero-emission battery electric.

Funding for these clean transportation projects comes from California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing GHG emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities.

Ultra-clean school buses in rural districts represent just one of many projects rolling out across California that are helping the state transition to a clean transportation future. The investments support a wide range of next-generation vehicles, including electric school buses in Sacramento, electric yard trucks in Fontana, hydrogen-powered buses in the Coachella Valley, and a fleet of electric delivery trucks for Goodwill Industries in the Bay Area. About half of the investments are for projects or vehicles that are in, or benefit, disadvantaged communities.

The goal is to accelerate the market for the next generation of clean, heavy-duty trucks and buses, both those that run on electricity and on hydrogen. California Climate Investments are designed to help drive down the upfront purchase price of the cleaner vehicles, and as their numbers increase, that cost will drop even further due to economies of scale.

The state is also investing to support the market for zero-emission cars including making them available to residents of low-income communities.

The cap-and-trade program also creates a financial incentive for industries to invest in clean technologies and develop innovative ways to reduce pollution. California Climate Investments projects include affordable housing, renewable energy, public transportation, zero-emission vehicles, environmental restoration, more sustainable agriculture, recycling and much more.  At least 35% of these investments are made in disadvantaged and low-income communities.

FDA Sued by Coalition for Decision on Carcinogenic Chemicals Used in Foods

Recently, a coalition of health, consumer, and environmental advocacy organizations filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit aimed at forcing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to decide whether to prohibit seven cancer-causing artificial chemicals from use in food as flavors. These chemicals have been used in beverages, baked goods, candy, chewing gum, and ice cream. Earthjustice is representing the petitioners—Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Center for Environmental Health, Center for Food Safety, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Working Group, Natural Resources Defense Council, and WE ACT for Environmental Justice — with Natural Resources Defense Council and Center for Food Safety serving as co-counsel for their respective organizations.

The seven chemicals at issue are: benzophenone (also known as diphenylketone), ethyl acrylate, eugenyl methyl ether (also known as 4-allylveratrole or methyl eugenol), myrcene (also known as 7-methyl-3-methylene-1,6-octadiene), pulegone (also known as p-menth-4(8)-en-3-one), pyridine, and styrene.

Though these seven chemicals are used to flavor a wide variety of processed foods, they are likely unfamiliar to consumers because, under food labeling rules, they would all appear only as “artificial flavor” on food ingredient lists. Though unidentifiable by name, the flavors themselves are certainly familiar.  For example, some of the chemicals add floral, cinnamon, or mint flavor to baked goods, beverages, candy, chewing gum, and ice cream.

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act prohibits the use of any food additive found to induce cancer in humans or animals.  After the FDA approved the seven chemicals at issue for use in food, multiple US and international agencies—including the US Department of Health and Human Services’ National Toxicology Program—established that each of these chemicals induces cancer in humans or animals.  Accordingly, the flavors cannot be deemed safe under the law and cannot lawfully be approved for use in food.

Even though FDA has known for years that these chemicals cause cancer, it nonetheless has failed to take legally required action on a petition by citizen organizations presenting this evidence and reminding FDA of its duty to prohibit carcinogenic substances in food.  FDA has not decided the organizations’ petition, and it has not prevented these chemicals from being used in food.

After accepting an earlier petition for consideration on the same topic, FDA formally accepted a revised and expanded petition filed by the Center for Environmental Health, Center for Food Safety, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Environmental Working Group, and Natural Resources Defense Council in February 2016. The document presented extensive scientific evidence and highlighted the dangers of these chemicals. Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, Environmental Defense Fund, and WE ACT for Environmental Justice later joined the effort. By statute, the FDA’s final decision on this petition was due in August 2016, but the agency has so far failed to act. FDA’s unlawful delay defies a congressional mandate requiring prompt action in assessing the safety of chemicals added to food and puts public health and welfare at risk.

“The federal agency charged with studying toxics found that these chemicals cause cancer. Congress clearly told FDA that known carcinogens cannot be used as food additives. What more does FDA need?  It is time for FDA to take seriously its responsibility to keep cancer-causing chemicals out of food,” said Earthjustice senior attorney Peter Lehner. “Consumers cannot identify every ingredient in processed food and they shouldn’t have to; we need FDA to do its job and protect our health and welfare.”

“Synthetic ingredients are often used in mass-produced, low-cost, and packaged foods. People of color living in food insecure areas and/or low-income communities are sometimes forced to shop at dollar stores and similar places, based on price and convenience,” said WE ACT for Environmental Justice director of federal policy Dr. Adrienne Hollis. “They are more likely to be exposed to foods that contain artificial flavors—some of which cause cancer. This legal action will ensure that vulnerable communities know what products they are consuming so they can avoid exposure to these products that may cause adverse health effects.”

Court Ruled Mega-Dairies in New York Violated Clean Water Act

The New York Supreme Court struck down the General Permit for large concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) issued by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), ruling in favor of environmental and conservation organizations represented by the environmental law firm Earthjustice: Waterkeeper Alliance, Riverkeeper, Cortland – Onondaga Federation of Kettle Lake Associations, Sierra Club, and Theodore Gordon Flyfishers, Inc.

The Court ruled that the General Permit fails to comply with the fundamental requirements of the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) related to agency oversight and public participation in the permitting process.

CAFOs typically store liquid animal manure in a large pit before spreading it on nearby fields. Because these practices pose a significant risk of water pollution, the CWA requires CAFOs to obtain a permit. Under federal law, a CAFO permit must include the facility’s “nutrient management plan” setting forth how it will manage its waste so as not to pollute waters.

The CWA requires state agencies like DEC to review and approve those pollution prevention plans before the CAFO begins activities that pose a high risk of discharge. The CWA also requires that the public have access to these plans so that they may comment on them and help to identify deficiencies before pollution occurs.

Under New York’s General Permit, CAFOs were directed to develop comprehensive nutrient management plans (CNMPs) in consultation with a paid private engineer who certifies that the plan complies with the CWA. But these comprehensive plans were neither submitted to DEC and nor made available to the public. Instead, the permit allowed CAFOs to submit a far less detailed annual nutrient management plan (ANMP) to DEC for advance approval and public comment.

The Court found this scheme does not follow the CWA requirements for oversight and public participation. According to the Court, oversight by paid consultants cannot substitute for agency review. To the contrary, the Court found that this system of oversight presents “an inherent conflict of interest” similar to one that would allow a tax lawyer to stand in for the IRS in ensuring that her client was following the law. The Court noted that it “would be apparent to all and sundry” that such mechanisms are in no way equivalent to independent state review.

The permit governs about 250 animal facilities in New York State with 200 or more animals, which are classified as CAFOs. The Court highlighted that the average large NY dairy CAFO has over 950 cows and produces over 110,000 lb of animal waste per day. Unlike towns and cities, which have sewage treatment plants that are strictly regulated and tested to create a non-polluting discharge, CAFO animal waste is not monitored and can be disposed of in close proximity to public drinking water supplies. 

New York is the country’s fourth largest milk-producing state with more than 600,000 dairy cows, each of which produces about 120 lb of waste per day. The way this manure is stored and disposed of can have serious implications for human health and water quality. Over the last several years, industrial-sized dairies have been responsible for numerous water contamination incidents. 

In 2015 alone there were over 40 documented cases of water contamination caused by CAFO animal waste. Last year one of the largest facilities in the state was responsible for two manure spills in the span of one week—one of the spills entered Cayuga Lake and was found to be “precariously close” to local water supplies.

“It’s DEC’s responsibility to protect New York’s waters, and the public has a right to make sure that DEC is doing its job,” said Earthjustice Attorney Suzanne Novak, who served as counsel on the suit. “The Court recognized that DEC cannot outsource environmental protection to private planners paid for by industrial agriculture and keep pollution prevention plans secret from the public. We are glad the Court upheld transparency, one of the central mandates of the Clean Water Act.”

New York Wins Victory Against FMC Corporation for Hazardous Waste Cleanup Costs

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have announced a legal victory in state court that will allow a long-delayed cleanup of hazardous waste in the Village of Middleport, Niagara County to proceed. The New York State Court of Appeals confirmed the authority of DEC to perform, and recoup its costs incurred in the cleanup of hazardous wastes released from the FMC Corporation’s Middleport facility into neighboring properties, including a school and several hundred residences. For decades, FMC has delayed, resisted, and contested its responsibilities related to the full cleanup of its contamination in the community. 

“For years, the residents of Middleport have been forced to live with hazardous waste released by FMC in their community, homes, and school,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “Today’s court decision is a victory for these residents, marking an end to FMC’s foot-dragging and noxious contamination. My office will continue to hold companies that fail to honor their obligations to the law and their communities to account.”

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Today’s ruling and dismissal is a clear victory for New York, and ensures the State can take swift action to protect the public when polluters refuse to act to protect public health and the environment. To date, DEC has spent more than $20 million in State Superfund resources to remediate contamination from this site and protect the people of Middleport. Today’s decision means New Yorkers won’t be left picking up the tab.”

FMC owns and operates a 103-acre pesticide formulation facility in the Village of Middleport, Niagara County. Over nearly a century of operation, that facility released significant quantities of hazardous wastes, including arsenic, lead, cyanide, acetone, and the pesticides DDT and carbofuran. Many of those wastes migrated onto adjacent properties, including a school, recreational watercourses, croplands, and several hundred residences.

In 1991, FMC entered into a consent order with DEC and the federal EPA that required it to undertake a variety of obligations, including the preparation of a study to identify measures to clean up the hazardous wastes that had migrated from the Middleport facility to adjacent properties. In 2013, DEC adopted a final cleanup plan. For the following year, DEC attempted to negotiate a new consent order obligating FMC to implement the plan. When FMC refused to commit to undertake a cleanup protective of public health and the environment, DEC announced it would undertake the cleanup itself and seek to recover its associated expenses from FMC after the fact. FMC challenged DEC and won a decision by the State Appellate Division that DEC lacked the authority under state law to perform the cleanup unilaterally.  

The recent decision reversed the Appellate Division and dismissed FMC’s challenge. The court found that DEC indeed has authority under state law to unilaterally clean up “the significant threat posed by hazardous wastes [FMC] had released into neighboring properties.” The decision also affirmed DEC’s authority under federal law to seek reimbursement from FMC of the costs it incurs in performing the cleanup.

Environment and Natural Resources Division 2017 Accomplishments Report Released

The Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD) released its Accomplishments Report for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017. The report, which is published annually by ENRD, highlights the division’s strong enforcement of our nation’s environmental laws, defense of government programs that strengthen the country’s energy independence and national security, and close collaboration with states and tribes.

In 2017, ENRD obtained a number of court orders requiring responsible parties to clean up hazardous waste and to reimburse the government for cleanups conducted by federal agencies. The division also concluded landmark civil and criminal cases against Volkswagen AG, which used “defeat devices” to violate air emissions laws. The division also continued to work with federal and state partner agencies to investigate other possible bad actors in the auto industry and to bring similar violators to justice.

ENRD also secured the largest-ever penalty for crimes involving deliberate vessel pollution—$40 million—against Princess Cruise Lines, a subsidiary of the world’s largest cruise company.  In another settlement announced in early 2018 (FY2018), the division required Denver-based PDC Energy to spend approximately $19.7 million to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds from 650 tank batteries and pay a $2.5 million civil penalty.  The division also negotiated the cleanup of 94 abandoned uranium mines on Navajo Nation lands.  In addition, the division criminally prosecuted more than 20 wildlife traffickers who harmed protected species.

First Annual National Federal Facility Excellence in Site Reuse Awards Announced

EPA announced its first annual National Federal Facility Excellence in Site Reuse awards. These awards recognized the hard work, innovative thinking, and cooperation among federal agencies, states, tribes, local partners, and developers to encourage restoration of federal sites for beneficial reuses. Cleaning up contaminated sites at federal facilities can serve as a catalyst for economic growth and community revitalization.

Awards were provided in four categories: National Priorities List (NPL) Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) sites; NPL sites, non-NPL sites; and non-NPL BRAC sites. 

The first annual “Federal Facility Excellence in Site Reuse” award winners are:

  • NPL BRAC awardee: Former McClellan Air Force Base, Sacramento County, California:
    In 2007, Sacramento County and the US Air Force signed the first agreement of its kind that allowed for rapid cleanup and early land transfer at the McClellan site. The agreement transferred contaminated land, funds, and authority to perform cleanup at the NPL site. The combined efforts of the BRAC Cleanup Team, McClellan Business Park, Sacramento County, and the community have transformed the McClellan Air Force Base site into a corporate community that has brought jobs and additional economic growth to the region.
  • Non-NPL BRAC awardee: Naval Air Station Glenview, Illinois
    Following the closure of the air station, the Village of Glenview and Illinois EPA partnered to expedite the redevelopment of the 1,121-acre site. The BRAC cleanup team was comprised of the US Navy, EPA, and Illinois EPA. The site remedy consisted of cleaning the property to residential-use standards, which provided the flexibility needed to implement the community’s reuse plan for mixed-use development. Projects envisioned for the site include a new Metra commuter station, over 2,200 residential units, two million square feet of office and retail, over 400 acres of green space, a 165,000-square foot community center, new post office, police station, fire station, middle school, and public safety training academy.
  • NPL awardee Joliet Army Ammunition Plant, Illinois
    The former Joliet Army Ammunition Plant has been transformed into multiple beneficial use areas for the community, including a veteran’s cemetery, business and transportation hub, and natural resource conservation areas. The public land space on the site is the largest contiguous open space for bird habitat in northeastern Illinois and serves as a habitat for several endangered species.
  • Non-NPL awardee Tysons Valley Powder Farm, Missouri
    The Tyson Valley Powder Farm was originally a 2,620-acre facility historically used to support the St. Louis Ordnance Plant for storage and as a testing facility for ordnance. Now, the site hosts Washington University Tyson Research Center Endangered Wolf Center, Lone Elk Park, and a World Bird Sanctuary.

 

EPA’s Federal Facilities Restoration and Reuse Office (FFRRO) has ongoing cleanup and property transfer responsibilities at 174 federal facility NPL sites across the country, which are some of the largest and most complex sites in the Superfund program. 

Environmental News Links

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Toxic Leak Sickens Three Workers at Waste Transfer Center

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Novel Reaction Could Spark Alternative Approach to Ammonia Production

Enbridge Fined for Failing to Fully Inspect Pipeline After Kalamazoo Oil Spill

World Is Not on Track to Meet UN’s 2030 Sustainability Goals 

Trivia Question

What is the most common type of trash thrown away by Americans?

  1. Paper and cardboard
  2. Metal
  3. Plastic
  4. Glass

Answer: c