June 22, 2020
The NIOSH Total Worker Health Program will be presenting the most up-to-date science, strategies, and recommendations for returning to work safely as organizations meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
NIOSH speakers, Dr. Kevin H. Dunn, Mr. Todd Niemeier, and Dr. L. Casey Chosewood, will discuss the CDC/NIOSH guidance for workplaces responding to COVID-19 as well as the recently released employer checklist from the Resuming Business toolkit. In addition, they will share strategies for slowing the spread in the manufacturing work environment, including production or assembly lines and other areas in busy plants, where workers have close contact with co-workers and supervisors and may contribute substantially to potential exposures. The speakers will discuss how businesses in other sectors can apply NIOSH guidance. The webinar will also cover Total Worker Health strategies, which are important as workplaces take steps to reopen and resume operations with the health and well-being of their workers and customers as a top priority.
The webinar, Reopening America: Return to the Workplace Safely with Total Worker Health Strategies, will be held Thursday, June 25, 2020 9:00:00 AM PDT - 10:00:00 AM PDT. You can register at this link
Environmental Resource Center Update
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have combined our Safety and Environmental Tips of the week. This issue includes some of the latest recommendations for you to keep safe at work and at home in this evolving event.
The health and wellbeing of our employees, customers and our communities is what matters most to all of us. To continue to serve you, our seminars have been converted to live online webcasts. You can find a list of upcoming live webcasts at this link
If you have enrolled in a seminar in June or July, in many cases the seminar will be held on approximately the same dates and at the same times via online webcast. We will contact you by phone or email regarding the details on how to attend the class. On-site training and consulting services are proceeding as usual. If you wish to convert these to remote services, please call your Environmental Resource Center representative or customer service at 800-537-2372.
Because many of our live and on-site training sessions have been postponed or canceled, we have staff available to assist you in coping with COVID-19 as well as your routine EHS requirements. If you have EHS staff that have been quarantined, we can provide remote assistance to help you meet your ongoing environmental and safety compliance requirements. For details, call 800-537-2372.
OSHA Guidance for Employees Returning to Work
OSHA has issued guidance
to assist employers reopening non-essential businesses and their employees returning to work during the evolving coronavirus pandemic. The guidance supplements the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' previously developed Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19
and the White House's Guidelines for Opening Up America Again
. The guidelines provide general principles for updating restrictions originally put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus. During each phase of the reopening process, employers should continue to focus on strategies for basic hygiene, social distancing, identification and isolation of sick employees, workplace controls and flexibilities, and employee training.
Non-essential businesses should reopen as state and local governments lift stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders and follow public health recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other federal requirements or guidelines. Employers should continue to consider ways to use workplace flexibilities, such as remote work and alternative business operations, to provide goods and services to customers.
OSHA recommends that employers continually monitor federal, state, and local government guidelines for updated information about ongoing community transmission and mitigation measures, as well as for evolving guidance on disinfection and other best practices for worker protection.
How Much Lead Can be in Candy?
That’s what California wants to know. The state Health and Safety Code section 110552 requires the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), in consultation with the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and the Office of the Attorney General, to determine the “naturally occurring level” of lead in candy containing chili and tamarind.
OEHHA has proposed to add a new chapter and section to Title 27 of the California Code of Regulations, Chapter 3: Naturally Occurring Lead in Candy, section 28500, Naturally Occurring Levels of Lead in Candy. If adopted, this proposed regulation would establish the naturally occurring level of lead in candies containing chili and/or tamarind as required by Health and Safety Code section 110552. This is a continuation of the rulemaking process that OEHHA initially began on March 15, 2019.
The proposed regulation would establish a naturally occurring level of 0.02 ppm lead in candies containing chili and/or tamarind for the purpose of enforcing other provisions of the law related to the sale or distribution of candy within California. The proposed regulation will therefore benefit the health and welfare of California residents by setting a science-based naturally occurring level that will be used to ensure that candy sold or distributed in California is not adulterated.
OEHHA is seeking comments concerning this proposed regulation, which must be received by OEHHA no later than August 18, 2020, the designated close of the written comment period. The Agency recommends that comments be submitted electronically, through the website at https://oehha.ca.gov/comments
A public hearing on the proposal will only be scheduled upon request. The hearing would be web-based due to the COVID-19 emergency. To request a hearing, send an e-mail to Monet Vela at firstname.lastname@example.org
or to the address listed above by no later than August 3, 2020.
Safely Get Your EHS Training at Home or in Your Office
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. Webcast attendees 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.
Upcoming hazardous waste and DOT hazardous materials webcasts:
Safety Advisory for the Transportation of COVID-19 Diagnostic Samples
As a result of the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) public health emergency, certain shipments of COVID-19 diagnostic samples (e.g., nasal swabs, vials of sputum, and other related items) are classified as a Category B infectious substance (Division 6.2) hazardous material under the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR).
Recent compliance inspections and found several instances of improperly marked or packaged diagnostic samples that were offered for transportation. In response, the DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a Safety Advisory Notice to provide information on the HMR related to offering and transporting these materials. See the full text of the Safety Advisory
for more information.
New Online Tool Offering Convenient Access to Critical RI DEM Permitting Documents
Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces real-time, online access to Water Quality Certifications (WQC) and Stormwater Construction (STW) Permits. These permits are issued by DEM's Office of Water Resources, in accordance the Rhode Island Water Quality Regulations and the Federal Clean Water Act to preserve, protect, and improve the State's water resources.
The DEM continues to roll out new enhancements that build upon efforts by DEM to provide digital access to freshwater wetlands permits and onsite wastewater treatment system (OWTS) records and Certificates of Conformance.
"We are excited to offer additional water quality permitting information available electronically to customers," said DEM Director Janet Coit. "This new search tool provides property and business owners, developers, contractors, engineers, government agencies and others with convenient access to needed information and makes it easier for customers to complete the permitting process and/or retrieve historical files by eliminating the need to visit DEM offices to access records in person."
Director Coit noted that while the development of this new tool was initiated pre-COVID-19 as part of DEM's ongoing commitment to improving customer service, the launch of the live service was prioritized as part of DEM's COVID-19 response plan to provide remote access to information for customers and help staff adapt to teleworking.
The new online search tool, available at https://www.ri.gov/DEM/wqcsearch/, is updated daily and includes information on permitting activities administered by the State for WQC applications received after 1992 and for STW applications received after 2016. Users may enter search criteria to view historical information or current permit status for all applications and download approved plans and permit letters for most WQC and STW decisions issued after January 1, 2017.
The new service was developed by DEM through a partnership with the State's digital services provider, RI Interactive, and is modeled after DEM's popular, existing online services for other Water Resources programs. Customers are encouraged to explore the suite of permit search tools for information and downloadable documents at dem.ri.gov/waterpermits
For more information, contact Jennifer Ryan in DEM's Office of Water Resources via email at Jennifer.l.Ryan@dem.ri.gov or by phone at 222-4700 ext. 7253. Permit applications and other regulatory forms may be submitted electronically to DEM at DEM.PAC@dem.ri.gov
Final Chemical Risk Evaluation of Methylene Chloride Released by EPA
EPA has released the final risk evaluation for methylene chloride, the first risk evaluation to be completed under the Lautenberg Act amendments to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Under TSCA, EPA is required to evaluate the risks associated with existing chemicals in commerce using the best available science before taking action to address any unreasonable risks. The final risk findings complete the risk evaluation process required by TSCA for methylene chloride.
“EPA’s work to evaluate chemicals under TSCA is critical to our mission of protecting public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Today’s action builds on last year’s ban on consumer sales of certain methylene chloride products and will guide the agency’s efforts to further reduce risks from this chemical.”
“Releasing the first final risk evaluation marks a key milestone in our efforts to fulfill our responsibilities for ensuring the safety of chemicals already on the market,” said EPA Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention Assistant Administrator Alexandra Dapolito Dunn. “By following the TSCA process, we can have confidence in our final conclusions and move forward with developing a plan to protect the public from any unreasonable risks.”
The final risk evaluation for methylene chloride shows that there are unreasonable risks to workers, occupational non-users, consumers, and bystanders under 47 out of 53 conditions of use. EPA did not find unreasonable risk to the environment.
The next step in the process required by TSCA is addressing these risks. There are several actions EPA could take to address these risks, including regulations to prohibit or limit the manufacture, processing, distribution in the marketplace, use, or disposal of this chemical substance, as applicable. EPA will now begin the process of developing ways to address the unreasonable risks identified and has up to one year to propose and take public comments on any risk management actions.
As with any chemical product, EPA strongly recommends that users continue to carefully follow all instructions on the product’s label/safety data sheet. In March 2019, EPA banned sales of methylene chloride in paint and coating removers for consumer use. Consumers should not use paint and coating removers containing methylene chloride.
EPA Grants Petition to Add n-Propyl Bromide to Hazardous Air Pollutants List Under Clean Air Act
EPA granted petitions to add 1-bromopropane (1-BP) to the list of hazardous air pollutants regulated under the Clean Air Act (CAA). This is the first time since 1990 that EPA has granted a petition to add a hazardous air pollutant to the CAA.
Petitioners requesting EPA to list 1-BP, also known as n-propyl bromide (nPB), have demonstrated its adverse health and environmental impacts. This chemical is used in a range of products and processes, including dry cleaning, electronics and metal cleaning, pharmaceutical and agricultural products, and spray adhesive applications.
“With this action, EPA is granting, for the first time, a request through the use of petition to add a chemical substance to the hazardous air pollutant list under the Clean Air Act,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Nearly a decade after the petition was received by the former administration, the Trump Administration is taking action to protect human health and the environment.”
Under the CAA, EPA is required to regulate emissions of air toxics, also known as hazardous air pollutants. The original CAA list of regulated air toxics included 189 pollutants. Since 1990, EPA has modified the list through rulemaking so that it now includes 187 pollutants.
In this action, EPA has granted petitions that were submitted in 2010 and 2011 from the Halogenated Solvents Industry Alliance and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation asking the agency to add 1-BP to the list of hazardous air pollutants in the CAA. After reviewing the evidence provided by the petitioners, EPA determined that “emissions, ambient concentrations, bioaccumulation or deposition” of 1-BP may harm human health, including causing cancer as well as reproductive and neurological problems.
Granting these petitions is the first step in a series of actions to address air emissions of 1-BP. In a subsequent action, EPA will modify the Code of Federal Regulations to add 1-BP to the CAA list of hazardous air pollutants. After 1-BP is added to the list of hazardous air pollutants, EPA may consider revising or creating new emissions standards for source categories that emit 1-BP.
Contractor Fined for Not Protecting Workers Against Fall Hazards
Oregon OSHA has fined a Portland contractor more than $17,000 for multiple serious violations – one of them a repeat offense – that included exposing workers to potential fall hazards that could kill them.
The division cited Oregon Chimney Repair and Cleaning Inc. following an inspection of a masonry job the company was carrying out on a multi-story house in Portland. Employees were working on a chimney using a scaffold.
In one violation, the company did not provide personal fall arrest or guardrail systems, exposing five employees to falls of up to 19 feet. In another, the company failed to follow a requirement to implement fall protection where workers are exposed to falling six feet or more to a lower level.
The failure to heed Oregon OSHA's six-foot trigger-height requirements was a repeat violation by the company, subjecting two workers to a fall of just over 11 feet. Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry.
“Our fall protection requirements are designed to prevent serious injury or death, and they have proven effective at protecting workers," said Oregon OSHA Administrator Michael Wood. “To overlook them is unacceptable, and only serves to put lives at needless risk."
The citation against Oregon Chimney Repair and Cleaning Inc. proposes a total fine of $17,280. It includes three serious violations that were grouped – for a total penalty of $5,000 – because they involved related hazards.
Those violations included:
- The employer did not ensure that employees working from a scaffold were protected by personal fall arrest systems or proper guardrail systems.
- Each platform on all working levels of the scaffold was not fully planked or decked. A worker who was stationed on a level that had only one section of decking in place was exposed to a fall of about 19 feet.
- The employer allowed workers to climb up and down the framework of the fabricated scaffold – as opposed to using a ladder or lift – exposing four of them to falls of up to 19 feet.
The other violations were:
- Workers were exposed to potential electrocution as they built and worked on the scaffold, which came into contact with uninsulated electrical cables. Proposed penalty: $2,400.
- The company failed to ensure the aluminum extension ladder used by employees included nonconductive side-rails. The ladder was near uninsulated electrical cables, exposing workers to potential electrocution. Proposed penalty: $2,400.
- The company allowed a multi-purpose ladder to be used on an unstable surface, subjecting a worker to potentially falling about four feet to a pitched roof. Proposed penalty: $280.
- Workers were exposed to falls of up to 19 feet because the scaffold's supports lacked a firm foundation. The system was built on an ornamental plant bed. No mudsills were installed under its baseplates. Proposed penalty: $2,400.
- The company exposed workers to a fall of just over 11 feet by failing to implement fall protection where workers are exposed to falling six feet or more to a lower level. This was a repeat of a violation on a separate citation issued to the company in March 2017. Proposed penalty: $4,800.
Under Oregon OSHA rules, penalties multiply when employers commit repeat violations. The citation issued against Oregon Chimney Repair and Cleaning Inc. includes a standard penalty reduction based on the small size of the company.
Incineration of Firefighting Foam and Emerging Contaminants by Norlite Restricted
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced new actions to further restrict the incineration of firefighting foam that contains PFAS compounds at the Norlite facility in Cohoes, New York. In a letter to Norlite, LLC
, and its corporate affiliate Tradebe Treatment and Recycling, LLC., DEC informed Norlite that it intends to consider the company's forthcoming permit renewals as new permits requiring expanded review, and that the company will be required to conduct expanded environmental justice outreach to provide the community with the opportunity to comment on the overall facility operations and potential environmental impacts. DEC has also confirmed that Defense Logistics Agency's Disposition Services has terminated the aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) incineration contract with Tradebe.
"New York State is unwavering in our commitment to protect communities like the city of Cohoes from potential exposure to emerging contaminants and the actions announced today will ensure this community has the information and the tools necessary to assist DEC's efforts to ensure Norlite is a good neighbor," Commissioner Seggos said. "While DEC and local leaders have stopped the incineration of PFAS materials at Norlite, and even with the recent termination of the federal contract, DEC is not letting up and is partnering with this community to refocus our attention on overall operations at this facility. By regarding Norlite's permit renewals as a new applications, and requiring this facility to expand and improve community engagement, DEC is ensuring a transparent process that prioritizes community participation to protect area residents and the environment."
DEC directed Norlite to cease thermal treatment and disposal of AFFF containing PFAS compounds after the facility temporarily suspended its operations at the end of 2019. Since that time, DEC has worked with local and state elected officials, including the Mayor of Cohoes William Keeler, to assess the potential impacts of Norlite's past incineration of firefighting foam. DEC secured an agreement with Norlite to suspend all processing of AFFF materials until additional testing is conducted to demonstrate that high temperature incineration is a safe and effective method of AFFF disposal. The letter reiterates this directive and in addition, DEC has informed Norlite that the future incineration of any substances, including emerging contaminants, not previously addressed in their permits will trigger a requirement to seek a permit modification prior to processing in the facility.
New York State is also developing a sampling program in Cohoes to determine if surface soil and surface water contamination resulting from the incineration of PFAS-containing materials at Norlite is present. Earlier this spring, DEC and the state Department of Health (DOH) conducted sampling of the Cohoes and Green Island municipal water supplies to determine if PFAS concentrations in water have changed over time. This sampling confirmed that there have been no changes to these water supplies. DEC is now evaluating next steps on additional soil and water sampling to further the state's investigation out of an abundance of caution.
DEC has also just confirmed that the Defense Logistics Agency terminated its disposal contract with Tradebe Treatment and Recycling, LLC, Norlite's corporate affiliate. The U.S. Navy had previously advised it is not sending new shipments of AFFF to Norlite following DEC's announcement that incineration of these compounds will not occur at the facility without further scientific review. To advance the needed science to improve understanding of the potential for thermal destruction of PFAS compounds DEC continues to work with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development and DOH to develop performance testing protocols and advance a detailed analysis of ongoing and proposed thermal treatment research in other parts of the country. No testing will take place at the Norlite facility.
For the past several years, DEC and its partners in federal, state, and municipal government have been working to address concerns and mitigate risks regarding the potential environmental and public health impacts of PFAS, including but not limited to perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Among these efforts, DEC has prioritized the removal and appropriate treatment and disposal of Class B firefighting foam such as AFFF containing PFAS compounds in order to avoid potential impacts to groundwater, surface waters, and drinking water supplies. The State of New York has recently enacted a ban against the use of AFFF that contains PFOA or PFOS and has spent tens of millions of dollars to date on remediation projects across the state involving the improper disposal of legacy AFFF in order to ensure the protection of public health and the environment from the actual and potential threats posed by PFOA or PFOS.
Chemours Cited for Improper Waste Disposal
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued a notice of violation and intent to enforce to the Chemours Company
for failure to ensure proper waste disposal. A recent investigation found that Chemours failed to perform analytical testing for PFAS contamination before transporting multiple loads of soil and other yard waste from the Fayetteville Works facility for disposal in an unlined landfill.
“We will not tolerate irresponsible actions or attempts to cut corners that risk further impacts to the surrounding communities and to water quality,” said DEQ Secretary Michael S. Regan.
There is well-documented and pervasive PFAS contamination at the Chemours facility, including soil data showing PFAS contamination in areas near the site location from which the soil was taken and disposed of at the unlined landfill. The landfill is authorized to accept uncontaminated land clearing and inert debris. In failing to perform analytical testing of the yard waste and soil for PFAS prior to transport and disposal at the referenced landfill, Chemours failed to ensure proper disposal of its solid waste in violation of 15A NCAC 13B.
As a result of the investigation, DEQ directed Chemours to retrieve the loads of material that were taken to the unlined landfill and remove additional soil from the area in the landfill where the soil and root material had been deposited as a precaution.
Chemours must also submit a plan to DEQ within 15 days of the violation that describes removal activities and final disposal, and a plan outlining future steps to ensure proper waste disposal. DEQ is considering a recommendation for the assessment of a civil penalty.
New Jersey Manufacturer Cited For Failing to Correct Machine Hazards
OSHA has cited Bravo Pak Inc. for failing to abate hazards at its Pennsauken, New Jersey, facility. The company owes $259,760 in penalties. In June 2019, OSHA cited the shipping supplies manufacturer after an attempt to clear a jammed machine resulted in an amputation of a worker's fingers. Investigators found Bravo Pak Inc. failed to develop and implement a lockout/tagout program to address the unexpected start-up of a machine during servicing and failed to ensure proper machine guarding. The company agreed to correct the hazards. When Bravo Pak Inc. failed to provide OSHA with verification of the hazards' corrections, the agency initiated a follow-up inspection on Sept. 30, 2019.
"This employer's failure to follow required safety standards continues to put workers at risk for serious injuries,” said OSHA Marlton Area Office Director Paula Dixon-Roderick.
"Employers are legally responsible for ensuring that workers are provided necessary workplace safety and health protections,” stated Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Loren Sweatt.
The company had 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties
to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Area Director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
. Bravo Pak did not contest or otherwise respond to the citations and penalties, which by law becomes a final order. The company has failed to pay any of the associated penalties, which the Department may refer for debt collection.
20 Companies Cited for Environmental Violations June 17, 2020
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued 20 penalties totaling $926,206 in May for various environmental violations. A detailed list of violations and resulting penalties is at https://go.usa.gov/xEQJn.
Fines ranged from $975 to $611,403. Alleged violations included operating a solid waste disposal site without a permit, improper hazardous waste storage, and emitting more pollution than is allowed by the facility’s air quality permit.
DEQ issued civil penalties to the following organizations and individuals:
- City of Heppner, $3,150, Heppner, wastewater
- Columbia Northwest Recycling, Inc., dba Construction Materials Recycling, $611,403, Cornelius, solid waste
- Container Management Services, LLC, $59,213, Portland, solid and hazardous waste
- Corpac Construction Company, $26,400, Troutdale, asbestos
- Forest Park MHP LLC, $975, Oregon City, wastewater
- Genesis Acquisition Company Inc., dba Northland Furniture Company, $3,000, Bend, hazardous waste
- J's General Contractor, $32,000, Portland, asbestos
- Ochoco Lumber Company, $2,400, John Day, air quality
- Port of Tillamook Bay, $19,800, Tillamook, solid waste
- Red Moon Development & Construction Inc., $27,459, Coos Bay, stormwater
- Regenis , $17,250, Tillamook, solid waste
- Rogers Northwest, Inc., $16,800, Sherwood, air quality
- S-C Paving Company, $6,800, Tillamook, air quality
- Start LLC, $30,400, Portland, asbestos
- Sulussolar35 LLC, $4,800, Mollala, stormwater
- Tillamook Biogas LLC, $26,700, Tillamook, solid waste
- Ultimate RB Inc., $12,125, Portland, stormwater
- Westrock CP LLC, $11,478 , Portland, stormwater
- Wilbur-Ellis Feed LLC, $14,053, Clackamas, stormwater
- Willamette Graystone LLC, $6,800, Salem, stormwater
Organizations or individuals must either pay the fines or file an appeal within 20 days of receiving notice of the penalty. They may be able to offset a portion of a penalty by funding a supplemental environmental project
that improves Oregon’s environment.
Penalties may also include orders requiring specific tasks to prevent ongoing violations or additional environmental harm.
DEQ is committed to balancing its vital obligation to enforce the law and protect the environment with a consideration of the dramatic disruptions to public health and the economy caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. DEQ will continue to exercise reasonable enforcement discretion within its authority when issuing civil penalties. In addition, DEQ recognizes that the outbreak may affect the ability to comply with corrective actions or pay a civil penalty. See https://ordeq.org/COVID19
for more information about DEQ’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Fracking Co. Pleads No Contest
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced
that Range Resources, an unconventional oil and gas, or “fracking” company, has pleaded no contest to negligent oversight of well sites in Washington County, PA. The plea comes as part of a two-year Grand Jury investigation into environmental crimes committed by unconventional oil and gas companies across the Commonwealth.
“In Pennsylvania, clean air and pure water is a constitutional right, yet too often frackers from across the country come to our Commonwealth, walk into our communities, and―sometimes without care or consequence―strip us of those basic rights,” said Attorney General Shapiro during a video released Friday. “Backed by big investors and big influence, too many fracking companies act like they’re above the law, and put themselves ahead of the people who work on the job site, as well as the farmer, neighbor, and children impacted by their operations. We’re here to remind these fracking companies that the people of Pennsylvania come first.”
The Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, in conjunction with the 43rd Statewide Grand Jury, criminally charged Range Resources for its conduct at the Brownlee and Yeager well sites. The Grand Jury’s investigation into the Yeager well site found that Range Resources knowingly covered up problems with their wastewater storage pond. Internal emails from Range employees showed that, even before the construction of the Yeager impoundment had been completed, they were aware of problems that included tears in the pond’s lining. After it was operational, Range encountered additional problems, including a lack of water circulation that caused bacterial growth in the fracking water.
In addition to the problems with the leaking impoundment, Range Resources was aware of similar problems in a nearby reserve pit. The same internal documents showed that Range Resources knew the situation was dire―one email from an employee warned, “[w]e have flushed the reserve pit with approximately 30,000 gallons of water, but I fear this is nowhere near enough, based on the amount of time that the reserve pit may have been leaking.”
The problems at the reserve pit ultimately caused the Yeager family’s springs to become dangerous and unsuitable for consumption.
The actions of Range Resources were also responsible for significant environmental pollution at the Brownlee site in Washington County. In January 2018, a group of storage tanks that were capable of containing nearly 300,000 gallons of waste water were moved onto the site so that there would be a sufficient supply of water to complete the fracking of the wells on the pad. During a transfer of waste water into this group of tanks, one of the tanks began to leak. Approximately a foot of waste water filled a containment liner under the tanks. Unknown to the employees, the containment liner was not properly secured; the waste water began leaking from the containment liner into a nearby field and ultimately flowed downhill into an unnamed tributary to Buffalo Creek.
Range employees informed the land owner of the leak, but not what damage had been done to the property. The leak contaminated nearly ⅓ acres of a nearby farm and required the removal of approximately 100 trees and 12,000 square feet of soil. Range ordered its contractor to remove the contaminated trees and soil, but only ordered them to replace the remaining ditch when the property owner threatened to report the incident to the media.
Range Resources plead no contest in the Washington County Court of Common Pleas to the following charges:
- On the Brownlee Pad: 1 count of Disposal, Processing & Storage of Residual Waste, 1 count of Unlawful Conduct under the Solid Waste Management Act and 1 count of Prohibition Against Discharge of Industrial Wastes
- On the Yeager Pad: 2 counts of Disposal, Processing & Storage of Residual Waste and 2 counts of Unlawful Conduct under the Solid Waste Management Act
As part of the terms of their plea, Range will pay a $6,000 dollar fine to the Solid Waste Abatement Fund, $3,000 to the Clean Water Fund, and a $16,000 dollar charitable contribution to the Washington County Watershed Alliance for the Brownlee site. Range will also pay a fine in the amount of $41,000 to the Solid Waste Abatement Fund, and an $84,000 charitable contribution to the Washington County Watershed Alliance for the Yeager site.
“Today, Range Resources has answered for their actions, and they know what they’ve done as indicated by internal documents and their own plea,” concluded Attorney General Shapiro. “But this is just the beginning. We are in the first stages of a long process to hold the well-connected accountable and meet the promise of our constitution to protect our environment for generations to come. That’s why we’re here today, and why my office will uphold our Commonwealth’s environmental laws until we meet the promise of our Constitution.”
Former Johnstown, New York Tannery Owner Ordered to Pay Restitution for Clean-up of Hazardous Waste
On May 15, 2020, Robert Carville, age 57, formerly of Johnstown, New York, was ordered to pay $369,693.58 in restitution to the EPA to reimburse the agency for expenses in- curred in removing hazardous waste that Carville stored without a permit at the former Carville National Leather Corporation building in Johnstown.
The announcement was made by United States Attorney Grant C. Jaquith and Tyler Amon, Special Agent in Charge of the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID) in New York. Carville National Leather Corporation was a family owned tannery business that operated in Johnstown, New York, from 1976 until it closed in September 2013. Robert Carville owned and operated the business for ap- proximately 10 years prior to its closure.
Carville pled guilty in December 2018 to one felony count of illegally storing hazardous waste without a permit. As part of his guilty plea, Carville admitted that as the owner and manager of the tannery, he was responsible for the materials stored there when it ceased operations. Following the closure of the business, Carville moved out of state, leaving hundreds of containers of hazardous chemicals inside the abandoned tannery building. Some of these were labeled as “corrosive,” “acidic,” and “hazardous.” Carville did not have a permit to store hazardous materials. Chemicals began leaking from the tannery building approximately two years after Carville abandoned it. In light of the tannery’s proximity to multiple residences and to a local creek, EPA deemed it a Superfund site and incurred substantial expenses in cleaning up and removing the chemicals over a several-month period.
On July 22, 2019, Carville was sentenced to serve a 2-year term of probation and the Court deferred until May 15, 2020 a determination on any restitution Carville owed EPA as part of the sentence. The parties pre- sented evidence and testimony regarding restitution at an evidentiary hearing in December 2019. After re- viewing that evidence and considering legal briefs filed by the parties, Carville was ordered to pay $369,693.58 in restitution to EPA.
This case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and prosecuted by a DOJ Assistant U.S. Attorney.
Land Developers to Settle Stormwater Violations
The Company Will Pay $213,360 in Penalties
Lewis Land Developers agreed to pay a $213,360 fine for violating a construction stormwater general permit at a 122-acre project in Placer County, CA that led to an uncontrolled discharge of sediment and stormwater into a nearby ravine.
The fine includes a $3,360 penalty for allowing stormwater and sediment discharge that threatened aquatic plant and fish habitat. The remaining $210,000 is for failing to implement erosion control best management practices on inactive areas of the construction site. The developer agreed to use $30,000 of the penalty for a supplemental environmental project to train local developers and homebuilders on storm water compliance.
The Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board determined that the developer failed to fulfill requirements of the General Permit for Storm Water Discharges Associated with Construction and Land Disturbance Activities. The alleged violations occurred at the Independence at Lincoln residential construction project from November 2018 through January 2019. During a rainstorm in January 2019, a levee breach in a storage basin resulted in a discharge of sediment and turbid water into Markham Ravine.
“The developer for this project failed to install required erosion controls prior to rain events and was unable to adequately protect the site once soils got saturated,” said Patrick Pulupa, Executive Officer for the Central Valley Water Board.
Owners of construction sites larger than one acre must enroll in the stormwater permitting program, which among other things, requires hiring a “stormwater professional” to design and install erosion and sediment controls. Discharges of sediment can cloud the receiving water, which reduces the amount of sunlight reaching aquatic plants. These flows can also clog fish gills, smother aquatic habitat and spawning areas, and transport other materials such as nutrients, metals, and oil and grease that can harm aquatic life and habitat.
New Rule for the Safe Transportation of Liquefied Natural Gas by Rail Tank Car
The DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), in consultation with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), issued a final rule authorizing the bulk transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail. Specifically, the rule will permit the bulk transportation of LNG in DOT-113C120W9 (DOT-113) specification tank cars with enhanced outer tank requirements and additional operational controls. The publication complies with Executive Order
13868 (EO 13868), “Promoting Energy Infrastructure and Economic Growth,” issued in April 2019.
“The Department’s new rule carefully lays out key operational safeguards to provide for the safe transportation of LNG by rail to more parts of the country where this energy source is needed,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.
With FRA approval, LNG has previously been authorized for transport by rail in a portable tank. Federal Hazardous Materials Regulations have also authorized the transportation of other flammable cryogenic materials for many years in DOT-113 tank cars. Importantly, this final rule also incorporates newly designated additional safety requirements, such as an enhanced thicker carbon steel outer tank.
The rule also requires remote monitoring of the pressure and location of LNG tank cars. In addition, to improve braking, the rule requires a two-way end of train or distributed power system when a train is transporting 20 or more tank cars loaded with LNG in a continuous block, or 35 or more such tank cars of LNG anywhere in the train consist. Furthermore, the rule requires railroads to conduct route risk assessments to evaluate safety and security.
EO 13868 recognized the growth of energy production in the U.S., coupled with an increased global demand for U.S. natural gas. The rule prescribes regulations that reflect best practices and best-available technologies, sets increased regulatory certainty, and provides policies that promote America’s natural resources.
Read the final rule as submitted to the Federal Register here
New Mapping Tool for Managing Debris Expands Nationwide
EPA announced the nationwide expansion of an interactive dataset that maps recyclers and landfills for the planning, response, and recovery of debris. This debris recovery tool has already proven valuable in training exercises and response activity to natural disasters.
“EPA is prepared to help communities more rapidly recover from natural disasters,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “EPA’s debris recovery tool will assist federal, state, local and tribal emergency personnel to quickly identify recycling, composting, and disposal facilities near affected areas that may be able to accept disaster debris.”
The expansion of the recovery tool was supported by the E-Enterprise Initiative that emphasizes collaboration and data sharing among EPA, states, and tribes. The recovery tool advances EPA’s goals of recycling and material recovery following natural disasters, such as hurricanes, and is one of several resources mentioned in EPA’s Planning for Natural Disaster Debris Guidance.
The recovery tool can also assist with debris management planning by identifying potential facilities before a disaster occurs, which can help communities recover faster. Better management of debris may reduce injuries, minimize or prevent the environmental impacts of mismanaged wastes and ultimately support compliance with environmental regulations.
Early adoption of the interactive tool in EPA’s Region 5 office has already led to successful disaster debris management planning for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and tornado response by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.
The Powder Shop Inc. Cited for Hazardous Waste Violations
EPA has reached a settlement with The Powder Shop Inc. to resolve alleged violations of the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA). The Cedar Rapids, Iowa, business performs custom and industrial metal coating, metal sandblasting, and metal grit blasting. These activities generate waste that is considered hazardous by federal standards.
EPA inspected The Powder Shop in May 2019 to determine the company’s compliance with hazardous waste regulations intended to protect employees and the public. During the inspection, EPA determined that the company failed to perform hazardous waste determinations on wastes that were, in fact, hazardous due to their ignitability and toxicity.
The Powder Shop also failed to comply with hazardous waste generation and handling requirements; failed to implement required emergency preparedness procedures; and failed to properly label its used oil containers, one of which was found leaking at the facility.
In response to the inspection findings, The Powder Shop took the necessary steps to return its facility to compliance. To settle the alleged violations, the company agreed to pay a civil penalty of $19,000.
The kinds of waste produced by The Powder Shop may cause uncontrolled fires or may lead to injury or death if ingested or absorbed. Federal law requires facilities that generate hazardous waste to identify the waste and implement safe generation, handling, transportation, and disposal practices.
Achilles Penalized for Two Spills That Impacted Wildlife
The Washington Department of Ecology has fined Achilles USA, Inc., an Everett company, $327,200 for two oil spills that flowed into retention ponds and covered wildlife. The company is being held liable for the spills, not reporting them, and negligence.
On July 10, 2018, an employee was improperly moving totes containing lubricating oil. One tote fell and ruptured, spilling the contents into the building’s stormwater system. Employees did not make proper notifications, or fully clean out the system, as their policies require. The oil impacted wildlife when the system was flushed to an outside retention pond more than two weeks later.
An Achilles employee found oil in the pond the next day and brought an oiled goose to the Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) wildlife treatment facility in Lynwood. However, the employee intentionally misled PAWs and Ecology staff about where the bird was found. Ecology searched for the cause of the spill, tracing the source to Achilles’ property. The additional time it took to find the source delayed response efforts and likely harmed additional wildlife.
During cleanup, responders found a second source of lubricating oil draining into the pond. The oil came from a collection pit inside the facility that had overfilled due to lack of maintenance.
A total of 340 gallons of lubricating oil spilled to the retention pond from the two spills. Six oiled geese and one snake were captured and cleaned. The spills took three weeks to clean up. Additional oiled wildlife was observed, including Blue Herons, but could not be captured for cleaning.
“These spills show the unfortunate results of lack of training combined with disregard for safety and the environment,” said Dave Byers, Ecology’s spill response section manager. “Let us hope the infrastructure and procedure changes Achilles has made since these incidents will prevent future spills.
In addition to the penalty, Ecology billed Achilles $7,653 to recover the state’s costs in responding to the spills. The company is also subject to a separate Natural Resources Damage Assessment of $3,855 based on a scientific evaluation of the spills’ environmental harm.
In response to the penalty, Achilles USA, Inc., stated, “Achilles takes its environmental compliance seriously and apologizes for the incident. The July 10, 2018, spill resulted from a former maintenance manager not following company policy regarding spills. Achilles has implemented corrective actions designed to prevent a reoccurrence of any future spills. We would like to recognize the first responders for their actions in fully recovering the oil spilled to the retention pond and preventing the release of any oil from the retention pond to Narbeck Creek.”
DTSC Enforcement Results in Penalties for Lynwood Generator’s Unauthorized Treatment, Storage of Hazardous Waste
A series of inspections conducted by the Department of Toxic Substances Control has resulted in $64,350 in penalties for a Southern California generator of hazardous waste due to multiple violations of California’s hazardous waste laws.
DTSC discovered the violations by Processes by Martin (PBM) while conducting an inspection to ensure that a previous metal finisher at the Los Angeles County job site was safely shutting down its operations.
Violations discovered during inspections in May and June of 2017 include: Failure to maintain and operate the facility in a manner that minimizes the possibility of a fire, explosion, or any unplanned release of hazardous waste; unauthorized storage of flammable paint waste, paint booth filters, and soap tank residue; and unauthorized treatment of hazardous soap tank residue.
PBM, the current metal finisher business located at 12150 Alameda Street in Lynwood, has since corrected the violations. Martin Metal Finishing was the previous operator of the site. Click here
to view the Consent Order for this action.
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