Full Details of OSHA’s COVID Standard

November 08, 2021
OSHA announced a new emergency temporary standard to protect more than 84 million workers from the spread of the coronavirus on the job. The nation's unvaccinated workers face grave danger from workplace exposure to coronavirus, and immediate action is necessary to protect them. Under this standard, covered employers must develop, implement and enforce a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy, unless they adopt a policy requiring employees to choose to either be vaccinated or undergo regular COVID-19 testing and wear a face covering at work.
Since 2020, the coronavirus has led to the deaths of 750,000 people in the U.S., and the infection of millions more, making it the deadliest pandemic in the nation's history. Many of the people killed and infected by this virus were workers whose primary exposures occurred at their jobs. OSHA estimates that this rule will save thousands of lives and prevent more than 250,000 hospitalizations due to workplace exposure to COVID-19 over the course of the ETS.
“COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on workers, and we continue to see dangerous levels of cases,” said U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. “We must take action to implement this emergency temporary standard to contain the virus and protect people in the workplace against the grave danger of COVID-19. Many businesses understand the benefits of having their workers vaccinated against COVID-19, and we expect many will be pleased to see this OSHA rule go into effect.”
The emergency temporary standard covers employers with 100 or more employees – firm or company-wide – and provides options for compliance. The ETS also requires employers to provide paid time to workers to get vaccinated and to allow for paid leave to recover from any side effects.
The ETS also requires employers to do the following:
  • Determine the vaccination status of each employee, obtain acceptable proof of vaccination status from vaccinated employees and maintain records and a roster of each employee's vaccination status.
  • Require employees to provide prompt notice when they test positive for COVID-19 or receive a COVID-19 diagnosis. Employers must then remove the employee from the workplace, regardless of vaccination status; employers must not allow them to return to work until they meet required criteria.
  • Ensure each worker who is not fully vaccinated is tested for COVID-19 at least weekly (if the worker is in the workplace at least once a week) or within 7 days before returning to work (if the worker is away from the workplace for a week or longer).
  • Ensure that, in most circumstances, each employee who has not been fully vaccinated wears a face covering when indoors or when occupying a vehicle with another person for work purposes.
The emergency temporary standard does not require employers to pay for testing. Employers may be required to pay for testing to comply with other laws, regulations, collective bargaining agreements, or other collectively negotiated agreements. Employers are also not required to pay for face coverings.
“While vaccination remains the most effective and efficient defense against COVID-19, this emergency temporary standard will protect all workers, including those who remain unvaccinated, by requiring regular testing and the use of face coverings by unvaccinated workers to prevent the spread of the virus,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Jim Frederick. “As part of OSHA's mission to protect the safety and health of workers, this rule will provide a roadmap to help businesses keep their workers safe.”
OSHA is offering robust compliance assistance to help businesses implement the standard, including a webinar, frequently asked questions and other compliance materials.
The ETS will cover two-thirds of the nation's private-sector workforce. In the 26 states and two territories with OSHA State Plans, the ETS will also cover public sector workers employed by state and local governments, including educators and school staff. State plan states have 15 days from the effective date to submit their intentions to Federal OSHA to adopt, not adopt, or adopt with modifications.
Leading companies, including major airlines, manufacturers and retailers, have taken similar actions in recent months – adopting vaccine requirements or regular testing as necessary measures to protect their workers and customers.
The ETS became effective immediately upon its publication in the Federal Register on November 5. Employers must comply with most requirements within 30 days of publication and with testing requirements within 60 days of publication.
The ETS also serves as a proposal for normal rulemaking for a final standard. OSHA is seeking comment on all aspects of this ETS and whether the agency should adopt it as a final standard.
OSHA will continue to monitor the status of COVID-19 infections and deaths, as the number of vaccinated people in workplaces and the general public increases and the pandemic evolves. OSHA will update the ETS should the agency find a grave danger no longer exists for the covered workforce (or some portion thereof), or new information indicates a change in measures is needed.
EPA & the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal
Following the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, the EPA will be making significant investments in the health, equity, and resilience of American communities. With unprecedented funding to support national infrastructure, EPA said that the agency will improve people’s health and safety, help create good-paying jobs, and increase climate resilience throughout the country.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal delivers more than $50 billion to EPA to improve the country’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure. This is a historic investment that includes:
Safe Drinking Water: $11.7 billion to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) and $15 billion to the Drinking Water SRF for Lead Service Line Replacement. $4 billion to the Drinking Water SRF for Emerging Contaminants. $5 billion to Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Grants to address emerging contaminants.
There are still 6 to 10 million lead services lines in cities and towns across the country, many of which are in communities of color and low-income neighborhoods. Because of the investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal, millions of American families will no longer have to fear the harmful health effects caused by lead and other pollutants in their water. People will be protected from PFAS or “forever chemical” contamination. And investing in our water infrastructure will put Americans to work in good-paying jobs.
Clean Water for Communities: $11.7 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund SRF and $1 billion for the Clean Water SRF for Emerging Contaminants.
More people will be able to freely swim, fish, and play in their waters. Wild spaces will be cleaner and more vibrant. Communities will benefit from improved economic prosperity built on clean water resources as more quality, good paying jobs are created.
Protected Regional Waters: $1.7 billion for Geographic Programs and $267 million for the National Estuary Program, Gulf Hypoxia Program, and more. From the Chesapeake Bay, to the Great Lakes, to Puget Sound, communities will be able to better protect our national water treasures and ensure they continue to serve as vital economic and recreational assets.
Superfund and Brownfields: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal invests $5.4 billion in cleaning up legacy pollution at Superfund and brownfields sites, helping to restore the economic vitality of communities, including:
$3.5 billion for Superfund site clean-up work. More than one in four Black and Hispanic Americans live within 3 miles of a Superfund site. No community deserves to have contamination near where they live, work, pray and go to school. With this funding, communities living near many of the most serious uncontrolled or abandoned releases of contamination will finally get the protections they deserve.
Waste and Recycling: $350 million for Solid Waste and Recycling Grants and $25 million for Battery Recycling. Communities across the country are burdened by pollution impacts from inefficient waste management systems. This historic investment will transform recycling and solid waste management across the country while creating jobs. This investment will also improve the nation’s battery recycling programs while promoting the safe handling of used batteries.
A major investment in electric and low-emission school buses and healthier air for children.  The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal invests in making the nation’s school bus fleet cleaner, including $5 billion for decarbonizing the nation’s school bus fleet.
More than 25 million children ride the bus to school each day, some breathing polluted air from diesel school buses. By deploying electric and lower emission school buses, fewer children will face increased asthma risks and other health problems linked to diesel air pollution.
Increased funding for pollution prevention: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal increases resources to help businesses reduce toxic pollutants, with a new focus on underserved and overburdened communities, including $100 million for the Pollution Prevention (P2) Program and the launch of a new program targeting environmental justice.
More businesses will be able to get assistance to reduce toxic pollutants, cut water usage, improve efficiency, and lower costs, which will improve their operations while better protecting the communities in which they operate.
EPA Funding by Appropriations Account
State & Tribal Grants
55.426 billion
Clean Water State Revolving Fund Traditional
11.713 billion
Drinking Water State Revolving Fund Traditional
11.713 billion
Lead Service Lines Drinking Water State Revolving Fund
15 billion
PFAS Clean Water State Revolving Fund
1 billion
PFAS Drinking Water State Revolving Fund
4 billion
PFAS Small & Disadvantaged
5 billion
Underground Injection Control Grants
50 million
1.5 billion
Pollution Prevention
100 million
Save Our Seas 2.0
275 million
RECYCLE Act75,000
75 million
Clean School Buses
5 billion
3.5 billion
Remedial Cleanups
3.5 billion
Environmental Programs and Management
1.959 billion
Geographic Programs
1.717 billion
       Great Lakes Restoration
1 billion
       Chesapeake Bay
238 million
       San Francisco Bay
24 million
       Puget Sound
89 million
       Long Island Sound
106 million
        Gulf of Mexico
53 million
       South Florida
16 million
       Lake Champlain
40 million
       Lake Pontchartrain
53 million
       Southern New England Estuaries
15 million
       Columbia River Basin
79 million
       Other, Pacific Northwest
4 million
National Estuary Program
132 million
Gulf of Mexico and MI and OH Rivers Hypoxia
60 million
Class VI Wells/Underground Injection Control
25 million
Battery Recycling Best Practices
10 million
Battery Recycling Labeling
15 million
U.S. to Sharply Cut Methane Pollution from Oil and Gas Industries
On November 2, the EPA took steps to advance President Biden’s commitment to action on climate change and protect people’s health by proposing comprehensive new protections to sharply reduce pollution from the oil and natural gas industry – including, for the first time, reductions from existing sources nationwide. The proposed new Clean Air Act rule would lead to significant, cost-effective reductions in methane emissions and other health-harming air pollutants that endanger nearby communities. As part of the action, to inform a supplemental proposal, EPA is seeking comment on additional sources of methane to further strengthen emission controls and increase reductions from oil and gas operations. EPA is issuing the proposal in response to President Biden’s Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis.
"As global leaders convene at this pivotal moment in Glasgow for COP26, it is now abundantly clear that America is back and leading by example in confronting the climate crisis with bold ambition,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “With this historic action, EPA is addressing existing sources from the oil and natural gas industry nationwide, in addition to updating rules for new sources, to ensure robust and lasting cuts in pollution across the country. By building on existing technologies and encouraging innovative new solutions, we are committed to a durable final rule that is anchored in science and the law, that protects communities living near oil and natural gas facilities, and that advances our nation’s climate goals under the Paris Agreement.”
One third of the warming from greenhouse gases occurring today is due to human-caused emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that traps about 30 times as much heat as carbon dioxide over 100 years, and sharp cuts over the next decade will have a near-term beneficial impact on the climate. In the United States, the oil and natural gas industry is the largest industrial source of methane emissions, emitting more methane than the total emissions of all greenhouse gases from 164 countries combined. Oil and natural gas operations also emit smog-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and toxic air pollutants such as benzene that harm public health.
The proposal builds on the work of leading companies that are using the latest cost-effective technology to reduce methane emissions in the field and leverages lessons from the work of some major oil- and gas- producing states that require, or are proposing to require, oil and gas operations to reduce methane emissions. EPA analyzed the proposed rule’s impact on natural gas and oil prices from 2023 to 2035 and estimates that changes would be small – pennies per barrel of oil or thousand cubic feet of gas.
The proposed rule would reduce 41 million tons of methane emissions from 2023 to 2035, the equivalent of 920 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s more than the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from all U.S. passenger cars and commercial aircraft in 2019.  In 2030 alone, the rule would reduce methane emissions from sources covered in the proposal by 74 percent compared to 2005.
Pollution from oil and gas activities can occur in or near communities where people live, work and go to school – including minority and low-income communities, which are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Based on an analysis of populations exposed to oil and gas pollution, EPA believes the proposed rule is likely to reduce these harmful effects. 
EPA’s Regulatory Impact Analysis estimates the value of cumulative net climate benefits from the proposed rule, after taking into account the costs of compliance as well as savings from recovered natural gas, is $48 to $49 billion from 2023 to 2035 ­- the equivalent of about $4.5 billion a year. The climate benefits are estimated using the social cost of greenhouse gases and represent the monetary value of avoided climate damages associated with a decrease in emissions of a greenhouse gas. In addition to these benefits, EPA estimates that from 2023 to 2035, the proposal would reduce VOC emissions by 12 million tons and hazardous air pollution by 480,000 tons.
It would accomplish this through 1) updated and broadened methane and VOC emission reduction requirements for new, modified, and reconstructed oil and gas sources, including standards that limit emissions from additional types of sources (such as intermittent vent pneumatic controllers, associated gas, and well liquids unloading) for the first time under the Clean Air Act; and 2) requirements that states develop plans to limit methane emissions from hundreds of thousands of existing sources nationwide, along with presumptive standards for existing sources to assist in the planning process. 
Key features of the proposed rule include:
  • A comprehensive monitoring program for new and existing well sites and compressor stations;
  • A compliance option that allows owners and operators the flexibility to use advanced technology that can find major leaks more rapidly and at lower cost than ever before;
  • A zero-emissions standard for new and existing pneumatic controllers (with a limited alternative standard for sites in Alaska), certain types of which account for approximately 30 percent of current methane emissions from the oil and natural gas sector;
  • Standards to eliminate venting of associated gas, and require capture and sale of gas where a sales line is available, at new and existing oil wells;
  • Proposed performance standards and presumptive standards for other new and existing sources, including storage tanks, pneumatic pumps, and compressors; and
  • A requirement that states meaningfully engage with overburdened and underserved communities, among other stakeholders, in developing state plans.
EPA also is requesting information on additional sources of methane for the Agency to consider in developing a supplemental proposal to reduce emissions even further.  In addition, EPA is taking comment on how to structure a community monitoring program that would empower the public to detect and report large emission events for appropriate follow-up by owners and operators for possible further development in a supplemental proposal.  EPA intends to issue the supplemental proposal in 2022, and to issue a final rule before the end of 2022.
As it developed the rule, EPA conducted extensive public outreach to hear from the public and diverse perspectives including states, Tribal nations, communities affected by oil and gas pollution, environmental and public health organizations, and representatives of the oil and natural gas industry, all of which provided ideas and information that helped shape and inform the proposal. 
EPA will take comment on the proposed rule for 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. The Agency also will hold a virtual public hearing, and will host virtual trainings to help communities, Tribes and small businesses learn more about the proposed rule and participating in the public comment process. Those trainings begin November 16.
For more information on the proposed rule and to register to attend a training, visit https://www.epa.gov/controlling-air-pollution-oil-and-natural-gas-industry.
New Federal Regulations Add More than 400,000 Miles of Gas Gathering Pipelines Under Federal Oversight
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a final rule that expands Federal pipeline safety oversight to all onshore gas gathering pipelines. The rule, initiated over 10 years ago, expands the definition of a “regulated” gas gathering pipeline that is more than 50 years old. It will—for the first time—apply federal pipeline safety regulations to tens of thousands of miles of unregulated gas gathering pipelines.  The final rule will—also for the first time—require pipeline operators to report safety information for all gas gathering lines, representing more than 425,000 additional miles covered by Federal reporting requirements.
“After years in development, these new regulations represent a major step to enhance and modernize pipeline safety and environmental standards” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “This rule will improve safety, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and result in more jobs for pipeline workers that are needed to help upgrade the safety and operations of these lines.”
Gas gathering lines typically transport natural gas from production facilities to interstate gas transmission pipelines. Historically, gathering lines have been lower-pressure, lower risk, smaller-diameter lines, typically situated in lesser-populated, rural areas. With the increase in hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) over the last 15 years, the volume of gas extracted and transported through gathering lines has increased significantly. Gathering lines with diameters, operating pressures, and associated risk factors similar to larger interstate transmission lines have become more common.
A number of incidents have occurred on these high pressure, unregulated lines—tragically leading to fatalities, injuries, and large amounts of greenhouse gas (methane) emissions. For example on June 8, 2010, a bulldozer struck a 14-inch gas gathering line in Darrouzett, Texas, causing an explosion that killed two workers and injured three others, including one worker who was critically injured and required medical evacuation by helicopter.  On June 29, 2010, three men working on a 24-inch gas gathering line in Grady County, Oklahoma, were injured when it exploded; one worker was airlifted to a nearby hospital with burns covering half of his body.   On August 9, 2018, corrosion on a 10-inch gas gathering line resulted in another explosion in Midland, killing a three-year-old girl and badly burning three other members of her family. On September 10, 2018, a pipeline exploded shortly before 5 a.m. in Center Township, Pennsylvania, destroying one home about 500 feet from the blast, prompting evacuations of neighbors, damage to powerlines, and closing the nearby interstate.
More than 1,000 metric tons of high-global-warming-potential methane gas are emitted, on average, with each pipeline rupture. A single rupture from a large, high-pressure gas pipeline can release more than 1,300 metric tons of methane emissions into the atmosphere.
All together, PHMSA estimates that there are at least 425,000 miles of onshore gas gathering lines that have not been subject to PHMSA oversight but will be after this rule takes effect.  The rule establishes a new category of regulated onshore gathering lines covering higher-pressure lines that pose a heightened risk in rural areas—and applies existing pipeline safety requirements to tens of thousands of miles of these pipelines. The rule also requires all onshore gas gathering pipeline operators to begin filing incident reports and comprehensive annual reports.  Currently, without this data, estimates for the greenhouse gas impacts of highly potent methane pollution are uncertain. . The Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty, and Job Creation Act of 2011 required PHMSA to review existing regulations for gas gathering lines. The draft of this rule was first proposed [more than five years ago] on April 8, 2016.  PHMSA is currently working to develop additional regulations that will enhance the safety oversight of gas gathering pipelines.
EPA to Hold Building Managers Responsible for Lead-Based Paint Safety Requirements
EPA announced its intent to improve compliance and strengthen enforcement of the lead-based paint Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule as it applies to property management companies (PMCs) that perform, offer, or claim to perform regulated renovations without certification from the EPA in pre-1978 housing or child-occupied facilities. 
"Health impacts from exposure to lead-based paint continue to be a significant problem in the United States, particularly in underserved and overburdened communities,” said Larry Starfield, Acting Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Through this proposed action, the EPA will improve compliance with the RRP Rule in rental properties managed by property management companies and protect tenants from lead exposure.”
“Everyone, regardless of where they live, deserves to be safe from the hazards of lead-based paint,” said Michal Freedhoff, Assistant Administrator for the EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “Holding property management companies accountable for the same lead safe work practices that other firms are held to is an important step towards ensuring all communities are protected from the dangerous health effects of lead.”
The EPA published a notice in the November 4 Federal Register announcing its intention to withdraw previously published answers to two Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) concerning property management companies and their compliance responsibilities under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) rule.  The notice explains the EPA’s rationale for the withdrawal, and circumstances where a PMC must obtain certification from the EPA and ensure that renovations in the homes they manage are performed by certified firms and employees trained to use lead-safe work practices. This is especially important to underserved and overburdened communities, which often include a high proportion of rental housing managed by PMCs, and the military community, where family housing is also often managed by PMCs.
The RRP rule protects residents of pre-1978 homes from lead-based paint disturbed during renovation, repair, or painting activities. The rule requires that firms that perform or offer to perform renovations in pre-1978 houses need to be certified by the EPA and assign individuals who have been trained to use lead-safe work practices; disclose important safety information to residents prior to the work; and document their compliance with the rule.
Compliance with the RRP rule’s requirements protects people from the hazardous health effects of lead.  Lead-contaminated dust from chipped or peeling lead-based paint in homes built prior to 1978 presents one of the most common causes of elevated blood lead levels in children.  Infants and children are especially vulnerable to lead paint exposure because their growing bodies absorb more lead than adults do, and their brains and nervous systems are more sensitive to the damaging effects of lead.
The Federal Register notice explains the agency’s rationale for the withdrawal of the two current FAQs, the impact of this withdrawal on compliance, how the EPA will exercise its enforcement discretion, and it invites public comment on the action. The public comment period will last 30 days.
Following the comment period and the agency’s consideration of comments received by that date, the EPA intends to post a memorandum that states whether the withdrawal will take effect as planned, on March 19, 2022.
For more information about lead and lead regulations, please visit: www.epa.gov/lead.
Convicted Felon Indicted for Illegally Transporting and Storing Hazardous Waste, Falsifying a Hazardous Waste Manifest and Obstructing an Agency Proceeding
A federal grand jury in Hawaii returned an indictment against Anthony Shane Gilstrap, 54, for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) by transporting hazardous waste without a required manifest, falsifying a hazardous waste manifest, and storing hazardous waste without a permit. He is also charged with obstructing an agency proceeding.
In January 2017, Gilstrap, who has lived in Hawaii, Georgia and Kansas, agreed to remove drums of the RCRA-listed hazardous waste perchloroethylene (perc) from Young Laundry & Dry Cleaning (YLD), owned by U.S. Dry Cleaning Corp. (USDC). YLD’s Regional Manager hired Gilstrap to remove the drums for $15,000, which was less than half the price that legitimate hazardous waste disposal companies had quoted to YLD. Gilstrap removed the drums to his warehouse, which was not a permitted storage or treatment site, without required RCRA manifests. Furthermore, both Gilstrap and USDC produced false manifests to put the Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH) off the trail. When an HDOH inspector later tried to locate the missing drums, Gilstrap lied about their whereabouts.
The YLD Regional Manager who hired Gilstrap has pleaded guilty before the U.S. District Court of the District of Hawaii to causing the transportation of hazardous waste without a manifest and received a sentence of probation. On Oct. 5, Gilstrap was indicted in the District of Kansas for possession of a firearm by a previously convicted felon.
“Perc is a dangerous toxic substance, and stashing drums of it at a cut rate price with no plan for proper final disposal, is a gross dereliction of care and violates the law,” said Assistant Attorney General Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “With hazardous waste, the department will aggressively prosecute a knowing failure to do what is right.”
“Hazardous waste manifests are the receipts that track how dangerous wastes are handled,” said the Acting U.S. Attorney Judith A. Philips for the District of Hawaii. “Here, their absence, and the efforts of HDOH and EPA to close the loop, led to the accountability we see today. We will follow through and hold the defendant to account for his illegal transportation and storage as well as his attempts to cover that up.”
“The hazardous waste involved in this case posed serious public health and environmental dangers,” said Acting Assistant Administrator Larry Starfield for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.  “EPA and our law enforcement partners are committed to holding responsible parties accountable for actions that put communities at risk.”
Gilstrap will be scheduled for his initial court appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii. If convicted, he faces a penalty of up to 13 years in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
This case was investigated by the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division. Environmental Crimes Section Senior Trial Attorney Kris Dighe is prosecuting the case jointly with Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregg Paris Yates for the District of Hawaii.
Fertilizer Distributor Fined for RMP Violations
EPA will collect a $52,221 penalty from Postville, Iowa, fertilizer distributor Farmers Union Cooperative to resolve alleged violations of the federal Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Plan Rule.
According to EPA, the company stores 457,000 pounds of anhydrous ammonia, a regulated toxic substance, and failed to comply with regulations intended to protect workers and the surrounding community from accidental releases of regulated substances.
After reviewing Farmers Union Cooperative’s facility records, EPA determined that the company failed to update its plans for preventing the release of anhydrous ammonia and responding to a release. Violations also included the company’s failure to update a hazard review, failure to maintain operating procedures, and failure to perform and maintain compliance audits. In response to EPA’s findings, Farmers Union Cooperative took the necessary steps to return the facility to compliance.
Anhydrous ammonia presents a significant health hazard because it is corrosive to the skin, eyes and lungs. High levels of exposure may lead to choking and death.
The Clean Air Act’s Risk Management Plan Rule regulations require facilities that use regulated toxic and/or flammable substances to develop a Risk Management Plan which identifies the potential effects of a chemical accident, identifies steps a facility is taking to prevent an accident, and spells out emergency response procedures should an accident occur. These plans provide valuable information to local fire, police, and emergency response personnel to prepare for and respond to chemical emergencies in their community.
EPA has found that many regulated facilities are not adequately managing the risks that they pose or ensuring the safety of their facilities in a way that is sufficient to protect surrounding communities. Approximately 150 catastrophic accidents occur each year at regulated facilities. These accidents result in fatalities, injuries, significant property damage, evacuations, sheltering in place, or environmental damage. Many more accidents with lesser effects also occur, demonstrating a clear risk posed by these facilities.
Reducing risks from accidental releases of hazardous substances at industrial and chemical facilities is a top priority for EPA, which identified this goal as one of seven National Compliance Initiatives in 2019. For more information, visit: www.epa.gov/enforcement/national-compliance-initiatives.
For more information about EPA’s Risk Management Plan Rule, visit: www.epa.gov/rmp
SPCC Rule Changes Proposed in Alaska
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) posted proposed changes to the regulations for Oil Discharge Prevention and Contingency Plans and Streamlined Plans (plans) for public comment on Monday, November 1. Certain vessels, railroads, pipelines, and oil terminal facilities must have approved plans to lawfully operate in the state.
"The goal is absolutely to maintain Alaska’s high standards for environmental protection, while also modernizing plan-holder requirements and ending 'administranglia' for our plan holders that takes their focus and resources away from the things that really matter," said DEC Commissioner Jason Brune. "In the end, we want to see contingency plans that are very effective for preventing and responding to spills and don’t get caught up things that are duplicative, inefficient, or no longer work."
Over two years, DEC sought input from industry and stakeholders regarding how the plan requirements could be improved. The Department held meetings, made presentations, and undertook a five-month public scoping project that generated 350 comments from 130 separate individuals and organizations.
One significant change is merging and streamlining the requirements for what must be in a plan with the criteria DEC will use when approving plans. Previously these had been in two separate sections of the regulations, leading to confusion over what was required. Another improvement is to clarify what operators can expect during DEC inspections, and to incorporate virtual technology into the department's oversight regimen where it will improve the outcome. Communication methods, records requirements, requirements for submitting plans, and public notice requirements have all been modernized to reflect current technology.
There are 131 active plans, representing approximately 77 plan holders, all of which would be affected by the proposed changes. The changes in the draft regulations would not affect non-tank vessel contingency plans or extend contingency plan requirements to vessels or facilities that are not already covered.
Information on the proposed changes and how to submit a comment is posted on DEC's website. The deadline for comments on the draft regulations is January 31, 2022.
"We’ve extended the public comment period past the required 30 day notice because we want to get the best outcome, and ensure that everyone who is interested has time to review the changes and provide comments," said Tiffany Larson, Spill Prevention and Response Director. "We look forward to the feedback, and will consider it carefully as we finalize the spill prevention and contingency plan requirements in regulation."
Kleanguard Ordered to Stop Selling Unregistered Pesticide
EPA has issued a “Stop Sale” order to Kleanguard 48 LLC in Lombard, Illinois, to immediately halt the sale or distribution of an unregistered pesticide in violation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).
EPA issued the order to prevent further sale and distribution of the unregistered pesticide, KleanGuard48, offered for sale online. Claims related to disinfection, sanitation and two active pesticidal ingredients (silver and phenic acid) appear on the unregistered pesticide product’s label and a website.
Under FIFRA, pesticides must be evaluated through EPA’s registration process to ensure that the products perform as intended prior to their distribution or sale. The agency will not register a pesticide until it is determined that the product does not pose an unreasonable risk to human health or the environment, when used in accordance with the label directions. Products that have been properly registered bear EPA-approved labeling which provide users with important information regarding safety and application. Unregistered products that EPA has not evaluated may not function as advertised or may mislead consumers.
Two Companies Cited for RMP Violations
EPA has reached settlements with two companies in Maine for alleged violations of the chemical accident prevention requirements of the federal Clean Air Act. The companies, GAC Chemical Corp. (GAC) in Searsport, and Tate and Lyle Ingredients Americas in Houlton, will pay civil penalties. Both companies took steps to improve safety at their facilities after EPA's inspections.
GAC Chemical Corp. operates a chemical manufacturing and distribution facility in Searsport. Among other chemicals, GAC uses anhydrous ammonia, aqueous ammonia, and sulfuric acid in its operations. Anhydrous ammonia is a highly toxic regulated substance, and facilities that routinely store or handle more than 10,000 pounds of it are required to prepare and submit a "Risk Management Plan" (RMP) that outlines how the facility will meet the safety requirements. Sulfuric acid is an extremely hazardous substance subject to the "General Duty Clause" (GDC) of section 112(r) of the Clean Air Act. The GAC facility is located about two miles east of Searsport's downtown area, and a worst-case release from the facility could cause serious injury or death beyond the facility, impacting homes, businesses, schools, churches, and Route 1.
Under the settlement with EPA, GAC will pay a $305,000 penalty to resolve seven counts. EPA's most significant concern pertained to the maintenance of tanks and pipes at the facility. GAC has certified that the facility is now substantively in compliance with RMP regulations and the General Duty Clause.
Tate & Lyle Ingredients Americas manufactures a variety of specialty food and industrial starches at its facility in Houlton. The facility handles and stores various hazardous chemicals subject to RMP and other chemical safety requirements, including propylene oxide, sulfuric acid, compressed natural gas, acetic anhydride, hydrogen chloride, and propane. An EPA inspection of the facility documented several serious concerns regarding their use of RMP and GDC chemicals at the site. Under the settlement, the company will pay a $240,919 penalty to resolve four counts and has certified its compliance with RMP and GDC requirements.
Throughout the settlement process, both companies have cooperated with EPA and have addressed the identified issues, significantly improving the safety of both facilities.
"Companies that store, handle or manufacture hazardous chemicals must take necessary precautions to protect local communities by following chemical accident prevention requirements," said EPA New England's Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro. "Risk Management Plans are important because they identify the potential effects of a chemical accident, and they identify steps the facility is taking to prevent an accident."
Auto Parts Company Fined over $152,000 for Selling Defeat Devices
EPA announced a settlement with K 2 Motor Corp., doing business as Spec-D Tuning, over Clean Air Act (CAA) violations. K 2 Motor Corp, based out of the City of Industry, offered for sale and sold aftermarket auto parts that bypass or disable required emissions control systems, otherwise known as defeat devices. The company will pay $152,160 in penalties. This settlement is part of EPA’s National Compliance Initiative, which focuses on stopping the manufacture, sale, and installation of defeat devices on vehicles and engines. The enforcement action was taken in collaboration with the California Air Resources Board (CARB).
“We are proud to work alongside our state partners in stopping illegal aftermarket defeat devices that cause harmful pollution on our roads and in our communities,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Director of the Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Division, Amy Miller. “We will continue to investigate and penalize anyone who manufactures, sells, or installs these types of illegal products.”
In addition to the EPA’s case, CARB also settled with K 2 Motor Corp. for emissions violations related to the sale of non-exempt aftermarket vehicle parts in California and collected a penalty of $88,696. The penalty will be used to fund air quality education for students in the San Diego area as well as support CARB research projects.
“These ‘defeat’ devices are illegal and harm public health. CARB takes enforcement of the Clean Air Act seriously, and thanks to our collaboration with the U.S. EPA, another company has been stopped from continuing to undermine our collective efforts to ensure clean air for all,” said Todd Sax, CARB Enforcement Division Chief.
EPA issued an information request to K 2 Motor Corp. regarding hardware and software the company had been selling since 2017. The company’s response to this information request indicated that it had sold almost 4,000 exhaust emission control delete hardware, including devices sometimes referred to as “straight” or “delete” pipes, used to bypass vehicle emission control systems, constituting violations of the Clean Air Act.
Earlier this year, EPA also had two settlements with other automotive parts distributors in Southern California for violations of the Clean Air Act. Walnut, Calif.-based Black Horse Racing Corp. and SLH Trading Corp., as well as Torrance, Calif.-based Eurocode Tuning, Inc., sold aftermarket auto parts that bypass or disable required emissions control systems in motor vehicles. The companies agreed to pay $24,457 in combined penalties. One of these agreements was reached under EPA’s expedited settlement agreement policy used to address minor, easily correctible violations.
Tampered diesel and gasoline powered vehicles emit large amounts of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter, both of which contribute to serious public health problems in the United States. These health impacts include premature mortality, aggravation of respiratory and cardiovascular disease, aggravation of asthma, acute respiratory symptoms, chronic bronchitis, and decreased lung function. Numerous studies also link diesel exhaust to increased incidence of lung cancer, especially in low-income neighborhoods. Respiratory issues disproportionately affect families, especially children, living in underserved communities overburdened by pollution.
Business Owner Pleads Guilty to Violating the Clean Air Act by Tampering with the Emissions Control Systems on Heavy-Duty Diesel Trucks
James Love, 52, of Oklahoma City, pleaded guilty to a single-count felony Information charging him with Tampering with a Monitoring Device and Method Required to be Maintained Under the Clean Air Act, announced Robert J. Troester, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma.
"By causing the removal of pollution control devices, Love caused diesel trucks to spew pollutants into the air at a rate of up to 300 times caused by normal operating vehicles," said Acting U.S. Attorney Troester.  "This conduct increased toxins in our environment linked to cancer and pulmonary, neurological, cardiovascular, and immune system damage.  To engage in this conduct for financial gain will not be tolerated."
"Today, the defendant pled guilty to tampering with diesel truck monitoring systems required under the Clean Air Act" said Special Agent in Charge Christopher R. Brooks of EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division in Texas. "He knowingly directed others to reprogram the trucks’ Onboard Diagnostic (OBD) systems to prevent the detection of alterations to the emission controls, thereby exposing the public to significant levels of air pollution."
Public records reflect that, on September 20, 2021, Love was charged by Information with violating the Clean Air Act.  The Clean Air Act was enacted by Congress to protect and enhance the quality of the Nation’s air resources to promote the public health and welfare and the productive capacity of its population.  In enacting the Clean Air Act, Congress found that the increasing use of motor vehicles has resulted in mounting dangers to the public health and welfare.  The Clean Air Act protects the Nation’s air quality by, among other things, reducing vehicle emissions that pollute the air with toxins such as nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, hydrocarbons, and carbon monoxide.  The Clean Air Act limits the emission of air pollutants from various classes of motor vehicle engines, including heavy-duty diesel engines.
Public records further reflect that Love owned and operated Southwest Diesel Service, a heavy-duty diesel engine full-service garage located in Oklahoma City.  Love admitted that between February 2015 and April 2019, he directed his employees to modify the emissions control systems on heavy-duty diesel trucks.  Specifically, Love directed these employees to alter the emissions control components, including removing the diesel particulate filters (DPFs) and plating the exhaust gas recirculation systems (EGRs).   He then instructed others to reprogram the vehicles’ on-board computers so that the emissions control systems’ sensors failed to detect the alterations.  These modifications prevented the trucks from accurately recording the pollutants they discharged into the atmosphere. They also ensured that the trucks continued to travel on public roads despite operating illegally.
At sentencing, Love faces up to two years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  A sentencing hearing will occur in approximately 90 days.
The investigation was conducted by the Oklahoma Environmental Crimes Task Force to include the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality’s Criminal Investigation Unit.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Brown.
Environmental Rights Amendment Passes in New York
On November 3, voters in New York overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the State Constitution that would add “Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.” Passing this amendment has made New York just the third state in the U.S. to recognize protecting environmental rights as an inalienable right.
“It’s always been clear that a strong majority of the people of New York want clean air and clean water. Their right to that is too often thwarted by powerful special interest polluters. Earthjustice and advocate partners who have been fighting for a healthy and clean environment for decades are excited that we now have this new constitutional right,” said Courtney Bowie, managing attorney of the Earthjustice Northeast Office. “We look forward to working with our allies in bringing the words on paper to life!”
“The League of Women Voters of New York State is pleased that voters have approved Proposal 2 to guarantee all New Yorkers the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthful environment. The League has long supported environmental justice policies to protect communities from pollution and hazardous living conditions. This new amendment will create an outlet for individuals and organizations to take action against bad actors who violate our new right to clean air and water. We applaud the Vote YES for Clean Air and Water coalition for their hard work in encouraging voters to approve this amendment.” – Jennifer Wilson, Deputy Director, League of Women Voters of New York State.
Two Asbestos Removal Companies Fined a Combined $800,000 For Knowingly Exposing Workers and the Public to Unsafe Conditions
Two Washington asbestos removal contractors are facing a combined $800,000 in fines from the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) for knowingly and repeatedly exposing employees and the public to extremely hazardous conditions.
Above and Beyond Asbestos Removal LLC of Edmonds faces fines for more than a dozen asbestos safety violations related to work at homes in Bothell and Burien, while 4 Aces Restoration LLC of Des Moines is being cited for several safety issues at homes around King County.
Asbestos is extremely hazardous and can cause potentially fatal diseases like asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. Only a certified abatement contractor that follows specific asbestos-related safety and health rules may remove and dispose of asbestos-containing building materials.
L&I decertified Above and Beyond in 2018, but the contractor has continued to bid on and perform asbestos abatement projects. The recent fines are in connection with two separate June 2021 inspections. Inspectors observed an employee of Above and Beyond removing a popcorn ceiling in a Bothell home. When informed of the contractor’s license suspension, they left without arranging to clean up debris that L&I confirmed contained asbestos. There were no HEPA vacuums or wetting agents, no asbestos bags, no asbestos warning signs, and the home HVAC system was on and running — all violations of basic safety measures.
At a Burien home, investigators found the son of Above and Beyond’s owner removing flooring that contained asbestos. The son, who like his father, is not certified for asbestos abatement, said he was unaware the company was decertified and unfamiliar with air monitoring and containment requirements.
In total, Above and Beyond was fined $575,000 and cited for 13 willful serious violations for intentional disregard of asbestos regulations and continuing to pursue and complete abatement work without certification or a contractor’s license. The company has been cited numerous times in the past, and has been identified by L&I as a severe violator.
At job sites in Normandy Park, Bellevue, and Seattle, 4 Aces Restoration had no machine to filter asbestos dust from the air and did not have the required decontamination shower. They also didn’t have a compressor on site, which is needed to operate the respirators workers rely on to prevent inhalation of extremely hazardous asbestos dust.
4 Aces Restoration has been inspected by L&I more than a dozen times since 2016. The company owner has more than 20 years’ experience with the rules and regulations around this type of hazardous work and was cited for the same respirator violation in 2018. A company representative also lied to investigators about the company’s qualifications.

As a result of the three recent inspections, L&I imposed 10 willful serious citations and $227,439 in fines. The company has appealed. Homeowners were encouraged to do their homework by reviewing L&I’s certified contractors list before hiring an asbestos removal company.
Navy Fined Over $325,000 for UST Violations in Hawaii
The Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) Environmental Health Administration issued Notice of Violation and Order (NOVO) No. 21-UST-EA-01 to the U.S. Navy for violations related to operation and maintenance of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility on Oahu. The violations were discovered during a routine DOH compliance inspection that took place from Sept. 28, 2020 through Oct. 9, 2020. The NOVO consists of five counts with a total penalty in the amount of $325,182.
DOH regulates underground storage tank (UST) systems in the State of Hawaii, having been authorized by the EPA to run an approved state program since 2002. In 2015, EPA strengthened its regulations governing the operation and maintenance of UST systems. These updates also brought UST systems with field-constructed tanks under full regulation for the first time. In 2018, in accordance with federal rules for state program approval, DOH adopted EPA’s updates and additional requirements to make the state rules more environmentally protective.
“The state’s effort to strengthen regulations around inspection and monitoring was critical to identifying these violations and ensuring that underground storage tanks are maintained safely,” said Deputy Director of Environmental Health Kathleen Ho. “DOH will continue to enforce all regulations to protect Hawaiʻi residents and our environment.”
The inspection that began on Sept. 28, 2020 was the first inspection of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility UST system conducted under these new rules. DOH has completed review of documentation associated with the inspection, identified areas of non-compliance and issued this NOVO expeditiously, given the size and complexity of the UST system.
The five counts in the NOVO are:
  • Failure to operate and maintain ongoing corrosion protection to metal components of the portion of the Navy’s tank and piping that contain regulated substances and are in contact with the ground. This violation resulted in a $30,000 penalty;
  • Failure to perform line tightness testing of repaired piping before return to service resulted in a $179,982 penalty;
  • Failure to perform an annual liquid tightness test on spill prevention equipment to prevent releases to the environment. This resulted in a penalty of $22,950;
  • Failure to perform an adequate visual walkthrough inspection of hydrant pits, resulting in a penalty of $2,250; and
  • Failure to maintain adequate release detection for two double-walled underground product recovery storage tanks. This penalty amounted to $90,000.
The Navy has been directed to come into compliance as detailed in the Order. The Navy may submit a request for a hearing and contest the NOVO within 20 days of its receipt. The NOVO is not intended to address matters in the contested case in DOH Docket No. 19-UST-EA-01. This action is the result of the UST compliance inspection under Chapter 11-280.1, HAR, and should not be interpreted as a declaration by DOH of a position in any other matter.
Click here to download a copy of the NOVO, which provides further detail on the violations.
Advanced TENORM Mishandled Radioactive Waste
On September 15, 2021, a court sentenced Cory Hoskins to complete a five-year term of probation, to include six months’ home detention. Hoskins pleaded guilty to violating the Hazardous Materials Transportation Act for transporting hazardous materials using false shipping papers and/or lacking placards and labels (49 U.S.C. § 5124.)
Hoskins began operating Advanced TENORM Services, a small family-owned waste disposal business in 2015. Throughout the course of doing business, Hoskins claimed expertise in radiological testing, surveying, transporting, and disposing of various types of waste. Between July and December 2015, Hoskins fraudulently disposed of oil and gas waste (sludge) from Fairmont Brine Processing in West Virginia. Based upon sample results, Hoskins knew the sludge tested above safe radioactive levels. He ultimately caused the shipment of approximately 34 tractor-trailer sized containers (vacuum boxes) from West Virginia to Kentucky, while concealing the true nature of the material from the shipping company.
The Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation.
Colonial Pipeline Required To Take Additional Actions for Largest Gasoline Spill in State’s History
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) filed a Complaint and Motion for Injunctive Relief in Mecklenburg County Superior Court to force Colonial Pipeline to meet their obligations as the responsible party in the state’s largest gasoline spill. As outlined in the complaint, Colonial has failed to provide DEQ with essential information required for the appropriate remediation at the site.
“Colonial owes it to the people of North Carolina to cooperate with DEQ and be forthcoming with the information required by our statutes, starting with an accurate estimate of how much fuel was released into the environment,” said Secretary Elizabeth S. Biser. “DEQ is committed to holding Colonial accountable and we now seek a court order directing Colonial to comply with their obligations to cleanup and restore the communities impacted by the release.”
The release was discovered in August of 2020 in the Oehler Nature Preserve in Huntersville. To date, Colonial has recovered more than 1.23 million gallons of petroleum product from the site, but has failed to provide DEQ with an updated volume estimate of the release. Despite requirements to do so, Colonial has not satisfactorily defined the vertical extent (depth) of petroleum contamination in soil and groundwater at the site and has not fully investigated the extent of per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) contamination at the site related to the response activities.
The complaint seeks a judicial action requiring Colonial Pipeline to take the following actions:
  • Remove, treat or control any source of petroleum, PFAS or other contaminants that have the potential to contaminate groundwater;
  • Provide DEQ with a current, revised estimate of the volume of petroleum released;
  • Submit a comprehensive conceptual site model for both the petroleum release and the PFAS contamination;
  • Complete site assessment activities, and submit and receive DEQ approval for a corrective action plan and proposed schedule for implementation;
  • Conduct monthly sampling of nearby surface water for petroleum, pH, conductivity, dissolved oxygen, Volatile Organic Compounds, total lead and PFAS at locations determined by DEQ; and
  • Provide evaluations of Colonial’s leak detection system statewide, provide locations of all pipeline Type-A collar repairs within North Carolina and remove or replace them with approved alternatives if necessary. Colonial has cited corrosion related to a Type-A sleeve repair as the cause of the Huntersville release.
The Complaint Motion for Injunctive Relief does not preclude DEQ from imposing civil penalties for any violations related to the release or from taking any future enforcement action against Colonial Pipeline if new information indicates additional enforcement measures are warranted.
Contractor Cited for Fall Protection, Ladder Safety Violations
Oregon OSHA has fined a Canby-based general contractor more than $36,000 for violating job safety standards designed to protect workers from falls that could seriously injure or kill them.
The citation against JMJ Construction LLC stems from an inspection the division launched under its ongoing emphasis program focused on preventing falls in construction. Falls are the leading cause of death in the construction industry.
Oregon OSHA's inspection centered on a construction site in Beaverton, where employees were conducting roofing work on a two-story house. The inspection found at least one employee working on the roof with no protection against a potential fall to the ground of about 19 feet.
It was a violation of a basic fall protection rule requiring employers to implement protective systems – such as a personal fall restraint system – when employees are exposed to a hazard of falling six feet or more to a lower level.
In fact, it was the fourth time JMJ Construction violated the standard. Its most recent repeat violation of the standard occurred on a construction site in Forest Grove in May of this year.
“When employers repeatedly fail to comply with safety standards that we know are effective at protecting workers against fall hazards, they are only increasing the risk to their employees of serious harm or death," said Julie Love, interim administrator for Oregon OSHA. “There is simply no excuse for not putting proven safety measures into practice."
Altogether, Oregon OSHA cited JMJ Construction for the following violations and proposed penalties totaling $36,180:
  • Failure to provide fall protection systems where workers were exposed to a hazard of falling six feet or more to a lower level. At least one employee was exposed to a potential fall of about 19 feet to the ground. Also, failure to ensure employees walking or working from the house's wooden top plates were protected from a potential fall of about nine feet to the wooden floor below. It was a repeat violation. Under Oregon OSHA's rules, penalties multiply when employers commit repeat offenses.
  • Failure to ensure a portable ladder – used for accessing an eight-foot-high top plate – extended at least three feet above the upper landing surface.
  • Failure to ensure at least one employee properly used a six-foot stepladder. Instead, the top of the stepladder was used as a step to reach a top plate at a height of eight feet.
Company Cited for Untrained, Unprotected Worker Death
Oregon OSHA has fined a Wilsonville company $14,375 for violating job safety standards designed to protect workers from the potential hazards of tree work, including climbing, cutting, and removal.
The division cited Haulout Landscape Inc. following an investigation into an April 1 accident that resulted in the death of a worker in Klamath Falls. The worker had been hired to work on this particular job.
The deadly accident underscores the need to anticipate risks, and to follow proven safety procedures and practices as part of any work operation, including one involving a short-term jobsite with a relatively immediate need to hire workers.
Oregon OSHA's investigation centered on events surrounding Haulout Landscape's hiring of two workers who responded to the company's advertisement on Craigslist. The workers were tasked with cutting down and removing an approximately 60-foot-tall oak tree at a job site in Klamath Falls.
At one point during the project, one of the workers – positioned under a large, partially attached tree branch – was using a gas-powered chainsaw to cut branches on the ground for firewood, according to Oregon OSHA's investigation. At the same time, the other employee worked at the opposite end of the large branch. That employee was using a gas-powered chainsaw to cut the large branch into pieces. As he did this, the tree branch toppled and struck the other worker – who was underneath it – in the head, trapping and killing him.
Before the workers arrived on site, the project supervisor had tried cutting a block out of the tree. He became nervous about trying to remove the tree himself, according to Oregon OSHA's investigation, and decided to advertise for help.
“Workers have a right to a safe and healthy workplace," said Oregon OSHA Interim Administrator Julie Love. “And whether an employer assigns a task to a long-time employee or to a temporary worker, the employer is responsible for ensuring protections are in place. That includes anticipating risks, and providing proper safety training and equipment. To do otherwise is to needlessly put workers in harm's way."
Altogether, Oregon OSHA cited Haulout Landscape for three serious job safety violations:
  • Did not train employees on equipment such as chainsaws, and tree removal rigging or climbing equipment. The company also did not ensure employees followed safe work practices for climbing, cutting, or removing large trees. Penalty: $3,125.
  • Did not ensure an employee was tied in with any approved climbing rope or safety saddle. The employee was exposed to a potential fall of about 15 feet from a tree limb. Penalty: $5,625.
  • Did not ensure that employees using gas-powered chainsaws to cut down and remove a tree were provided with – and used – personal protective equipment such as hearing, eye, head, leg, or fall protection. Penalty: $5,625.
Air Pollution Linked to Heart Scarring in Adults with Hypertension and Kidney Disease
New research indicates that air pollution may have detrimental heart-related effects in individuals with kidney disease. The findings will be presented online at ASN Kidney Week 2021 November 4–November 7.
In the study of 1,019 adults with hypertension, investigators found no link between air pollution exposure and blood levels of Galectin 3, a marker of scarring in the heart; however, in adults who had chronic kidney disease (CKD) in addition to hypertension, air pollution exposure was associated with rising levels of Galectin 3 over time.
“Air pollution may be directly linked to the development of myocardial fibrosis in individuals with CKD,” said lead author Hafsa Tariq, MD. “Efforts to limit air pollution could have a beneficial effect on lowering subclinical cardiovascular disease in CKD.”
Signal Peak Energy Admitted to Criminal Violations of Health, Safety Regulations at Roundup Area Coal Mine
Signal Peak Energy, LLC, which operates an underground coal mine near Roundup, admitted to criminal charges that it willfully violated health and safety standards and has agreed to pay a $1 million fine as part of proposed plea agreement, Acting U.S. Attorney Leif M. Johnson said.
Signal Peak Energy, through a representative, pleaded guilty during an initial appearance and plea hearing to an information charging it with four counts of willful violation of a health and safety standard, a misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is a $250,000 fine.
A plea agreement recommends that a criminal fine of $250,000 for each count of conviction, for a total fine of $1 million, is the appropriate disposition of the case. The parties further agree that a sentence of probation is appropriate. If the court accepts the plea agreement, the company does not have an automatic right to withdraw its guilty pleas. If the court rejects the plea agreement, the company can withdraw its guilty pleas and proceed to trial.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Cavan presided. A sentencing date before U.S. District Judge Susan P. Watters has not yet been set.
“Signal Peak’s conduct showed a blatant and callous disregard for its own workers’ health and safety and for protecting the environment. Companies that habitually and willfully violate regulations will be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Acting U.S. Attorney Johnson said.
The Signal Peak Energy prosecution is part of a broad corruption investigation into mine management and operations that resulted in not only worker safety and environmental misdemeanor convictions, but also in individual convictions and charges for some former mine officials and associates for embezzlement, tax evasion, bank fraud, money laundering, drugs and firearms violations.
Individual convictions of former mine officials included Larry Wayne Price, Jr., former vice president of surface operations, who was sentenced to prison for defrauding companies of $20 million; and Zachary Ruble, former surface mine manager, who was sentenced to probation for conspiring to defraud Signal Peak Energy of $2.3 million.
A third former mine official, Dale Lee Musgrave, former vice president of underground operations, has pleaded not guilty to an indictment alleging cocaine trafficking and false statements in mine records and is pending trial.
Associated individual cases include Stephen P. Casher, a former Rocky Mountain Bank loan officer, who was sentenced to prison and fined on bank fraud and money laundering charges for a loan scheme involving Larry Price Jr.; James and Timilynn Kisling, owners of Kisling Quality Builders, who were sentenced to probation and fined for conviction of tax evasion in a scheme involving the construction of Larry Price Jr.’s Billings residence; Mark Luciano, a Nevada resident who was sentenced to prison for conviction on trafficking cocaine; and Todd Alan Irwin, a secretary to Larry Price, Jr., who was sentenced to probation for conviction of felon in possession of firearms.
Robert Wayne Ramsey, owner of Peters Equipment Company, has been charged by an information with wire fraud in an alleged equipment sale scheme involving Signal Peak Energy and is pending arraignment.
In the Signal Peak Energy case, the government alleged in court documents that from 2013 through 2018, Signal Peak Energy habitually violated mandatory health and safety standards in the Mine Safety and Health Act during the mine’s operation. These violations included both environmental safety and worker safety standards. These violations also occurred with the full knowledge, direction and participation of the mine’s most senior management during that period, including the president and CEO, the vice president of surface operations, the vice president of underground operations and the safety manager.
The government further alleged that during the summer of 2013, Signal Peak Energy’s senior managers directed mine employees to improperly dispose of mine waste by pumping the waste into abandoned sections of the mine. This waste, known as “slurry,” consisted of wastewater, industrial chemicals used in the mining process and unprocessed soil containing heavy metals, including arsenic and lead over groundwater tolerances. Mine employees pumped this slurry into the abandoned section of the mine for about two weeks, until the section was full. Disposing mine waste in this manner required approval of both the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) and the EPA, which Signal Peak Energy did not obtain.
In the spring of 2015, the government alleged, Signal Peak Energy agents commissioned the drilling of two bore holes through the ground that led to another abandoned section of the mine. Senior mine managers directed employees to pump more slurry into the abandoned section through the bore holes. This slurry was similar to the slurry improperly disposed of in 2013. Estimates vary, but this pumping occurred for up to six weeks. The pumping stopped after a witness discovered that seals between the abandoned mine works and the operating mine had been breached, causing flooding in the areas of the operating mine. Signal Peak Energy obtained a permit to inject water into the ground through the bore holes, but this permit did not allow for the disposal of slurry waste.
In January 2018, Signal Peak Energy failed to report as required the injury of an employee, identified as John Doe 1, who was working at the mine when his finger was crushed and required amputation. Doe 1 was moving large mining equipment as part of his duties when some of this equipment fell onto his hand. Doe 1met with the safety manager, who began driving him to the hospital for medical treatment. On the way, Doe 1 had a telephone conversation with the vice president of underground operations. The vice president of underground operations pressured Doe 1 not to report the injury as work related and said that he would make it worthwhile for Doe 1. The safety manager witnessed this but did not intervene. The safety manager then dropped off Doe 1 at the hospital rather than accompanying him inside pursuant to mine policy. Doe 1 falsely stated that the injury had occurred at home and was not work related. When Doe 1 returned to work sometime later, the vice president of underground operations gave Doe 1 an envelope containing $2,000.
In May 2018, Signal Peak Energy again failed to report an injury as mandated. An employee, identified as John Doe 2, was working in the underground portion of the mine when rock sluffed off the wall and onto Doe 2’s head, causing a severe laceration. The shift manager immediately called the safety manager. The safety manager met Doe 2 and drove Doe 2 away from the mine with the stated intention to take Doe 2 to the hospital. Instead, the safety manager drove Doe 2 home. Doe 2 waited until the next morning to seek medical attention and falsely stated the injury had been caused by a shelf falling on his head in the garage of his home. Doctors treated the laceration and Doe 2 returned to work for his next scheduled shift. Doe 2 was unable to complete the shift or several of the following shifts because of his injuries. Doe 2’s lost time was charged against his vacation leave without his approval.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Colin M. Rubich, Zeno B. Baucus and Timothy Tatarka are prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the IRS, FBI and Environmental Protection Agency.
Free Amazon HD 10 Tablet with RCRA and DOT Training
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