How Long Do You Have to Retain Manufacturer’s Hazardous Material Packaging Instructions – If They Are Printed on the Package?

September 19, 2016

According to 40 CFR 173.22(a)(4)(ii), hazardous material shippers must retain package manufacturer’s instructions on how to fill and seal hazardous material packages for at least 90 days, unless they are permanently embossed or printed on a bulk package or cylinder. But, what if the instructions are permanently marked on a non-bulk package, such as a 4G box, and the manufacturer doesn’t provide you with written instructions?

According to a September 7, 2016, letter to Lizzie Clifton at Environmental Resource Center from Dirk Der Kinderen at DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, if the closure instructions are printed on the package, the shipper must still retain them for at least 90 days. The DOT does not require a specific format for retaining the instructions. Therefore, the shipper can retain a spare package, obtain an electronic transmission from the package manufacturer, or use another method to retain the required information.

New Exclusions for Solvent Recycling and Hazardous Secondary Materials

EPA’s new final on the definition of solid waste creates new opportunities for waste recycling outside the scope of the full hazardous waste regulations. This, which went into effect on July 13, 2015, streamlines the regulatory burden for wastes that are legitimately recycled.

The first of the two exclusions is an exclusion from the definition of solid waste for high-value solvents transferred from one manufacturer to another for the purpose of extending the useful life of the original solvent by keeping the materials in commerce to reproduce a commercial grade of the original solvent product.

The second, and more wide-reaching of the two exclusions, is a revision of the existing hazardous secondary material recycling exclusion. This exclusion allows you to recycle, or send off-site for recycling, virtually any hazardous secondary material. Provided you meet the terms of the exclusion, the material will no longer be hazardous waste.

Learn how to take advantage of these exclusions at Environmental Resource Center’s live webcast on October 14 where you will learn:

  • Which of your materials qualify under the new exclusions
  • What qualifies as a hazardous secondary material
  • Which solvents can be remanufactured, and which cannot
  • What is a tolling agreement
  • What is legitimate recycling
  • Generator storage requirements
  • What documentation you must maintain
  • Requirements for off-site shipments
  • Training and emergency planning requirements
  • If it is acceptable for the recycler to be outside the US

Bring your questions to this live webcast. Click here to register online or call 800-537-2372.

Raleigh Area HAZWOPER Refresher, RCRA/DOT Update, and OSHA Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) 8-Hour Refresher Training in Cary, NC, on September 27 and ensure you are ready to respond. Attend RCRA Hazardous Waste and DOT Hazardous Materials Update and Refresher Training in Cary, NC, on September 28 and update your DOT and RCRA training in one day. Learn how to comply with OSHA General Industry Standards at the OSHA 10-Hour Compliance Course on September 29–30. To register for these courses, click here or call 800-537-2372.

San Antonio RCRA and DOT Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management in Texas and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in San Antonio, TX, on September 27–29 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Los Angeles RCRA, DOT, and IATA Training

Register for Hazardous Waste Management in California and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Los Angeles, CA, on October 11–13 and save $100. Get the training you need to ship dangerous goods by air at Transportation of Dangerous Goods: Compliance with IATA Regulations on October 14. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.

Manufacturers Agree to Improve Collection of Used Mercury-Containing Thermostats

Four thermostat manufacturers have agreed to improve their methods for collecting used thermostats that contain mercury, a potent neurotoxin, under an agreement with the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC).

DTSC reached a settlement with Goodman Global, Inc.; PSG Controls, Inc.; TPI Corporation; and Daikin Applied in June and July of this year. The manufacturers agreed to settle the enforcement actions against them for a penalty of $25,000 each for failure to meet the out-of-service mercury-added thermostat collection requirement. Earlier this year, 25 other manufacturers signed a separate agreement to improve the collection of used thermostats that contain mercury. The agreement settled those violations for a collective penalty of $625,000.

“The commitment of these additional four manufacturers will go a long way to protect the public and help remove mercury from entering the environment,” said Keith Kihara, Chief of DTSC’s Enforcement Division.

The Mercury Thermostat Collection Act of 2008 banned the sale of new mercury-added thermostats. It also required manufacturers that had sold or distributed mercury-containing thermostats in California to establish a program to collect and recycle the thermostats. The manufacturers use the Thermostat Recycling Corporation (TRC) to carry out their collection responsibilities.

DTSC has adopted regulations that established annual performance requirements for the collection of mercury-containing thermostats. The manufacturers failed to meet those requirements for 2013 and 2014, prompting DTSC to issue Summaries of Violation. The Consent Order settles those violations. DTSC has a hearing later this month for one enforcement action with one remaining thermostat manufacturer that has not reached a settlement agreement.

Mercury is a potent neurotoxin that can cause significant harm to human health and the environment. Although they are no longer sold in California, an estimated 4 to 9 million mercury-containing thermostats are still in use in California homes and businesses.

Mercury-containing thermostats may not be disposed in solid waste landfills. If you have a mercury-containing thermostat that is being replaced and want to ensure the thermostat is sent to an appropriate collection location, please use the following website to find the nearest collection site: http://www.thermostat-recycle.org/zipsearch.

Food Waste Could Store Solar and Wind Energy

Saving up excess solar and wind energy for times when the sun is down or the air is still requires a storage device. Batteries get the most attention as a promising solution although pumped hydroelectric storage is currently used most often. Now researchers reporting in ACS’ Journal of Physical Chemistry C are advancing another potential approach using sugar alcohols—an abundant waste product of the food industry—mixed with carbon nanotubes. The article is entitled “Nano-Scale Heat Transfer in Carbon Nanotube - Sugar Alcohol Composite as Heat Storage Materials.”

Electricity generation from renewables has grown steadily over recent years, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects this rise to continue. To keep up with this expansion, use of battery and flywheel energy storage has increased in the past five years, according to the EIA. These technologies take advantage of chemical and mechanical energy. But storing energy as heat is another feasible option. Some scientists have been exploring sugar alcohols as a possible material for making thermal storage work, but this direction has some limitations. Huaichen Zhang, Silvia V. Nedea and colleagues wanted to investigate how mixing carbon nanotubes with sugar alcohols might affect their energy storage properties.

The researchers analyzed what happened when carbon nanotubes of varying sizes were mixed with two types of sugar alcohols—erythritol and xylitol, both naturally occurring compounds in foods. Their findings showed that with one exception, heat transfer within a mixture decreased as the nanotube diameter decreased. They also found that in general, higher density combinations led to better heat transfer. The researchers say these new insights could assist in the future design of sugar alcohol-based energy storage systems. The authors acknowledged funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme.

First-of-Its-Kind Rule to Combat Climate Change

In an effort to protect all that Washington has to offer future generations, the Washington Department of Ecology is launching a new plan to combat climate change. After months of stakeholder meetings, and public review and input, Ecology adopted a first-of-its-kind clean air rule that caps and reduces carbon pollution. Under the new rule, businesses that are responsible for 100,000 metric tons of carbon pollution annually will be required to cap and then gradually reduce their emissions.

Scientists have known for more than a decade that carbon pollution is the primary cause of climate change. Recognizing the need to take action, in 2015 Gov. Jay Inslee directed Ecology to cap and reduce carbon pollution under Washington’s Clean Air Act.

If a business cannot limit its own emissions, it has other options. It could develop a project that reduces carbon pollution in Washington, such as an energy efficiency program. Businesses could also comply by buying carbon credits from others or from other approved carbon markets.

The plan relies on businesses to trade independently among themselves and with other markets. All emissions reductions, projects and trading would be validated by independent auditors with oversight from Ecology.

Natural gas distributors, petroleum fuel producers and importers, power plants, metal manufacturers, waste facilities, and state and federal facilities would be included in the plan and need to show their emissions are declining by an average of 1.7% a year starting in 2017.

“Today marks a watershed moment in our country’s history,” said Ecology Director Maia Bellon. “We are taking leadership under our clean air act, adopting a strong and practical plan to reduce greenhouse gases, and doing our fair share to tackle climate change.”

Washington is particularly vulnerable to a warming climate. Communities in the state depend on snow-fed water supplies to provide drinking water, irrigation for agriculture, and about 65% of the state’s electrical power. Shellfish, which are a major industry on Washington’s coast, are susceptible to ocean acidification—created when carbon dioxide reacts with seawater. And in Eastern Washington, increasing numbers of wildfires threaten air quality and the health of people with asthma and other breathing difficulties.

Ecology’s rule goes into effect October 17, 2016. For more information about the Clean Air Rule, visit Ecology’s website for more information.

New Guidelines Show NOAA’s Commitment To Address Effects Of Ocean Noise On Marine Mammals

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released its final Ocean Noise Strategy Roadmap, which will guide the agency in more effectively and comprehensively managing ocean noise effects on marine life during the next decade.

Sound is critical for the survival of many marine animals. It’s a primary means of communication, orientation and navigation, finding food, avoiding predators, and mate selection. Ocean noise can be caused by natural or human sources.

“Sustainability and resiliency of marine resources are important to NOAA,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for fisheries, “and we knew we had to have a vision for understanding and addressing how growing levels of ocean noise are affecting marine animals and their habitats in complex ways, and the roadmap provides that.”

The roadmap will serve as a guide across NOAA, reviewing the status of the science on ocean noise and informing next steps. NOAA is already taking on some of these recommendations, such as the recent launch of an underwater network of acoustic monitoring sensors. The roadmap suggests key roles for continuing partnerships and starting new ones with other federal agencies, industries, academic researchers, environmental advocates, and others.

“NOAA’s ocean noise strategy outlines several approaches that we can take with other federal and non-federal partners to reduce how noise affects the species and places we manage,” said W. Russell Callender, assistant NOAA administrator for its National Ocean Service. “It also showcases the importance that places like national marine sanctuaries have as sentinel sites in building our understanding of ocean noise impacts.”

NOAA received more than 85,000 responses during public comment on the draft roadmap, and experts improved the final version based on this input. The roadmap will guide the agency on next steps it will take to address ocean noise. Stakeholders will have a chance to weigh in, where appropriate.

“NOAA has the scientific and technical expertise to assess what’s happening with ocean noise, help identify gaps in knowledge, and use various tools to alleviate or mitigate its effects,” said Richard Merrick, NOAA Fisheries’ chief scientist. “Our approach looks for creative and wide-ranging solutions to ensure the agency is effectively understanding and addressing how ocean noise affects the resources placed in our trust in the coming decade.”

This roadmap comes just a month after NOAA Fisheries released its final acoustic guidance to better predict how man made underwater sounds affect marine mammal hearing. The technical guidance is one example of a targeted action the roadmap recommends the agency conduct.

NIEHS Environmental Health Science FEST

As part of its 50th Anniversary celebrations, the NIEHS is organizing the Environmental Health Science FEST (EHS FEST) that will bring together researchers, community engagement teams, trainees, and young investigators, supported by NIEHS for several days of scientific dialog. There will be a mix of different meeting formats to fulfill a variety of professional needs. Possibilities include plenaries, concurrent sessions, workshops, poster sessions, a sensor fair, and even a film festival. The event will take place December 5–8, 2016, in Durham, North Carolina.

EPA Draft Malathion Human Health Assessment Available

EPA is making its draft malathion human health risk assessment available. In the risk assessment, EPA considered exposures from all sources, including food, drinking water, and insect sprays. The Agency considered all populations including infants, children, and women of childbearing age.

The public comment period for the draft human health risk assessment will open as soon as the Federal Register Notice publishes in the weeks ahead. View a prepublication copy of the Federal Register Notice and the draft assessment. Once the comment period opens, EPA will invite the public and stakeholders to comment on the draft human health risk assessment, which can be found at: www.regulations.gov in the “Supporting Documents” Section of docket EPA-HQ-OPP-2009-0317.

Malathion is an organophosphate insecticide used on a large variety of agricultural (food and feed crops) and non-agricultural sites. Some products are available to consumers for outdoor residential uses, including vegetable gardens and ornamentals. Malathion is used in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Cotton Boll Weevil Eradication Program and Fruit Fly (Medfly) Control Program, and by mosquito control districts around the United States for mosquito-borne disease control. Less than 1% of spraying for mosquitoes is malathion aerial spray.

Given the current importance of mosquito control to minimize transmission of the Zika virus and other mosquito-borne diseases, EPA has provided mosquito control professionals in local governments and mosquito control districts with advice on malathion aerial spraying based on the draft risk assessment results. While EPA would normally not make risk management recommendations based on a draft risk assessment, EPA has provided this information to mosquito control districts in the interim so they can be confident in the safety of malathion aerial spraying applications. Learn about malathion’s use as a mosquito adulticide.

EPA’s assessments are intentionally conservative in order to be protective of the most sensitive populations who may also experience the highest possible exposure.

Total Petroleum to Pay $345,000 for Industrial Stormwater Discharge Violations

The EPA recently announced that it has reached an agreement with Total Petroleum Puerto Rico Corporation to settle the company’s alleged violations of requirements to control pollution from stormwater discharges at its Guaynabo Bulk Fuels Terminal. Under the agreement, Total Petroleum is required to comply with the Clean Water Act’s stormwater discharge requirements associated with industrial activities and will pay a $345,000 penalty. The company will also invest $40,000 to construct and install approximately 30 artificial reef modules in the Condado Lagoon, which was recently designated as a nature reserve.

“Puerto Rico has extraordinary natural resources, including amazing water bodies and coastal ecosystems that are important places of recreation and tourist attractions,” said Carmen Guerrero P?rez, the Director of the EPA’s Caribbean Environmental Protection Division. “Every company operating in Puerto Rico has an obligation to comply with the Clean Water Act so these water resources are not damaged and degraded.”

The Clean Water Act requires that certain industrial facilities apply for and obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits to control the discharge of pollutants carried out by stormwater runoff into nearby water bodies. These facilities must develop and implement a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan that details the best management practices that the company will follow to prevent stormwater runoff from washing harmful pollutants into local water bodies.

Without adequate on-site controls, stormwater runoff can flow directly to the nearest water body and can cause water quality damage such as siltation of rivers, beach closings, fishing restrictions, and habitat degradation. As stormwater flows over these facilities, it can pick up pollutants, including dirt or sediments, nutrients, trash, chemicals, and oils. Of particular concern is the uncontrolled runoff that can harm or kill fish and wildlife due to changes in water quality, hydrology, and other factors.

The EPA complaint alleges that Total Petroleum violated numerous stormwater requirements at its Guaynabo Bulk Fuels Terminal, such as failing to: implement best management practices; implement a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan; monitor and report discharge data of the facility’s discharges of pollutants; and obtain the appropriate stormwater discharge permit associated with industrial activity.

In addition to agreeing to come into compliance with the Clean Water Act and paying a penalty, Total Petroleum has also agreed to construct a new stormwater collection and discharge system at the Guaynabo Terminal, as well as submit an updated stormwater permit application for the facility. The company will also construct the third and final phase of the Condado Lagoon Ta?no Coral Trail and Reef Enhancement Project, which is built in the northeastern reach of the Condado Lagoon’s outlet to the Atlantic Ocean.

Total Petroleum will install approximately 30 artificial reef modules to provide artificial habitats for reef species in the San Juan Bay Estuary. The purpose of this project is to enhance, protect, and promote marine life diversity in the Estuary System, which is designated as an estuary of national importance and is part of the EPA’s National Estuaries Program. Total Petroleum will invest a minimum of $40,000 for this project. The project, which benefits the environment and the community, is not required to bring the company into compliance.

The proposed consent decree has been lodged in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.

Imperial Irrigation District Fined $379,000 for PCB Contamination

The EPA recently announced a settlement with Imperial Irrigation District after the utility company expended nearly $1.25 million to address its improper disposal of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at electricity substations in Indio and Coachella, California. This action is a result of nine environmental audits the company conducted as part of a Toxic Substances Control Act settlement with EPA in February 2015.

In compliance with the prior settlement, IID discovered that two of the nine inactive substations audited had PCB contamination in violation of TSCA. The company spent $685,000 to clean up its former Indio substation, including the removal of 1,863 tons of soils and debris. At its former Coachella substation, the company spent $368,000 to conduct a cleanup that included the disposal of 31 tons of soil and debris. The utility spent $190,000 for an independent auditor to perform evaluations at the nine substations in Indio, Mecca, Brawley, El Centro, and Calexico.

“The cleanups performed by Imperial Irrigation District have reduced the impacts of legacy PCB contamination in Coachella Valley,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “EPA’s goal is to protect public health and the environment from the risks of PCBs.”

As the February 12, 2015, enforcement action required IID to pay a $379,000 civil penalty and perform the audits; no additional monetary penalties were imposed by the settlement. Pursuant to the prior action, IID replaced 16 regulators, one transformer, and three oil circuit breakers with non-PCB containing equipment at active facilities in its service area. The company removed 78,530 lb of PCBs from the environment as a result of completing this supplemental environmental project.

IID is the sixth largest utility in California, providing electric power to over 145,000 customers in the Imperial Valley and parts of Riverside County. Its former substation in Indio, which operated from 1943 to1990, is located at the northeast corner of Highway 111 and King Street; the Riverside County Courthouse, a middle school, and numerous businesses are located within a half-mile radius. IID’s former substation in Coachella, which operated from 1948 to 1989, is at the northeast corner of Ninth Street and Vine Avenue; it is also located in a densely populated area with an elementary school, a middle school, and residences located within a half-mile.

PCBs are man-made organic chemicals used in paints, industrial equipment, plastics, and cooling oil for electrical transformers. More than 1.5 billion lb of PCBs were manufactured in the United States before the EPA banned the production of this chemical class in 1978. Acute PCB exposure can adversely affect the nervous, immune, and endocrine systems as well as liver function. Concerns about human health and the extensive presence and lengthy persistence of PCBs in the environment led Congress to enact the TSCA in 1976.

Fairfax County Fined $64,450 for Underground Storage Tank Violations

Fairfax County, Virginia, has agreed to pay a $64,450 penalty for underground storage tank violations at 15 county locations where facilities stored gasoline, diesel fuel, or motor oil. The settlement addresses compliance with environmental regulations that help protect communities and the environment from exposure to oil or potentially harmful chemicals.

At the facilities, the county did not test the equipment that was being used to detect leaks from pressurized underground lines that were connected to the storage tanks. In addition, at two facilities, the county failed to annually test its tank lines for tightness. None of the violations included any type of release or leak from the tanks or pipes. The county has corrected all violations.

With millions of gallons of petroleum products and hazardous substances stored in underground storage tanks throughout the country, leaking tanks are a major source of soil and groundwater contamination. EPA and state regulations are designed to reduce the risk of underground leaks and to promptly detect and properly address leaks thus minimizing environmental harm and avoiding the costs of major cleanups.

The settlement penalty reflects the county’s cooperation with EPA in correcting the violations.

DEC Orders $700,000 Penalty for Illegal Mining and Solid Waste Violations

A lengthy investigation into illegal sand mining and solid waste dumping at a property in Holtsville, town of Islip, has resulted in a $700,000 fine and an order to clean up the site, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced recently.

“This was a classic ‘scoop and fill’ case. Illegal mining activity was followed quickly by illegal landfilling of solid waste,” said Commissioner Seggos. “We succeeded in getting those responsible to take action for a full site restoration, and I applaud the work of our Environmental Conservation Officers and other agency staff who worked on this important action.”

In July 2015, DEC was made aware of an illegal sand mining site being backfilled with fill of unknown origin. While DEC staff were unable to observe active mining or backfilling onsite, DEC’s investigation determined that the owners of this commercially zoned property on Furrows Road violated a number of state Environmental Conservation Laws while conducting unauthorized mining and solid waste disposal activities.

Violations include:

  • Mining more than 1,000 tons or 750 cubic yards of minerals in a calendar year without a permit
  • Failure to submit a mined land use plan for the operation on a mine
  • Failure to submit a reclamation bond to ensure proper reclamation of the mine
  • Failure to pay mining fees for the operation of a mine
  • Using solid waste as backfill in a mined property without a permit or authorization

The respondents, the Joan Ciardullo Trust and Estate of Albert Ciardullo, signed an Order on Consent and are obligated to implement a Soil Characterization Work Plan approved by DEC, which will ultimately dictate the appropriate restoration and management of the site.

The DEC Order assessed a total penalty of $700,000, with a $100,000 payable penalty remitted at the time of signing of the Order. An additional sum of $250,000 is designated to be contributed to an Environmental Benefits Project. A total of $350,000 in penalties will be suspended, unless the respondents fail to implement the Consent Order.

A DEC Environmental Monitor will oversee the site characterization and remediation. DEC staff will also assess the ambient air quality to determine if air monitoring in the vicinity is warranted, and will visit the area in mid-September.

“The settlement addresses the seriousness of the violations and sends a clear signal to those who consider breaking New York State’s environmental laws for personal gain-DEC is watching,” said Commissioner Seggos.

Hibbing Taconite Facility Ordered to Seek Out Innovative Dust Control Technologies

The Hibbing Taconite Company must investigate emerging, or innovative, dust control technologies as part of a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) air quality enforcement agreement, the agency announced recently.

The company violated its state air quality permit five times for dust emissions between November 2013 and April 2015 at its Hibbing, Minnesota, taconite production facility. It was also cited three times between July 2013 and January 2015 for monitoring equipment and emissions violations.

As a result, the company has agreed to pay a $23,000 penalty to the MPCA. It is also required to update its dust control plan and investigate new dust control technologies and best management practices at other taconite facilities. It has already met its final requirement of retraining staff to ensure equipment monitoring compliance in the future.

Hibbing Taconite’s production facility includes a tailings basin where the company deposits tailings from taconite pellet production. Dust from these tailings can become airborne and be deposited around the basin. State air quality rules and permits require facilities take steps to control avoidable amounts of dust emissions from becoming airborne from sources such as mining, roads, ore handling, and stockpiles.

For more information, go to the MPCA’s Mining webpage.

General Petroleum Corporation Fined, Ordered to Resolve Clean Water Act Violations

The EPA reached a settlement with General Petroleum Corporation to resolve federal Clean Water Act violations at its petroleum storage facility located on Terminal Island in the Port of Los Angeles, California. The company will pay a $15,500 penalty as part of the agreement, and has already come into compliance with the law.

“Spill prevention is a key planning element for oil storage facilities, especially those located near California’s precious waterways,” said Kathleen Johnson, Director of the Enforcement Division in EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region. “To reduce the risk to San Pedro Bay, we have been working with our state and local partners to ensure the deficiencies were all addressed.”

The recent action is a result of a joint inspection conducted by EPA and representatives of the Los Angeles Fire Department in April 2015. The investigation found that General Petroleum had violated regulations requiring onshore oil production facilities at risk of discharging oil to nearby waterways to prepare and implement a Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure (SPCC) plan.

“This enforcement action, taken in partnership with the U.S. EPA, was needed to not only protect the City’s environment but to also protect the health and safety of the City’s residents,” said LAFD Fire Marshal, Chief John Vidovich, who oversees the program responsible for inspecting and enforcing environmental compliance at this type of facility.

General Petroleum is located within the Port of Los Angeles adjacent to the Los Angeles Harbor. The company failed to provide adequate secondary containment around tanks to keep spilled oil from leaving the site and entering surrounding waters. General Petroleum also failed to amend and re-certify its SPCC plan after making significant physical changes to its facility. In addition, the company did not maintain and implement an SPCC plan that discusses discharge or drainage controls, and procedures for the control of a potential discharge.

The goal of EPA’s SPCC regulation is to prevent oil from reaching navigable waters and adjoining shorelines, and to plan for containment of oil discharges in the event of a spill. The regulation requires onshore oil storage facilities to develop and implement SPCC Plans and to establish procedures, methods, and equipment to prevent spills, and to respond properly if a spill occurs.

EPA Inspection Reveals Lead Violations by Renovators at the Kansas City Power & Light Building

PA Region 7 conducted a random inspection for lead-based paint renovation work practices at the Kansas City Power & Light building in Kansas City, Missouri, in June 2015, which revealed violations of the Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule. As a part of a settlement, Jim Plunkett, Inc., of Kansas City, Missouri, has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $4,690 and B&R Insulation of Lenexa, Kansas, has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $7,900.

According to an administrative consent agreement and final order filed by EPA Region 7 in Lenexa, Kan., the inspection revealed that Jim Plunkett, Inc., and B&R Insulation, Inc., failed to provide the Renovate Right pamphlet to the owner; failed to retain records for three years; failed to post signs that clearly define the work area; failed to remove all objects from the work area, or cover them with plastic sheeting or other impermeable materials with all seams and edges taped or otherwise sealed; failed to close all doors and windows within the work area; and failed to mist the sheeting before folding it, fold the dirty side inward, and either tape shut or seal in heavy-duty bags. B&R Insulation also failed to apply for and obtain EPA certification prior to commencing the renovation.

The companies performed window replacement of approximately 850 windows in the Kansas City Power & Light building in downtown Kansas City, Missouri. The structure is a commercial building built in the 1930s which is being converted into more than 200 residential apartments.

The RRP Rule requires that contractors who work on pre-1978 dwellings and child-occupied facilities are trained and certified to use lead-safe work practices. This ensures that common renovation and repair activities like sanding, cutting and replacing windows minimize the creation and dispersion of dangerous lead dust. EPA finalized the RRP Rule in 2008 and the rule took effect on April 22, 2010.

This enforcement action addresses RRP Rule violations that could result in harm to human health. Lead exposure can cause a range of adverse health effects, from behavioral disorders and learning disabilities to seizures and death, putting young children at the greatest risk because their nervous systems are still developing. Today at least 4 million households have children that are being exposed to high levels of lead. There are approximately half a million U.S. children ages 1-5 with blood lead levels above 5 micrograms per deciliter (µg/dL), the reference level at which the Centers for Disease Control recommends public health actions be initiated.

SepticSmart Week

EPA—in conjunction with federal, state and local government and private sector partners—are kicking off its fourth annual SepticSmart Week (September 19–23) to encourage American homeowners and communities to properly maintain their septic systems.

More than 26 million homes in the United States—or one in five households—depend on septic systems to treat wastewater. If not maintained, failing septic systems can contaminate groundwater and harm the environment by releasing bacteria, viruses, and household toxics to local waterways. Proper septic system maintenance protects public health and the environment and saves the homeowner money through avoided costly repairs.

“By taking small steps to maintain septic systems, homeowners not only protect our nation’s public health and keep our water clean, but also save money and protect their property values,” said Joel Beauvais, deputy assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Water.

Simple tips for homeowners:

  • Protect It and Inspect It: Homeowners should generally have their system inspected every three years by a qualified professional or according to their state or local health department’s recommendations. Tanks should be pumped when necessary, typically every three to five years.
  • Think at the Sink: Avoid pouring fats, grease, and solids down the drain. These substances can clog a system’s pipes and drainfield.
  • Don’t Overload the Commode: Only put things in the drain or toilet that belong there. For example, coffee grounds, dental floss, disposable diapers and wipes, feminine hygiene products, cigarette butts, and cat litter can all clog and potentially damage septic systems.
  • Don’t Strain Your Drain: Be water-efficient and spread out water use. Fix plumbing leaks and install faucet aerators and water-efficient products. Spread out laundry and dishwasher loads throughout the day—too much water at once can overload a system that hasn’t been pumped recently.
  • Shield Your Field: Remind guests not to park or drive on a system’s drainfield, where the vehicle’s weight could damage buried pipes or disrupt underground flow.

EPA’s SepticSmart Program educates homeowners about proper septic system care and maintenance all year long. In addition, it serves as an online resource for industry practitioners, local governments, and community organizations, providing access to tools to educate clients and residents.

Supermarkets Recognized for Reducing Greenhouse Gases

The EPA recently recognized 13 companies in the supermarket industry for their achievements reducing emissions of environmentally harmful refrigerants. Many of the refrigerants used by supermarkets are hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a class of potent greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change when leaked into the atmosphere. EPA’s awardees are meeting the goals of the President’s Climate Action Plan by preventing refrigerant leaks, transitioning to climate-friendly refrigerants, and using advanced refrigeration technologies.

“EPA’s GreenChill awardees are meeting the President’s challenge to curb emissions of these potent greenhouse gases head on,” said Janet McCabe, acting assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation. “This year’s award winners are making the smart choice to act on climate by switching to environmentally friendly refrigerants and innovative technologies.”

EPA’s GreenChill partners own approximately 10,800 stores nationwide, representing 29% of the U.S. supermarket industry. If supermarkets nationwide reduced the amount of refrigerant they leak to the current GreenChill partner average, they could avoid $169 million in refrigerant replacement costs while preventing the equivalent of 29 million metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, roughly equal to the annual emissions of about 6 million cars.

GreenChill partners were recognized in the following categories:

  • Best Corporate Emissions Rate: Giant Eagle (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) earned the Partnership’s most prestigious award for achieving the lowest refrigerant emissions rate among retail chains. Port Townsend Food Co-op (Port Townsend, Washington) received this award in the small-independent GreenChill partner category for a second time.
  • Most Improved Emissions Rate: Weis Markets (Sunbury, Pennsylvania) was honored with the Most Improved Emissions Rate award for achieving the Partnership’s largest refrigerant leak rate reduction compared to the year it joined the GreenChill Partnership. Dorothy Lane Market (Dayton, Ohio) earned this same recognition for lowering its emissions rate more than any other partner compared to the previous year.
  • Goal Achievement: GreenChill’s five Superior Goal Achievement winners voluntarily set and achieved challenging refrigerant emissions reduction goals. Winners include Buehler’s Fresh Foods (Wooster, Ohio), City Market, Onion River Co-Op (Burlington, Vermont), Dorothy Lane Market (Dayton, Ohio), Meijer (Grand Rapids, Michigan), and Weis Markets (Sunbury, Pennsylvania).
  • Distinguished Partner: Target (Minneapolis, Minnesota) was honored with the Distinguished Partner award for demonstrating extraordinary leadership and initiative in support of GreenChill’s mission.

GreenChill’s Store Certification Program recognized certain stores for meeting strict performance criteria that demonstrate their refrigeration systems have minimal impacts on the ozone layer and climate. GreenChill presented the following store certification awards:

  • Best of the Best Award: Piggly Wiggly and Whole Foods Market stores in Columbus, Georgia, and Dublin, California, respectively, were honored as the “Best of the Best” for installing refrigeration systems that use ammonia as refrigerant. Ammonia’s contribution to climate change is several thousand times smaller than many conventional refrigerants.
  • Store Certification Excellence Award: Hillphoenix (Conyers, Georgia) and Sprouts Farmers Market (Phoenix, Arizona) earned awards for achieving more GreenChill Store Certifications than their peers over the past year.
  • Store Re-Certification Award: Five stores were recognized for achieving GreenChill certification for five consecutive years. Winners include Stater Bros. Markets in Palm Desert, Grand Terrace, Chino, and Lake Elsinore, California, and Weis Markets in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.

City of San José to Receive 2016 WuHoo Pollution Prevention Award

The San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, at its September 14 meeting, will present the City of San José with the Water Board’s 2016 WuHoo Award. The WuHoo Award will recognize San José’s innovative pollution prevention efforts carried out through its many partnerships.

San José has partnered with the San Jose Earthquakes major league soccer team to encourage keeping pollutants out of our water; launched a Fats, Oils, and Grease Art Project with the San José Public Art Program; and expanded a “Living Wetlands” education and outreach program at the Don Edwards National Wildlife Refuge Education Center. San José has also participated in groundbreaking wastewater studies to help prioritize new pollution prevention efforts and influence legislative decisions to keep contaminants out of San Francisco Bay and local creeks.

Kerrie Romanow, director of San José’s Environmental Services Department, will accept the 2016 WuHoo Award for the City. “This prestigious award recognizes the strong partnerships that San José has developed to help keep our creeks and Bay clean; we’ll continue to grow our efforts and keep up the momentum by looking for new ways to protect the environment and serve our community,” Romanow said.

The Water Board presents the “WuHoo” Award annually in memory of former Water Board employee, Dr. Teng-chung Wu, an early advocate for pollution prevention. Dr. Wu believed the best way to keep Bay Area water clean was to keep pollutants from getting into wastewater in the first place, instead of constructing expensive treatment works to remove them.

Environmental News Links

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Obama: Oceans Are Key in Climate Change Fight

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Wisconsin Farm Groups Fight EPA on Atrazine Levels

Wisconsin Governor Eases Lead Paint Laws

Outdated FEMA Maps Don’t Account for Climate Change

Samsung Recalls Galaxy Note7 Due to Serious Fire and Burn Hazards

Black & Decker Recalls Electric Blower/Vacuum/Mulchers Due to Laceration Hazard

No Fine Anticipated for Spill

NRG’s Shoe Made with Captured C02

Trivia Question of the Week

Which type of battery is most likely to catch fire?

a. Alkaline

b. Lithium

c. Nickel Cadmium

d. Pyronium Feugo

Answer