The International Air Transport Association (IATA) partnered with leaders of the lithium battery supply chain to demand stricter enforcement of international regulations regarding the transport of lithium batteries.
In a joint letter to Ministers of Trade, Industry and Transport, and Directors of Civil Aviation in the world’s largest lithium battery manufacturing and export countries, IATA, PRBA, the US Rechargeable Battery Association, RECHARGE, the European Advanced Rechargeable and Lithium Battery Association, the Global Shippers Forum (GSF) and the International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) have called for lithium battery safety regulations to be enforced at the point of origin including the initial shipper and the battery manufacturer.
The letter also called for implementation of cooperative enforcement initiatives between jurisdictions to address situations, where lithium batteries manufactured in one state are driven over a border to be flown from another state. The global associations also called for significant fines and custodial sentences to be imposed on those who circumvent the regulations.
“Safety is aviation’s top priority. Airlines, shippers and manufacturers have worked hard to establish rules that ensure lithium batteries can be carried safely. But the rules are only effective if they are enforced and backed-up by significant penalties. Government authorities must step up and take responsibility for regulating rogue producers and exporters. And flagrant abuses of dangerous goods shipping regulations, which place aircraft and passenger safety at risk, must be criminalized,” said Tony Tyler IATA’s Director General and CEO.
“The actions of a minority threaten to undermine confidence in legitimate battery and product manufacturers. This a matter of deep concern for our members,” said George A. Kerchner, Executive Director of PRBA which represents most of the world’s largest manufacturers of lithium ion and lithium metal batteries and manufacturers of products powered by these batteries.
IATA and the PRBA have repeatedly called upon governments to address the danger posed by the willful disregard of the international regulations by rogue manufacturers and shippers and to close existing legal loopholes that prevent prosecutions of serial offenders. Lack of enforcement is increasing pressure on airlines and regulators to unilaterally ban all forms of lithium battery shipments from aircraft. This would add to the cost of global supply chains and consumer goods, and encourage those who flout the law to increase mislabeling of batteries, further increasing safety and security risks.
“A ban on the shipment of lithium ion batteries aboard aircraft would put lives at risk by slowing delivery of life-critical and life-enhancing medical equipment and jeopardize the security of many countries because a large number of military applications are powered by lithium batteries,” said Kerchner.
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.
Charlotte RCRA/DOT Update and IATA Training
Register for RCRA Hazardous Waste and DOT Hazardous Materials Update and Refresher Training in Charlotte, NC, on September 7 and update your DOT and RCRA training in one day. Learn how to ship dangerous goods by air at Transportation of Dangerous Goods: Compliance with IATA Regulations on September 8. To register for these courses, click here or call 800-537-2372.
Nashville RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Nashville, TN, on September 13–15 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.
Columbus RCRA and DOT Training
Register for Hazardous Waste Management: The Complete Course and DOT Hazardous Materials Training: The Complete Course in Columbus, OH, on September 20–22 and save $100. To take advantage of this offer, click here or call 800-537-2372.
DOT Specification 111 Tank Cars to Be Phased Out
The DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is issuing this final rule to codify in the Hazardous Materials Regulations certain mandates and minimum requirements of the FAST Act. Specifically, the FAST Act mandates a revised phase-out schedule for all DOT Specification 111 tank cars used to transport unrefined petroleum products (e.g., petroleum crude oil), ethanol, and other Class 3 flammable liquids. The FAST Act also requires that each tank car built to meet the DOT Specification 117 and each non-jacketed tank car retrofitted to meet the DOT Specification 117R be equipped with a thermal protection blanket that is at least 1/2-inch thick and meets existing thermal protection standards. Further, the FAST Act mandates minimum top fittings protection requirements for tank cars retrofitted to meet the DOT Specification 117R. The effective date is August 15, 2016.
EPA and DOT Finalize Greenhouse Gas and Fuel Efficiency Standards for Heavy-Duty Trucks
The EPA and the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) jointly finalized standards for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles that will improve fuel efficiency and cut carbon pollution, while bolstering energy security and spurring manufacturing innovation. The final phase two standards were called for by President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and respond to the President’s directive in early 2014 to develop new standards that run into the next decade.
The final phase two program promotes a new generation of cleaner, more fuel-efficient trucks by encouraging the wider application of currently available technologies and the development of new and advanced cost-effective technologies through model year 2027. The final standards are expected to lower CO2 emissions by approximately 1.1 billion metric tons, save vehicle owners fuel costs of about $170 billion, and reduce oil consumption by up to two billion barrels over the lifetime of the vehicles sold under the program. Overall, the program will provide $230 billion in net benefits to society, including benefits to our climate and the public health of Americans. These benefits outweigh costs by about an 8-to-1 ratio.
The final standards are cost effective for consumers and businesses, delivering favorable payback periods for truck owners. The buyer of a new long-haul truck in 2027 would recoup the investment in fuel-efficient technology in less than two years through fuel savings.
“The actions we take today on climate change will help lessen the impacts on future generations,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “This next phase of standards for heavy- and medium-duty vehicles will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions while driving innovation, and will ensure that the United States continues to lead the world in developing fuel-efficient technologies through the next decade and beyond.”
“Today’s ambitious but achievable announcement is a huge win for the American people, giving us cleaner air, more money saved at the pump, and real benefits for consumers across the supply chain,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Today’s action preserves flexibility for manufacturers to deliver on these objectives through a range of innovations and technology pathways.”
Heavy-duty trucks are the second largest segment and collectively make up the biggest increase in the U.S. transportation sector in terms of emissions and energy use. These vehicles currently account for about 20% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and oil use in the U.S. transportation sector. Globally, GHG emissions from heavy-duty vehicles are growing rapidly and are expected to surpass emissions from passenger vehicles by 2030. Through the Paris climate agreement and discussions with other countries, the United States is working with other major economies to encourage progress on fuel economy standards, and reduce GHG emissions that will improve global energy and climate security by reducing our reliance on oil.
The product of four years of extensive testing and research and outreach to industry, environmental organizations, labor unions, and other stakeholders, the vehicle and engine performance standards would cover model years 2021–2027, and apply to semi-trucks, large pickup trucks and vans, and all types and sizes of buses and work trucks. These standards will result in significant GHG emissions reductions and fuel efficiency improvements across all of these vehicle types. For example, when the standards are fully phased in, tractors in a tractor-trailer will achieve up to 25% lower CO2 emissions and fuel consumption than an equivalent tractor in 2018.
The agencies are also finalizing fuel-efficiency and GHG standards for trailers for the first time. The EPA trailer standards, which exclude certain categories such as mobile homes, will begin to take effect in model year 2018 for certain trailers, while NHTSA’s standards will take effect as of 2021, with credits available for voluntary participation before then. Cost effective technologies for trailers—including aerodynamic devices, light weight construction and self-inflating tires—can significantly reduce total fuel consumption by tractor-trailers, while paying back the owners in less than two years due to the fuel saved. Recognizing that many trailer manufacturers are small businesses, the program includes provisions that reduce burden, such as a one-year delay in initial standards for small businesses and simplified certification requirements.
Compared to the proposal, the final program:
- Achieves 10% more GHG and fuel consumption reductions
- Has more robust compliance provisions, including improved test procedures, enhanced enforcement audits and protection against defeat devices
- Includes more stringent diesel engine standards
- Improves the vocational vehicle program with a regulatory structure better tailored to match the right technology for the job
- Maintains the structure and incremental phase-in of the proposed standards, allowing manufacturers to choose their own technology mix and giving them the lead time needed to ensure those technologies are reliable and durable
NHTSA and EPA have worked together to harmonize their standards under this program. The agencies have worked closely with the State of California’s Air Resources Board in developing and finalizing the standards. All three agencies are committed to the goal of setting harmonized national standards. Throughout every stage of development, this work has benefited from a collaborative dialogue with industry, labor, and environmental organizations. For example, this feedback has improved the agencies’ ability to measure industry performance and enforce compliance for both full vehicle and engine standards.
The recent final rulemaking builds on the fuel efficiency and GHG emissions standards already in place for model years 2014–2018, which alone will result in CO2 emissions reductions of 270 million metric tons and save vehicle owners more than $50 billion in fuel costs. Truck sales were up in model years 2014 and 2015, the years covered under the first round of truck standards.
The rule also builds on standards that the Administration has put in place for light-duty vehicles, which are projected to reduce carbon pollution by billions of tons of over the lifetime of vehicles sold, and will save consumers money at the pump.
Order of Succession at EPA
Just in case the EPA administrator dies or resigns, President Obama recently issued Executive Order 13737 that provides for an order of successor for the Administrator’s office, which is as follows:
- General Counsel
- Assistant Administrator for the Office of Solid Waste
- Assistant Administrator for Toxic Substances (also known as the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention)
- Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation
- Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water
- Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
- Chief Financial Officer
- Assistant Administrator for the Office of Research and Development
- Assistant Administrator for the Office of International and Tribal Affairs
- Assistant Administrator for the Office of Administration and Resources Management
- Assistant Administrator for the Office of Environmental Information
- Regional Administrator, Region 7
- Principal Deputy General Counsel
- Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance
- Deputy Regional Administrator, Region 2
- Deputy Regional Administrator, Region 5
Releases from Unconventional Natural Gas Operations Increase in Pennsylvania
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) latest inventory of air emissions for the unconventional natural gas operation industry, several categories of contaminants have increased.
The inventory represents 2014 emissions from Marcellus Shale natural gas production and processing operations as well as compressor stations that receive gas from coal gas, conventional, and unconventional well sites. Air emissions from the industry are required to be reported to DEP under Pennsylvania’s Air Pollution Control Act.
“As pipeline infrastructure and natural gas production continues to grow in Pennsylvania, it is increasingly important that we ensure that natural gas stays in those pipelines and other facilities and isn’t leaking into our communities,” DEP Acting Secretary Patrick McDonnell said. “With universal adoption of best practices that many companies are already using, we expect leaks to go down even as production goes up.”
According to the recently released 2015 Annual Oil and Gas Report, production from unconventional gas wells increased significantly, from 3.1 trillion cubic feet of gas to 4.1 trillion cubic feet. “Additionally, the types and number of gas-related facilities from which we collect data has increased since the first inventory in 2011,” said McDonnell.
The number of midstream facilities that submitted data in 2014 increased by 12%—from 447 to 508 reporting facilities, while the number of well sites reporting dropped 2.7%—from 10,275 in 2013 to 10,009 in 2014.
From 2013 and 2014, there was an increase from unconventional natural gas operations of nitrogen oxides (18%), fine particulate matter (25%), sulfur dioxide (40%), volatile organic compounds (25%), methane (1%), and carbon monoxide (19%). However, these emissions represent only a fraction of all emissions from all industries in Pennsylvania.
“Although the reported emissions from the natural gas sector increased in 2014, overall our air quality continues to improve due to emissions reductions from other point sources such as electric generating units,” McDonnell said. “Between 2011 and 2014, NOx and SO2 emissions from electric generating units have decreased by 18% (27,246 tons per year) and 17% (54,973 tons per year), respectively. We remain committed to developing and implementing the most effective ways to control and reduce emissions from Pennsylvania’s natural gas sites.”
In 2014, there was a slight (1%) increase in reported methane emissions, a highly potent GHG that contributes to climate change. In January, Governor Tom Wolf announced an ambitious strategy to reduce emissions of methane from natural gas well sites, processing facilities, compressor stations and along pipelines through state-of-the-art leak detection programs, best operational practices, and updated permitting requirements.
DEP began collecting emissions data from owners and operators of unconventional natural gas sources in 2011. In 2012, DEP expanded the data reporting requirement to include midstream compressor stations that support the conventional natural gas industry. DEP again expanded the reporting requirements in 2013 to include data from mid-stream compressor stations that support coal-bed methane formations.
In addition to compressor stations, other sources and activities of natural gas operations that DEP identified as part of the inventory include dehydration units; drill rigs; fugitive emission sources, such as connectors, flanges, pump lines, pump seals, and valves; heaters; pneumatic controllers and pumps; stationary engines; tanks, pressurized vessels, and impoundments; venting and blow down systems; well heads and well completions.
To view the complete emissions inventory summarized by company, source category, county and well farm, visit DEP’s website at http://www.dep.pa.gov/Business/Air/BAQ/BusinessTopics/Emission, and click on the “Annual Emissions Data from Natural Gas Operations” link under the topic “Natural/Coal Bed Methane Gas Operations.”
DOT Terminates Designated Approval Agencies
On March 17, 2014, the DOT’s PHMSA held a mandatory Designated Approvals Agency (DAA) meeting. In May 2015, PHMSA mailed a Show Cause letter to each DAA that did not attend this meeting, requesting the DAA provide current operating status. The companies below did not respond to the Show Cause letter. In December 2015, PHMSA issued a Termination letter to each DAA listed below. As of January 1, 2016, PHMSA has not received any correspondence from these DAAs, and PHMSA terminated the approvals of the approval holders listed below. Therefore, PHMSA has terminated the below listed approvals:
- 107-94-01 Pacific Marine Repair, Inc.
- IM-9703 TDI, Inc.
- IA-0301 ATech Engineering
- IM-9603 Unicon International
- IA-8105 British Engine
- IM-9602 Commercial Union Insurance Company
- IA-0401 Trimac Transportation Services, Inc.
EPA Fines Pumpco Services for Hazardous Waste Violations at Five Texas Facilities
The EPA has settled with an oil and gas equipment company for hazardous waste violations at five Texas facilities. Pumpco Energy Services Inc. will pay a penalty of $237,980 for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) by improperly generating, transporting and disposing of hazardous waste.
“Laws such as RCRA provide the foundation for EPA’s mission of protecting human health and the environment,” said Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “Companies must be held accountable for violating those laws.”
Under RCRA, companies producing hazardous waste are regulated as small- or large-quantity generators. Under Texas law, a generator can be exempt from these regulations if the company produces no more than 100 kilograms of hazardous waste in a month and complies with certain other state regulations. During 2015 investigations, EPA inspectors found Pumpco generated or offered for transport and treatment enough hazardous waste to qualify as a small-quantity—or sometimes large-quantity—generator.
While illegally operating as a small- or large-quantity generator, Pumpco violated RCRA by failing to obtain an EPA identification number, notify EPA or the state of Texas of its hazardous waste activities, keep required records, and improperly storing, handling, or treating diesel fuel or mixed waste diesel fuel. These violations occurred at facilities in Cleburne, Jacksboro, Valley View, Barnhart, and Pleasanton, Texas.
The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, passed by Congress in 1976 gives EPA the authority to control hazardous waste from "cradle-to-grave." RCRA sets national goals for protecting human health and the environment from the potential hazards of waste disposal, conserving energy and natural resources, reducing the amount of waste generated, and ensuring wastes are managed in an environmentally sound manner.
Citrus and Allied Essences Ltd. Fined $59,472 for Hazardous Waste Violations
Citrus and Allied Essences, Ltd. a producer of essential oils used for flavoring and fragrances, will pay a $59,472 penalty to settle alleged violations of hazardous waste regulations at its manufacturing facility in Belcamp, Md., the EPA announced recently.
As part of the settlement, Citrus and Allied also agreed to spend an additional $44,000 to complete a supplemental environmental project that involves developing a management program that will enhance the company’s safety and environmental compliance.
EPA cited Citrus and Allied for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the federal law governing the treatment, storage, and disposal of hazardous waste. RCRA is designed to protect public health and the environment, and avoid costly cleanups by requiring the safe, environmentally sound storage and disposal of hazardous waste.
The alleged RCRA violations involved the generation and management of spent terpenes, which are organic compounds generated at the facility from the distillation of essential oils from fruits, flowers, and other plants. The spent terpenes are considered hazardous waste because they are ignitable. The alleged violations included failure to make hazardous waste determinations; failure to properly manage hazardous waste in containers and in a hazardous waste storage tank; failure to update the facility contingency plan; and failure to document hazardous waste training for employees.
The settlement penalty reflects the company’s compliance efforts, and its cooperation with EPA. As part of the settlement, Citrus has neither admitted nor denied liability for the alleged violations, but has certified its compliance with applicable RCRA requirements.
Multiple Enforcement Actions Lead to $30,000 Fine for Ever Cat Fuels LLC
Multiple enforcement actions alleging emergency response, above ground storage tank, industrial stormwater, and hazardous waste violations have resulted in a settlement between the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) and Ever Cat Fuels LLC. The violations alleged in the settlement were discovered during MPCA staff inspections in 2013, and 2014, at the company’s biodiesel processing and distribution facilities in Isanti, Minnesota.
A settlement agreement was reached for the three Administrative Penalty Orders (APOs) in the amount of $30,000. Ever Cat has completed a series of corrective actions and will pay the $30,000 penalty with a payment schedule over the next six months.
The MPCA staff inspections revealed that Ever Cat had allowed used cooking oil, plant-based oils, biodiesel, and methanol to discharge onto the ground, pavement, and into stormwater ponds on their property, and failed to immediately clean up or report the spills. This contamination could have caused harm to animals, birds, fish and other aquatic life, especially if it were to drain to area surface waters.
Other violations included improper storage of hazardous materials, generating hazardous waste without a license and mismanaging hazardous waste, failing to properly inspect and maintain equipment, and operating their facilities without the required industrial wastewater and stormwater permits.
APOs are one of the MPCA’s enforcement tools. Individual APOs can carry a maximum penalty of $20,000, which can be nonforgivable, forgivable or a combination of the two. In a combination APO, a portion of the penalty may be forgiven if corrective actions are completed within a scheduled period of time; usually within 30 days.
Pennsylvania DEP Fines Matheson Tri-Gas $1 Million for Air Quality Violations
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has assessed a $1 million penalty against Matheson Tri-Gas, Inc. (Matheson), for air quality violations at its facility in Upper Hanover Township, Montgomery County. Through a Consent Assessment of Civil Penalty, Matheson has agreed to pay the full settlement amount, which will be paid to the Pennsylvania Clean Air Fund.
In November 2008, Matheson took ownership of the Montgomery County facility from Advanced Gas Technologies (AGT) and began operation of a compressed gas production facility. Matheson operated its specialty gas plant without the necessary permits or control devices for five years. It was determined in 2012 that volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions were significantly higher than originally recorded at the time of sale. The amount of VOC emissions from the facility also resulted in violations of Air Quality regulations.
A thermal oxidizer was installed at the facility December 2013 to control emissions. The company worked promptly to resolve all violations and attain the necessary permits and approvals. Matheson is currently in compliance with all Air Quality regulations.
EPA Highlights Importance of Updated Standards to Protect the Health of New York Farmworkers
EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck was joined by Peter Ten Eyck, President of Indian Ladder Farms to discuss stronger protections for farmworkers and pesticide handlers required by the recently updated Worker Protection Standard. EPA finalized new federal regulations in September 2015, which will go into effect in January 2017. Regional Administrator Enck visited the Indian Ladder Farms in Altamont to focus on how the new standards will help New York farmworkers.
“There are approximately 100,000 farmworkers in the state of New York, and every farmworker deserves a safe and healthy work environment,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck. “EPA is committed to making sure farmworkers, farmworkers families, and pesticide applicators are not exposed to toxic pesticides.”
EPA's Worker Protection Standard rule provides stronger protections for the nation's two million agricultural workers and handlers working on farms, forests, nurseries, and greenhouses. The updated EPA regulation strengthens requirements for training, notification, pesticide safety, and hazard communication, as well as the use of personal protective equipment and the availability of supplies for routine washing and emergency decontamination. This new standard will protect the health of New York farmworkers and the rest of the nation’s two million farmworkers, reminding everyone that we can have a vibrant agricultural economy and healthy farmworkers. The revisions announced in September 2016 were the first changes made to the rule in 24 years.
These provisions will help ensure farmworkers nationwide receive annual safety training; that children under the age of 18 are prohibited from handling pesticides; and that workers are aware of the protections they are afforded and have the tools needed to protect themselves and their families from pesticide exposure. Every farm will need to comply with the new standard. In New York, this standard will be enforced by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, with technical support from the EPA.
For workers and handlers of pesticide products on agricultural establishments, EPA will require:
- The minimum age for pesticide handlers and early-entry workers has been established at 18 years of age—previously there was no minimum age.
- Annual mandatory training for farmworkers so they can be informed on how to protect themselves and their families from pesticide exposures. Previously, trainings happened once every five years in New York.
- Each farmworker must now be provided with at least 1 gallon of water at the beginning of each work period and handlers must get 3 gallons of water for decontamination. No quantities of water were specifically spelled out previously.
- Farmworkers will now be trained on safety before they go out into the field to work. Previously, farms had up to five days to offer the training.
- Improved communication and displaying of information related to the application hazardous materials at farms.
- Employers must now provide respirator and fit testing, training, and medical evaluation that conforms to OSHA standards for any handler required to wear any respirator by the labeling. Recordkeeping of completion of fit test, training, and medical evaluation is now also required.
- Each farm must now provide a system capable of delivering 0.4 gallons of water for eye washing per minute for 15 minutes, or 6 gallons of water able to flow for 15 minutes if handlers use products requiring eye protection or use a pressurized closed system.
Additionally, EPA is making improvements to the training programs. By better protecting agricultural workers, EPA anticipates fewer pesticide exposure incidents among farmworkers and their family members. Fewer incidents means a healthier workforce and avoiding lost wages and medical bills.
OMNOVA Solutions Inc. Reaches Settlement over Toxic Chemical Violations
OMNOVA Solutions, Inc., will pay a $7,090 penalty as part of a settlement with the EPA to resolve alleged violations involving the transportation of used oil that contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from the company’s chemical manufacturing facility located at 1001 Chambers Ave., Jeanette, Pennsylvania.
EPA alleged that the company violated PCB regulations under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) when it transported PCB waste to a disposal facility without following proper procedures or completing required documentation. OMNOVA contracted with Veolia, Inc., to pick up and transport its used oil in August 2015. The oil was contaminated with PCBs.
PCBs, a probable human carcinogen, were commonly used as a nonflammable coolant for transformers and other electrical equipment until the 1970's, when Congress strictly limited the manufacture and use of this toxic substance. Although much of the equipment at the chemical manufacturing facility has been replaced or upgraded to remove PCBs, the PCB’s somehow got into the oil during the manufacturing process. OMNOVA is examining their system to determine the exact source of the PCBs so it can develop a permanent solution to remove the PCBs.
OMNOVA has also upgraded its oil disposal process to check the used oil for PCBs before shipping. Any oil that is contaminated with PCBs must be transported to a disposal facility that is authorized to handle contaminated waste.
As part of the settlement, OMNOVA did not admit liability for the alleged violations, but has certified that it is now in compliance with applicable PCB regulations.
Columbia Landfill and Yard Waste Composting Facility Fined $54,396 for Clean Water Act Violations
EPA Region 7 has reached a proposed settlement of Clean Water Act violations by the City of Columbia, Mo., involving pollutant discharges from the Columbia Landfill and Yard Waste Composting Facility. As part of the settlement, the city has agreed to pay a civil penalty of $54,396 and perform a Supplemental Environmental Project (SEP) project involving the construction of a wetland area at a cost of no less than $475,000.
An EPA inspection in April 2014 found the landfill and composting facility, at 5700 Peabody Road in Columbia, discharged pollutants into Hinkson Creek that were in excess of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit limits. Hinkson Creek is currently on Missouri’s list of impaired waters for E. Coli and other unknown pollutants.
The facility was also found by EPA to have failed to meet its permit limits for biochemical and chemical oxygen demand, total suspended solids, and iron; and to have failed to maintain stormwater best management practices and implement good housekeeping procedures.
Under a proposed administrative settlement with EPA, Columbia has agreed to pay a $54,396 civil penalty, and build a wetland area that would serve as an additional level of containment and treatment for discharges from the facility. The construction of the wetland area, at a cost of no less than $475,000, will be designed to further reduce the quantity and concentration of pollutants from the landfill’s outfall, prior to their discharge into Hinkson Creek.
As part of a separate order from EPA, Columbia will submit a plan to EPA describing how the city will come into compliance with the Clean Water Act. The city will also submit quarterly updates, which will be posted along with discharge monitoring reports on the city’s website so the public can follow the city’s efforts and their effectiveness.
The Clean Water Act seeks to protect streams and wetlands that form the foundation of the nation’s water resources. Pollutants in stormwater can violate water quality standards, pose risks to human health, threaten aquatic life and its habitat, and impair the use and enjoyment of waterways. Protecting streams and wetlands is also part of adapting to climate change impacts like drought, stronger storms, and warmer temperatures.
The proposed settlement is subject to a 40-day public comment period before it becomes final. Information about submitting comments is available online.
Harley-Davidson to Stop Sales of Illegal Devices that Increased Air Pollution from the Company’s Motorcycles
The EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) recently announced a settlement with Harley-Davidson, Inc., Harley-Davidson Motor Company Group, LLC, Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Company, Inc., and Harley-Davidson Motor Company Operations, Inc. (collectively Harley-Davidson), that requires the companies to stop selling and to buy back and destroy illegal devices that increase air pollution from their motorcycles, and to sell only models of these devices that are certified to meet Clean Air Act emissions standards. Harley-Davidson will also pay a $12 million civil penalty and spend $3 million to mitigate air pollution through a project to replace conventional woodstoves with cleaner-burning stoves in local communities.
The government’s complaint, filed along with the settlement, alleges that Harley-Davidson manufactured and sold approximately 340,000 illegal devices, known as “super tuners,” that, once installed, caused motorcycles to emit higher amounts of certain air pollutants than what the company certified to EPA. Aftermarket defeat devices like these super tuners alter a motor vehicle’s emissions controls and are prohibited under the Clean Air Act for use on vehicles that have been certified to meet EPA emissions standards. Harley-Davidson also made and sold more than 12,000 motorcycles that were not covered by an EPA certification that ensures a vehicle meets federal clean air standards.
“This settlement immediately stops the sale of illegal aftermarket defeat devices used on public roads that threaten the air we breathe,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Harley-Davidson is taking important steps to buy back the ‘super tuners’ from their dealers and destroy them, while funding projects to mitigate the pollution they caused.”
“Given Harley-Davidson’s prominence in the industry, this is a very significant step toward our goal of stopping the sale of illegal aftermarket defeat devices that cause harmful pollution on our roads and in our communities,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden, head of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “Anyone else who manufactures, sells, or installs these types of illegal products should take heed of Harley-Davidson’s corrective actions and immediately stop violating the law.”
Since January 2008, Harley-Davidson has manufactured and sold two types of tuners, which when hooked up to Harley-Davidson motorcycles, allow users to modify certain aspects of a motorcycle’s emissions control system. These modified settings increase power and performance, but also increase the motorcycles’ emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides (NOx). These tuners have been sold at Harley-Davidson dealerships across the country.
The Clean Air Act requires motor vehicle manufacturers to certify to EPA that their vehicles will meet applicable federal emissions standards to control air pollution, and every motor vehicle sold in the U.S. must be covered by an EPA-issued certificate of conformity. The Clean Air Act prohibits manufacturers from making and selling devices that bypass, defeat, or render inoperative a motor vehicle’s EPA-certified emissions control system. The Act also prohibits any person from removing or rendering inoperative a motor vehicle’s certified emissions control system and from causing such tampering. The complaint alleges violations of both these provisions.
Under the settlement, Harley-Davidson will stop selling the illegal aftermarket defeat devices in the United States by August 23, 2016. Harley-Davidson will also offer to buy back all such tuners in stock at Harley-Davidson dealerships across the country and destroy them. The settlement requires the company to obtain a certification from the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for any tuners it sells in the United States in the future. The CARB certification will demonstrate that the CARB-certified tuners do not cause Harley-Davidson’s motorcycles to exceed the EPA-certified emissions limits. Harley-Davidson will also conduct tests on motorcycles that have been tuned with the CARB-certified tuners and provide the results to EPA to ensure that its motorcycles remain in compliance with EPA emissions requirements. In addition, for any super tuners that Harley-Davidson sells outside the United States in the future, it must label them as not for use in the United States.
The complaint also alleges that Harley-Davidson made and sold more than 12,000 motorcycles from model years 2006, 2007 and 2008 that were not covered by an EPA certificate of conformity. A certificate of conformity covers only the motorcycle models that were included in the certification application and that are listed on the certificate. These 12,000 motorcycles were models that were not included in Harley-Davidson’s applications and that were not listed as covered by the relevant certificate. Under the consent decree, Harley-Davidson will ensure that all of its future motorcycle models intended for sale in the United States are fully certified by EPA.
Hydrocarbon and NOx emissions contribute to harmful ground-level ozone, and NOx also contributes to fine particulate matter pollution. Exposure to these pollutants has been linked with a range of serious health effects, including increased asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses. Exposure to ozone and particulate matter has also been associated with premature death due to respiratory-related or cardiovascular-related effects. Children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing respiratory disease are particularly at risk of health effects from exposure to these pollutants. The woodstove project, which Harley-Davidson will undertake in conjunction with an independent third party, will eliminate excess air pollution caused by using the illegal tuners by providing cleaner-burning stoves to designated local communities, thereby assuring better air quality in the future.
EPA discovered the violations through a routine inspection and information Harley-Davidson submitted after subsequent agency information requests.
The settlement, a proposed consent decree lodged in the United Stated District Court for the District of Columbia, is subject to a 30-day public comment period before it can be entered by the court as final judgment.
Two Companies Illegally Sold Pesticides Containing Methyl Bromide
Under a settlement with the EPA, two pesticide distributors, Superior-Angran, LLC, and Superior Angran Caribbean, Inc., of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, will come into compliance with the Clean Air Act and federal pesticides law. The two companies will also pay a $210,000 fine and provide professional training for pesticide applicators. The agreement settles alleged violations of the Clean Air Act. From 2013 to 2015, Superior-Angran purchased, stored and sold two pesticides containing methyl bromide without complying with the Clean Air Act’s ozone-depleting substances reporting and recordkeeping requirements. Superior Angran Caribbean exported the same two pesticides containing methyl bromide without complying with the Clean Air Act’s ozone-depleting substances reporting requirements. This case is part of the EPA’s ongoing work to address the illegal use of toxic pesticides in the Caribbean.
"This settlement holds pesticide distributors in Puerto Rico accountable for violating important federal environmental laws and helps to ensure that other companies fully understand the important restrictions on the sale and use of pesticides, particularly those containing methyl bromide," said Judith A. Enck, EPA Regional Administrator. “Pesticides containing methyl bromide are very toxic and their use is restricted. Companies selling pesticides must follow all laws to help protect people from becoming seriously injured.”
The methyl bromide-containing pesticides purchased and distributed by these companies may only be applied for quarantine and preshipment purposes in structures used for the commercial storage or handling of commodities, such as those that can be found in ports and airports. These pesticides should never be used in homes. The health effects of exposure to methyl bromide are serious and range from headaches or dizziness, to central nervous system and respiratory system damage. The Clean Air Act requires distributors of methyl bromide that was produced for quarantine or preshipment applications to certify to the producer of those pesticides that they will be used only for quarantine or preshipment applications. Quarantine applications are treatments to prevent the introduction, establishment and/or spread of quarantine pests in the United States. Preshipment applications are treatments of commodities prior to export to meet the official requirements of the importing country. Under the Clean Air Act, before a distributor of these products sells the pesticide to a pesticide applicator, it must first receive certification from the applicator that the pesticide will be used only for quarantine or for preshipment applications. The distributor of methyl bromide produced for quarantine and preshipment applications must also file a report to the EPA within 45 days after the end of each quarter that includes the total quantities of methyl bromide either exported or delivered domestically for quarantine or for preshipment applications.
The EPA has been investigating the companies’ compliance with federal pesticides laws and the Clean Air Act in the Caribbean following a very serious pesticide poisoning incident in March, 2015, when a family vacationing in the U.S. Virgin Islands became gravely ill after being exposed to methyl bromide that used to fumigate a condo unit below their vacation rental.
From March to October of 2015, investigators from the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture and the EPA conducted inspections at Superior-Angran and Superior Angran Caribbean’s facility in Guaynabo and secured information from the companies regarding their handling and distribution of pesticides containing methyl bromide. The investigation revealed that Superior-Angran purchased two pesticides containing methyl bromide that are only allowed for use only in quarantine and preshipment applications, without certifying they would be used only for those purposes, and sold these two pesticides to applicators in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands without collecting the required certifications from these applicators. Puerto Rico applicators who purchased pesticides containing methyl bromide from Superior-Angran and then illegally applied them for non-quarantine and preshipment purposes would not have been able to legally purchase them if Superior-Angran had required the applicators to certify as per the Clean Air Act’s requirements. The company also failed to report to the EPA the quantities of methyl bromide it distributed to applicators in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Superior Angran Caribbean failed to report to EPA the quantities of methyl bromide it exported to Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.
In addition to paying a $210,000 penalty, Superior-Angran and Superior Angran Caribbean will pay for a professional training session for pesticide applicators in Puerto Rico and facilities such as hospitals and schools. The EPA provided input on the content of the training. Topics of the one-day training will include: legal requirements of fumigation; compliance with Clean Air Act recordkeeping and reporting requirements for applicators of methyl bromide-containing pesticides; and compliance with federal pesticide law application requirements for all applicators. The training session will also focus on Integrated Pest Management, which is an approach to prevent pests from becoming a problem by taking action to address the underlying causes that enable pests to thrive. These actions, such as repairing water leaks, adding weather stripping to windows, and installing door sweeps, reduce pesticide use and treatment costs.
Hopi Tribe to Lower Arsenic in Drinking Water at Cultural Center
The Hopi Tribe has agreed to reduce levels of arsenic in drinking water at the Hopi Cultural Center, a public drinking water system that serves approximately 25 people.
Under the terms of the EPA’s administrative order, the Hopi Tribe is required to develop a schedule to comply with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act’s arsenic standard within two months. Within six months, the Tribe must install treatment technology to begin reducing arsenic in the Center’s water. Prior to complying with the arsenic standard, the Tribe will provide bottled water to guests. The Tribe must also conduct more robust sampling for arsenic, report all arsenic results to the EPA and comply with public notification requirements.
Arsenic, a naturally occurring mineral found throughout the United States, can be found in groundwater and is a known carcinogen. Drinking high levels of arsenic over many years can increase the chance of lung, bladder and skin cancers, as well as heart disease, diabetes and neurological damage. Arsenic inhibits the body’s ability to fight off cancer and other diseases.
For more information, please visit: www.epa.gov/sdwa
White House, EPA Honor Environmental Educators and Student Award Winners
The EPA and the White House Council on Environmental Quality, recognized 18 teachers and 63 students from across the country for their outstanding contributions to environmental education and stewardship. These 2015 winners and honorable mentions for the annual President’s Environmental Youth Award (PEYA) and 2015/2016 Presidential Innovation Award for Environmental Educators (PIAEE) were honored for their work at a ceremony at the White House. The event included remarks from Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator; Dr. John Holdren, President Obama’s Chief Senior Advisor; and John King, Secretary of Education.
“These teacher and student winners are exemplary leaders, committed to strong environmental conservation and tackling problems including landfill waste and climate change head on,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Environmental education cultivates our next generation of leaders by teaching them how to apply skills in creativity and innovation. I have no doubt that teachers and students like these will someday solve some of our most complex and important issues.”
The PIAEE awards recognize innovative environmental educators who integrate environmental learning into their classrooms using hands-on, experiential approaches. Winning teachers led unique programs such as working with a local symphony orchestra to create music inspired by nature, raising horseshoe crabs, researching the impact of surface coal mining on salamander diversity, forming a job shadowing program, and starting an international collaboration with a school in Taiwan.
The PEYA awards recognize outstanding environmental stewardship projects by K-12 youth. Student projects featured activities such as creating a new eco-friendly fertilizer, restoring and conserving local habitats, promoting recycling and other waste reduction methods, analyzing the impact of solar panel installation, exploring a new water pollution mitigation method, and analyzing storm water flow and flood risk.
EPA, NASCAR Recognize Danville Manufacturer for Sustainability Achievements
The EPA announced that Intertape Polymer Group, of Danville, Virginia, is the winner of a competition created in partnership with NASCAR that encourages Virginia manufacturers to reduce their environmental footprint.
The competition, known as the Virginia NASCAR Green E3 Challenge (Energy-Economy-Environment), invited manufacturers throughout Virginia to demonstrate measurable changes that they have implemented to improve the sustainability of their facilities.
“The Virginia NASCAR E3 Green Challenge is important because it showcases advancements manufacturers made to improve sustainability,” said EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. “The Intertape Polymer Group and other competitors are increasing productivity, reducing their use of energy and materials, and lessening their environmental impact.”
The winner, Intertape Polymer Group—a manufacturer of tapes and adhesive products—showcased multiple sustainability efforts that included reducing carbon emissions by 2,000 metric tons over the past two years and saving $352,000 in energy costs.
“NASCAR has been aligned with the EPA for years around their E3 program in an effort to make local businesses operate more sustainably,” said Catherine Kummer, Senior Director of NASCAR Green Innovation and STEM Platforms. “Since the inception of NASCAR Green in 2008, we have been collaborating with organizations that care deeply about reducing our sport’s environmental impact and we continue to see measurable progress year after year.”
The E3 program, supported by EPA and five other federal agencies, provides funding and technical support to help manufacturers make changes that will help them save money while also becoming more sustainable. In Virginia, the Manufacturing Technology Center and GENEDGE Alliance manufacturing extension partnerships conduct assessments and provide training to the participating manufacturers.
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Trivia Question of the Week
Which of the following fruits is the most acidic, with a pH of about 2.1?
d. Soursop (Guanabana)